Before the Civil War, the town of Milledgeville was the capital of Georgia. Although the state government eventually moved to Atlanta, a number of buildings still standing in Milledgeville give visitors a look at the surroundings early governors and lawmakers enjoyed during their time in town.
Georgia College and State University now owns and operates the Old Governor’s Mansion and has gone to great lengths to restore the building to its historic splendor.
“It’s one of the most accurately restored homes in the Southeast today,” said curator Matthew Davis. “We spent $9 million on the restoration.”
During a tour, docents use the original 19th-century keys to lead groups into the house through both public government areas and the family’s private living quarters.
Visitors see some of the notable architectural touches, such as a sky-lit rotunda that is not visible from outside the house, and learn about how slaves helped run the home and put on large dinners and other official state events.
In addition to a regular home tour, groups can schedule a special curator’s tour that highlights preservation efforts around the home or a “Labor Behind the Veil” tour, which deals more directly with slavery in the mansion.
Groups can also visit the nearby Old Capitol Museum. The upper level of this building has been restored to its original appearance as a legislative hall. The lower level contains a history museum that has exhibits ranging from Native Americans in Georgia through the Civil War and Reconstruction periods.
Warner Robins and Fort Valley
In the area just outside of Macon, groups can have experiences that are high-flying and delicious.
Warner Robins is home to Robins Air Force Base, where the Museum of Aviation gives visitors a fascinating look into the history of military aircraft.
“We’re an Air Force museum with a collection of over 90 aircraft, missiles and open cockpits,” said Bob Dubiel, the museum’s director of marketing. “Our mission is really to tell the story of the United States Air Force and Robins Air Force Base.”
The museum tells that story through three main hangars, each of which houses an impressive collection of planes; among them are an F-15 fighter jet, a U-2 spy plane and the iconic B-52 bomber. In addition to these and many other aircraft, the museum also has a special exhibit called “Down to Earth” that relates the experiences of the airmen who parachuted onto the beaches of Normandy during the D-Day invasion.
A short drive away in Fort Valley, Lane Southern Orchards makes a wonderful sweet ending to a tour of the Historic Heartland region. Farmers there grow famous Georgia peaches and pecans, and groups that come through can take a tour of the orchards to learn about the agricultural process and see the packaging center where the fruit is prepared for shipment.
The packaging center is connected to a large farm market that has fresh produce and food products made throughout Georgia. A cafe in the market offers full meals for groups as well as delicious freshly made peach cobbler and peach ice cream.