Trip Ideas

Must-See Stops off I-75

Explore these can’t-miss stops on the snowbird highway.

  • Booth Western Art Museum

With its big-time historical sites and small, quirky attractions, Georgia’s I-75 has "road trip" written all over it. Whether you drive it north to south in one long adventure (which is how we’ve explored it here) or choose to break its 339 miles into smaller trips, you’ll get a kick out of the great photo opportunities, scrumptious eats, and educational possibilities along the way.

The journey begins a stone’s throw from the Tennessee border in Ringgold, where you’ll find the 40,000-square-foot Gateway Antique Mall (exit 353). Get lost for hours in pockets like the Daniel Boone Trading Post, with its vast collection of antlers, or the Man Cave, which offers collectible model cars, globes, and more. 

Next, head to Calhoun (exit 312), home to an adult-sized treehouse featuring the fuselage of a Piper Navajo airplane (the master bedroom), a boat (the back porch), and a submarine prop from a 1960s Elvis movie. Yes, someone does indeed live in Sam’s Treehouse -- Sam Edwards, author and former aide to President Jimmy Carter. Another must-see gem off exit 312 is known by locals as The Rock Garden. Open on weekdays, this magical plot tucked behind the Seventh Day Adventist Church features a miniature city of 50 structures -- castles, bridges, a monastery, a cemetery, and more -- built with pebbles, shells, glass, and ceramic tile. Before departing Calhoun, satisfy your barbecue craving with fall-off-the-bone ribs at Dub's High On The Hog Bar B Que. The nondescript downtown joint doesn’t have a sign (it’s that good!), so take Highway 53 South to Highway 41 North and look for a log cabin with a red roof and a parking lot filled with cars.

Photo Credit: Stephen Rahn

Now make your way south to Cartersville for the ultimate in fun for the kiddos -- dinosaurs, cowboys, and Indians, oh my! Get your natural-history kicks at the Tellus Science Museum (exit 293), with glowing minerals, a massive T. rex, an interactive fossil dig, and much more. From there, explore Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site (exit 288), the most intact Mississippian culture site in the Southeast. From 1000 to 1550 AD, it was home to several thousand Native Americans and is now rich in artifacts. And because your visit wouldn’t be complete without a little cowboy action, stop at the Booth Western Art Museum in downtown Cartersville (exit 288). It features the largest permanent collection of contemporary Western art in America, including paintings, movie posters, and an interactive kids room.

Discover how life on Earth began in the Tellus Science Museum's Fossil Gallery in Cartersville.

Wave to Atlanta as you travel south to Locust Grove and Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary (exit 212), a 250-acre nonprofit animal sanctuary where more than 1,500 abused, injured, and orphaned animals (including a lion, tiger, and bear that live together as a family) are cared for. Call ahead to ensure the habitat is open to visitors. 

BLT at Noah's Ark. Photo from Facebook.

Is it time for a slice of peach pie yet? Absolutely, and Lane Southern Orchards (exit 142) in Fort Valley is happy to oblige. Depending on the season, you can also check out the strawberry patch, corn maze, and farm tours. Hungry for more? Just a hop and a skip down the interstate, you’ll delight in delicious, budget-friendly fare like grandma-style fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans, at Yoder's Restaurant (exit 127), which sits within a Mennonite community in Montezuma. And don’t forget to pop off I-75 for a heaping bag of freshly roasted, Georgia-grown peanuts or pecan halves at family-run Ellis Brothers Pecans (exit 109) in Vienna. 

Blink and you’ll miss the Crime and Punishment Museum and Last Meal Cafe (exit 82) in Ashburn. Outside, the former jail resembles a brick house; inside, you’ll see remnants of the South’s colorful jail history, including a replica of “Old Sparky,” Georgia’s electric chair. The museum’s unusual Last Meal Cafe, named for death-row inmates’ lavish last meals, provides Southern-food lunches by appointment on Saturdays.

Our ride down I-75 ends at Horse Creek Winery Tasting Room - Sparks (exit 41), where its 40 acres produce some of the sweetest muscadine grapes in the country. A rustic tasting room welcomes you to sample the handmade wines; on a hot day, the signature wine slushy is a must-try.

The Road Less Traveled: Highway 27

Georgia’s Scenic Hometown Highway is what many consider the “scenic route.” Running parallel to I-75, the primarily four-lane Highway 27 runs all the way from Tennessee to Florida, passing through Georgia towns steeped in Southern charm, such as Rome, Cedartown, Carrollton, LaGrange, , Columbus, and Richland. You’ll find gorgeous state parks for camping, picturesque towns for shopping, historic Indian mounds, Civil War and military history, and much more. There’s even a Courthouse Tour that covers 21 restored and distinctive courthouses along the way.

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