Georgia-set Gone With the Wind celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, but don’t let yourself be totally sidetracked by Georgia’s movie heritage.
Start your exploration in the vibrant state capital Atlanta. Three of the city’s major attractions are situated within spitting distance of each other in the downtown area.
Here, you’ll find the new World of Coca Cola where you can taste over 60 products from around the world and learn about the fascinating history of the drink.
From here, walk a few minutes to Georgia Aquarium, the largest of its kind in the world, with a vast array of sea and river life, from beluga whales to otters. You can even get up close to whale sharks by scuba diving in one of the giant tanks.
Enjoy a behind the scenes tour of the CNN Centre, where you can watch a live broadcast.
Head just outside Atlanta to Stone Mountain, a theme park focused around a granite dome, upon which three figures of the Confederate States of America are carved. Every evening, there’s a sound and light show, featuring top Southern tunes such as Sweet Home Alabama.
Follow the Antebellum Trail through Georgia, stopping at the tiny town of Madison, which has a population of less than 5,000. Surrounding its main square are coffee shops, ice cream parlours, restaurants and antique shops, such as Attic Treasures, which sells everything from vintage jewellery to civil war memorabilia.
Heritage Hall, a historic Greek Revival showplace, also merits exploration for its so-called haunted bedroom and its romantic etchings on the windows. Tour Madison to see its Antebellum and Victorian mansion houses. Also on the trail is Antebellum capital, Milledgeville.
Travel a few hours south to the gorgeous city of Savannah. This Georgian gem’s atmospheric streets are lined with tropical palms and trees dripping with Spanish moss. The best way to explore Savannah is on foot as all of its perfectly-preserved historic buildings, restaurants, bars and parks are clustered together.
There’s also no shortage of independent boutiques, antique and vintage shops. Stroll along the cobblestone streets of the attractive waterfront, where ships come into port. Here you’ll find shops, restaurants and bars set within former cotton warehouses.
Foodies are spoilt for choice in Savannah. For true Southern fare, eat at Mrs Wilkes’ on West Jones Street. Expect to queue for this genuine southern dining experience, which is often compared to having lunch at your Grandma’s house.
Serving bowls are different colours and sizes, and you have to take your dirty plates to the kitchen once you’ve finished eating. There’s no menu at Mrs Wilkes’, but you can choose from a huge number of dishes from fried chicken or beef stew to mashed up carrots drenched in butter.
For a sweet treat, try Leopold’s Ice Cream, on East Broughton Street, owned by Stratton Leopold, a Hollywood film producer who has worked on movies such as Mission: Impossible III and The General’s Daughter. Popular with families is The Crab Shack, an open-air seafood restaurant in Tybee Island, surrounded by a lagoon teeming with small alligators.
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