Before March and the Cardinal pre-season comes to an end take a spring break and head south to Florida. Along the way jump off the interstate and check out the sites, especially in Georgia, where I-75 runs through the heart of the state renown for its history, southern hospitality and love of sports.
Georgia’s diversity provides a smorgasbord of sites to see, food the savor and a few unexpected destinations sports fans will embrace. All good reasons to add a few extra days to that road trip while taking in the final weeks of major league play at Roger Dean Stadium. So grab that GPS make your plan those stops. Consider the following picks, places perfect for sports fans to explore along with a few forks in the road serving up good eats.
World of Coca-Cola
Housed in the heart of Atlanta, take a journey through the land of Coke. Historical displays to interactive exhibits, as The Taste Maker, the World of Coke allows visitors to create their own flavor combinations the same way early Coke’s early pharmacists inventors did. Make a visit to the vault where the secret Coca-Cola formula is held and don’t miss the 4-D Theatre, the Pop Culture Gallery and the Perfect Pauses Theatre, which runs vintage advertising and film shorts form around the world. Of course, there’s plenty of Coke to sample. (www.worldofcoca-cola.com)
North Georgia Speedway
Stock car racing is a southern tradition whose roots are linked to prohibition bootlegging. Those early drivers were NASCAR’s first stars that first raced on dirt tracks. You can still have the thrill of watching stock cars race on a dirt track at North Georgia Speedway. Located about 30 minutes off I-75 near Chatsworth, North Georgia Speedway is dirt trackin’ at its best. Stock cars race every Saturday night on the 1/3-mile red clay, high bank oval track. (www.northgaspeedway.com
Go Fish Educational Center
Take I-75 exit 146 and travel fifteen minutes and Go Fish; make that go to the Go Fish Educational Center, operated by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Go Fish, a family friendly destination and a wonderland for anglers combines aquarium and aquatic wildlife exhibits with a nature trail. Guests can fish the adjacent stocked ponds or try out the interactive fishing and boating simulators. Fishermen can also get “Reel Tips” on how and where to fish in Georgia. (www.gofisheducationcenter.com )
Tee-Up and Play Golf
With over 500 golf courses Georgia is a golfers dream. The ultimate destination for many is Forest Hills Golf Club, where legendary Georgia golfer Bobby Jones started his 1930 Golf Grand Slam. The course continues to spawn champions such as three-time Masters Champion Phil Michelson. To play a round at Forest Hills, named the best “Public Golf Course” by Augusta Magazine, book in advance. (www.golfgeorgia.com)
The Atlanta History Center
Lovers of history, The Hunger Games and golf will want to make a stop and explore the Atlanta History Center. The Center explores Atlanta’s history through a combination of rotating and permanent exhibits such as Fair Play: The Bobby Jones Story. The center preserves a collection of adjacent structures such as the Swan Mansion, featured as a location in the Hunger Games films. The Center’s ticket price also includes admission to Gone with the Wind author’s home, the Margaret Mitchell Museum, in nearby downtown Atlanta. (www.atlantahistorycenter.com)
LakePoint Sporting Center
Baseball, soccer, basketball, lacrosse and volleyball can all be found at LakePoint, located 35 minutes north of Atlanta. LakePoint is a year-round complex serving young athletes, in addition to sports loving families who come to enjoy LakePoint Station, a sports entertainment center. The Station’s key attractions: Clip n Climb (rock climbing) laser tag, outdoor and indoor black-light mini golf and arcades. (www.lakepointstation.com)
Eating up Georgia via I-75
Fried green tomatoes and barbecue are the specialties at the Whistle Stop Café in Juliette, GA. This was the location featured in the 1991 movie, Fried Green Tomatoes. The Whistle Stop has become a pilgrimage site for the film’s fans to must stop and eat up. (www.thewhistlestopcafe.com)
Eat a dish of Peach Ice Cream at Lane’s Southern Orchards, Fort Valley, GA
It doesn’t matter if it’s peach season or not, here’s always plenty of peach ice cream, jams and each pies available year-round. Lanes 6,000 acres orchard dates to 1908. Take a tour the farm orchard, stop the store or settle in and take a table and dine. Lane’s is just five minutes west of I-75 at exit 142. https://www.lanesouthernorchards.com
Order a “meat and three” at H & H Soul Food, Macon, GA
H & H Soul Food is where classic southern cooking and rock history meets. Renown for giving hungry broke rocker musicians a meal back in the day to such as rock legends as the Allman Brothers. Popular plates include the classic meat and three – that’s a main dish and three sides. My pick: fried chicken, collards, fried okra and mac’n cheese.
