The Georgia city of Griffin lies south of Atlanta and as such comprises part of the metropolitan Atlanta region.
An independent city with its own ambience and charm, Griffin is the county seat of Spalding County.
Founded in 1840, Griffin became a boomtown with the coming of the railroad just two years later.
Surviving the American Civil War, it has become an attractive getaway strong on historic sights and other exciting things to do.
These are the 15 best things to do in and around Griffin, Georgia.
1. Griffin Commercial Historical District
This downtown district at the heart of Griffin spans 11 hectares approximately encompassed by Central Alley, Sixth, Taylor, and Eighth Streets.
Roughly equivalent to eight city blocks, 100 or so buildings were added to the United States National Register of Historic Places because of their role in the development of the city and the region.
Among its sites are the historic red brick Griffin City Hall built in around 1910, the U-shaped Griffin Hotel built in the same time, and the Opera House.
Also known as Odd Fellows Hall, this structure was built in 1892. Rising three storeys, it has a Romanesque appearance counting the simpler structure of City Hall.
2. Griffin Regional Welcome Center
Although called a welcome centre, this similarly attractive building in downtown Griffin is far more that a tourist information centre.
Behind its brown bricks and large windows visitors will find the History of Griffin Museum, as well as the Griffin Art Gallery.
Built in 1899 and once a grocery distribution warehouse, it was one of the first in the region with long-term cold storage facilities.
Its museum displays a variety of artifacts from Griffin’s relatively long history as a city, while its gallery is dedicated to displaying the works of artists local to the region.
3. Bailey-Tebault House
Another important historic structure, Bailey-Tebault House was constructed just as the American Civil War began in the early 1860s.
In fact, its completion was delayed because of the Union blockade on the states of the Confederate south.
An excellent example of Greek Revival architecture, the building has some similarities to the White House in Washington DC, because of its front portico supported by two-storey Greek columns.
Inside, you’ll find beautiful plaster cast mouldings on its ceilings and walls, as well as fine furniture. Much of which survived a period as the city’s first hospital in the 1900s, and then its time as a funeral home.
4. UGA Research and Education Garden
The Research and Education Garden is a 26-hectare botanic gardens routinely open to the public despite its association with the University of Georgia’s Griffin Campus.
Its mix of brick and gravel paths, together with a shady arboretum, allows visitors to explore plants native to the southern United States within the most tranquil of settings.
The presence of a picnic area and shelter demonstrate that this garden is definitely a welcoming space for all.
A further symbol of this is the regular series of events and classes that take place within its walls, including star-gazing sessions and art exhibitions.
5. Walker Hill Museum
This museum is the result of decades of collecting by the Walker family, who have lived in the house it occupies on South Hill Street since 1905.
The family’s interests seem to have known no limit, and the result is an eclectic range of items, some of which date back two full centuries.
An intriguing look into southern lifestyles at the beginning of the twentieth century, the museum includes some really rare objects.
These range from full-sized carousels with their original horses, to early record players. But tours of the site also include the historic homestead built in 1867, an old dairy barn, and an outhouse.
6. Heads Creek Reservoir
Heads Creek Reservoir is one of several reservoirs and man-made lakes created in the region to ensure a steady water supply for the metropolitan Atlanta region.
More than 120 hectares in area, the reservoir is a haven for anyone who enjoys getting into the countryside, if only for a few hours.
Its size means the reservoir rarely gets crowded, while its ban on motor boats ensures its waters are generally very calm.
Home to beavers, turtles, fish and various bird and duck species, it’s possible to enjoy the lake’s surrounds for its shoreline, or canoe or kayak around it to get closer to its small uninhabited island.
Heads Creek Reservoir is approximately 12 km west of Griffin.
7. Film Tours
A huge number of films and television series have been filmed in and around Griffin, with The Walking Dead production crew a particular fan of the area.
While it’s great to stumble on to recognisable locations by accident, for the best chance of seeing the backdrops to scenes from your favourite screen entertainment a film tour could be the thing for you.
Southern Hollywood Film Tours is based in nearby Peachtree City, and combines footage with real locations as they take in scenes from The Walking Dead and several movies from the Marvel universe including Spider Man and Guardians of the Galaxy.
Peachtree City is just over 30 minutes by road from Griffin.
