Covington, Georgia does not suck…despite what you may have heard about its vampires.
By Hope S. Philbrick
One trip to Covington, Georgia, and my husband and I are binge-watching “The Vampire Diaries” like a couple of teenage girls.
Visit and you may get similarly bitten.
Covington has hosted nearly 100 film and television productions since 1954 earning its title, “Hollywood of the South.” Most notably, the town played the role of Mystic Falls in the popular CW series “The Vampire Diaries” throughout its eight-season run. The series wrapped in March 2017; its spin-off “The Originals” continued filming in the area until its finale in October 2017. The shows may have concluded their storylines but vampire culture lingers like the undead in Covington; the town remains a popular destination for fans of the shows.
Whether or not your idea of romance includes vampires, Covington is an ideal destination for a romantic escape. If you don’t consider bloody neck bites sexy, scroll down for the second list.
7+ Date Night Ideas if you’re thirsty for vampire lore…
- Photograph the historic courthouse and other sites featured in “The Vampire Diairies.” For a free map of “Popular Television Shooting Locations” and/or “Covington’s Walk of Stars,” stop by On Location Gifts.
- Visit the new “Hollywood of the South” museum—Georgia’s FIRST television and film museum—to look at, pose with, and touch props from the “The Vampire Diaries” as well as other TV shows and movies filmed in the area; you can even try on wedding dresses from “The Vampire Diaries” and pose with a life-size photo of Stefan and Damon Salvatore. The museum is open Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from Noon to 5 p.m. A quick walk-through is free and it’s just $5 to take unlimited photos with the props, costumes and scene settings. Pssst. Want to know Damon Salvatore/Ian Somerhalder’s jeans size? We posted the answer and evidence on Instagram @21plusTravel.
- Take a behind-the-scenes vampire-themed guided tour with Vampire Stalkers. The three-hour “The Vampire Diaries” tour visits iconic locations from the show plus offers exclusive access to Lockwood Mansion. The 2.5-hour “The Originals” tour stops by iconic locations from the show including Witches Cauldron. Both tours are $55 per person. A 2.5-hour VIP extended tour visits locations from both shows including the airport, the hotel, Jo and Alaric’s wedding location, the tomb, vampire house and more for $90 per person.
- Shop at On Location Gifts, which is located on a prominent corner of the historic downtown square, for show-branded T-shirts, coffee mugs, journals, what-I-sincerely-hope-are-fake bags of blood to drink, and other vampire-themed merchandise. The shop also sells merchandise for other shows and movies filmed in the area including “Walking Dead,” “Stranger Things,” “Dukes of Hazzard,” among others.
- Eat at Mystic Grill, which featured prominently in the “The Vampire Diaries”—yet is a worthy dining destination even if you could care less about the show and its teen angst. The menu offers updated interpretations of Southern favorites like cilantro lime shrimp & grits, sweet tea fried chicken, and braised pork papperdelle. There are several different dining spaces in which to sit, including the main floor, bar, upstairs, and rooftop that overlooks the square.
- Indulge at Scoops, an ice cream and candy shop. Ask nicely and the staff can tell you which of the shop’s frozen treats “The Vampire Diaries” star Ian Somerhalder enjoyed most.
- Take a nighttime stroll with Covington Ghost Tours to explore the town’s haunted sites with experienced guides. Many of the featured locations have been investigated by paranormal experts associated with T.A.P.S. (The Atlantic Paranormal Society).
- Stay at the Twelve Oaks Bed & Breakfast, which was pictured in flashback scenes as Lockwood Mansion in “The Vampire Diaries.” (The private residence Worthington Manor served as Lockwood Mansion in scenes set in the series’ present time period.) “The house was built in 1836, so it’s actually older than the city of Atlanta,” says Nicole Munn, founder and manager. The luxurious inn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is an outstanding example of antebellum architecture; it’s also considered one of the largest at 12,000 square feet. For a vampire theme, stay in the Salvatore Brothers Study, as we did, which is tucked under a staircase on the main floor and has a queen-sized bed, original bathtub, moody dark paneling, and a TV with DVD in the room: If, like us, you arrive in Covington without ever having seen an episode of “The Vampire Diaries,” or if you’re a fan eager to watch a few episodes on site, head up to the free DVD library on the B&Bs third floor to borrow discs for in-room viewing. Fair Warning: After watching three episodes plus a few special features, we were hooked; “The Vampire Diaries” is currently on Netflix so we’ve been binge-watching since returning home.
If the thought of vampires and the teens who love them makes you want to drape yourself in vervain (“The Vampire Diaries’” herbal twist on the garlic lore of yore), get wooed by Covington’s other romantic possibilities.
