This is part of our Wander South Georgia Week. Be sure to see our full list of our favorite recommendations, places, and trip itineraries from our recent Wander South Georgia road trip. While we spend most of our time wandering mountain peaks and chasing waterfalls, we have been itching to take our wandering spirit on a tour of South Georgia for a hot minute. Recently we got the chance to head south and explore the southern part of our great state. So we hopped in our car and headed south towards Thomasville with the goal of making it to Savannah in a week. We made stops in the Okefenokee Swamp, Saint Simons, Jekyll Island, Cumberland Island, and finally . . . Savannah. So buckle up and follow along. Be sure to check out our full Wander South Georgia Road Trip over on the Explore Georgia blog.
Every good road trip needs a starting point so we thought we would start ours in one of South Georgia’s staple cities, Thomasville. And while our trip to Thomasville was the first leg of a road trip, we think it would be equally as good as a weekend getaway. In fact we’re already planning our return trip for the Fall with another couple!
Thomasville is the quintessential small town with a vibrant Main Street, award-winning food, and amazing people. Thomasville is known for its roses and is Georgia’s Official Rose City. The Thomasville Rose Show and Festival began in 1922 and during our visit, the city was celebrating the 100th Anniversary Rose Show and Festival. During the annual festival, the city is taken over with roses, flower shows, a historic parade, and a craft festival. All the downtown restaurants and businesses decorate their storefronts in flowers and rose-themed art. This would be a great weekend to attend. If we were planning a future trip in the Spring, we would definitely do our best to time it to coincide with this week-long event.
You shouldn’t expect Thomasville to provide a bustling night life or a place overflowing with crowds. Thomasville is the epitome of a small town. Most of the streets downtown are paved with 100 year old bricks reinforcing the historic feel of the city yet it is full of fresh life, entrepreneurship and an emerging food scene. The highlight of the trip for us was definitely the food and lazy vibes that allowed us to rest and relax with our favorite book by the pool. While there is plenty to do in Thomasville, we thought we’d start with some of our favorite food recommendations.
PLACES TO EAT
AJ Moonspin, George & Louie’s, Jonah’s Fish & Grits, Liams, Empire Bagel, Grassroots Coffee, Hubs & Hops, The Kickstand, Sass Sweet & Savory Sisters
We’ll jump around here a bit but try to group things by the best food by meal.
For breakfast, we highly recommend checking out Empire Bagel. Their Egg Sandwich will blow you away and the Greenwich Toast (avocado, tomato, and sea salt) is a vegetarian dream. Of course, you can’t go wrong with one of their bagels and a schmear. They also have cold and hot deli sandwiches for lunch. Q Cafe is also a good option.
For coffee, check out Grassroots Coffee on Broad Street (the main road through downtown). You can’t miss it as it’s right in the middle of downtown. They are a full-fledged coffee shop so you can swing by here in the morning for breakfast or in the afternoon for some remote work. But for breakfast check out the chorizo tacos. If you need another great afternoon spot, check out Farmer’s Daughter Vineyard & Tasting Room for a great glass of wine. They also have charcuterie and cheese boards, chocolates, beer, and most importantly, sangrias on Friday and Saturday while supplies last!
For lunch and dinner, you have a couple of really cool options. For our outdoor lovers, there is a place called The Kickstand which doubles as a spot for bike gear on one side and a taco stand on the other. Sass and George & Louie’s Seafood are also great. The cajun rubbed baby back ribs and po’boys at Sass were awesome and you can’t go wrong with any of the seafood at George & Louie’s.
One of our favorites was Moonspin which is a really awesome local pizza joint. We got pizza, wings, and beer but also had some amazing truffle salt and garlic pasta which we highly recommend! The service and staff were some of the best we had on our trip. We loved sitting outside on their patio in the afternoon with a cold beer.
The must-stop spot is Jonah’s Fish & Grits. It’s the #1 ranked restaurant in Thomasville and has been featured in Southern Living. They have a gorgeous courtyard next to the restaurant making this the perfect spot after a long day.
PLACES TO WANDER
The Big Oak, Lost Quail Hunt, Sweet Grass Dairy tour, Jack Hadley Black History Museum, Rose Garden
If you’re going to Thomasville, you’ve got to visit the 335+ year old “Big Oak”. Over twenty-two feet wide, it covers an entire city corner with massive fern-covered branches bigger than most normal tree trunks. Sweet Grass Dairy is on the outskirts of town and does tours of their dairy where you can taste their famous cheese. They even serve food, cocktails, and wine alongside gourmet cheese made on-site!
The Jack Hadley Black History Museum is also worth a visit. The museum was created in 1995 by James “Jack” Hadley. Jack served in the Air Force for twenty-eight years and then worked for the United States Postal Service for another twelve years. In his spare time, he collected over 4,700 pieces of African American artifacts telling the story of Black American history throughout our country. Now they are beautifully displayed and preserved in the museum that bears his name.
Another cool thing to do, especially if you have kids, is the Lost Quail hunt. Thomasville is surrounded by quail hunting lands that draw hunters from across the country. To celebrate that history, eighteen bronze statues are hidden in various locations downtown. You can use the mobile-friendly map of clues on this page or just wander around until you find all eighteen!
If you aren’t able to make it to the annual Rose Festival, you can still visit the Rose Garden for a small sample of Georgia’s Rose City.
PLACES TO SHOP
SouthLife Supply Co., Big Adventure Company, Fuzzy Goat, Kevin’s, The Bookshelf, Firefly, Relish, Harden’s Taxidermy
If shopping is your thing, you’ll be set in Thomasville. Downtown and beyond are full of small businesses carrying everything from books to gifts to rare taxidermy. Yeah . . . you heard me taxidermy. So let’s start there. You have to visit Harden’s. While this may seem like an odd place to start a list of shopping recommendations, their store is just so unique.
Big Adventure Outfitters is another one of our favorites. As outdoor lovers and with a shop of our own, fellow outfitters are the first stop we usually make in each town. What started as a travel booking company has doubled into being a full-on outdoor shop complete with all kinds of outdoor and hiking gear.
The Bookshelf is a really charming locally owned bookstore with a little bit of everything. If you’re looking for something on the gift store side, you have some great options in SouthLife Supply, Fuzzy Goat Yarns (a knitter’s paradise), and Relish (which focuses on cookware and home goods). And while it’s technically food, Sweet CaCao Chocolates specializes in handcrafted chocolate.
Finally one of our favorite brands in the world and peers in the small business world is Sturdy Brothers. While they no longer have a physical brick-and-mortar location, they are based in Thomasville. They are craftsman-style leather workers and make bags, belts, home goods, and accessories the good old fashioned way . . . by hand. They are everything right with small, American-made products. Check out their extended profile on our site here or visit their website to see what they’re up to.
PLACES TO STAY
Courtyard by Marriott, Paxton 1884
With Thomasville being a smaller city, there aren’t a ton of locally owned or unique hotels. There are plenty of budget-friendly options on the outskirts of town. We wanted to be able to walk to everything so we opted for the brand new Courtyard by Marriott and really enjoyed our stay. There is also the Paxton 1884 which is the #1 ranked B&B in the city. It too is within walking distance to downtown and is a beautiful historic B&B style option. On Airbnb, The Shed looks like a really great and unique option.