The Historic District in Americus, Georgia. Editorial credit: Roberto Galan /

8 Oldest Founded Towns To Visit In Georgia

Georgia, the last of the original 13 colonies, is a southeastern state along the Atlantic coast founded in 1732. Known as the Peach State for its exportation of the crop, they could just as easily be called the Peanut State for their abundance of peanuts.

Georgia is a popular state to visit, especially the capital city of Atlanta. The state broke tourism records in 2022 by welcoming more visitors than in any other year. These eight towns are among the first that were founded and are worth checking out. 

St. Marys

Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church is one of the oldest religious structures located within the St. Marys Historic District in St. Marys, Georgia
Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church is one of the oldest religious structures located within the St. Marys Historic District in St. Marys, GA, via William Silver /

St. Marys is just north of the Florida border in Georgia's Low Country. The coastal community is the gateway to Cumberland Island and has a laid-back atmosphere mixed with Southern charm. St. Marys has a long US naval history with King's Bay Submarine Base being located here along with the St. Mary's Submarine Museum. 

Many visitors travel to St. Marys for the hiking, nature trails, and historical sites. St. Marys Waterfront Park is an open field with picnic areas and Crooked River State Park is a popular spot for nature lovers. To complete your experience here, stay at the Spencer House Inn, a bed and breakfast built in 1872 and replete with Victorian architecture. 


Old state capital building for Georgia, in Milledgeville.
Old state capital building for Georgia, in Milledgeville.

The capital of Georgia during the Civil War, Milledgeville today is a quintessential small southern town with a college atmosphere from the three colleges in town. The walkable downtown district is one of the biggest reasons to visit. Milledgeville is known for its historical architecture and is home to Georgia's Old Governor's Mansion. 

Milledgeville also has natural attractions like Lake Sinclair and the Oconee River. The Lockerly Arboretum is 50 acres of pristine gardens, walking trails, and ponds. This is a popular destination for its abundance of history and natural beauty and is often voted one of the best small towns in America. 


Waterfront Park in Darien, Georgia
Waterfront Park in Darien, Georgia, By Jud McCranie, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Darien is a coastal town that is known for its abundance of fresh seafood. This historic town was founded in 1733 and the center of town, Vernon Square, is still here in its original form. Another key historical site is Fort King George which was established in 1721. The fort was active until 1736 and served as the southern post for the British Empire. 

The Darien Water Front Park was, at one time, the busiest seaport on the southeast coast and provides an elevated view of the river. Check out the Old Jail Art Center and Museum for a unique attraction. Built in 1888, this was the Mcintosh County jail until 2002 and you can tour the old-fashioned cells and explore the new community and art center.


Old Courthouse, Downtown Eatonton, Georgia
Old Courthouse, Downtown Eatonton, Georgia, USA. Editorial credit: Williams Photography 365 /

Eatonton was founded as the Brunswick County seat in 1808. It is situated between Lake Sinclair and Oconee and next to the Oconee National Forest. The quaint downtown district is home to two museums: The Georgia Writers Museum and the Old School History Museum while the Uncle Remus Museum, a cultural snapshot of Joel Chandler Harris, is a short distance away.

Eatonton has a rich cultural heritage as both Joel Chandler Harris and Alice Walker were born here. The town is also known for its historic residential architecture with antebellum, Gothic, and Victorian homes being prominent. Walking through town allows visitors to experience the environment that shaped these prominent writer's lives. 


An old hoist motor in the harbor, Brunswick, Georgia.
An old hoist motor in the harbor, Brunswick, Georgia. Image credit J K Laws via Shutterstock

Brunswick is a coastal town that connects to the four outer barrier islands. It is best known for its Victorian-styled historic district and the gigantic Lover's Oak tree. The oak is a historic landmark reportedly over 900 years old and is in the middle of the historic district.

Other sites to explore in the downtown district include Old City Hall, Oak Grove Cemetary, and Overlook Park. A fun time to visit downtown is the first Friday of every month when the local businesses stay open later and serve drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Brunswick is a unique town that built up around its historical landmarks and should be a bucket list destination.


Downtown Americus, Georgia.
Downtown Americus, Georgia.

The quaint town of Americus is full of history, hospitality, and southern charm. It has notable architecture including the spires and turrets of the Windsor Hotel in the heart of downtown. Downtown is also home to the Rylander Theater, built in 1922, and still hangs the old-fashioned sign out front for a vintage flair.

Americus is also known for its historic homes like the Lee Council House which was built in the late 20th century. The mansion was a private residence for 40 years and is now home to the Sumter Historic Trust. Hancock Drive has several of these homes from the 1850s to the 1920s, from Gothic homes to Queen Anne Cottages. 


Aerial view of Rome, Georgia
Aerial view of Rome, Georgia

Rome is ideal for history lovers as there is plenty of visual history dating from pre-Civil War through the modern era. One of the more prominent historical sites is the Oak Hill and Martha Berry Museum. The Berrys found Berry College which is also available for tours. 

Another notable site is the Chieftains Museum/Major Ridge Home. It was the home of Cherokee leader Major Ridge and has been converted from a log cabin to a two story white frame house. One of the oldest historical sites is the Clock Tower, which punctuates the sky in downtown Rome and sits on Clock Tower Hill, one of seven distinct hills throughout town. 

Georgia is a distinctive state and has everything from big cities to small towns, beaches to mountains. These eight towns were among the first in the state and are brimming with history and charm. Some of this history lies in the original state capital of Milledgeville and a 900-year-old oak tree in Brunswick.

These towns also provide natural beauty and outdoor activities like fishing and camping. It is a unique thing to visit the original towns that are still vibrant and active today. Darien still has a town square that is nearly 300 years old. Visiting original places like that helps one connect with the past while tying it in with the modern era. 

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