8+ Date Night Ideas if you prefer non-biting reality…
- Stay at the Twelve Oaks Bed & Breakfast. Yes, this same B&B is mentioned in the list above, but it’s so fantastic it bears repeating—in fact, if you stay once you will probably dream of returning because all eight guestrooms are so unique it’s worth staying in each one. Nicole Munn purchased Twelve Oaks out of foreclosure in 2011 and did a massive, thoughtful renovation that preserves the property’s rich history while adding the sorts of thoughtful amenities that modern travelers need/want/deserve. Twelve Oaks has racked up many accolades, including being named one of the “Most Romantic Places in Georgia” by Georgia Public Broadcasting (2016), “Top 10 Inns in the U.S.” by BedandBreakfast.com (2015), and “Romantic Luxury Hotel of the Year” by Luxury Travel Guide (2016). Scroll down to read more about Twelve Oaks below, we can’t stop raving about the place.
- Explore historic downtown Covington, where the charming square is surrounded by shops and restaurants plus the picturesque, iconic historic courthouse. The fact that you can park at the B&B and walk to so many worthy stops throughout your stay feels very romantic as it sets a relaxed pace.
- Stroll around Covington together, hand-in-hand. For suggestions about where to go and information about what you’re looking at when you get there, pick up free brochures at the Visitors Information Center for details about Newton County’s self-guided historical marker tour or Covington’s self-guided architecture walking/driving tour that features many restored Greek Revival mansions and Victorian cottages.
- Spend time together pursuing shared passions. Shoppers can spree around the many clothing retailers, jewelers, furniture and home décor boutiques, antique stores and gift shops around the square. Music fans won’t want to miss McKibbens Music for basic accessories and instruments from keyboards to banjos. Wine lovers can sample up to eight different wines any time The Cork Boutique and Gifts is open (four half glasses are $9); additional wine tasting opportunities may also available, depending on the dates of your visit. If you prefer beer head next door to The Cork Growler & Cigar Shop (four two-ounce tastes are $7). Foodies might savor free tastings of pantry essentials at Town Square Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegars.
- Indulge in a soothing couple’s massage at Charmed Salon, Spa & Boutique ($70 for 30 minutes; $130 for an hour). Other treatment options include deep tissue, hot stone, Thai yoga, and Swedish massages, foot reflexology, plus several types of facials.
- Combine your creativity at WildArt by painting a canvas together during an open “Just Paint” studio session or during a class of mutual interest.
- Get your hearts pumping at Chimney Park, a 12-acre urban green space that offers a 2.5-mile long multi-use fitness trail.
- Gaze across the dining table into your companion’s eyes at Milazzo’s Ristorante. The restaurant specializes in Italian and vegetarian fare, with mouthwatering dishes like truffle mushroom ravioli, eggplant parmesan, and seafood alfredo, among others.
Covington can stab your heart in the way that leads to everlasting love. Visit once and you’ll long to return for more.
Twelve Oaks B&B Essentials…
Twelve Oaks Bed & Breakfast offers luxurious accommodations. Built in 1836, it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is an outstanding example of antebellum architecture
- Twelve Oaks B&B is a member of Select Registry and the Southern Living Hotel Collection
- Check-in begins at 3 p.m.; check out by 11 a.m.
- Free parking
- Free Wi-Fi
- Free access to DVD library, games, water and ice, coffee
- Free wine and appetizers (including local cheeses) from 5-5:45 p.m. daily
- Free Southern breakfast served between 9-9:30 a.m. daily; you can sit with a group at the large table under the massive chandelier or sit at a table for two by a window; breakfast entrées include dishes like sausage biscuits and gravy, peaches and cream stuffed French toast, strawberry shortcake pancakes with bourbon whipped cream
- Eight luxury guestrooms, each with either a King or Queen mattress; one room offers the option of pulling the King apart into two Twin beds
- Each guest has unique décor, from light pastels to dark woods
- Beds are dressed in Egyptian cotton sheets and down duvets
- All guestrooms have remove control fireplaces
- All guestrooms have private bathrooms with extraordinary fixtures like a spa tub with aromatherapy and chromo-therapy, a copper bateau tub, or an original ribcage shower from the late 1800s like the shower fixtures installed in swanky places like Biltmore Estate and Buckingham Palace!
- Turn-down service includes chocolate truffles and cold waters
- To mark a special occasion, you can make arrangements (for an extra fee) for a special message to be spelled out in rose petals
- Odds of Encountering Children: Extremely low.
Twelve Oaks Bed & Breakfast
2176 Monticello Street SW
Covington, Georgia 30014
Covington / Newton County Chamber of Commerce
2101 Clark Street
Covington, Georgia 30014
770-786-7510 or 770-787-3868
– Photo Credits: Courthouse/Mystic Grill courtesy Georgia Department of Economic Development; Twelve Oaks B&B images courtesy the Twelve Oaks B&B; walking tour homes by Hope S. Philbrick; courthouse at sunset, museum and wine shop courtesy Covington/Newton County Chamber of Commerce. Click individual images for details.
Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion.