ATLANTA • AUGUSTA • SAVANNAH • MACON
—Pasqual’s —This is the place to go if you want a taste of Southern history as well as Southern food. Those who participated in and shaped the Civil Rights movement met here regularly to exchange ideas while feasting on fried chicken, collards and superb Mac and Cheese. www.paschalsatlanta.com
—Civil Rights Tour —To better understand Atlanta’s role in the civil rights movement, take one of Tom Houck’s Civil Rights Tours. You’ll see the city’s most important historic sites from the house where Martin Luther King was born to the one where he was living during the year he was assassinated. Tom is a terrific narrator, and his tours provide a sense of where Atlanta has been as well as where it plans to go. www.civilrightstour.com
— Sweet Auburn Curb Market —Twenty-plus businesses that include a bookstore, meat market, produce stand and some of the most popular food stands in the city make for a perfect rest-stop, especially if you and your traveling companion are craving different dishes for lunch. On the recommendation of several locals, we shared a killer burger from the Grindhouse and a Vietnamese noodle soup from Dua II Go. Both were excellent.
An added note: The market, which opened in 1924, gets its name from the racial segregation practices of the time. Only whites were allowed to have shops inside the market; blacks had to sell from stalls that lined the curb. www.thecurbmarket.com
— World of Coca-Cola —Thirsty after a long day of touring? The World of Coca-Cola not only features a multi-sensory 4-D theater, but also the chance to sample nearly 70 different beverages. www.worldofcoca-cola.com
— Cartersville —Expand your Cola knowledge with a trip to Cartersville, a small town on the northwest edge of Atlanta’s metro area. There, on the outside wall of an old pharmacy building, is a giant ad for Coca-Cola that has been authenticated as the company’s first outdoor wall advertisement and thus listed on the National Register of Historic Places. www.visitcartersvillega.org
— Where to Play Golf — Unless you’re insanely rich, famous or lucky, you can’t see, much less play upon, the revered turf of Augusta’s most famous golf course, the Augusta National Golf Club, which is home to the Masters Tournament. Never fear. Bobby Jones, who co-designed the Masters course and was instrumental in founding the tournament, began his career at the Forest Hills Golf Course, which is open to the public. Thus amateur golfers can breathe the same rarefied Augusta air as that inhaled by a genuine master of the Masters. www.theforesthillsgolfcourse.com
— Where to See the Famous — The best place in Augusta to actually see a Golf Great — or at least hear good golf gossip — is Luigi’s, the oldest family-owned restaurant in town. Jack Nicklaus and his family often order a take-out box for their plane ride home, and Ben Crenshaw makes it a point to stop by whenever he’s in town. www.luigisinc.com
— Where to Have Pimento Sandwiches — Only those who manage a ticket to the Masters are permitted to have one of their famous pimento sandwiches, and the recipe for the cheese spread is possibly the most closely guarded secret in the world. Thus, numerous Augusta restaurants have devised their own version of the secret sandwich, and Hildebrandt’s considered one of the best. www.dasdeli.us
— Bonus Tip — Locals who’ve tasted innumerable variations of the Pimento Sandwich, say that the recipe devised by Augusta Junior League is pretty close to the Master’s original. Here, copied with permission from their cookbooks, Par 3, Tea-Time at The Masters, is their recipe:
Four-Cheese Pimento Cheese Sandwich
3 cups (12 oz.) shredded white cheddar cheese
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded yellow sharp cheddar cheese
4 oz. crumbled blue cheese
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 jar (4 oz) sliced pimentos
1 cup light mayonnaise
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
Party-size loaf white bread or favorite bread cut into slices
Combine cheese, pimentos, mayonnaise and mustard into a food processor and process until smooth. Remove to a bowl. Cover and chill. Spread on bread slices to make sandwiches.
— The Marshall House — In addition to being a top-notch hotel conveniently located within the historic district, the Marshall House hosts free evening programs in the library. Sometimes it’s a musician, sometimes it’s a historian, all times it’s delightful. www.marshallhouse.com
Things to Do
— Pin Point Heritage Museum — Pin Point is one of the best places to understand the culture of the Gullah/Geechee people, who descended from slaves brought from West Africa top the coast of the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida. It’s an intact community of about 300 people, many of whom are willing to share their personal experiences. But spontaneous travellers beware. The Museum is only open Thursday, Friday and Saturday, which means you’ll have to change your habits and plan in advance. It’s worth the trouble. www.chsgeorgia.org
— Trolley Rides — Keep close watch when you take one of Savannah’s hop-on-hop-off trolley rides. No matter how wildly you wave or how desperate you look, drivers are only permitted to pick up passengers at certain spots. The signs are confusing so make sure you understand where to wait before you get off to explore. By checking twice, you’ll only have to wait once.
