Although it is now the county seat for Baldwin County, Milledgeville Georgia was established in 1804 as the new capital of the state.
It was constructed on land that had been cleared from its native American inhabitants and used a lot of slave labor. It may have been this reason that it was removed from its position as the capital of the state in 1868, during the period of post-civil War Reconstruction.
The 200-year-old city was temporarily occupied during the civil war by General Sherman, but it survived relatively unscathed.
You can expect a lot of historical southern architecture and an array of attractions from museums to hiking trails.
These are the top 15 things to do around Milledgeville in Georgia.
1. Milledgeville Historic District
The Milledgeville Historic District roughly corresponds to the area that was laid out in the early 1800s when the city was founded.
The streets of the area cover approximately 3,200 acres. There are many homes and other structures that reflect the traditional southern architectural styles popularized before the American Civil War.
The classic Greek Revival style of the building is prominently featured on the United States’ National Register of Historic Places. Atkinson Hall, located on the Georgia College campus, is one of 40 historical structures that are worth exploring.
2. Old Governor’s Mansion
The Old Governor’s Mansion looks almost like a peach-colored replica of Washington DC’s White House. It is difficult to miss it.
This mansion was the official residence of the Georgia governor during the period that Milledgeville was Georgia’s capital. It has since been turned into a museum of historic houses.
Tours take you through the original rooms that have been restored and bear witness to General Sherman. This is where Sherman based himself in 1864, during the Union army’s March towards the Sea.
Its interiors tell the story about all Georgians, from its governor to its enslaved populations.
3. Lockerly Arboretum
Rose Hill at Lockerly Arboretum, a similarly impressive structure dating back to 1852 is another important Milledgeville structure that’s worth a visit.
Original features inside include hardwood floors, plaster walls, and marble fireplaces. The house is surrounded on the exterior by approximately 50 acres of gardens.
The perfectly symmetrical ponds directly in front of Rose Hill are spread out into a landscape full of camellias and rhododendrons that makes it the ideal spot for a summer picnic.
Recent additions include greenhouses that can house species that would not survive in the Georgia climate. These include around 60 varieties of orchid.
4. Lake Sinclair
Lake Sinclair is located approximately 10 miles north-east of downtown Milledgeville. It’s a body water that has three thin main fingers and runs through the Georgia countryside.
Lake Sinclair, surrounded by native trees was created by the damming the Oconee River in 1953. The lake’s 15,000-acre area allows for a wide range of recreational activities along its shores.
For those who prefer more peaceful pastimes, the opportunity to take in breathtaking views and relax with a fishing rod in their hands is a great option. The adrenaline junkies don’t need to miss out. Sinclair marina can rent boats, and you can also hire jet skis.
5. William P Wall Museum of Natural History
The William P Wall Museum of Natural History opened its doors in 2004 and quickly became a top-rated museum in the middle of Georgia.
It is part of Georgia College and covers the long history Earth’s life. You will also find a wide range of fossils, from early mammal species to mammoth bones, in addition to more unusual geology specimens.
Visitors will find a state of the art planetarium next door. This expands the museum’s reach to the creation and maintenance of the universe.
6. St Stephen’s Episcopal Church
St Stephen’s Episcopal Church was built in Milledgeville’s heyday as Georgia’s capital. It also plays an important role in the city’s Civil War history.
The church is located in Statehouse Square. It was built in 1843 in Rural Gothic style. This means that it has a lot of woodwork both inside and outside. You will also find beautiful stained glass that was added after the civil war.
It wouldn’t likely have survived if it hadn’t been there before. It was used to house General Sherman’s horses while its pews were used for firewood. Another deliberate act was to damage its organ pipes with molasses.
7. Oconee River
Milledgeville’s eastern edge is bounded by the Oconee River. You can find it just minutes away from the city’s central districts.
The Oconee River Greenway is one of the best ways you can discover the riverine landscape.
The greenway runs for approximately three miles and is composed of narrower nature trails, wide paths, and wooden boardwalks.
If you don’t feel like walking or cycling in the shade of the riverbanks is enough, you can also use the river as a playground for anglers and kayakers.
