Rome is the largest city in Floyd County, which sits on the state border with Alabama, and also the largest in the whole of northwest Georgia.
Located in the foothills of the famed Appalachian Mountains, its abundance of waterways first attracted Creek and Cherokee peoples.
European settlers arrived in the 1830s, forcing native Americans from their land, and Rome developed over seven hills just like its Italian namesake.
A trading hub since its earliest days, the city has adapted to modern industries, making it a thriving community blending past, present, and future.
Here are the 15 best things to do in and around Rome Georgia.
1. Chieftains Museum
Officially known as Chieftains Museum / Major Ridge Home, this attractive clapboard building was the home of Major Ridge, a Cherokee leader who negotiated the ceding of ancestral land to the United States.
He did this because he believed it was the better of two evils – the other being the land forcefully taken from his people.
However, he eventually paid for this decision with his life, being assassinated by other members of the Cherokee nation.
This history is detailed in the museum, which has its origins in a smaller log house dating right back to 1792, just a few years after the American declaration of independence.
It forms a stop on the Cherokee Trail of Tears, which links sites associated with the removal of this people from their ancestral lands.
2. Historic Clock Tower
Located on Neely (also known as Tower) Hill, Rome Clock Tower was built in 1871 as a water tower, which explains its slightly unusual appearance.
Its water tank was almost 20 metres tall by eight metres wide, and capable of holding close to one million litres.
Its four-faced clock was added only a year later, with each face more than two metres in diameter.
Visitors are welcome to climb the 107 steps that spiral around the inside of the tower to a viewing platform offering stunning views across the city.
The former water tanks are used to display the works of local artists.
3. Myrtle Hill Cemetery
Located on another of Rome’s seven hills is Myrtle Hill Cemetery, a burial place that is significantly linked with major points in the city’s history.
Containing the remains of more than 20,000 people, the cemetery was used to bury soldiers that died during the American Civil War. this includes several hundred who fought on the Confederate side.
Its Veterans Plaza also contains the Tomb of the Known Soldier, one of few US troops who fought during the First World War to be buried in home soil. The plot of Private Charles Graves is marked out by three Maxim guns from the period.
Myrtle Hill Cemetery also contains the grave of Ellen Axson, the first wife of President Woodrow Wilson. She grew up in the city and is the only First Lady buried in Georgia to date.
4. Rome Area History Museum
The Rome Area History Museum occupies a magnificent red brick building on the banks of the Oostanaula River immediately before it joins the Etowah to form the Coosa River.
It’s displays and artifacts lead visitors through the history of the city and the surrounding county, with exhibition spaces dedicated to the most important times in the area’s past.
Its collection of historic documents, photographs, maps and personal items concentrates on European settlement of the area, since the Chieftains Museum describes the region’s native American heritage.
It has important spaces dedicated to the Civil War period, and the agricultural way of life that lasted well into the twentieth century.
5. Rome Braves
Rome is home to a minor league baseball team known as the Rome Braves.
Though a step below the major league teams that have become household names throughout the world, such as the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, a baseball game at the Braves’ home ground is still an amazing insight.
Probably the biggest sport in the nation, tickets to a game will reveal the modern traditions and culture of the United States in all their glory, and the pride people have in their home states and cities too.
6. Between the Rivers Historic District
Centered around Broad Street, the Between the Rivers Historic District has a cluster of surviving structures from Rome’s Victorian era. Both private residences and commercial premises are represented.
While just a few blocks long and a similar number wide, together they form the largest area of Victorian properties anywhere in Georgia.
Among them, you’ll find a whole range of boutiques and antiques shops, as well as restaurants that make the perfect stopping point for either lunch or dinner.
On the Oostanaula River side of the district there’s also the Lock Bridge (or the Robert Redden Foot Bridge) to look out for.
Once a swing bridge that was an integral part of the Central Georgia Railway, cross it and you can join the riverside walks up and down the river that form the Heritage Trail System.
7. Appalachian Mountains
Stretching all the way from Alabama to New York State, the Appalachian Mountains are one of the world’s greatest mountain ranges.
And with Rome located amid their foothills, it would be a terrible shame not to explore some of what they have to offer while in the Georgia city.
The nearest sites to Rome are the Coosa Valley, and northern Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.
Here, on Springer Mountain, lies the southern trail head of the famous Appalachian Trail, which runs for about 2150 miles and takes around six months to complete.