— Old Savannah Tours — First time visitors would do well to begin their trip with a one-day trolley ride that offers hop-on, hop-off privileges. Begin by taking the whole tour, which will take approximately 90 minutes. Then go back, get off at one of the spots that interests you, explore for as long as you like, and catch one of the next trolleys that comes by to continue to another spot.
Old Savannah Tours, which operates the white trolleys, will arrange a hotel pick up. In addition, costumed actors board the trolley at some of the stops to give short, spirited bits of information. www.oldsavannahtours.com
— Savannah Riverboat Cruises — We usually eschew riverboat cruises, which often seem like an expensive way to eat mediocre food, but Savannah’s Riverboat cruise is exceptional. The narration, which is packed with facts, gives us a new view of a city that’s the fourth busiest shipping port in the country (after Los Angeles, Long Beach and New York City). Go for the talk, if not the meal. www.savannahriverboat.com
— Culinary Tour — Savannah Taste Experience has several guides, all of whom get all get extensive training in the city’s culinary history. That said, each guide presents things in his or her own way. Pamela Harding, for example, likes stories laden with facts. Other guides like facts interspersed with stories. We thought Pamela was terrific but, as they say, it’s all a matter of taste. www.SavannahTasteExperience.com
— The Pie Society — This is the go-to place for meat pies and sweet pies. We had a sausage roll that was every bit as good as one I had in London, while a group of locals devoured flakey pastries frosted with a vanilla and lemon zest icing. www.thebritishpiecompany.com
— Mrs. Wilkes Restaurant — Mrs. Wilkes dishes up true Southern friendliness as well as authentic Southern food. People sit around large tables for ten, introduce themselves to the strangers sitting next to them, and dig into platters of fried chicken, okra, gumbo and, depending on the day, sweet potato soufflé.
Lines are long and hours are short (11am-2 pm, Monday to Friday). Get there early and be prepared to wait.
And, yes, Mrs. Wilkes appears on most tourist websites, but locals say that for true Southern food, it can’t be beat. They go there too. www.mrswilkes.com
— Picnic in the Park —Tired of regular restaurants? Let the Savannah Picnic Company prepare a special dinner and serve it to you in elegant style in one of the city’s numerous squares (neighborhood parks). Just don’t forget bug repellant. www.savannahpicniccompany.com
— Hidden restaurants — Savannah’s stately homes rarely have front yards; instead they surround “square” (small patches of green) where neighbors gather to socialize and, often, eat at small restaurants that are rarely frequented by those who live further away, and certainly not by tourists. For a taste of local food and flavor, just ask around. Southerners are known for their friendliness, and someone is likely to point you to the nearest neighborhood hangout.
— Kobo Gallery — The work at Kobo’s, a coop of about a dozen local artists, is sleekly contemporary and invitingly casual. It ranges from the fiber work of Doris Grieder, a transplanted retiree, to the paintings of Nancy Boyd, a recent graduate of Savannah Arts Academy. www.kobogallery.com
— Alix Baptiste’s Art Gallery — Tired? In need of a smile? Drop by Alix Baptiste’s gallery in City Market. He paintings, which represent his childhood in Haiti, are as bright as the Caribbean sun. www.alixbaptiste.com
— Gallery 209 —Go here for the art — a delightful mix of jewelry, pottery, fiber works and paintings — but also look take in the atmosphere. Overlooking the river, Gallery 209 is housed in a renovated cotton warehouse that has original stone walls, a brick floor and exposed beams. The artists are all local and the prices are fair. www.gallery209savannah.com
— A.T.Hun Art Gallery — In need of a good story? Tell people you found something that Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump agree on. They’re both quoted as saying they like A.T. Hun’s art gallery! You will too. The art is eclectic, the atmosphere is fun. www.athun.com
— Roots Up Gallery — Roots Up features work by some of the South’s most renowned folk and visionary artists such as Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Mose Tolliver, Clementine Hunter. Indeed, the gallery is as much a museum as a store. Hours are limited; check in advance. www.rootsupgallery.com
— Bird Girl Sculpture — When at the Jepson Museum, be sure to see one of Savannah’s most popular works, the Bird Girl sculpture. It was photographed and subsequently used on the cover of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, the 1994 best-seller book that brought fame — and tourists — to Savannah. www.jepson.com
— Music Festival — Be sure to mark your calendar for the Savannah Music Festival that is scheduled for March 28 through April 13 in 2019. www.savannahmusicfestival.org
— Liquor Laws — It’s okay to have a drink in hand as you stroll Savannah’s Historic District as long as you restrict yourself to one beverage at a time carried in an open plastic container of not more than 16 ounces. But don’t take our word for it; check with Savannah officials for the most recent updates of city liquor laws.
