Located precisely in the middle of Georgia, only a couple hours drive from Atlanta and Savannah, Milledgeville is your next favorite small town adventure. Once the capital of Georgia, Milledgeville is known for its historic architecture, charming downtown district and recreational experiences. Listed as #5 on Budget Travel’s “Top 10 Coolest Small Towns in America” Milledgeville is a great place to escape to for a relaxing trip!
Keep on reading for our guide on the top ten places you should visit if this is your first time exploring Milledgeville!
1. Georgia’s Old Governor’s Mansion
If you love history and architecture, seeing Georgia’s Old Governor’s Mansion is a must-do during your stay in Milledgeville. Designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1973, this Georgia gem served as a political powerhouse where the complex social issues of the antebellum period including slavery and gender roles were played out and have since shaped our history. Its storied past also includes an overnight stay by General William T. Sherman as his troops entered Milledgeville during Sherman’s March to Sea during the American Civil War. Today, the house stands as one of the finest examples of High Greek Revival architecture in the nation and is available for tours. The Mansion Public tours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10-4 and Sunday, 2-4 with tours at the top of the hour.
2. The Oconee River Greenway
Step into nature and take a breath of fresh air as you stroll The Oconee River Greenway. Located right outside downtown, The Greenway provides the perfect place to get some exercise and soak up the warm Georgia sun. There are trails, paths and boardwalks interwoven throughout the park for you to walk, jog or bike. Relax and enjoy the beauty and sounds of the Oconee River. Take a pole and fish the river or navigate it by canoe or kayak! One of our local outfitters will provide you with all the gear you need for your exciting excursion and even help with transportation! Because it’s shoreline remains largely undeveloped it offers an opportunity to see native birds and beautiful plant life. Four legged friends are also welcome on the trails, or in the designated dog park where they can form friendships and run off leash.
Make your way through our charming downtown area, exploring our local shops and boutiques. From antique treasures to French inspired clothing to Georgia-made products, local shops have a variety of treasures just waiting to be discovered. Treat yourself with a new outfit or little souvenir as you browse about the quaint city of Milledgeville. WIth everything in walking distance, it makes it easy to visit all the places you want while soaking up the sun and getting a little exercise along the way!
4. Central State Hospital
Since its founding in 1842, the Central State Hospital Campus (originally known as the Georgia State Lunatic, Idiot, and Epileptic Asylum) has been one of MIlledgeville’s most well known and intriguing sites. The site gained national recognition during the 1960s as the United States’ largest mental institution with over 12,000 patients, 6,000 employees, and more than 8,000 acres of land. Today, Central State Hospital serves over 200 existing patients and has downsized to roughly 2,000 acres of land. Take a self-guided driving tour that highlights the historic buildings of the campus and mentions important people from CSH past as well as the significance of certain periods in the Hospital's history. To take the tour, follow the map contained within the brochure and scan the QR codes with your phone to receive narration about each stop. Brochures are available for pick up at the Visitor's Information Center, 200 West Hancock Street, and the Just Imagine Cottage, 95 Depot Circle Drive, on the campus grounds.
For those interested in exploring more of the history of the former Central State Hospital campus, a guided trolley tour is your perfect chance. Board 'Milly' the trolley and set out on a guided driving tour through the grounds of Central State Hospital, including a stop at Cedar Lane Cemetery and Chapel of All Faiths. Hear about the history of the institution as well as the redevelopment of the grounds from a former Central State employee and tour guide. Tours are offered monthly.
5. Andalusia Farm
Walk in the footsteps of the famous American author Flannery O’Connor at her home where she lived from 1951 to 1964 after being diagnosed with Lupus. Flannery completed the majority of her literary work while she lived at Andalusia Farm. Following her death, the home remained in her family until 2003 when it was made into a museum and later gifted to her alma mater, Georgia College, in 2017. The museum’s mission is to care for, collect, interpret, and exhibit items that illustrate her life on the farm. Andalusia is open for public tours and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 10-4 with the last tour beginning at 4, Andalusia makes for a great stop on your first visit to Milledgeville! Also be sure to check out the Peacock exhibit where Flannery’s favorite birds reside!
6. Lockerly Arboretum
Spend time leisurely strolling within nature. Boasting 50 acres of gardens, walking trails, and a pond, Lockerly Arboretum was founded in 1965 by Mr. E. J. Grassmann. Their plantings feature flowering shrubs such as camellias and azaleas, and a variety of trees including oaks, magnolias and a 301 year old section of a bald cypress. An enchanting one mile nature trail is home to many mature hardwoods, ferns and wildflowers. The centerpiece of Lockerly is Rose Hill, a National Register, Greek Revival style home built in 1852. Lockerly’s grounds are open Monday-Friday from 8:30-4:30 and on Saturdays from 10am to 4pm. Saturday hours only apply March 1 to November 15.
7. Lake Sinclair
With a reputation of being home to some of the state’s best fishing for bass, bluegill and catfish, as well as great for watersports, Lake Sinclair is a welcome source of vitamin D. Your kids or kids-at-heart will love bouncing the waves on a jet ski or casting a rod to catch the big one! Lake Sinclair encompasses 15,300 acres of winding coves and several vast stretches of open water. Created by Georgia Power in 1953, Lake Sinclair is two hours southeast of Atlanta making it easy access for fishing, tournaments, swimming, boating, camping, and has several marinas for the convenience of visitors. If you don't have a boat, no problem, many area marinas rent them by the half or full day.
8. The Brick
Whether you come for lunch or dinner, this brick-walled Italian eatery is the place to go for all you first timers! The Brick has been a Milledgeville staple serving up brick oven pizza, pasta, calzones, salads, sandwiches, wings, nachos and more for over 25 years. Make sure to try their Buffalo Chicken Dip for your appetizer--it will knock your socks off! Cheer on the big game as you enjoy a drink with some pals at the bar. They are sure to keep your belly full during your stay in Milledgeville!
Grab a cup of locally roasted joe at Blackbird Coffee! It’s a town favorite, with delicious drinks and a great atmosphere, located right in the center of downtown. The fresh roasted beans are imported from Royal Coffee in New York, a family-owned and operated importer of specialty green coffees. If you want to spice things up a bit, try their dirty Chai Latte. Take a seat outside or take a stroll around town as you enjoy your delicious beverage!
10. Ryal’s Bakery
You can’t miss a sweet treat when you’re strolling around Milledgeville, and if you ask any local, they’ll point you right to Ryal’s! Ryal’s is a Milledgeville icon with freshly baked goods such as cakes, cookies and brownies. They are famous for their sugary smiley face cookies and are the only place in Milledgeville that sell petit fours. Find everything you need to satisfy your sweet tooth here!
For more suggestions on things to do and where to eat, stop by the Visitors Center for recommendations!