The county seat of Clayton County, Jonesboro is most famous as the setting for many of the fictional plantations in Gone with the Wind, which visitors can explore at its Road to Tara Museum. But the city is also home to dozens of authentic 19th- and early-20th-century homes, some of which—like the circa 1840 Warren House and the antebellum Stately Oaks—are open for tours.
Named after Samuel Goode Jones, a civil engineer and city planner, in 1845, Jonesboro is enjoying a downtown renaissance, like many other small cities. New restaurants, residential projects, art venues and galleries, and even a water park are helping make the town into a destination. It also benefits from proximity to Clayton State University in nearby Morrow.
“Jonesboro is a hidden gem of the South,” says mayor Dr. Donya L. Sartor, the city’s first Black chief executive. “I love living in historic downtown Jonesboro, while still being in close proximity to major amenities such as Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Living in Jonesboro now means you have become a part of innovative growth and progress.”
What’s to love?
Jonesboro has slowly been bringing new flavors and culinary options to the Main Street/Broad Street section downtown. Slutty Vegan opened there a few years ago and has emerged as a top lunch spot. Nouveau at Broad Street is a fun place to enjoy brunch and dinner along with live entertainment. Artists such as 112, Silk, and Ginuwine have made appearances between the bar’s karaoke and game nights.
The city’s public art gallery features the work of both visiting professionals and local artists. Festivals and special programs are scheduled throughout the year, including showcases of art by senior citizens, area college students, and teenagers.
Lee Street Park
Located in the shadow of the new municipal center, Lee Street Park is a prized greenspace. There is a playground and amphitheater for live musical performances. The Jonesboro Farmers Market also takes place here every Saturday morning during the spring, summer, and early fall.
This 400-seat recital hall on the grounds of Clayton State University is famous for its world-class organ and stellar acoustics—thanks to its founders, Walter and Emilie Spivey. She was an organist and hired an acoustician before they even hired the architects. Itzhak Perlman performed at its opening in 1991. Today, Spivey Hall has an international following due to its regular appearances on American Public Media’s Performance Today.
Spivey Splash Water Park
Through Labor Day, this 15,574-square-foot attraction, opened last year, features four water slides, kiddie pools, a splash pad, cabanas available for rent, the state’s longest lazy river, and one of only two FlowRider surfing simulators in Georgia. There are also several sports pools on the premises.
This article appears in our August 2023 issue.