Stop off at Crawfordville to ride horses and view Civil War artifacts. (©Georgia Department of Economic Development)
By Jennifer McKee
If you’re like us, you’ve often wondered about the towns that dot the drive from Augusta to Atlanta. Need to make a pit stop? Here are some great destinations to explore along the way.
Along I-20 West
Crawfordville (1 hour from Augusta, 1 hour, 30 minutes from Atlanta)
Named for former U.S. senator, Crawfordville may be one of the most filmed cities in Georgia. It’s home to 13 movies made in Georgia: “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Get Low” and “Pushing Up Daisies” among them. When you visit downtown Crawfordville, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back into the early 1900s. The museum at A.H. Stephens State Park has one of the finest collections of Civil War Artifacts in Georgia, and there are 21 miles of trails to explore on horseback.
Madison (1 hour, 30 minutes from Augusta, 1 hour from Atlanta)
History buffs may recall that Madison, Georgia is the town Sherman refused to burn on his infamous March to the Sea. One of Georgia’s largest and oldest National Historic Districts, it’s the entry point to Georgia’s Antebellum Trail. Read more about Madison here.
Covington (1 hour, 45 minutes from Augusta, 36 minutes from Atlanta)
Named one of the Prettiest Small Towns in Georgia by Southern Living Magazine in 2017, the picturesque Covington has been used as a backdrop for shows such as “The Vampire Diaries,” “In the Heat of the Night” and “The Dukes of Hazzard.” In addition to touring the filming locations, there’s plenty of scenic trails for cyclists and mountain bikers and galleries for art lovers.
Conyers (1 hour, 55 minutes from Augusta, 27 minutes from Atlanta)
There are so many things to see and do in Conyers. Become one with Mother Nature on explorations of the Lewis Vaughn Botanical Gardens, the Big Haynes Creek Nature Center and the Rockdale County Master Garden Arboretum. Love horses? Don’t miss the Georgia International Horse Park, which hosted all of the equestrian events in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Need a quiet respite? Walk the grounds of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit.
Lithonia (2 hours from Augusta, 23 minutes from Atlanta)
Lithonia means “city or town of stone,” so it should come as no surprise that it’s located in the heart of Georgia’s quarry country. Its Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area encompasses more than 40,000 acres and includes the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve and Panola Mountain State Park. Downtown Lithonia was recently nominated to the National Register of Historic Places and traces its beginnings to the early 1840s.
Along I-285 North
Clarkston (2 hours, 13 minutes from Augusta, 24 minutes from Atlanta)
Noted for its diversity, Clarkston has been called the “Ellis Island of the South.” It’s resettlement refuge community is home to 57 nationalities. Read more about Clarkston here.
Avondale Estates (2 hours, 15 minutes from Augusta, 20 minutes from Atlanta)
The only documented example of a planned city in the Southeast, tycoon George Francis Willis’ plans for Avondale Estates were informed by a trip he and his wife took to Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare. The downtown area is rife with the same Tudor-Revival style architecture; the city is today named on the National Register of Historic Places. It also boasts the original Waffle House restaurant, opened in 1955, which is now a museum.
Tucker (2 hours, 16 minutes from Augusta, 22 minutes from Atlanta)
Settled in the 1820s, Tucker was developed as a railroad community in 1892 and incorporated in 2015. The community centers around Main Street, which recently underwent a major renovation and streetscape design. The street is chock full of locally-owned shops and restaurants, and outdoor events and festivals are a central part of the community. It’s also home to the Northlake Mall and many parks, including John’s Homestead and the Tucker Nature Preserve.
Doraville (2 hours, 21 minutes from Augusta, 20 minutes from Atlanta)
Doraville celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2021. It first gained prominence when selected for a General Motors plant in the 1940s (the plant closed in 2008). Today, the 100-acre site is being developed as Assembly Yards, anchored by Third Rail Studios. The city’s large Latin American and Asian populations are reflected in the cuisine found along the Buford Highway International Corridor, which runs through Doraville.
Chamblee (2 hours, 26 minutes from Augusta, 19 minutes from Atlanta)
Also along the Buford Highway International Corridor is Chamblee, a progressive and vibrant international city. It’s home to nine beautiful parks, is a destination for antique-store enthusiasts and is made up of a thriving business community with a unique sense of entrepreneurship and optimism. Atlanta’s Chinatown Mall is located in the heart of Downtown Chamblee and is the cultural center for the growing population of Chinese Americans in and around DeKalb County. The 350,000-square-foot Plaza Fiesta sees 4.4 million visitors a year from throughout the Southeast and has more than 280 retail and specialty stores, a dozen restaurants, healthcare services, a fitness center and the largest indoor playground in Georgia.