Tucked into the far northwestern corner of the state, Georgia’s Historic High Country region is known as “the land of sights and legends” because “we have a lot of history, and we have beautiful scenery,” said Kristi Kent, director of communications for Georgia’s Rome Office of Tourism.
The region, which includes 17 counties, starts in the area around the city of Carrollton, about 50 miles west of Atlanta, and stretches up the western border of Alabama to the Tennessee state line.
The Carrollton Center for the Arts puts on a variety of concerts, dance performances and live theater productions and mounts various exhibitions in its art galleries. The center sits just a block from the heart of downtown — Adamson Square — where the AMP, an outdoor covered amphitheater, has been welcoming events and concerts since opening in 2012. Also in the downtown area, the Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum owns over 100 quilts that it rotates on display along with special exhibits and textile stories.
Just north of the city, the town of Bremen is known for antique shopping and is home to the Mill Town Music Hall, a popular concert venue for country and bluegrass bands, although groups can also catch acts such as Herman’s Hermits and Chubby Checkers. The West Georgia Museum in Tallapoosa tells local history through a series of replica stores showing how the area would have looked around the beginning of the 20th century, a scene that includes a horse-drawn buggy.
In Cartersville, the Booth Western Art Museum “is a beautiful museum” that features Western and Civil War art and artifacts, Kent said. The American West Gallery displays more than 100 traditional paintings and sculptures, and the Cowboy Gallery celebrates the iconic archetype of the cowboy and the cowgirl with more than 35 pieces of art. Paintings in the Civil War Gallery take visitors on a chronological journey through Civil War battles. But the museum’s highlight is the Carolyn and James Millar Presidential Gallery, where visitors will find a hand-signed letter from each of the 45 U.S. presidents, along with portraits and other presidential memorabilia.
Bartow County is all about the outdoors. The region’s best paddling can be found on the 163-mile Etowah River Water Trail. A variety of outfitters rent canoes, kayaks and tubes and provide shuttle service to groups who will float by Native American fish weirs, Etowah Indian mounds and antebellum estates.
Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site in Cartersville is a 54-acre site that protects six earthen mounds, a plaza, a village site, borrow pits and a defensive ditch. There, groups will also find a museum, a gift shop, bus parking and benches fronting the river. Visitors can also take in water views via the Etowah River Walk Trail in Cartersville or the Etowah River Park in Canton.
The Cherokee County History Museum and Visitors Center in Canton is housed in a historic marble courthouse and recounts the region’s rich history through artifacts, photographs and interactive iPad presentations. The Cherokee County Historical Society also manages the historic Rock Barn that’s available for special events.
In Summerville, the historic train depot and neighboring Dowdy Park act as the staging grounds for special events, summer concerts, markets and festivals. The town is also home to Paradise Garden, the home of Baptist minister and folk artist Howard Finster, who “turned his home into a piece of art,” Kent said. Finster believed that he had received a message from God to create sacred works of art, and by the time he died in 2001, he had created nearly 50,000 works at his home and grounds. Groups can take self-guided tours of Finster’s fever dream of found-objects folk art.
Rome’s claim to fame is in Berry College, the world’s largest contiguous college campus. Georgia’s Rome Office of Tourism provides tours and step-on guides that show off highlights of the 27,000-acre campus, including historic buildings, many funded by Henry Ford, and the 1930 Old Mill and water wheel.
The 42-passenger Sulzbacher Roman Holiday excursion boat docks at Heritage Park in downtown Rome, where the city’s three rivers converge. Groups can schedule private outings or reserve spots on public tours. Visitors can also catch a Rome Braves baseball game.
Another folk art favorite is the Rock Garden in Calhoun, where guests will find more than 50 small, sculptural buildings made entirely of stones, shells and other salvaged material. Not to be confused with Rock Garden, Rock City Gardens sits just south of the Tennessee border on Lookout Mountain. Groups can explore massive rock formations and cliffs, take in panoramic views of seven states, see the waterfall at Lover’s Leap and cross a suspension bridge.