8. Old State Capitol
In 1807, the Old State Capitol Building in Milledgeville was unfinished when Georgia’s state legislature met for the first time.
It was completed and became one of America’s finest examples of Gothic architecture. Details from Europe’s cathedrals and medieval castles were reflected in its design.
The building was a courthouse until it became part of Georgia College. You can walk its grounds and enter the building, which has seen more than $10 million in renovations.
9. John Marlor Arts Center
The John Marlor is part of the Allied Arts Center. It occupies Milledgeville’s oldest building, which dates back in the 1830s.
It is located in a former part of Milledgeville known as The Strip. This was Milledgeville’s main point for African-American communities up until the 1980s.
You’ll find a small gallery with rotating exhibitions and artworks that changes every few months.
The Allied Arts Center is made up of three buildings. It also hosts a variety of workshops and seminars that are open to everyone.
10. Memory Hill Cemetery
Memory Hill Cemetery, part of Milledgeville Historic District is home to impressive Victorian memorials that date back to the city’s grand dames.
Its 20-acre landscape contains some of the city’s most prominent names, such as Flannery O’Connor, the author who enslaved African-Americans in the pre-war period and soldiers who died fighting the same war.
This burial site is so important that a self-guided walking tour of 47 points of interest is recommended. It should last no less than an hour.
For first-time visitors to Milledgeville, it is worth making a short stop at Memory Hill Cemetery as part a longer sightseeing tour.
11. Andalusia Farm
This simple structure was Flannery O’Connor’s home for more than a decade from 1951 to 1964.
The farm dates back to 1814 and was originally a cotton plantation run by slaves. After being diagnosed with Lupus, the author moved to this area.
Despite all this, O’Connor wrote her major work during her 13 years at Andalusia Farm. The farm clearly played a part in her literary world.
The farmhouse is now a museum that tells O’Connor’s story, including the one of her novels. John Huston directed Wise Blood, the movie adaptation.
12. Brown-Stetson-Sanford House
This woodboard structure is typical for the Milledgeville Federal style. It was built in 1825 by John Marlor, a local architect, for whom the arts center is named.
It has retained much of its original appearance despite the passage of nearly 200 years. The main staircase of Marlor’s house is especially impressive and is considered a sign of Marlor’s work. Visitors can see original hand-worked wooden pieces in the parlor.
Brown-Stetson-Sanford House makes an excellent addition to the city’s historic trolley tours, which make use of a vintage trolleybus known by the name of Milly in exploring the likes of Rose Hill, the Old State Capitol and Sallie-Ellis Davis House.
13. Bartram Forest
Bartram Forest is located five miles south of Statehouse Square and offers several looping trails that anyone who wants to ride a bicycle.
The routes are a mix of beginner-friendly 5.5-mile trails and a more challenging 10.3-mile track that is best for those who have some mountain biking experience.
It’s a great way to discover all of Georgia’s native habitats. There are many species of wildlife in the forest, which was once considered to be native American territory until 1794.
14. Tubman Museum
The Harriet Tubman, a prominent African-American, is the name of this museum in Macon. She was born into slavery and became a major figure in the Underground Railroad, which helped slaves escape from the south. The new $20 bill will feature a portrait of her.
The museum is located just 40 minutes north of Milledgeville. It is a major gallery space for African-American culture and art in Georgia.
The collection includes both historic and contemporary artifacts. Its displays are intended to show the importance of African-Americans in America’s development, as demonstrated by George Washington Carver’s work as an agricultural scientist.
15. Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge
The Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge is located at a similar distance to the west. Since its inception, it has been a refuge for Georgia’s native species.
It is a forest area interspersed with streams. The ridges are dominated pines, while the beaver-populated creeks provide the ideal base for many hardwoods.
Visitors should also be aware of the red-cockaded Woodpecker, which is one of the rarer species. There are 200 bird species in the area, as well as 50 mammal types, including the Bobcat.
Before you set out on the many trails that make the refuge so wonderful, take a look at the orientation video at the visitor centre.