Get wooed by this Southern Belle
By Hope S. Philbrick
About an hour east of Atlanta on I-20 is Madison, Georgia, where love at first sight is a common occurrence.
It’s the town itself that’s bound to sweep you off your feet.
One of the state’s most popular small-town destinations is worth the drive for many reasons. Here are just four:
Madison is home to some of the most stunning Antebellum structures in Georgia, thus it’s one of the stops along Georgia’s Antebellum Trail.
To view several of houses from the exterior and learn their history from a knowledgeable pro, opt for a horse-drawn carriage tour with North Georgia Tours. The pace of the tour and the laid-back, friendly manner of guide Melissa Piche sets the perfect ambiance—plus there’s a simple thrill that comes with riding in a surrey with fringe on top (a musical set in a different state makes that experience famous, but so what, it’s still fun).
During the Civil War, Sherman’s Army spared Madison destruction because it was the home of pro-Union Senator Joshua Hill. As a result, Madison has the 2nd largest designated historic district in Georgia (after Macon), which encompasses most of the town.
Many of the homes are privately owned, but several shelter businesses and are open for tours. As an example, Heritage Hall was built in 1811 as the family home of Dr. Elijah E. Jones. Now known as the ‘Antebellum Dame’ of Madison and home to the Morgan County Historical Society, visitors are treated to an oral history of the house plus given the chance to explore its rooms filled with period antique furniture and accessories from quilts to medical implements. Some folks are reported to have glimpsed a grieving ghost that resides in one of the bedrooms—perhaps a spirit simply unwilling to leave Madison.
For details about 46 historic properties of note in Madison, pick up a brochure at the Welcome Center, which is located on the Square and open daily.
Madison was incorporated as a city in 1809 and wandering its streets is like a trip through time. That feeling is achieved through historic buildings that have been carefully restored plus a downtown filled exclusively with businesses that are independently owned.
The absence of national chains gives Madison a unique personality. From antique dealers to candy shops, clothing boutiques to a bookstore, to stores selling hardware, kitchen gadgets, gifts and more, it’s possible to spend hours or even days browsing the more than 165 diverse options.
Once in Madison, you don’t need to use your car unless you want to: it’s easy to walk around.
The park is both green space and an outdoor event facility—conveniently located in the heart of downtown Madison.
Time your visit right and you may be treated to a free concert or other event being hosted by Madison Main Street.
Madison hosts a variety of food, art, music and agricultural festivals throughout the year, such as the Chili Cook-Off & Fall Festival (October 6, 2013), Town & Country Holiday Tour (December 5-8, 2013), Downtown Dance in Town Park (TBD), and more.
To review a calendar of events, click here.
The Madison-Morgan Conservancy publishes a FARMeander guide, which includes a map of farms and farm-related businesses in Morgan, Newton and Walton Counties. It lists 25 agritourism options—including 17 farms that welcome visitors—plus dozens of “farm to fork” dining and shopping options in the surrounding areas.
FARMeander invites you to get elbow deep in some farm experiences and then eat your way through Georgia’s Northern Piedmont.
For more information, click here.
Where To Stay…
James Madison Inn
260 W. Washington St.
Madison, GA 30650
This luxury boutique hotel features 17 guest rooms and 2 grand suites.
Established in 1809, Madison is the seat and the largest town in Morgan County.
Madison was voted the No. 1 small town in America by Travel Holiday Magazine.
Madison-Morgan Convention & Visitors Bureau
115 East Jefferson Street
Madison, GA 30650
– Architecture photos © HSP Media LLC; all others courtesy Madison CVB and the Georgia Department of Economic Development – Tourism Division
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.