We love exploring America’s back roads and small towns and finding overlooked gems that the tourist brochures never cover. In a series of weekly blog posts we will be sharing some of America’s lesser-known small town museums, historic sites, and oddball attractions, on a state-by-state basis. We don’t have room to cover each and every attraction in every state, but hope to give you some ideas for places to see your travels.
Americus: Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village and Discovery Center includes life-sized examples of some of the world’s worst living conditions and poverty housing, examples of the houses the organization builds for the impoverished worldwide, and displays on the volunteers who make it all happen
Andersonville: Andersonville National Historic Site preserves the largest Confederate prison during the Civil War. More than 13,000 Union captives perished at Andersonville from poor living conditions, untreated wounds, malnutrition, and disease.
Atlanta: The Atlanta home where Martin Luther King, Jr. was born is now a National Historic Site and open to tours.
Atlanta: If you’re thirsty, spend some time touring the World of Coca-Cola, a museum at the soft drink’s world headquarters, where you will see hundreds of exhibits on Coke, including old advertisements, antique bottles, and other memorabilia.
Atlanta: The Atlanta Cyclorama, the world’s largest oil painting, depicts the 1864 Civil War Battle of Atlanta.
Augusta: The U.S. Army Signal Corps Museum at Fort Gordon tells the story of the Army Signal Corps.
Cartersville: The 54 acre Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site contains six Native American earthen mounds dating back to between 1000 A.D. to 1550 A.D. Artifacts on display show how the include shell beads, copper ear ornaments, stone effigies, and objects made of wood and seashells.
Clayton: Do you remember the Foxfire books, those down home guides to all sorts of forgotten folklore and crafts? The books, history, and culture of the rural people they celebrate are exhibited at the Foxfire Museum and Heritage Center in Clayton.
Cleveland: How many of us stood in long lines at the toy store trying to purchase a Cabbage Patch doll for our little girls back when they were all the rage? You can tour the “hospital” where the cuddly dolls are born at the Babyland General Hospital here.
Columbus: At the National Civil War Naval Museum you can see the Confederate ironclad CSS Jackson, which was built at the Confederate Naval Shipyard at Columbus, and the gunboat CSS Chattahoochee, along with an extensive collection of period artifacts.
Columbus: The National Infantry Museum displays uniforms and weapons spanning five centuries of warfare.
Columbus: More than 3,000 metal lunch boxes from the 1950s onward are on display at the Lunch Box Museum. Stop in and see vintage lunch boxes representing childhood favorites such as Hopalong Cassidy, Davy Crockett, Starsky and Hutch, Charlie’s Angels, and Batman.
Dahlonega: Twenty years before the 1849 Gold Rush to California, thousands of gold seekers flocked into northern Georgia, beginning the nation’s first major gold rush. The Dahlonega Gold Museum, located in the old Lumpkin County Courthouse, offers visitors a look at the mining history of Georgia. Gold coins minted in Dahlonega and nuggets weighing more than 5 ounces are on display.
Dallas: Pickett’s Mill Battlefield Historic Site preserves the site of the 1864 Civil War battle between over 25,000 Union and Confederate soldiers that claimed 2,100 men. The Visitor’s Center has a museum displaying artifacts from the battle, a 15 minute video of the history of Pickett’s Mill, and an interactive touch-screen computer game that allows visitors to re-fight the Battle of Pickett’s Mill.
Darien: At re-created Fort King George, costumed re-enactors in British uniforms tell visitors about the days when this was the southernmost outpost of the British Empire in North America.
Dawsonville: You can visit the largest population of kangaroos this side of Australia at the Kangaroo Conservation Center here.
Duluth: The Southeastern Railway Museum features 90 items of rolling stock including historic Pullman cars and classic steam locomotives on its 34-acre site.
Harlem: This tiny town is home to the nation’s only museum dedicated to the classic comedy duo Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. Hardy was born in Harlem in 1892, and every year the town holds its Oliver Hardy Festival. Displays at the Laurel and Hardy Museum include dolls, comic books, and movie props from the duo’s film career
Kennesaw: The locomotive General, stolen by Union soldiers in 1862 and taken on a wild 100-mile ride that was the subject of the movie The Great Locomotive Chase, is on display at the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History.
Leslie: In the days before fiber optics and cell phones, most people shared party telephone lines, and real live operators placed their calls for them. Those low-tech days are recalled at the Georgia Rural Telephone Museum, with its displays of hand cranked wooden telephones and early switchboards.
Marietta: The Gone With the Wind Museum features an impressive collection of artifacts related to the famous novel and film, including foreign film posters, premiere programs, costume pieces, contracts, advertisements, promotional items, and collectibles. Highlights of the collection include the original honeymoon gown worn by Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara in the film, several of Margaret Mitchell’s personal volumes of the novel, and an educational display dedicated to the African American cast members.
Midway: Historic Seabrook Village is a unique African-American living history museum on the Georgia coast. Visitors can learn about the struggles and triumphs of the former slaves who made a new life here.
Plains: Former president Jimmy Carter’s boyhood home is open for tours and administered by the National Parks Service.
Pooler: The Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum tells the story of the 8th Air Force, the greatest air armada the world had ever seen and honors the men and women who helped defeat Nazi Germany during World War II. Exhibits include historic aircraft, displays on the Battle of Britain, a prisoner of war gallery, and artifacts from the war years.
Roswell: Visitors can tour Bulloch Hall, the 1840s antebellum mansion that was the childhood home of Mittie Bulloch, mother of President Theodore Roosevelt.
Saint Mary’s: A wide variety of submarine artifacts, memorabilia, and information is on display at the Saint Mary’s Submarine Museum, covering the history of the “Silent Service” from the Civil War to modern times.
Savannah: Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Lowe was born in a house at 142 Bull Street. The home is open to tours and furnished with Lowe family items.
Savannah: The Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum has displays on everything from sailing ships to World War II vessels.
Vienna: The early days of cotton farming are remembered with displays of antique farming equipment and exhibits on slave labor at the Georgia Cotton Museum.
Warm Springs: President Franklin D. Roosevelt died at his Little White House here in 1945. A self-guided tour includes the main house, guest house, and garage with the 32nd President’s 1938 Ford convertible, outfitted with hand controls to accommodate his paralysis.
Thought For The Day – Life is sexually transmitted.