Travel Georgia: Springtime events, festivals, and destinations around the state

A selection of fun ways to celebrate the season, including trips to must-visit museums and a getaway to Macon

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Jepsen Center in Savannah

Photo by Adam Kuehl Photography

Culture Caches
Georgia’s diverse museums open doors to discovery

Need to fill a rainy spring day? Georgia’s museums have you covered with all types of exhibits, from art and history to NASCAR. These sites make indoor discovery fun—for adults and kids alike.

Eagle Catcher bronze sculpture at the Booth Western Art Museum

Courtesy of the Booth Western Art Museum

Booth Western Art Museum
Cartersville
True to its tagline, this top-rated Smithsonian Affiliate lets visitors “explore the West without leaving the South” via the world’s largest permanent exhibition space dedicated to Western art. Permanent exhibits spotlight Native American artifacts, Civil War art, presidential letters and photographs (including signed letters from every U.S. president), and a sweeping collection of paintings, photography, and sculptures capturing the people and landscapes of the American West from the 1800s to today. Don’t miss the authentic 1865 stagecoach; galleries of colorful indigenous art, textiles, and pottery; or the soaring Eagle Catcher bronze that stands in the center of the museum’s stunning sculpture atrium.

Spark of Conviction at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights

Courtesy of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights

National Center for Civil and Human Rights
Atlanta
Gain new appreciation for the events and heroes that defined the U.S. civil rights movement—and the era’s connection to the broader, global fight for equal rights—as you stroll through three floors of interactive displays. Explore papers and artifacts of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., plus in-depth exhibits on segregation policies as well as the movement leaders and everyday citizens behind the 1960s sit-ins, boycotts, and marches to end them. Hear Dr. King’s speech at the 1963 March on Washington, engage in a simulated lunch counter sit-in, and reflect on other key civil rights milestones before moving to upper-floor exhibits, which highlight international human rights’ campaigns, many of which are ongoing.

A World Power (1920–1947) gallery at the National Infantry Museum & Soldier Center

Courtesy of the National Infantry Museum & Solider Center

National Infantry Museum & Soldier Center
Columbus
Experience American military history through the eyes of an infantry solider in the museum’s signature exhibit, The Last 100 Yards, featuring life-sized dioramas of U.S. battles from the Revolutionary War to WWII, Vietnam, and Desert Storm. With more than 1,800 artifacts on display, 36 interactive exhibits, and an outdoor campus of fully preserved WWII-era buildings to explore, there’s plenty here to engage military history buffs, but the museum’s wow-worthy displays of weaponry, armored vehicles, and individual soldiers’ personal effects make exhibits accessible and engaging even for history novices. For an additional fee, enjoy virtual simulator experiences, such as driving a Humvee or flying a Black Hawk helicopter.

Georgia Racing Hall of Fame
Dawsonville
A must stop for motorsports enthusiasts, this museum captures the thrill of racing through the decades, from Red Byron’s 1939 Ford (winner of the 1948 NASCAR championship) and Buck Baker’s 1957 Chevy to more contemporary stock cars and memorabilia, plus a kid-friendly mock pit crew experience. Along with the evolution of racing, the museum highlights Dawsonville’s role as the birthplace of stock car racing with a short “drive-in” movie and exhibits on Dawsonville racing legends like Gober Sosebee, whose Daytona-winning Ford is on display. Don’t skip the extensive collections devoted to Dawsonville father-and-son drivers Bill and Chase Elliott, which includes Bill’s wrecked car from the 1998 DieHard 500 and the car Chase drove to snag his first NASCAR Cup Series win in 2018.

Telfair Children’s Art Museum

Photo by Adam Kuehl Photography

Telfair Museums
Savannah
Savor art, history, and architecture in a city renowned for each at the three sites composing the Telfair trio. Explore modern American art—including works by Jasper Johns and Roy Lichtenstein—plus a new, immersive children’s art museum at the Jepson Center. Steps away, browse 19th- and 20th-century American and European works, including Savannah’s iconic Bird Girl statue, at the regal Telfair Academy, built in 1819 and opened as the South’s first public art museum in 1886. Complete the day at the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters, where 45-minute guided tours offer insights on the antebellum art and furnishings on display, as well as the interwoven history of the home’s original owners and enslaved laborers.

