Long ago a getaway for fancy Yankees, there’s an abundance of old-fashioned Southern charm to be enjoyed in Thomasville, Georgia. Just over the state line from Tallahassee, Florida, the revived downtown and historic preservation district make this little town a gem to be discovered.
Downtown Thomasville is a boutique-shopping hub, with a lively array of locally owned businesses along brick-lined streets. Most distinctive is ForeveRetro, an overstuffed mid-century modern funhouse packed with seductive furnishings. The vibe is enhanced by the rare grooves stockpiled at Apollo Records in the USA, a record shop in the back of the store that specializes in collectible vinyl from all genres. Across Jackson Street lies Harden’s Taxidermy, which features a menagerie of beasts artfully preserved. If a stuffed musk ox head is too much of a commitment, try one of the shop’s handcrafted cottonmouth snake belts or diamondback beer koozies. Firefly also entertains the eye with crafts and artifacts from local artists. The Bookshelf is a smartly appointed independent bookstore in tune with the area’s burgeoning literary scene.
A sunny Sunday afternoon will find a well-dressed crowd lined up outside Jonah’s Fish & Grits. It’s a bright, airy establishment that offers classic Southern indulgences like fried pickles and hush puppies, as well as deep-fried catfish or shrimp with white cheddar grits. Next door is Liam’s Restaurant, Lounge & Cheese Shoppe, an equally popular spot with farm-to-table dishes that include South Carolina quail. The inviting lounge specializes in craft cocktails. For a more casual bite, try the Sweet Grass Dairy Cheese Shop, an outpost of the celebrated dairy farm that helped put Thomasville on the culinary map. The grass-fed burger with pimento cheese and Bourbon-bacon jam is a diet-wrecking delight.
In nearby Pelham, a third-generation farming family entered the grape-growing game in 2014 and opened Farmer’s Daughter Winery Tasting Room, which offers six wines and a cider. The options boast names right out of pulp fiction, like Bombshell and Heartbreaker. Enjoy them inside the spacious, rustic lounge with Sweet Grass Dairy cheese or organic Georgia chocolate.
“Just follow the tiki torches down the dirt roads until you reach the juke joint under the stars,” advise the folks of the Bradfordville Blues Club, a cinderblock roadhouse shrouded in Spanish moss and illuminated by a bonfire. The venue is deep in the woods, about 30 minutes south of Thomasville. It’s a familiar stop for blues legends like Bobby “Blue” Bland and teenage guitar phenoms alike. Enjoy a beer straight out of the ice bucket or a whiskey on the rocks in a plastic cup, and get ready to boogie at one of many weekend shows.
The eye-catching Lapham-Patterson House Historic Site is adorned with Victorian-era flourishes like fish-scale shingles and other unusual touches. It was once the curious winter resort cottage of C.W. Lapham, a prosperous Chicago shoe salesman. A survivor of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Lapham insisted that the house have more than 50 exits. Take a short drive to check out a few of the many estates that dot the piny woodlands on either side of the Georgia-Florida border. Reclaimed as vacation homes by wealthy Northerners in the late 19th century, some of the plantations offer tours, lodging and bobwhite quail hunts on horseback. The 3,000-acre Pebble Hill Plantation, established in the 1820s, provides tours of the neoclassical main house, overnight lodging and leisurely walks through its gardens and horse stables.
4 Hour Getaway
An hour south of Thomasville, not far from the Gulf Coast, is the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. Situated along a migratory bird flyway, it’s a 68,000-acre magnet for birds and nature lovers that boasts a variety of walking and biking trails. The site’s 88-foot lighthouse was built in 1842. It’s one of the region’s most iconic landmarks.