Travel the Wild West in Georgia
No need to purchase a plane ticket to visit the old west, Georgia has canyons, outlaws, Stagecoach Inns, cowboys, Indians and even a gold rush or two. Here are 10 places to experience the Wild West, in Georgia.
Providence Canyon, Lumpkin, Ga. Known as Georgia’s little Grand Canyon, Providence Canyon is a group of massive gullies, as deep as 150 feet that were caused by poor farming practices in the 1800s. The result is a gorgeous canyon with striations of orange, salmon, red, white, purple and pink soil layers. Hike the rim, or head down into the canyon.
Doc Holliday Saloon, Griffin, Ga. The famous Wild West gunfighter, gambler and Wyatt Earp pal was born and raised in Griffin, Ga. Take a self-guided Doc Holliday driving tour that includes seven markers around town that introduce you to young John Henry Holliday. Afterwards, stop at the Doc Holliday Saloon for a shot of whiskey and some vittles.
Travelers Rest, Toccoa, Ga. This National Historic Landmark was once a stagecoach stop on the Unicoi Turnpike. Visitors can tour the house that has many of the original artifacts and furnishings. For an added treat, visit during Pioneer Days and learn skills needed to be a pioneer in the 1800s.
Glen-Ella Springs Inn, Clarkesville, Ga. This bed and breakfast in North Georgia is located on Bear Gap Road. The road was originally called Old Stagecoach Road. Travelers used it to travel from Clayton to Athens, Ga. Today the Inn is family owned and operated by the Kivetts. Stay the night, or just come for dinner in the award-winning restaurant.
Aubria Lane’s Restaurant, Milledgeville, Ga. You can’t visit the old west without a bank heist. The Aubria Lane’s Restaurant in Milledgeville, was once the Milledgeville Banking Company. The original hammered tin ceiling and bank vault have been incorporated into the restaurant design. Aubria Lanes has been featured in Georgia’s ‘100 Plates Locals Love’, their crispy calamari is a favorite with locals and tourists. Diners can even enjoy a delicious chef inspired classic southern meal in the old bank vault. However, we do suggest you go ahead and pay.
Pine Mountain Gold Museum, Villa Rica, Ga. Dahlonega isn’t the only site of a gold rush in Georgia. Native American legends tell of gold near present day Villa Rica. Spanish explorers came searching for it, but the first documented account was recorded in the mid-1820’s. Since then, 19 commercial gold mining operations have been recorded in the town.
The Pine Mountain Gold Museum pays tribute to the mining industry in the area and includes exhibits, a documentary on the history of the Villa Rica mines, and a place to pan for your own gemstones. Two highlights within the complex are the authentic 19th Century gold stamp mill, and the Pine Mountain Scenic Railroad that takes guests on a tour around the mountain.
While you are in Villa Rica, be sure to visit Wick’s Tavern c.1830. It’s the oldest commercial structure in Carroll County, and has been turned into a living history museum.
Historic Westville, Columbus, Ga. Travel back in time to an authentic 1850’s community, and learn what life was like for the Creek Indians, the frontier settlers, rural farmers and the townspeople. Historic Westville, which is a living history museum similar to a Williamsburg, Va. experience, is expected to open to the public in 2018. So mark your calendar. The buildings in Westville are currently being moved from the museum’s original location in Lumpkin, to Columbus.
SAM Shortline Train, Cordele, Ga. If you don’t have a horse, the best mode of transportation in the west was by train. Board the SAM Shortline, Georgia’s only rolling state park for a trip through Georgia’s Southwest corner. Be sure to sample the peanut ice cream in Plains, Ga., and don’t miss the Rural Telephone Museum in Leslie, which has a very unique take on the history of communications from the Creek Indians through modern day telephones.
New Echota, Calhoun, Ga. The Wild West is filled with stories of cowboys, Indians, and stolen loot. Search New Echota for treasure with the Georgia State Parks GeoTour geocaching program. While you are there, learn about the native Indian tribe, the Cherokee Indians. New Echota was the capital of the Cherokee Nation, and includes government buildings, as well as the newspaper office where The Phoenix, the first Cherokee newspaper was printed. This is also the beginning of the Trail of Tears. In addition to life in the Cherokee Nation, learn about the forced removal of 16,000 Cherokee from Georgia to Oklahoma.
Booth Western Museum, Cartersville, Ga. No Wild West tour of Georgia would be complete without a visit to the Booth Western Museum in Cartersville. This world-class museum of western art includes an exhibit on Western movie posters, a presidential exhibit, and a very hands-on indoor playground for kids where they can ride in a stagecoach or cook at the chuck wagon.
Add horseback riding.