Steel Magnolias rooftop in downtown Valdosta, Georgia

Steel Magnolias rooftop in downtown Valdosta, Georgia

Guide to Valdosta

A thrilling destination on I-75 in South Georgia, Valdosta is brimming with things to do, places to stay, great restaurants and events.

This city in South Georgia has long welcomed visitors looking for thrill rides, animal encounters and sporting. Nicknamed the “Azalea City,” Valdosta has also been named ESPN’s Title Town, home to college sports. The city was settled in 1860 as a stop along the railroad and continues to be a popular destination for travelers on I-75.

Things to Do

Exotic animals at Wild Adventures in Valdosta, Georgia
Exotic animals at Wild Adventures in Valdosta, Georgia

Wild Adventures Theme Park

People love to visit the 170-acre Wild Adventures Theme Park to experience the thrill rides, see exotic animals and watch jaw-dropping performances. The expanded water park has been rated one of the top 30 in the U.S.A. by “U.S. News and World Report.”

Grand Bay Wetland Education Center

Walk the half-mile boardwalk through wetlands to the 54-foot observation tower at the Grand Bay Wetland Education Center. Nature-lovers can climb to the top of the tower to see spectacular views of the surrounding area, made up of more than 2,000 acres.

Valdosta Wake Compound

Valdosta Wake Compound started in 2011 and quickly expanded into a 30-acre facility with custom-developed ponds and a 6-tower, full-sized cable system. The crew at Valdosta Wake Compound is constantly pushing the sport and have come to develop a motto of “dedicated to progression,” which is fundamental to the day-to-day operations at the compound.

The Crescent in Valdosta, Georgia
The Crescent in Valdosta, Georgia

The Crescent

Built in 1898, The Crescent at Valdosta Garden Center has 23 rooms and has been part of the National Register of Historic Places since 1980. The historic home gets its name from the 13 columns representing the colonies. Numerous events like flower shows and antiques sales are held there every year. The landscaped gardens are perfect for parties and weddings, so people should be prepared to wander quietly if a special event is happening.

Lowndes County Historical Society and Museum

The history of Valdosta comes alive in the 10,000-square-foot Lowndes County Historical Society and Museum. People are encouraged to take their time as they look at photographs and documents from the past to the present. Outdoor displays include a train caboose, a belfry, cane grinding and agricultural items, an old-fashioned log transport cart, a pioneer cabin and historical garden plants.

Art gallery at Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts in Valdosta, Georgia
Art gallery at Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts in Valdosta, Georgia

Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts

Six galleries show regional and international works of art at the Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts. Included in the permanent exhibits are East African art and European porcelains. There are 30 different exhibits displayed every year, and they are rotated to ensure patrons are always seeing something new when they visit.

Miss Kate's Deep South Tours

A food tour with Miss Kate's Deep South Tours is a fun way to try samples and sips from locally owned restaurants. It’s an adventure combining food and drink with history and culture. Put on your walking shoes for an entertaining and delicious way to explore historic downtown Valdosta. Miss Kate currently offers day tours, evening tours, wine tours, private tours and cooking classes.

Peach State Summer Theatre

Every year since 1990, the Peach State Summer Theatre has presented a selection of three summer musicals. The season lasts for 10 weeks and brings in world-class talent from all over the country.

South Georgia Pecan Company

Business began small in 1913 for the South Georgia Pecan Company and expanded into four pecan plants located within a one-and-a-half-mile radius in Valdosta. Each plant does something different, including cleaning in-shell pecans, shelling pecans, packaging and grinding. People can stop in and purchase nuts and other items from the gift shop during their visit to the Azalea City.

Georgia Beer Co.

Take a guided tour of Georgia Beer Co., the first brewery in South Georgia, to see how they use many local ingredients like pecans, peaches, blueberries, watermelon and honey to make their beer unique.

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Places to Stay

Lay your head at one of Valdosta’s many hotel options.

Holiday Inn Valdosta Conference Center
Holiday Inn Valdosta Conference Center

Drury Inn & Suites and Holiday Inn Valdosta Conference Center

Relax in the comfortable rooms at Drury Inn & Suites Valdosta, which offers free breakfast, afternoon reception, and a full restaurant menu. Similarly, the Holiday Inn Valdosta Conference Center has coffee makers, refrigerators, WiFi, a swimming pool, fitness center and full-service restaurant.

Hampton Inn and Suites Valdosta Conference Center

Hampton Inn and Suites Valdosta Conference Center is located next to Valdosta’s conference center and close to Valdosta State University and Moody Air Force Base. Amenities include free breakfast and an evening reception, free high-speed internet, a professional business center, fitness center, and a pool and spa.

Hilton Garden Inn Valdosta

The Hilton Garden Inn Valdosta has amenities that business and leisure guests love, including microwaves and mini fridges, complimentary WiFi, meeting facilities and an in-house restaurant. There’s also a pool and fitness center.

Best Western Plus Valdosta Hotel and Suites

Enjoy a short or extended stay at Best Western Plus Valdosta Hotel and Suites, which has all the amenities of home, including free WiFi, kitchens with refrigerators and microwaves, living areas with sofas, and some even with full kitchens.

