Marietta marks a milestone this year with the 30th incarnation of the Pilgrimage, a yuletide showcase of the city’s most beautifully preserved historic homes. But an hour east of Atlanta, the picturesque town of Madison has been in the holiday home tour business even longer. Both cities’ excursions take place the first weekend in December, cost $25 in advance, and offer daytime and candlelight itineraries.
Origin story City officials created the Pilgrimage in the mid-1980s as a means of extending the historic square’s popular fall tourism season into colder months.
This year’s focus Victorian architecture. In the Kennesaw Avenue Historic District near the square, see six painstakingly restored, festively decorated private homes ranging from High Victorians to a Victorian cottage, dating as far back as the late 1800s.
Accolades CNN Money has called Marietta one of the country’s best places to retire, acknowledging its strong arts scene, restaurants, and community events.
What else can I do? There’s an accompanying tour of historic nonresidential buildings and a makeshift “bistro” with warming refreshments along the route.
Tourism slogan “It’s Hip to Be Square”
Origin story Madison launched its Holiday Tour of Homes 33 years ago, hoping to capitalize on one of Georgia’s largest collections of 19th-century architecture. The event is a fundraiser for the Madison-Morgan Chamber of Commerce and the Morgan County Historical Society.
This year’s focus No specific theme, but each year includes homes in Madison’s National Register Historic District, home to more than 100 antebellum structures, which General William T. Sherman’s troops famously opted not to torch.
Accolades George White’s 1849 Statistics of the State of Georgia says of Madison: “In point of intelligence, refinement, and hospitality, this town acknowledges no superior.” More recently, Budget Travel called Madison one of the 16 most beautiful towns in the world.”
What else can I do? Take a stroll through Madison’s shop- and restaurant-packed downtown, which also gets decked for the holidays.
Tourism slogan “Discover a Different Pace”
This article originally appeared in our December 2016 issue.