Georgia’s Antebellum Trail was the first State of Georgia designated trail. Comprised of seven communities, the trail will transport visitors back in time as they visit historic homes, experience authentic battle sites, view impressive architecture and tour magnificent museums. As you travel down the Trail, you will enter a magical place where time has stood still. Each community, from Macon to Athens, holds hidden treasures from the past and features stately homes still active and enjoyed. Journey through Old Clinton and Watkinsville where a love of the past and southern hospitality are waiting. Experience intriguing history of some of Georgia’s most interesting cities such as Eatonton, Madison and Milledgeville. Come discover a hidden memory in these communities that serve as an exquisite reminder of a bygone era – an era now “Gone with the Wind.” This heritage trail starts in Athens, Ga and then runs south to Eatonton and on to Milledgeville/Macon.
Nestled just below the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the vibrant college town of Athens, Georgia is the northern gateway to the Antebellum Trail. Guided and self-guided tours of 16 historic districts and four house museums provide a glimpse into the past of numerous Confederate leaders. Athens’ restored, Victorian-era downtown historic district remains as vital as ever, housing an eclectic mix of restaurants, retail shops, local art, living space, and the world-renowned music clubs that gave birth to R.E.M., the B-52’s, and hundreds of other bands.
Just minutes south of Athens, Watkinsville and Oconee County retain a small town atmosphere. Visitors often wander through its scenic beauty or step into the past, touring one of the many historic sites in the area. However, history isn’t all that the area has to offer. Downtown Watkinsville features eclectic shopping in Town Center and in the many antique shops, art galleries, and specialty shops located nearby. Another highlight is Happy Valley Pottery, where Jerry and Kathy Chappelle turned a rambling chicken ranch into a unique community of working artists.
Madison is one of Georgia’s largest designated National Register Historic Districts and was named one of the earliest “Preserve America Communities”. Recently, Madison was named one of the “Top 10 Best Southern Towns” by Southern Living. A national treasure of antebellum buildings—its architecture stands as a monument to the time when cotton was king. Madison is home to breathtaking art galleries and museums, over 160 antique dealers, 45+ specialty shops, parks & recreation sites, ambient local dining options, and a host of distinctive lodging options including boutique inns and bed & breakfasts.
In a tradition that started with Br’er Rabbit and continues to this day, visitors to Eatonton, the next stop on the Trail, enjoy many a good tale. From the fisherman telling the story of “the one that got away” to a golfer stretching the truth about the length of his drive, to a spinetingler about a ghost who lives in the house next door; the stories abound. The town is nestled between Lakes Oconee and Sinclair and the Oconee National Forest. The wide water and gentle green landscape have inspired some of golf’s legendary designers to create masterpieces around Lake Oconee. Classic antebellum architecture can be seen on any street in the Historic Downtown.
Further down and located in the heart of middle Georgia, historic Milledgeville boasts of stately southern mansions and gracious garden gates which have harboured distinguished governors, generals, and ghosts. Beneath the sun-dripped shade of towering oaks, Milledgeville still beckons travellers with impressive architecture, historic venues, a glistening lake, and an authentic arboretum. Those seeking history can follow in Sherman’s footsteps at the Old Governor’s Mansion or visit Georgia’s Old Capital Museum, located in the building where Georgia legislators voted to secede from the Union. Contemporary student artwork and traditional collections add vibrancy and celebrate history in eclectic galleries such as Blackbridge Hall and the John Marlor Arts Center.
Gray & Old Clinton
One of the final stops on the Trail brings visitors to Gray and Old Clinton. Visitors can experience life on an 1850s cotton plantation as they walk the grounds of the Jarrell Plantation State Historic Site. Only a half mile from the Jarrell Plantation, Hitchiti Nature Trail offers hiking trials, including a four-mile loop that follows Little Falling Creek to the Ocmulgee River. Visitors can attend Old Clinton War Days, a re-enactment of the Federal occupation of Clinton during the Civil War (which takes place the first weekend of May) before heading off to complete the journey in Macon.
An old sweet song. A soulful serenade. A screaming guitar. Trail-goers: get ready to rock when you roll into historic Macon. An eclectic fusion of amazing architecture blends smoothly with urban downtown digs for fine dining, drinks and dancing in an eclectic environment for fun. Even the museums rock and roll. Visitors can get down downtown at the Georgia Music Hall of Fame with the B-52’s, R.E.M., Little Richard, Jason Aldean and the Allman Brothers, sit on the dock with Otis Redding’s life-size statue overlooking the Ocmulgee River.
For more information visit: www.antebellumtrail.org