Barnesville, GA Visitors Guide
The beautiful small-town atmosphere of Barnesville Georgia is just a highlight of what a tourist can do in the surrounding area. Activities abound, as well as interesting historical facts about the area dating back to the 1700s. You will not be disappointed in spending a day in Barnesville.
Imagine a quiet street lined with former buggy factories turned into charming shops and mouth-watering restaurants. Locals smile and wave to one another as they pass on the street beneath the sun-sheltering arms of the trees. Children’s laughter fills the air and mingles with the soothing voice of the bubbling fountain near the old Train Depot. Dusk falls and the trees light up with twinkling lights, the antique-style lampposts glow to life and the quaint town hums with the sounds of the evening.
This may seem like a scene from days gone by, but Barnesville actually retains the southern charm and small-town ways long forgotten in other cities. Barnesville prides itself on sincere hospitality and a cozy Main Street. Only forty-five minutes from downtown Atlanta, Barnesville offers visitors and residents a glimpse of the past with present-day amenities. Whether you prefer to spend your days shopping for trinkets or would rather spend your day hiking outdoors, Barnesville has something to offer everyone.
Barnesville Main Street
The downtown area offers a flashback to the “Golden Age” America. Businesses line Barnesville’s picturesque Main Street in restored buildings dating back to the early 1800s and the famous Thomaston Street is lined with historic Victorian homes touting their gingerbread and stained glass. Grab a bite to eat in one of the many restaurants satisfying appetites for good old-fashioned home cooking and delicious Southern BBQ to a range of American fare; or perhaps your appetite is for shopping along the avenue for trinkets and treasures in one of the antique shops, gift shops or the world-renowned “Buggytown Candle Company.”
Old Train Depot
If your mood is for art, go no further than the Old Train Depot, which has been converted to an art gallery for the Lamar Arts Council, featuring many local artists’ works. The Old Jail Museum houses relics from the past, such as antique buggies and fire engines, and offers visitors information on Barnesville’s rich Civil War history. Also, within reach from the downtown area, Barnesville is a center of learning within the brick-fenced walls of Gordon College. The college, a former military college in its infancy, now is ranked as a two and four-year institution within the University of Georgia college system, featuring degrees in the nursing and medical fields, arts and teaching, as well as a wide range of other categories.
Rumble Seat Inn
Delve deep into history and learning by staying overnight at one of the two bed and breakfast inns, both dating from the mid-1800s and both saturated with stories and events to fill the ears of curious tourists. The Rumble Seat Inn is a two-story Victorian dream featuring world-class caterer and chef, Jenny Hobbs, whose culinary achievements have graced the movie sets of director and actor Tyler Perry. Here you can bed down for the night amidst graceful antiques in an atmosphere of a by-gone era.
The second inn, Antebellum Oaks, formerly the residence of Fred Crane, one of the Tarleton twins of Gone With The Wind fame, now owned by Dollie McCarthy, truly takes a visitor back to those days before the Civil War. The house stands majestically amidst oaks and pecan trees, a spectacle to the eyes with towering white columns and a sweeping veranda. Sit on the porch sipping a mint julep while Dollie gives you the history of its days as a Confederate hospital, complete with historical facts and ghost stories.
State Parks and Recreation Areas
After a good night’s rest, amble to one of the nearby state parks and nature conservation areas. Here you will find plenty of places to spend a quiet afternoon hiking or picnicking in the great outdoors. High Falls State Park, Indian Springs State Park and The Rock Ranch (all featured in upcoming articles) give visitors a bevy of activities to enjoy on a solitary quest or with family and friends.
High Falls Park
First on the agenda, the 1,050 acre High Falls Park is not to be missed. Located approximately 13 miles north of Barnesville on Highway 36 is the beautiful waterfalls flowing over the foundation wall of a former grist mill on the Towaliga River. During the 1800s, High Falls Georgia swarmed with townspeople in a thriving town complete with several stores, a cotton gin, blacksmith shop, shoe factory and hotel. After the railroad made a detour around the town, it slowly disappeared during the 1880s. Now, after becoming a State Park, people from all around enjoy the scenic waters snapping pictures, fishing, canoeing, pedal boating, miniature golfing, hiking the miles of trails, and resting from an enjoyable day at one of the RV hook-ups, primitive campsites or the High Falls Hotel.
