In the late nineteenth century, Thomasville was a terminus on the Southern Railway, making it an easily accessible destination for wealthy Northerners. Enchanted by its pine-scented air and warm temperatures (it’s just a few miles from the Florida line), they chose it as a winter vacation destination. Many built lavish homes or purchased former cotton estates and transformed them into hunting plantations. Fast-forward to the present day and this air of Victorian refinement is still as central to Thomasville as the massive 300-year-old oak at the corner of Monroe and Crawford streets. Drive or walk down the town’s original brick roads, sit on its wrought-iron benches, and admire its preserved Victorian architecture. Restored downtown buildings house thriving retailers such as Dillon Candy Company, which has specialized in pralines and pecan rolls since 1918, and Sweet Grass Dairy Cheese Shop, where you can sample local meats and cheeses. Don’t miss the grand Pebble Hill Plantation, a standout among the town’s plantations (also see: Pine Hill and Sinkola). While you’re there, take a tour and book a quail hunt—after all, the area is known as the Quail Hunting Capital of the World.
Where to stay
The Paxton House Historic House Hotel / Experience Gilded Age charm at this B&B built in 1884 as a vacation home for wealthy West Virginian James Paxton. Have breakfast on the sun porch before taking a spin around town on one of the hotel’s complimentary bikes. thepaxton1884.com
Where to eat
George and Louie’s / A Thomasville institution since 1981, this Greek restaurant and market features a large porch on which to enjoy its famous grilled-shrimp Greek salad. georgeandlouies.com
What to see
Lapham-Patterson House Historic Site / Built between 1884 and 1885 as a winter home for Chicago businessman C.W. Lapham, this ornate National Historic Landmark showcases unusual design elements such as asymmetrical rooms and more than fifty exit points. gastateparks.org/laphampatterson
Rose Show and Festival
Once home to a test garden where botanists experimented with growing different types of roses, Thomasville—known as “The Rose City”—boasts a world-renowned variety of the genus. All year long, visitors can walk through the Thomasville Rose Garden, which showcases more than 1,500 bushes. And every spring since the 1920s, the city hosts the annual Thomasville Rose Show and Festival, a three-day affair with two parades of flowery floats. The main event, of course, is the rose show itself, during which thousands of visiting flower enthusiasts will see rose hybrids in a staggering array of colors—from black to green to aquamarine.