If you’re looking for quintessential Southern charm, Thomasville, Georgia, fits the bill. This city is so Southern that you can almost smell the buttermilk biscuits, hear the crackling of fish frying, and taste the syrupy sweetness of tea on your palate when you cross the city line. The streets are lined with large oak trees dressed in Spanish moss, and there are neighborhoods of centenarian Victorian homes with wrap-around porches and rows of rocking chairs.
This small town is located in the Red Hills Region of Southwest Georgia, not far from Florida. Thomasville is also known by the moniker “Rose City” since the municipality prides itself on curating a special batch of particular blooms. The city also commemorates its famous rose garden with an annual Thomasville Rose Show & Festival, and this year marks the centennial Rose Show celebration for the city. Mark your calendar for next year’s very special event, slated for April 22-24, 2022.
Although the town is small, it brims with a cosmopolitan flair. There’s an impressive list of must-see attractions, so consider this your guide to Thomasville!
Things to do in Thomasville, GA
The Lapham-Patterson House is a sizeable flaxen-hued home that showcases Victorian-era history and architecture. It was built in 1884-85 as a winter cottage for the famous shoe merchant C.W. Lapham from Chicago, who wanted to spend time in Thomasville due to its mild climate and fresh air. But as a survivor of the Great Chicago Fire, Lapham fashioned the house with an exit in every room and secret compartments; there are several too-small archways and a kaleidoscope of various wooden floor panels.
The Lapham-Patterson house became a national historic landmark in 1975 because of its architectural significance. It’s a great place to take a guided tour and learn more about the creative engineering and craftsmanship of this era.
Thomasville History Center
Across the street from the Lapham-Patterson House is the Thomasville History Center. It allows visitors to discover the historical value of the city through exploration of its past. The history was kept alive thanks to the detailed and valuable information that was collected in the 1950s. The history was documented by gathering data and visiting older citizens to record their recollections about the city’s unique and intrinsic history. The museum aims to keep history alive by sharing these stories through experiential learning. The collections of the history museum have grown to more than 125,000 photos and many objects and documents that display Thomasville’s past. There are seven historical buildings worth visiting during a guided tour, or you can take a self-guided tour and see over 35 exhibitions to learn about the history of Thomasville.
Jack Hadley Black History Museum
The Jack Hadley Black History Museum serves as a repository of much of Thomasville’s rich Black history. The museum educates its visitors on both the local and national African American history and culture. There are almost 5,000 artifacts that emphasize the first Black achievers of the city. It’s a must-visit museum in the town to view pieces of history that date back to slavery, buffalo soldiers, and many other critical times in history. It’s a great place to reflect and admire strong leaders who have changed the world.
Thomasville’s moniker — “City of Roses” — came about because of its annual Rose Show & Festival. There are more than 1,500 rose bushes located on five acres of land. Take a stroll through the rose garden’s four themed beds that include Heroes, Holidays, Love & Cherish, and Famous People. The fragrant beauties are a treasure for the city.
Taste of Thomasville Food Tour
A unique way to learn more about Thomasville is by taking a walking food tour. Experience the state and award-winning national food by strolling 1.2 miles around downtown Thomasville and sampling the mouthwateringly divine fare. It’s the best way to experience “Southern hospitality” for yourself.
Flowers Foods Museum
The Flowers Foods Museum is an interactive exhibit of the 100-year history of Flowers Foods. Visit this museum to experience and understand the history of the bread company and its connection to Thomasville. The museum is located in the Flowers Foods Heritage Center, a 104-year-old building that now showcases the company’s milestones from a family-owned local bakery to a multi-billion-dollar food company that produces baked goods for brands such as Nature’s Own, Wonder, Dave’s Killer Bread, and Tastykake.
Hunt for the Lost Quail
If you’re visiting this historical city with children or grandchildren, the hunt for lost quail is a fun activity for all ages. Visitors can “hunt” quail by spotting the 18 bronze quail statues hiding all over the historic downtown. The goal of this scavenger hunt is to locate all 18 quail and, in the process, gain a greater appreciation for the natural and historic Thomasville.
Pebble Hill Plantation
The Pebble Hill Plantation was established in 1825 and was once a full-fledged plantation that produced cotton, sugar cane, corn, and tobacco. A fire destroyed the original site, but a new structure was built in 1936 and was converted from an agricultural plantation to a hunting plantation.
The plantation has been meticulously preserved and now has a trove of historical artifacts from the early 20th century. The docents are knowledgeable about the family that owns the site; however, the tour and museum lacks some depth in that it doesn’t touch upon the lives of the enslaved people who once worked the land and the many African Americans who worked and lived on the property after slavery ended. If you’re interested in learning about the African American experience at Pebble Hill, there is an exhibit on the subject at the Jack Hadley Black History Museum.
Explore the Retail Scene
Thomasville is home to a variety of locally owned businesses — from antique stores and art galleries to women’s boutiques, children’s shops, and home stores. Find a complete directory of local businesses HERE and get ready to shop till you drop!
Where to Eat in Thomasville, GA
Grassroots Coffee Company
Grassroots Coffee Company locally roasts its beans to perfect the art of coffee. It’s a great spot to grab breakfast or lunch or to relax after strolling through the historic downtown. The company now wholesales its beans to more than 200 retail stores, restaurants, and coffee shops.
Farmer’s Daughter Vineyard
For a fun outing, visitors must stop at the Farmer’s Daughter Vineyard, a local business that produces award-winning small-batch wines. The entire process from start to finish happens right in Thomasville and is run by a third-generation farming family. They have a tasting room where you can try all of their fresh wines, and you can order up a cheese and charcuterie plate to go with it. And don’t leave without trying the Georgia-made organic chocolate.
Sweet Grass Dairy
Sweet Grass Dairy has evolved over the years to allow its cows to graze on fresh grass. That, combined with natural South Georgia resources, has allowed the company to grow and produce renowned cheeses. Sweet Grass Dairy now distributes to more than 38 states with a product line of six kinds of cheese. They’ve also won more than 30 domestic and international awards over their years of business. It is a must-try!
Another excellent food spot is Billiard Academy, a must-visit to try the famous hot dogs. It opened in 1949 and has not changed much since then. The hot dogs and chili dogs have become infamous to visitors and residents alike because of their fresh and tasty ingredients.
Jonah’s Fish & Grits
As the name suggests, Jonah’s Fish and Grits is famous for just that. The shrimp and grits dish is a favorite in the area. Named after the prophet Jonah, the restaurant owner wanted to share the journey from struggle to accomplishment. It’s a place for great food and service, which is the goal and mission of this fantastic local restaurant.
For the best pizza in Thomasville, AJ Moonspin is the place to try. Fresh, locally grown products are carefully prepared to create gourmet pizzas that run the gamut. Choose from fun names like “The Honeymooner” (herbed ricotta, mozzarella, garlic, and olive oil), “Howlin’ at the Moon” (Bradley’s spicy sausage and jalapenos), the “Lucky Moon” (arugula, feta, sliced chicken, and onion) and more! Not into pizza? There are plenty of authentic pasta dishes to satisfy your hunger.
Thomasville not only boasts a rich and historic past, but also an ever-evolving present. With many great museums and restaurants, it’s no wonder it’s a top small town to visit in the United States. Enjoy your adventures in Thomasville!
When you’re ready to plan your trip to Thomasville, start your planning at thomasvillega.com.
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