You don’t have to be a fan of Gene Autry or Roy Rogers to enjoy the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, Georgia. Sure, cowboys and Indians are the main attraction here. But while the museum’s main gallery focuses on the American West, other permanent exhibits of Civil War art, presidential portraits and letters, and cinematic memorabilia make this museum a treasure of Americana. In the American West gallery, you might be surprised to find more than pictures of tumbleweeds and cowboys; this Western Art collection includes awe-inspiring photography, lifelike sculptures, a real 1864 stagecoach and of course, plenty of action scenes. Kids who love the cowboy life should saddle up in the Sagebrush Ranch, a play area where they learn to blend creative expression with the Old West fun. If you time your visit for October or March, you can experience the Booth Museum’s annual cowboy festivals (the fall festival re-creates the infamous gunfight at the O.K. Corral with Wyatt Earp and Georgia native “Doc” Holliday), with schedules full of cowboy songs, art appreciation and chuck-wagon cooking.
Long before there were cowboys, American Indians built a community at the Etowah Indian Mounds, a Georgia historic site and National Register landmark. Intact mounds are all that’s left of the civilization that began around the year 1000. What are the mysterious mounds exactly? American Indians probably used them for burials and as foundations for temples. But the best way to envision early American life is to climb the mound yourself and imagine the rituals that took place there. For a quick afternoon bite, sample the homemade, natural soups and sandwiches at Swheat (pronounced “sweet”) Market Deli in the historic downtown area. The sweet potato/black bean and the white bean/rosemary soup specials are among the bestsellers, but organic choices and vegetarian and vegan specialties are part of the menu every day.