If you love Margaret Mitchell’s Civil War–era saga, “Gone With the Wind,” and you want to step into Scarlett O’Hara’s world for a while, a trip to Atlanta is in order.
The Pulitzer-Prize winning book is perhaps the most famous to ever come out of this Southern city, the Academy-Award winning movie is one of the most successful of all time, and these are the places fans will love in Atlanta and the nearby cities of Jonesboro, Marietta and Kennesaw.
If you fly in to the Atlanta airport, you’ll be close to Jonesboro, which is south of Atlanta. One site you can’t miss is Stanley Oaks — the actual home believed to be the inspiration for the house in GWTW. This house and the surrounding plantation has been preserved and opened as a place for guests to tour and experience life in the 1800s. The ladies dress in 1800s attire and play out the roles of the time period. Also, the grounds include a one-room schoolhouse, a log kitchen and a country store. Visitors from as far away as Russia come to this location, so who knows whom you might run into!
While in Jonesboro, you might want to go on the Southern Belles & Whistles Tour, which will take you to the Road to Tara Museum, the Clayton County History Center/Old Jail and the Patrick Cleburne Memorial Confederate Cemetery. At the Road to Tara Museum, fans will enjoy seeing Margaret Mitchell’s china, reproductions of the costumes worn in the movie and many items from the personal collection of Herb Bridges, who is the largest private collector of GWTW memorabilia.
Or you could go on the city’s Gone With the Wind Tour, a 60-minute tour of the historical district that features stories behind this epic romance. Tours begin at 1 p.m. at the Jonesboro Depot Welcome Center on Mondays through Saturdays. And if you’re here during lunch, Butch’s Chicken House will serve you some delicious soul food.
The Margaret Mitchell House is a turn-of-the-century, three-story Tudor Revival building where the author lived and wrote GWTW. Guided tours take place daily and include visits to Mitchell’s Crescent Avenue apartment. Also, you can watch exhibitions about Mitchell’s life and the movie version of her book. Of course, you don’t want to go home without stopping by the gift shop, which has a wide variety of collectors’ items and treasures, such as collectible plates, dolls, dress patterns and recipe books.
Mitchell’s grave can be seen in Oakland Cemetery, and you might also want to visit the Atlanta-Fulton County Public Library’s Margaret Mitchell exhibit on the fifth floor. When you’re done, look across the street at the monument dedicated to the author. Also, the Atlanta Cyclorama & Museum is a three-dimensional panorama with music and narration that captures the Battle of Atlanta. The building contains a museum with Civil War artifacts, weapons, maps and photographs. And if you’re hungry and want a taste of Southern food like fried chicken and mac and cheese, dine at Mary Mac’s Tea Room.
Marietta and Kennesaw
Marietta is about 30 minutes northwest of Atlanta and is the location of the Gone With the Wind Museum, which has an extensive collection of memorabilia provided by Dr. Christopher Sullivan. You’ll see Rhett’s coat and shirt, Scarlett’s red dress, pictures of Tara and more.
Before heading back to Atlanta, make your way to Kennesaw, which is only about 15 minutes from Marietta. The Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park preserves the battleground where the Confederate army temporarily stopped Gen. William Sherman’s troop advance southward before the fall of Atlanta.
Gone With the Wind Trail
If you want to make things really easy for yourself, you might want to take advantage of the new Gone With the Wind Trail, which “provides an established route of key sites as clear direction for tourists seeking novel and film-related attractions within the Atlanta metro.” All of the stops above, except the restaurants, are included in the tour.
When you decided to come to Atlanta, there is so much to enjoy here, whether you want to only explore the story’s history and legacy or you also want to experience the more contemporary side of the city. Whatever your intentions, Atlanta will definitely satisfy.
About the Author: Julia Bartow lives in Atlanta and loves “Gone With the Wind,” which she first read in high school. If you’re planning to come to Georgia’s capital city, she recommends visiting Expedia travel.