— Tubman Museum — Be prepared to gape when you walk into the Tubman Museum, which is the largest museum in the United States dedicated to the art, history and culture of African Americans. On one floor a giant nine-panel mural by William Stroud traces their journey. On another an exhibit by outsider artists, including Mr. Imagination, will blow your mind. www.tubmanmuseum.com
— Rock Candy Tours — Rock Candy Tours leads folks to the streets, alleys and bars that were home to the musical greats of the Sixties and Seventies. All RC guides provide interesting insider stories, but it’s an added bonus if the tour leaders has close ties to one of the folks who put Macon on the music map of America. Check ahead to see if you can get on a tour led by Jessica Walden, niece of Capricorn Studio’s Phil Walden, or Justin Andrews, Otis Redding’s grandson. www.rockcandytours.com
— The Rookery — Jimmy Carter credited Phil Walden and the Allman Brothers with helping him become president, a story that’s told often at the Rookery, where the former president is honored with the Jimmy Carter Burger (burger topped with peanut butter and bacon) and the Jimmy Carter Shake (banana ice cream, peanut butter and bacon). You presumably understand the peanut butter connection, but ask your server to explain the banana and bacon. www.rookerymacon.com
— The Downtown Grill — Located in downtown Macon, the Downtown Grill is a restaurant that quite literally serves food worthy of the stars. Along with a first-class meal, eating there gives you first-class bragging rights. You can tell folks you dined where Gregg Allman and Cher wined on the night they got engaged. www.macondowntowngrill.com
— H&H Restaurant — This small soul food restaurant has been a local legend ever since owner Louise Hudson gave some starving young musicians a heaping plate of fried chicken. The musicians turned out to be members of the Allman Brothers Band, and Mama Louise became their life-long friend. Now the restaurant attracts folks from around the world. www.mamalouise.com
— Otis Statue — Don’t miss the life-size statue of Otis Redding that sits in Macon’s Gateway Park. Otis’ wife gave sculptor Bradley Cooley some of her husband’s clothing to ensure accuracy.
— Douglass Theatre —Interesting for its history, its architecture and its performances, the Douglass Theatre is definitely worth a stop. It’s where Otis Reading was discovered and many others including Little Richard and Cab Calloway performed. Now it has been reopened as a theater that honors the influence of African Americans on the performing arts. www.douglasstheatre.org
— Little Richard’s House — Interested in a self-guided tour of the homes where many of Macon’s musical greats spent all or part of their childhood? There isn’t an official map through these residential areas, but there’s usually a person at the Visitors Bureau who will give you directions.
Note: Little Richard’s home — a pink shotgun house that used to be in the Pleasant Hill neighborhood — is among the most distinctive. It was about to be demolished due to a new Interstate, but instead was moved to 416 Craft Street and is being used as a community resource center.
— Dublin Performance — The re-enactment of the day when Martin Luther King gave his first public speech is a not-to-be-missed experience. If it isn’t scheduled to take place on a day when you’re in town, the folks at the Dublin Regional Visitors Information Center says they’ll do their best to arrange a special performance.
— Southern Quilt Trail — Why stitch a small quilt for your bed when you can paint a big one on your barn? Less than 50 miles west of Atlanta, the Southern Quilt Trail offers a leisurely drive through rural America. www.southernquilttrails.com
— West Georgia Textile Heritage Trail — Dalton is approximately 100 miles north of Atlanta, Columbus roughly the same distance south. You can zoom along major highways, but it’s more fun to mosey along U.S. Highway 27 where you’ll find mills and manufacturing plants that date back to the days when cotton was king. www.westgatextiletrail.com