Comfort Suites

Comfort Suites has free WiFi and breakfast, as well as an onsite fitness center, pool and laundry facilities. Rooms come with microwaves, refrigerators, coffee makers and flat-screen televisions.

Fairview Inn in Valdosta, Georgia
Fairview Inn in Valdosta, Georgia

Fairview Inn Bed and Breakfast

Enjoy a night at Fairview Inn Bed and Breakfast, Valdosta’s oldest home, which dates back to the 1800s. It offers hot breakfast, five distinct guest rooms with modern amenities, and a location only three blocks from downtown.

River Park R.V. Park

If you’re traveling with your camper, River Park R.V. Park is a good spot to spend the night. They have more than 50 paved full hookup sites with WiFi and cable TV. The site also has a bathhouse, laundry room and dog park.

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Where to Eat

Valdosta has a number of unique, local restaurants worth a try.

Steel Magnolias shrimp and grits
Steel Magnolias shrimp and grits

Steel Magnolias

Steel Magnolias takes classic Southern cuisine and looks at them in a new way. They prepare the best quality ingredients at the freshest possible point and allow them to speak for themselves. The restaurant supports local farmers and artisan producers in an effort to become a supporting element in the community and drive the “eat local, be local” philosophy.

Mom and Dad's Italian Restaurant

Mom and Dad’s Italian Restaurant has been serving fresh, authentic Italian food in Lowndes County and the surrounding areas since 1986. Menu highlights include chicken marsala, cannelloni and minestrone soup.

Cheese plate at Friends Grille + Bar in Valdosta, Georgia
Cheese plate at Friends Grille + Bar in Valdosta, Georgia

Friends Grille + Bar

Everyone is a friend at Friends Grille + Bar, a locally owned neighborhood restaurant specializing in modern, laid-back Southern cuisine that reflects the very best of what the area has to offer. They strive to use local, seasonal produce, all-natural meats and the freshest seafood.

306 North Restaurant

Looking for a wonderful dining experience? Look no further than 306 North Restaurant. They are a locally owned restaurant that features a blend of Southern sophistication in a classic and comfortable environment. Enjoy great food made from locally sourced ingredients, including fresh produce, cheeses and farm-raised meats.

Austin's Cattle Co.

Specializing in steak, seafood and prime rib, Austin’s Cattle Co. is the type of restaurant to visit on an empty stomach. The dishes are generous in both size and flavor. Austin’s in-house butcher cuts the steaks fresh daily, ensuring that none of their beef is ever frozen. Seafood enthusiasts will appreciate the vast selection of fresh catches available each day.

Empanadas and More

Loved for its crisp empanadas packed full of flavor, Empanadas and More is the perfect stop for a quick and tasty snack, simple lunch or delicious Saturday brunch. Caribbean and Colombian variants of the empanadas are available and come stuffed with a choice of beef and potato, shredded chicken, ham or cheese. Daily lunchtime specials are also available for diners seeking a healthier alternative.

The Bleu Cafe

The Bleu Cafe features some of the best atmosphere, beer and food from the area. They serve a wide variety of California Mex and Pizza dishes. Stop on by and grab a bite at this downtown eatery!

The Salty Snapper

Some of the best seafood in South Georgia can be found at The Salty Snapper! The seafood restaurant’s main goal is to provide a great experience through food, drinks, service and atmosphere. Stop by when looking for exceptional oysters and shrimp!

Smok'n Pig BBQ in Valdosta, Georgia
Smok'n Pig BBQ in Valdosta, Georgia

Smok'n Pig BBQ

Home of the brisket sandwich, Smok’n Pig BBQ uses the finest-quality pork, chicken, turkey and Sterling Silver® beef. All of their barbecue is slow cooked each day with pecan wood. It has even been named as one of the top 10 barbecue joints in the country.

Birdie's Market

Birdie's Market is a unique addition to downtown Valdosta. This one-stop gourmet shop for Georgia-grown products offers a multitude of quality cheeses, charcuterie and wines. Join them for breakfast, lunch or a cup of coffee from Thomasville’s Grassroots Coffee.

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Events

Plan your trip to Valdosta around one of the annual events.

Azaleas in Valdosta, Georgia
Azaleas in Valdosta, Georgia

Azalea Festival

Held in March, the Azalea Festival is a colorful celebration of South Georgia’s best bloomers and features authentic local cuisine, music and crafts. Lumberjack shows and raptor demonstrations are just a few of the entertainment selections that are sure to WOW!

South Georgia Film Festival

For three days each spring, Valdosta State University hosts a slew of amateur filmmakers from across the region for the South Georgia Film Festival. This is a must-do for South Georgia film fans.

Terror in the Wild

During the evening hours in September and October, Wild Adventures Theme Park transforms from thrilling to chilling for Terror in the Wild. After the sun goes down, visitors enjoy haunted rides and attractions. Look out for the monsters that roam the trails after dark!

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Published: October 2018