Lunch in Atlanta at Mary Mac’s Tea Room and The Swan Coach House
Southern specialties served with plenty of smiles at these two iconic eateries where ladies lunch and gents chow down. Mary Mac’s Tea Room, proclaimed Atlanta’s Dining Room by the Georgia legislature, has served over-flowing plates of southern cuisine since 1945. The Swan’s Coach House, Atlanta’s ultimate destination, where ladies and curious tourist lunch on the Swan’s signature chicken and frozen fruit salads, quiche and mint juleps. The Swan Coach House is located on the grounds of the Atlanta History Center. (www.swancoachhouse.com) (www.marymacs.com)
Gone With the Wind Fans
Atlanta is the place to go if you are in search of Gone With the Wind. The above mentioned Mary Mac’s Tea Room was author one of Margaret Mitchell’s favorite restaurant to go to. She and her husband John Marsh loved to dine there and she also met her friends for lunch. At one point, her cousin actually owned it.
Margaret Mitchell House and Museum
As mentioned above, the Atlanta History Center’s ticket price also includes admission to Margaret Mitchell House and Museum, in nearby downtown Atlanta. (www.atlantahistorycenter.com) As the History Center’s website says: “It is here that the notorious Peggy Marsh (as she was known to her friends) wrote Gone With the Wind. A Pulitzer Prize followed. Fame, fortune, and fans, too. Quite the character, she had opinions about how the film portrayed her book and she didn’t much like the attention, but she still responded to every single fan letter.
“When you visit, you can learn about Peggy before, during, and after the book, about the movie, and about the film’s premiere in Atlanta.”
There are many other Gone With the Wind attractions, including the Gone With the Wind Museum in Marietta as well as the GWTW Museum in Jonesboro.
The Marietta Museum
The Marietta Gone with the Wind Museum: Scarlett on the Square has been a mainstay in downtown Marietta since April 2003 when it opened in the historic Old Thomas Warehouse Building, but soon it will be moving to an old historic house. With an extensive collection of memorabilia provided by Dr. Christopher Sullivan the museum is sure to delight and intrigue any Gone with the Wind fan, from novice to aficionado– no matter which location you see it in.
They will be moving to the Historic Brumby Hall and Gardens located just off the Marietta Square at 472 Powder Springs Street, Marietta, GA 30064. They plan to close their current location on Monday, March 26th in order to carefully move otheir one of a kind collection to its new home. They will reopen at Brumby Hall by Monday, April 23, 2018. If you are traveling most of March you will be able to see the 18 Whitlock Avenue • Marietta, Georgia 30064 location before they move. For info, visit their website: GWTWMarietta.com or call 770-794-5576
Road to Tara Museum in Jonesboro
Whether you’re a Gone With the Wind fan or history buff, the Road to Tara Museum boasts items from the famous movie and book along with artifacts from the Civil War. See the progression from the real history of the Civil War’s Atlanta Campaign and the 1864 Battle of Jonesboro to Margaret Mitchell’s and Hollywood’s Gone With the Wind.
Walking into the 1867 Historic Train Depot in Jonesboro, which houses the Road to Tara Museum, begins your journey. See an authentic “Sherman’s necktie,” a section of rail twisted into a loop so it became useless to the railroad, a hand-painted diorama of the two-day battle of Jonesboro and the story of Father Bliemel.
As you continue your museum experience you’ll make your way through exhibits featuring Margaret Mitchell’s china, reproductions of Scarlett’s most famous dresses, foreign edition library and the four portraits of the main characters that hung on the Richardson Building (across from the Loew’s Grand Theater) during the 1939 Atlanta premiere. For more info check out their website: http://www.atlantastruesouth.com/gone-with-wind/road-to-tara-museum/
Atlanta-Fulton Public Library
On the fifth floor of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library, One Margaret Mitchell Square, Atlanta, GA 30315 is a small exhibit dedicated to Mitchell. It includes the typewriter she used when writing GWTW as well as her Red Cross uniform and other personal items. This exhibit is free of charge.
Where to Stay in Georgia– The Drury Hotel of course
There are three Drury Hotels in Georgia: One in Marietta, one in Morrow (near the Jonesboro / Atlanta area) and one in Valdosta, along the way down to Florida.