Shopping at Whistle Britches in Rome, Georgia

Shopping in Rome, Georgia

4 Small Towns Near Atlanta Perfect for Shopping Trips

Discover one-of-a-kind clothing, food and decor in these Georgia small towns.

From the winding roads of North Georgia to the moss-draped coast, Georgia is blanketed with towns that showcase the creativity of the artisans, chefs and entrepreneurs who live there. Artisanal shops and locally owned restaurants and breweries line many of the streets. Universities, mountains and historic architecture set the backdrop for expeditions.

A day trip or weekend getaway to one of the state's small towns is a delightful way to discover one-of-a-kind clothing, food and decor with a connection to history and community spirit.

When planning for your next retail retreat, check out these four small town offerings.

Sweet Grass Dairy & Cheese Shop in Thomasville, Georgia
Sweet Grass Dairy & Cheese Shop in Thomasville, Georgia

Thomasville

Once known as the "Winter Resort of the South," Thomasville has long been a popular getaway destination. President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Jackie Onassis Kennedy, among other famous Americans, have spent time in Georgia's "Rose City." Beyond the historic sites, shoppers can purchase artisan products and food from more than 100 merchants in this southwest Georgia town.

Sweet Grass Dairy & Cheese Shop, located downtown, offers an ever-changing menu of locally made cheeses and accompaniments. At the Cheese Shop, which serves lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, pair your meal with one of the field-to-flask liquor drinks or one of the eight drinks on tap.

Shopping in Firefly in Thomasville, Georgia
Located on South Broad Street, Firefly offers unique gifts, children's toys and home decor.

You'll find handcrafted home decor and gifts at Firefly, one of Thomasville's many specialty shops. For 20 years, this woman-owned small business has showcased artisans and craftspeople from across the state and country. Firefly puts a face to its products by hosting artists for trunk shows, book signings and other events.

Shopping in downtown Statesboro, Georgia
Shopping in downtown Statesboro, Georgia

Statesboro

Home of Georgia Southern University, Statesboro offers visitors a relaxed and charming, small-town college atmosphere with much to explore. The town's Market District is filled with restaurants, shops and eclectic boutiques, and in the heart of downtown, visitors can peruse locally owned boutiques filled with wares such as home decor, furniture and the latest fashion trends.

Also situated downtown is Eagle Creek Brewing Company, which has a full menu of food, beer, wine and cocktails. Try the River Street Praline (after all, it's just an hour from Savannah and its famed River Street), Tea Party Amber and Spotted Tail at the brewery, which opened in 2013. Stay for the live music.

Eagle Creek Brewing Company in Statesboro, Georgia
Eagle Creek Brewing Company offers tours and tastings with music from local artists almost every night.

Tormenta FC, a professional United Soccer League team, broke ground in March 2019 on a stadium that will also have an on-site restaurant and brewery, retail stores and meeting spaces. The stadium, which will hold 5,300 people for games and 14,000 for concerts, is slated to be fully usable by the 2020 season. The Georgia Southern men and women's teams also will play at the facility, giving another reason to return to Statesboro.

Ford Complex at Berry College in Rome, Georgia
Rome is home to Berry College, the world’s largest college campus, as well as charming shops with antiques, artwork and more.

Rome

Rome is nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains, about 65 miles north of metro Atlanta. Rome's beauty, architecture and shopping make it a frequented destination, and for the outdoor lovers, there's the Chattahoochee National Forest and James H. (Sloppy) Floyd State Park.

The streets of downtown Rome are filled with local shops, bakeries and restaurants. Visit The Sweet Bar for homemade apple fritters, cake pops or doughnuts, either before or after strolling Berry College, the world's largest college campus. Its 27,000 acres showcase a variety of architectural styles, including log cabins and vernacular-revival cottages.

Gothic enthusiasts will appreciate the beautiful examples of this architectural style at Berry College's Ford Complex, an English-inspired complex of buildings quietly financed by American industrialist Henry Ford in the 1920s and ’30s. Made of local stone, the buildings feature pointed archways, Medievalesque carvings, reflecting pools, fountains and even underground “catacombs.” Additional spots around campus might seem familiar, thanks to their roles in movies, such as "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Remember the Titans," that were filmed in Rome.

Wander North Georgia store in Clayton, Georgia
Wander North Georgia in Clayton offers a play area for kids, bocce ball and other games to enjoy while you shop.

Clayton

Rugged mountains and Tallulah Gorge State Park serve as the backdrop for Clayton, which is about 100 miles north of Atlanta. Enjoy the mountain views via the Southern Highroads Trail and U.S. 441 Heritage Highway and make memories with activities such as whitewater rafting on the Chattooga River.

At Wander North Georgia, find some of the best outdoor brands, gifts and even recommendations from locals for what to see and do in North Georgia. The family-owned store also has bocce ball and serves coffee or ice cream, making it a place to stop and stay for a while.

Moonrise Distillery in Clayton, Georgia
Clayton is in the mountains where the original moonshiners operated, but Moonrise Distillery is the area's legal distillery.

Visit Moonrise Distillery to taste award-winning bourbon and rye (it prides itself on hints of butter and vanilla), or take a tour and experience firsthand how bourbon and whiskey are produced in Georgia.

In these Georgia towns, you will experience a keen sense of community and creativity when shopping, sipping and snacking. This season, break from your shopping routine and spend time taking in charming, small town views and walking streets lined with local arts and crafts, boutique shops and antique dealers. Map out a shopping weekend and see what you’ve been missing.

Published: July 2019