Just up the road a piece from Florida, we land in Georgia as State Number Three on our Greatest Road Trip Ever Taken. With just over ten million residents, Georgia ranks eighth in the United States in population. Just the 24th largest State, Georgia falls on the urban side of the rural/urban divide.
Established in 1733, Georgia is the southernmost of the original colonies. The eastern border is the Atlantic Ocean. Its northern border is comprised of South Carolina to the northeast and Tennessee to the northwest. To the west find Alabama, and to the south lies the panhandle of Florida.
In early 1861, Georgia joined the Confederacy and became a major battle theater of the Civil War. General Tecumseh Sherman’s March to the Sea played havoc with the agricultural land of Georgia, as well as the City of Atlanta.
Georgia’s Capital and its largest city by far is Atlanta. Augusta, Savannah, and Athens join it in the category of cities with a population north of 100,000.
Known as “The Peach State” Georgia is actually a world leader in three different “P” foods. The world’s greatest volume of peaches, pecans, and peanuts in the world come out of Georgia The noble peanut provided former president Jimmy Carter his livelihood before he went into politics.
The highest point in Georgia is on Brasstown Bald. It stands near the Tennessee line in the Nantahala National Forest. The lowest point in Georgia is along the Atlantic coast. The geographic center of Georgia is about 17.5 miles southeast of Macon. We say “about” because there is a border conflict underway even now. The State legislatures of Georgia and Tennessee are currently in dispute over the exact border of their states. At stake, the waters of the Tennessee River.
Major Airports in Georgia:
There are two large airports in Georgia, alongside one ENORMOUS airport.
Augusta Regional serves about a quarter million passengers a year. An equal number of them go to Atlanta and Charlotte. Augusta’s airport traffic increases markedly during the Masters Golf Tournament, held the first weekend in May.
Savannah/Hilton Head International engages almost 800,000 passengers a year. The most frequent destination is Atlanta.
The busiest airport in the United States is Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International. The travel hub for the entire southeastern quadrant of the United States, ATL serves nearly 50 million passengers a year. More than a million of those passengers are visiting New York City. Almost 3/4 of a million ATL passengers annually are visiting Amsterdam, in the Netherlands.
Top Movies Filmed in Georgia:
Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Gone With the Wind (1939)
Cape Fear (1991)
President Jimmy Carter, and First Ladies Rosalyn Carter and Ellen Wilson.
Military/Politics: Jim Bowie, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dean Rusk, Henry Ossian Flipper, and Clarence Thomas.
Actors: Charles Coburn, Joanne Woodward, Ossie Davis, Burt Reynolds, Lawrence Fishburne, DeForest Kelley, Melvyn Douglas, Miriam Hopkins, Jack McBrayer, Jeff Daniels, Holly Hunter, Julia Roberts, and Stacy Keach.
Entertainers: Ray Charles, Blind Willie McTell, Trisha Yearwood, Mattiwilda Dobbs, Johnny Mercer, Travis Tritt, Jessye Norman, Luke Bryan, Pete Drake, Ray Stevens, Amy Grant, Nipsey Russell, Oliver Hardy, Billy Joe Royal, Roland Hayes, Tommy Roe, Fletcher Henderson, Harry James, Little Richard, Jerry Reed, Gladys Knight, and Kanye West.
Authors: Conrad Aiken, Joel Chandler Harris, Carson McCullers, Margaret Mitchell, Janelle Taylor, Pat Conroy, James Alan McPherson, Alice Walker, James Dickey, and Erskine Caldwell.
Athletes: Johnny Mize, Jackie Robinson, Larry Holmes, Ty Cobb, Hulk Hogan, Calvin Johnson, and Jim Brown.
Weird and Wonderful Facts About Georgia:
The University of Georgia is located in Athens. UGA was the first-ever State-financed college in the country.
Wesleyan College in Macon was the first school in the world to grant degrees to women.
All 400,000 acres of Okefenokee Swamp is located in Georgia. The name is derived from the Native American word for “Trembling Earth.”
The Cherokee Rose is the official State flower.
Georgia is the largest of the States east of the Mississippi.
Known as the sweetest onion in the world, the Vidalia can only be grown in the fields around Vidalia and Glennville. *Note* Readers in Washington State just threw down their tablets and are writing letters in support of the Walla Walla sweet onion.
Cumberland Island, off Georgia’s eastern shore, is a popular resort and was the host of the wedding of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Lee Bouvier.
Gainesville, Georgia calls itself “The Chicken Capital of the World.” It is illegal to eat chicken with a fork in Gainesville.
Forest Park hosts the world’s largest Farmer’s Market.
Let’s take a Trip Through Georgia:
We’re going to start way up North in Sautee Nacoochie. That’s where we will find the Folk Pottery Museum of Northeast Georgia. This museum defines folk pottery making in the area and shows off some beautiful examples.
Later, just 14 miles down Old Highway 384 find Stovall Mill, where we will choose from walking over the swinging bridges or zip lining through the trees. We surprise ourselves and find the zip line an easier trip.
Southwest for a little less than an hour, we find our destination for the first night of this peaceful journey. Lake Lanier was the host water for the 1996 Summer Olympic games that called Atlanta home. We arrived here by mid-afternoon and will treat ourselves to a dinner cruise on the Island Queen excursion yacht. For $99 a night we will stay the night at The Country Inn and Suites. It is just eight miles from the lake.
The first part of the next day will take us to Tallulah Gorge. Often called The Niagara of the South, the gorge is two miles long and over 1,000 feet deep. “Waterfall” is the theme of our day, because after Talulah Gorge we will drive 70 miles west to Amicalola Falls. It is 790 feet deep and the picturesque equal to Tallulah.
The hiking, sightseeing and picture taking of the day will leave us a little leg-weary and ready to call it a night at Dawson Village Inn. Rooms from $70/night.
It’s time to put some mileage on the tires! Every day has been an easy drive so far. Now we’re going to Atlanta. First, we’re going to visit the famous Fox Theater. The Fox has hosted all of the great acts. It doesn’t matter who is appearing, because we’re just gonna’ go! The next day we want to visit the gardens of lovely Piedmont Park and the Atlanta Aquarium. Both are world class.
Finally, Atlanta hosts all four major sports as well as NASCAR. Whatever is in season, we’ll pick a sport and a venue and go! We’ll stay at the Highland Inn for $69 a night. That’s a reasonable rate for a downtown hotel and we’ll need it for three nights.
Then we’re off to the ocean shores. Savannah is our destination and our pick if we only had time for one night in Georgia. We check in for a two-night stay at The Thunderbird Inn, for $96 a night.
This is the South we imagine when “antebellum” comes to mind. The leafy trees lining the streets provide a comfortable canopy even when the days are warm. Savannah is best seen on foot. We like “Savannah Dan’s Walking Tour” for some great history of the area. Dan also has some tips for the best restaurants at which to dine.
The next day will be a walk on the beaches of lush eastern Georgia, which will lead up to an experience unique in all the country. They call it The Afterlife Tour. It examines the paranormal, debunks some popular myths, shows us some things we won’t be able to explain!
Georgia is a state of mind, almost as much as it is a State to visit. Everywhere we have been, there have been warm, open smiles and a sincerity in the greeting. We hope you have enjoyed our visit.