Cartersville. Adairsville. Red Top Mountain State Park. These are all names Bartow County places you will notice on the drive on I-75 between Chattanooga, Tennessee and Atlanta, Georgia. If you have never taken the time to get off the interstate and explore this Northwest Georgia gem, here are eight reasons why you should.
Visit Unique Museums
Booth Western Art Museum is a must-see. Don’t avoid it because you don’t think you like Western art. The museum is so much more with a Presidential gallery that includes interesting facts about all 45 commanders-in-chief and original signed letters (including a personalized one from Donald Trump).
Besides an amazing collection of Western art, the museum has several exhibitions throughout the year. You will be overwhelmed as the size of the museum. It’s the second largest in state and houses the largest collection of Western art in the United States.
Kids of all ages will love exploring the 125,000 square feet of the Tellus Science Museum. You can get hands on in my “Big Back Yard” or have a close encounter with the fossil of a 40-foot Tyrannosaurus rex. The planetarium has several 45-minute shows throughout the day and special events throughout the year.
You will also find several smaller museums. Learn more about the area at the Bartow County History Museum. Rose Lawn Museum will take you back to a time when tea was held in the parlor and dinner was served at the table. Learn more about the Rosenwald Schools and African-American History at the Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center.
Soak Up Small-Town Charm in Adairsville; Then Relax at Barnsley Gardens
The entire town of Adairsville is listed on the National Register of Historical Places. Be sure to stop by the historic depot first to learn about the history of this charming town. The depot pays homage to the Great Locomotive Chase and the town hosts an annual festival marking the historic event every October. Be sure to save room for lunch at the historic Adairsville Inn, Maggie Mae’s Tea Room, or one of the other charming restaurants in town. Visit at Christmas and see beautiful window displays in the downtown stores.
After strolling through downtown, take the short drive to Barnsley Gardens for a round of golf or maybe a massage. The ruins of the Antebellum house and the surrounding gardens take visitors back to another time.
Play in the Water
Spend a peaceful day on the boat at Allatoona Lake. Located just 10 minutes from downtown Cartersville, you can hike the Overlook and see the stunning Allatoona Dam. Several day areas are located near the lake and you will find spaces for campers and RVs.
If you prefer a lazy river to a lake, bring your kayak or canoe to one of the four launch points at the Etowah River. Bartow County is one leg of 163-mile long Etowah River Water Trail which has beautiful scenery and several launch points where you can get out and explore.
Visitors can try something new at Terminus Wake Park. Located at the 1,200-acre LakePoint recreation site, you can hop on a wakeboard and hang on and ride an Aqua Glide.
Hike to the Top of a Mountain
Red Top Mountain State Park is a great place to take the family for the day without spending a lot of money. It’s just $5 for the park pass that lets you hike, swim in beautiful Allatoona Lake or fish. The park has 18 cottages and 92 RV and campsites. Enjoy a different kind of camping experience in the yurt. Red Top Mountain also has many programs throughout the year.
Walk Through a Covered Bridge
Head west from downtown Cartersville to visit the charming town of Euharlee and walk through its covered bridge. The bridge was built in 1886 and is on the National Register of Historic Places and is listed on Georgia’s Covered Bridge Trail. Stop by the welcome center and learn more about Euharlee from the locals. Admission is free.
Get a Picture of the World’s Oldest Painted Coca-Cola Sign, then Explore Downtown Cartersville
Many Southern towns have Coca-Cola murals, but Cartersville has the distinction of having the oldest one. Painted in 1984, it was restored in 1990 and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. After you get a great selfie (the best time is in the morning), wander through downtown and visit one of the cute shops. You will find plenty of great places to grab a quick bite while on your tour.
Taste the Local Food
Bartow County has plenty of great restaurants that will satisfy everyone in your family. You will find plenty of Southern “meat and threes” throughout the county from Doug’s Place on the south end in Emerson to the Adairsville Inn in the northern part of the county. Get a little of everything from traditional Southern fare to chili dogs and burgers at the Whistle Stop Express. If you want a chic dining experience, try one of the county’s chef-owned restaurants including the Appalachian Grill or Moore’s Gourmet Market. You will also fine plenty of restaurants that serve international food and a plethora of popular nationwide chains.
And If That’s Not Enough…
Bartow County is home to several attractions you won’t find in any other small town. Kids can ride a camel at Pettit Creek Farms. Men love to explore the one-of-a-kind classic junkyard at Old Car City. Climb to the top of a 64-foot Indian mound at the Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site.
You need a few days to explore all of the wonderful things Bartow County has to offer so plan to stay for a few days. You can get more at the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Article written by Kim Jarrett of Southern Faces and Places.
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