Civil War Legacy Itinerary

Trace Atlanta’s rise from the ashes

Many visitors know about the burning of Atlanta during the Civil War, either because of the complicated legacy of “Gone With the Wind” or because of its resilience to become the capital of Georgia after being left in ruins. In this itinerary, explore sites dedicated to the history of the U.S. Civil War.

Day one: Atlanta and the Civil War

Morning

Start the day in Buckhead, an upscale community 15 minutes north of downtown Atlanta at Atlanta History Center with the exhibition, “Turning Point: The American Civil War.” One of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive exhibitions about the Civil War, explore more than 1,400 objects such as cannons, uniforms and flags. Photos and personal stories show the impact of the war on the South’s people, along with videos and touch-screen computer stations.

Learn more about art and media can shape how we see history and even produce biased and incomplete ideas about historical events. Moving from its original location in Grant Park adjacent to Zoo Atlanta, the cyclorama painting, The Battle of Atlanta has been fully restored and has found its new home at Atlanta History Center. Cyclorama: The Big Picture is the centerpiece of this new multi-media experience and showcases this 132-year-old hand-painted work of art that stands 49 feet tall, is longer than a football field, and weighs 10,000 pounds. This painting is one of only two cycloramas in the U.S., making Atlanta home to one of America’s largest historic treasures.  Visitors will now see The Battle of Atlanta cyclorama painting as it was originally intended to be viewed without the additional modifications, 100 years later.

Lunch

There are two great spots on site at Atlanta History Center to grab lunch before heading off as the pursuit of discovery sure does work up an appetite. Souper Jenny offers up simply delicious fixins’ with a focus on seasonal flavors and local ingredients. Enjoy a rotating menu of soups, salads and sandwiches with gluten free, vegetarian and vegan options. Top off your meal with a special drink from Atlanta-owned BRASH coffee.  Its beans are sourced directly from farmers in Central and South America and roasted locally.  

Afternoon

Walking and Driving Tours

While the city of Atlanta doesn’t have many preserved battlefields, portions of the Battle of Atlanta sites are still preserved. See beautiful mansions on what was once a bloody battlefield, as well as modern-day Atlanta landmarks. The tour should take about 45 minutes with no stops.

Historic Grant Mansion – It has been said that the 1857 Italianate mansion was spared by General Sherman in 1864 because Federal soldiers found a Masonic apron in a trunk in the attic, and Sherman forbade the burning of things connected with the Masons. Grant joined the Confederate Army in 1862 and as chief engineer, designed the defense fortifications for the city.

Grant donated the land for Grant Park, and was recognized as one of Atlanta’s best friends by The Atlanta Journal. The mansion was also the birthplace of golf legend Bobby Jones and at one time owned by Gone With the Wind author Margaret Mitchell. Saved by Atlanta Preservation Center in 2001.

Established in 1850, Atlanta’s oldest cemetery is a fine example of Victorian statuary. The 88-acre Oakland Cemetery holds the final resting place of five Confederate generals, nearly 3,000 Confederate and 16 Union soldiers and the grave of Gone With the Wind writer Margaret Mitchell. Several walking tours are available at the Visitor Center. Visitors are encouraged to use the cemetery as a community park, so feel free to stroll the acres.

On July 22, 1864, some of the bloodiest fighting in the Battle of Atlanta took place in this now-peaceful neighborhood. After the Civil War, Inman Park became Atlanta’s first planned community and one of the nation’s first garden suburbs. Enjoy viewing beautiful Victorian homes including Callan Castle at the corner of Elizabeth Street and Euclid Avenue, built in 1905 by Coca-Cola magnate, Asa Candler.

Dinner

Six Feet Under: Dine on burgers, shrimp tacos and salads while overlooking Historic Oakland Cemetery.

For delicious southwestern cuisine, visit Agave in Cabbagetown. There were a few Civil War battles fought in New Mexico, so you can stay within your theme.

Day Two: Around Atlanta

Emblazoned on the largest high relief sculpture in the world, Stone Mountain, are the faces of Confederate soldiers. The three-acre carving began in 1923 and was completed in 1972 after many delays including the carving sculptor, Gutzon Borglum leaving to carve Mount Rushmore after a dispute with the managing association. Also in Stone Mountain Park is the Historical & Environmental Education Center to educate visitors about the geology and ecology of Stone Mountain.

Lunch

Mary Mac’s Tea Room is an Atlanta tradition with Southern favorites like fried chicken, salmon croquettes and barbeque fit for a Twelve Oaks party.

Mary Mac’s Tea Room has closed temporarily to ensure the safety of team members, patrons, families and surrounding communities during the current international health crisis caused by COVID-19. They plan to reopen their doors as soon as they can.

Afternoon

The town of Historic Jonesboro saw bitter Civil War battles, including the 1864 Battle of Jonesboro, which ultimately resulted in the fall of Atlanta. Fictional book scenes were set in Jonesboro and Clayton County. Jonesboro is about 30 minutes south of Atlanta.

Jonesboro highlights:

Dinner 

PittyPat’s Porch, established in 1967, this downtown restaurant is decorated with unique memorabilia from the film, including original photographs, letters and sketches from the movie and book. Hostesses in hoop skirts serve mint juleps to customers leisurely rocking on the porch, overlooking the main dining room. The menu reflects the cooking styles of many Southern cities, from Charleston to Baton Rouge.

PittyPat’s Porch has closed temporarily to ensure the safety of team members, patrons, families and surrounding communities during the current international health crisis caused by COVID-19. After more than 52 years serving guests from all over the world, they plan to reopen their doors as soon as they can.

Day three: Historic towns outside Atlanta

Visit one of the outlying areas that have historic Civil War connections. The cities of Marietta and Roswell are about 40-45 minutes north from downtown Atlanta and about 30 minutes apart from each other. Although there’s enough to do for most of the day in both cities, both can be visited in a packed day.

Marietta

Historic Marietta started as a retreat for wealthy coastal planters, and some of their historic homes still remain from the Civil War era. Now, Marietta boasts a charming square surrounded by unique shops and renovated homes, attracting visitors year round.

Marietta highlights:

For more information, please contact the Clayton County Convention & Visitors Bureau. 

Historic Roswell

In the 1800s, Roswell was a village centered around the area mills which supplied clothing to Confederate soldiers. Battles erupted in this area during the war on Sherman’s march to Atlanta. Now, antebellum homes have been restored and transformed into special events facilities, galleries line the area of Canton Street, and quaint restaurants add up to an enjoyable afternoon.

Roswell highlights:

Find more information on Atlanta’s Civil War history and explore our  historic landmarks and museums

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