—R.R.

• • •

City Spotlight: Macon

Book a getaway to this central Georgia city, the birthplace of storied artists like Otis Redding and Little Richard. Enjoy cherry and dogwood trees in full bloom at historic parks and squares, while visiting outdoor festivals, award-winning restaurants, and vibrant museums.

Hotel Forty Five

Courtesy of Visit Macon

STAY
With a prime location in historic downtown, the 94-room Hotel Forty Five features vintage design elements in its stylish suites and a rooftop bar boasting skyline views and cocktails named after songs by Macon musicians.

Kinjo Kitchen + Cocktails

Courtesy of Visit Macon

EAT
Dine on sophisticated Southern fare such as a grilled pork chop with sweet potato mash at Dovetail. Or try Japanese fusion dishes at Kinjo Kitchen + Cocktails, a lively downtown restaurant with a moody underground bar.

Cherry blossom trees lining the streets of Macon

Courtesy of Visit Macon

DO
More than 350,000 Yoshino cherry trees hit peak bloom in late March, and the city celebrates with 10 days of food-truck tastings, concerts, art for sale, and fireworks displays in local parks at the International Cherry Blossom Festival on March 15–24.

—L.S.

• • •

Best Bets This Spring
Four ways to celebrate the season all over the state

Cloudland Canyon State Park

Photo via Bigstock

Explore scenic state parks
Hike 60 miles of trails around Cloudland Canyon State Park’s breathtaking, 1,000-foot-deep ravine in Rising Fawn. Further south in Pine Mountain, climb through hardwood forests to panoramic summits, including the president’s favorite picnic spot—Dowdell’s Knob—at F.D. Roosevelt State Park. For coastal wildlife, pristine salt marshes, and moss-framed pathways, opt for Skidaway Island State Park just minutes from downtown Savannah.

Market at Madison

Courtesy of Visit Dublin GA

Shop local at area farmers markets
Starting on Saturdays in April, buy Georgia-grown produce and grass-fed meats along with fresh flowers and locally made jams and baked goods at the Market on Madison in Dublin and Oconee Farmers Market in Watkinsville. Stock the kitchen with global fare from the indoor, year-round Buford Highway Farmers Market. Its colorful aisles are filled with everything from wild-caught seafood to hard-to-find produce and premade goods like kimchi dumplings.

A ring-tailed lemur at Yellow River Wildlife Sanctuary

Photo by Jenn Cardinell

Commune with wild animals
Feed giraffes, meet Komodo dragons at keeper-led talks, or hop aboard an 1860s-era train replica to view more than 200 animal species at Zoo Atlanta. With a network of nature trails, plus outdoor exhibits of cheetahs, black bears, and more, Albany’s Chehaw Park and Zoo is a must-visit destination for animal lovers. Get up close with deer, rabbits, goats, and other wild creatures at animal haven Yellow River Wildlife Sanctuary in Lilburn.

Cast a line in Georgia waterways
Wade into the Toccoa River in Blue Ridge, popular with fly fishers for its cool waters and large trout population. Fish for bass, crappie, catfish, and more in the Lake Oconee River in central Georgia. Or angle for your supper in the Golden Isles—both the Gascoigne Bluff and St. Simons Island piers are hot spots for catching crabs and fishing for trout, redfish, and flounder.

—L.S.

• • •

Mark Your Calendar
Spring events you won’t want to miss

St. Patrick’s Day Parade
When: March 16
Where: Savannah
Grab a spot along the downtown route early for the 200th-anniversary event, with marching bands, dancers, and elaborate floats celebrating the city’s rich Irish heritage.

Georgia Food + Wine Festival
When: March 21–24
Where: Marietta
Sample dishes from top local restaurants and farmers, watch live chef demonstrations, and sip on drinks in a souvenir glass at this annual event at Jim R. Miller Park.

Blessing of the Fleet
When: April 21–23
Where: Darien
This coastal community kicks off the shrimping season with three days of festivities, including a marine-themed parade, live entertainment, and plenty of seafood from local vendors.

Twilight Criterium
When: April 26–27
Where: Athens
Enjoy BMX demos, a family festival, and an artist market by day, then watch professional cyclists zip through the downtown streets by night.

—L.S.

This article appears in our March 2024 issue.

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