8. Hill-Kurtz House
Hill-Kurtz House is another Griffin addition to the National Register of Historic Places. It was constructed in 1860 for a man called Benjamin J Milner.
He is known for helping to form a local cavalry unit during the American Civil War. Sold just six years later to a printing magnate, the house is recorded as a fine example of what is called the Exotic Revival style.
If you decide to explore the suburban streets with wide lawns and mature tree cover in search of Hill-Kurtz House, also keep a look out for other historic private homes, such as Hunt House. This property was purchased by a Confederate army officer turned Griffin merchant.
9. Stonewall Cemetery
Set out on the founding of the city, Stonewall Cemetery is best known as the location of graves resulting from the Battle of Atlanta during the American Civil War.
Within a plot with cannonballs at each of its four corners are the final resting places of several hundred Confederate troops as well as a single Union soldier. They either died in the fighting or from wounds afterwards.
There are several memorials and statues worth looking at, and a memorial park opposite which contains an eternal flame for those who have died in every war involving US troops since.
10. Museum of Aviation
The military connections don’t end at Stonewall Cemetery. The city of Warner Robins lies around 100 km southeast of Griffin. It is well worth the 1.5-hour journey because here you’ll find one of the country’s largest aviation museums.
On the edge of a US Air Force base, the Museum of Aviation receives more visitors each year than any other Georgia attraction outside of downtown Atlanta.
Its exhibition space covers an impressive 21 hectares, and contains 85 aircraft. These include tiny biplanes and giant bombers from the Second World War onwards, such as a B-52 bomber.
There is also the unusual chance to get up close to a U-2 spy plane, and a Blackbird, which flies on the edge of space.
11. Candler Field Museum
A little closer to Griffin, at just 15 minutes away, is another aeronautical wonder. Williamson’s Candler Field Museum can be found at Peach State Airport, and has worked hard to recreate what Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport would have looked like in the 1920s and 1930s.
Its lobby echoes a check-in desk from the period, and in addition to archive photographs and other items linked to powered flight, the museum boasts a number of aircraft.
Focussing on civilian rather than military aircraft, the earliest dates from 1917, just 14 years after the Wright Brothers’ first flight. Other attractions include working Ford Model A and Model T cars.
12. Griffin Golf Course
Open from 7.30 in the morning until dark, the Griffin Golf Course is an 18-hole 72-par course. It features rolling fairways edged with trees typical of this part of the United States.
There is also a 12-station driving range, and practice green for seasoned golfers to improve their swing. Open since 1932, the course has had plenty of time to adapt, with new facilities added frequently.
Alternatively, check out The Club at Shoal Creek. A secluded course around a large lake, it has been partially reconstructed in recent years to improve its playability. However, the owners have worked hard to ensure the deer and other wildlife that live here continue to feel at home.
13. Griffin Area Concert Association
Its name might not be the most inspiring around, but you’ll find few who will argue against the GACA as a gig and concert destination.
The association deliberately tries to invite in acts of as many genres as possible. So while there’s the chance to catch a country act, it’s equally possible you’ll be in town at the same time as a symphony orchestra or up-and-coming rock group are playing.
Its regular performances include everyone from talented locals to performers with national and even international reputations. So, if you somehow find yourself at a loose end one evening, be sure to check out the Griffin Area Concert Association.
We’ve resisted the allure of Atlanta up until now, but it would be hard to complete a list of the best things to do in Griffin, Georgia without mentioning the state’s capital.
Only 50 minutes north of Griffin by road, Atlanta has a long list of attractions which makes it easy for any visitor to Griffin to spend a day there.
Families with younger children will probably want to head straight for Grant Park’s Zoo Atlanta, one of the oldest in the United States and an important centre of conservation.
Within walking distance are the buildings of the Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Park, the street art of the Krog Street Tunnel, and several attractions relating to Gone with the Wind including a museum.
15. Cherokee Rose Sporting Clays
America’s Second Amendment famously gives its citizens the right to bear arms, and this right is particularly associated with the southern states of the union including Georgia.
To uncover this culture in safety visitors should head to Cherokee Rose Sporting Clays, which provides a space to target moving clay discs in beautiful surroundings.
There is not one but two clay shooting courses here. One is a five stand, while the other is a Helice ring.
Welcoming of beginners as well as experts, the centre consists of 50 hectares of open ground, gorges, water, and rolling hills.