If that sort of time is unavailable to you, the summit of Springer Mountain can be reached in 8.6 miles from the visitor center at Amicalola Falls State Park.
This is approximately 1.5 hours from Rome by road.
8. Oak Hill & The Martha Berry Museum
While the name of educator Martha Berry might not be known outside of the Rome area, that shouldn’t stop you exploring the museum bearing her name and the surrounding grounds and farmhouse.
Altogether the site covers almost 70 hectares around a Greek Revival style mansion. The original farmhouse from 1847 was used as a barracks by Union soldiers during the Civil War’s Atlanta Campaign. It was then rebuilt in its current form, when it became a school.
The extensive gardens include an All-American Selections Display of plants, as well as various historic structures that formed the first school rooms on the site.
9. Etowah Indian Mounds
Lining the north bank of the Etowah River, Etowah Indian Mounds is an archaeological site which was inhabited by the Mississippi Culture of native Americans between 1000 and 1500 AD.
Considered one of the most intact sites in this part of the United States, it has three main grass-covered platform mounds and a further three smaller mounds.
The tallest is almost 20 metres high, making it equivalent to a six-story building, and was once believed to have been topped with a series of ceremonial structures.
In addition, the site contains a museum displaying the most important discoveries made here. These include stone statues, jeweler, and pottery.
Etowah Indian Mounds is just 30 minutes south of Rome following Highway 411.
10. Rome Axe Throwing
For something a little different, how about a little axe throwing? A great way to let off some steam and learn a new skill at the same time, axe throwing is becoming increasingly popular.
At Rome Axe Throwing, coaches are always on hand to demonstrate the technique required to get your axes to lodge into the hardwood targets, so what are you waiting for?
11. Statue of Romulus and Remus
Standing pride of place in front of Rome City Hall is a bronze sculpture of the mythical founders of Rome, Italy – the twins Romulus and Remus.
A replica of a famous statue of the boys being suckled by a she-wolf that stands on the Capitoline Hill, it was gifted to the city in 1929 by the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.
In 1996, the Olympic Torch passed the statue as it made its way to Atlanta for the games of that year.
Once you’ve seen the statue, be sure to admire the architecture of City Hall itself, and the 100-year-old Carnegie Library next door.
12. Little Canyon River National Preserve
Roughly 60 km east across the state border in Alabama is Little Canyon River National Preserve.
Although only created in 1992, the preserve is an untouched wilderness protecting more than 6,000 hectares of forest. It also includes the nation’s longest mountaintop river, misguidedly called the Little River.
The Preserve is located at the summit of Lookout Mountain, where the Cherokee nation fought their last battle against American frontiersmen, and also the location of a Civil War battle.
Containing one of the Southeast United State’s deepest canyons, its walls rise 180 metres, and best seen from the scenic drive known as Little River Canyon Rim Parkway.
13. Alhambra – Home on the Hill
Another survivor from a previous age, the Alhambra house was built in 1832, in the very first wave of European settlement in what was to become Rome.
It was built by one of the four founders of the city, a North Carolina planter by the name of Philip Walker Hemphill.
Importantly, this house was where the city’s name was decided upon, supposedly by drawing names out of a hat.
The oldest house still surviving anywhere in Floyd County, it is now part of Darlington School.
Two hours east of Rome is Dahlonega, the location of the first major gold rush in US history, in 1828. Right at the center of the city is the Gold Museum, housed within Lumpkin County Courthouse.
From its steps members of the Dahlonega mint tried to persuade miners not to abandon the city for California, leading to the phrase ‘there’s gold in them thar hills’.
The museum incorporates gold panning equipment, for sifting the gold from the river beds, coins minted in the city, and even gold nuggets in their raw natural form.
Around the city visitors will also discover a number of vineyards, together forming an important part of the American wine industry.
15. Cave Spring
The perfect antidote to a hot Rome summer day is a trip to the natural underground formations of the city of Cave Spring, 20 minutes southwest of Rome.
One of the attractions of Rolater Park, the caves slip beneath the surrounding landscapes in dramatic stalagmite formations including one known as the Devil’s Stool.
Its also a chance to see the origins of the spring after which the city was named, which back on the surface forms a reflective pool and swimming lake.
Elsewhere in the park, stop by Cave Spring Baptist Church, whose bricks were each individually made by African-American slaves in the 1850s.