The city of almost 100,000 inhabitants was founded in 1823 on the Ocmulgee River. Because the residents sided with the Union in the civil war, the city was spared attacks by General William Tecumseh Sherman. As a result, Macon has the most historic buildings in Georgia today. The most beautiful of these are in the Intown Historic District, which is well worth seeing. One of them is the Hay House Museum, built in 1855 in the Italian Renaissance style, which is sumptuously furnished. (Hay House Museum, 934 Georgia Ave, www.hayhousemacon.org ).
Macon is also well known as a music city. Little Richard and Otis Redding are among the most well-known city fathers. The famous Allman Brothers also come from Macon. The Big House Museum was home to the original members of the Allman Brothers Band, their families and various friends from 1970 to 1973. Concerts are also held regularly at the museum. (2321 Vineville Ave, Macon, GA 31204, open Thurs-Sat 11am-6pm, Sun 11am-4pm ( www.thebighousemuseum.com )
The Tubman Museum is dedicated to the history of African Americans in this part of Georgia and features works by famous African American artists. (310 Cherry St, Macon, GA 31201, open Tue-Sat 9am-3pm, www.tubmanmuseum.com ). The Georgia Sports Hall of Fame (301 Cherry Street, www.georgiasportshalloffame.com ) is also in the immediate vicinity.
On the other side of the river you can visit the archaeological site, the Ocmulgee National Monument. The complex was built from 950 to about 1100 by the so-called Mississippi culture and later also settled by other Indian tribes. (1207 Emery Hwy, Macon, GA 31217 www.nps.gov/ocmu ).
For more information: 450 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Macon www.maconga.org
According to collegetoppicks, the city of almost 120,000 inhabitants is the intellectual and literary center of the state thanks to the University of Georgia (UGA). In recent years, Athens has also been widely known for its musicians. REM, The B-52s and Widespread Panic have their origins here. The “ATHFEST” ( www.athfest.com ) taking place at the end of June heralds the summer holidays. After that, the city seems deserted. With the end of the holidays Athens comes back to life and in the autumn the first games of the football team “Georgia Bulldogs” take place. Most pubs, restaurants and music bars can be found in the restored downtown area around Broad Street. Incidentally, the houses in the “Greek Revival architecture” are remarkable.
The legendary music venue is the 40 Watt Club (285 W. Washington Street, www.40watt.com ). Campus tours are offered through the University Visitor Center www.uga.edu. Of course, the student city offers numerous restaurants and bars where you can eat and drink inexpensively. For more information: Athens Convention & Visitors Bureau, 300 N Thomas St, Athens, GA 30601 ( www.visitathensga.com/guide )
Dahlonga, about 100 km north-east of Atlanta, has a population of almost 7,000 and is the starting point for a tour of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Gold was first found in the small town in 1828. This fact led to America’s first gold rush (almost 20 years before California’s). No wonder, then, that there is also a state gold museum here (1 Public Square N, Dahlonega, GA 30533, www.gastateparks.org/parks) are. This is housed in the courthouse on the central main square of the town. In addition to a guided tour through the gold mines, guests also have the opportunity to pan for gold themselves. Those who prefer to use previously processed gold can purchase US Mint coins (minted from 1838 to 1861 and marked “D”) in Dahlonega. The gold for this comes from the Crisson Gold Mine, which is about four kilometers outside of town.
The former lumberjack town that mutated into a ghost town was saved by its own residents by converting it into a replica of a Bavarian alpine village. In doing so, a very thorough hand was applied and a southern German touch was added to each individual building. The Americans like this little town in the Appalachians (the “Alpine substitute”) and so Helen, with its almost 600 inhabitants, can live well today from its visitors, who can buy clay beer mugs and similar souvenirs. Of course there is also an “Oktoberfest” here. For more information: Alpine Helen/White County Convention & Visitors Bureau, 726 Bruckenstrasse, Helen, GA 30545, www.cityofhelen.org