Indian Springs State Park
Next along the path, a little ways further north from High Falls State Park, your travels bring you to Indian Springs State Park and Dauset Trails. Indian Springs has the special honor of being the oldest park in the United States, acquired by the State in 1825, and the sulphuric waters of the bubbling spring were used by the Creek Indians for medicinal purposes in healing the sick and giving vigor to those drinking the liquid. The long told story is that the Creek Chief William McIntosh, for whom the lake is named after, deeded the land surrounding Indian Springs to the State after signing an illegal treaty. He was later assassinated by his own people for treason. Not to be missed during the autumn of the year, the colors of the trees mingling with the sounds of the babbling waters gives you a sense of why the Creek Indians valued this treasure. Many of the structures, such as the large pavilion near the creek, are reminiscent of the structures built at Pine Mountain, all built by the FDR Civilian Conservation Corps.
The town surrounding Indian Springs highlights beautiful surroundings not only for family outings but exquisite areas for weddings. The Indian Springs Hotel is a sprawling 1850s Antebellum home complete with white columns and oak trees and can accommodate up to 450 guests. Romance and elegance illuminate this hotel, featuring a private gated entrance, period antiques, and the ambiance of a by-gone era.
The village of Indian Springs gives tourists plenty of options for overnight stays from quaint cottages, RV hook-ups, primitive campsites, and a group campground complete with cabins, community hall and kitchen.
Just a hop, skip and jump away is Dauset Trails, a non-profit conservation park filled with sights and activities for kids of every age and highlighting the wondrous wildlife of Georgia. Here you can hike and bike the 17 miles of trails, bring your horse to ride the exclusive horse trails, picnic, bird watch, and view the menagerie of animals from an American Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawks, Bobcats, Mountain Lions, Horned Owls, Otters, Bison, Rattlesnakes, etc. The entire park is geared toward family bonding and fun, accumulating a small picnic to large group shelters, as well as an amazing outdoor wedding or reunion at the lakeside chapel pavilion.
Last, but certainly not least, is the incredible Rock Ranch owned and operated by the Truett family of Chick-fil-A fame. The Rock Ranch is located 7 miles west of Barnesville on Highway 36 and is truly a feast for the eyes and senses. There seems to be nothing lacking for a family or group to do, from an immense corn maze, a giant jumping pillow, pumpkin cannon, mini locomotive train rides, petting zoo of farm animals, swimming, volleyball, horseshoes, concerts at the lakeside amphitheater, BBQs under the sprawling pavilion, and hayrides around the 1,250-acre working cow farm. You can also take advantage of the beautiful surroundings by staying overnight in one of the cottages, a primitive campfire group site or you can even stay in bunkhouses that look like an old pioneer wagon train. And not to be missed is the many events scheduled during the year from the spectacular fireworks during the Fourth to the journey through a live manger scene during the Christmas season. So much to do and see!
Barnesville Buggy Days Festival
A feature of Barnesville, Georgia and a tradition for nearly 40 years is the Barnesville Buggy Days Festival. During the third full weekend of every September, the downtown area is transformed and celebrates its heritage as “The Buggy Capital of the South” during the late 1800s. Barnesville was awarded the distinction of being a Top 20 event in the Southeast for five out of eight years, often featured in major publications such as Southern Living magazine. More than a 150 artists and crafters sell their handmade items on Main Street, antique buggies are on display throughout the town and at the Old Jail Museum, and food pleasing to every palate is available from numerous civic clubs. A parade on Saturday is a sight for the eyes and brings a smile to every face watching the buggies, floats, bands, Miss Barnesville Buggy Days, horses and antique cars pass along the streets.
Barnesville BBQ and Blues Festival
The second, and equally exciting festival, is the Barnesville BBQ and Blues Festival hosted by the Chamber of Commerce during the last weekend of every April. Sanctioned by the Florida BBQ Association, Barnesville is transformed into a large outdoor restaurant filled with mouth-watering ribs, brisket and pork butts, along with the sounds from the Blues stage. This event was declared a State Championship Cook-off by Governor Sonny Perdue in 2009. Fifty plus teams compete each year in the Triple Crown Series and the coveted Jack Daniels National Qualifier Competition and bands from across the Southeast perform Friday and Saturday on the BBQ stage. The voices of a featured blues headliner fill the night sky during a concert bash located at the outdoor amphitheater, Ritz Park, where a Georgia Music Legend Award is presented and a Mayor Dewaine T. Bell Scholarship.
So much to do and see in this cozy little town, a town filled with southern charm, hospitality, and a shady place to play and learn. Barnesville, Georgia is a great place to begin your journey down the Golden Isles Highway, and before leaving the area.