Distance: 24 miles, thirty minute drive

I would wager that many Braves baseball fans have picked up their phones during the games to Google ‘Monroe, Georgia,’ thanks to a hardy advertising campaign that shows off the many features of this hidden gem nestled in the Alcovy River basin between urban Atlanta and classic Athens.

Combining a small-town atmosphere with engaging cultural life, Monroe’s colorful history is typified by antebellum homes, tree-lined streets and a downtown historic district. With 27 different stops around town, the historic walking tour provides an interesting look into local history. Take a deeper dive into southern history at the Monroe Museum. Created by a volunteer committee of residents, the museum display is framed as a timeline beginning with the Native Americans who inhabited the area long before Monroe was chartered in 1821. Interestingly, the timeline has no end: it continues today and is reflected in the events that take place daily.

The historic downtown is balanced by a robust public art initiative: a stroll through main street reveals a number of alleyway murals, a sculpture garden, musical instrument alley installation, seasonal painted windows, and even a few painted dumpsters. Downtown plays host to several community events throughout the year, including the Classic Car Show, First Friday Summer Concert Series and Farmers Market.

Thanks to the largest concentration of antiques stores in Georgia, Monroe and Walton County are collectively considered as the ‘Antiques Capital of Georgia.’ Monroe is home to over 1,200 booths and 300,000 square feet of antiques, vintage and re-purposed items, as well as the largest antique mall in the southeast, Ian Henderson’s Antique Mall (over 120,000 square feet – bring your truck!).

Be sure to bring Junior and Fido on the trip! Human and canine alike will enjoy the 17-acre Childers Park, just two blocks from the Walton County historic courthouse. What used to be an overgrown kudzu hill (and was the original site of the Monroe High School football stadium!) is now a popular park with almost a mile of walking trails and natural play elements for children. The south side of the park contains a shaded dog park featuring play elements, bench seating and more public art—old fire hydrants, donated by the public works department and painted by volunteer artists, can be found all around the area.