Sure, Georgia has some of the best big-city shopping in the South (hello, Atlanta’s Phipps Plaza!), but its smaller cities really shine in transactional delights.
Downtown Athens has plenty to lure shoppers off the campus of the University of Georgia.
Shop: Encore Clothing has been dressing stylish women — chic college students and their fashion-forward mothers — since 1980 and always has a range of dresses and designer jeans. The “Classic City” has given rise to plenty of popular bands (Widespread Panic, B52’s), so it’s only right to have a terrific music shop, and Wuxtry Records fits the bill. For a unique gift, swing by Bee Natural, where artists create handmade beeswax “honey pot” luminaries.
Refuel: For a locally roasted caffeine jolt, swing into Jittery Joe’s Coffee for a Yin Yang Mocha. If only delicious food will do, Last Resort Grill is a favorite for white tablecloth dining at bargain prices.
ThomasvillePart of the beauty of shopping this quaint southwest Georgia town is the variety of shops available.
Shop: The Sweetgrass Dairy Cheese Shop sells craft beer, desserts and locally made cheeses, including an aptly named favorite: Thomasville Tomme. Firefly is a go-to shop for home products, thoughtful gifts and jewelry, while Kevin’s is a destination for stocking up on outdoor apparel and hunting supplies (and the owner is a wealth of knowledge on the best hunting spots close by).
Refuel: After a day of shopping, grab a Southern bite at the acclaimed Jonah’s Fish & Grits.
Blue RidgeThis picturesque town draws inspiration from the dramatic mountains that surround it. The result is artful living.
Shops: Wrapsody in Blue, on East Main Street, is chock full of rustic and elegant home furnishings, paintings and hostess gifts. For the serious fly fisher, Oyster Bamboo Rods has become an international destination for fine fishing implements. Let a master craftsman create one for you, or enroll in a workshop to make one yourself. Gourmands love Blue Ridge Olive Oil Company’s 65 olive oils and balsamic vinegars in a tasting room-style shop.
Refuel: Harvest on Main serves Southern fare that celebrates the rich culinary traditions of the North Georgia mountains, with menu appearances by Mercier Orchards, Logan Turnpike Mill and Brasstown Beef.
MadisonThe county seat of Morgan County is bursting at the seams with antebellum charm.
Shops: Style hunters will love Amelia’s, a treasure trove for dresses and tops for just about any occasion — a day at the office or a night on the town. Housed in the historic 1800’s Belmont Building, Laughing Moon is a local favorite for shoes, apparel, gifts and jewelry. If home wares are your aim, Madison Markets is a one-stop shop, thanks to more than 75 vendors in a mammoth converted cotton warehouse.
Refuel: For a quick pick-me-up, swing into Perk Avenue for the “Cinn & Tell” latte, a decadent mix of espresso, Nutella, hazelnut, cinnamon and steamed milk, alongside a fresh scone.
DublinLocated in the heart of the state, Dublin is nicknamed “The Emerald City,” much like its European namesake.
Shops: Graceful Gold has been Dublin’s go-to destination for fine jewelry, as well as pearls and silver, since 1983. For treats for little ones (or great baby shower gifts), you’ll find monogrammed clothes, accessories and bags aplenty at The Freckled Frog. Dapper gentlemen will find a sartorial happy place in Sir Shop, which stocks men’s shoes, suits and casual wear.
Refuel: If you need serious sustenance after a day of shopping, Tumpie’s Steakhouse will fill you up with succulent steaks and hearty sides.