“Are We There Yet?”
By Linda Holloway
Photography by www.larryhollowayphotography.com
Multi-Generational Travel in Atlanta
While I love to write about vacation spots where the kids are front and center, it is fun to plan a multi-generational trip as well. Invite the adults in your life for a weekend of tracing the steps of Scarlett and Rhett, the infamous characters of Margaret Mitchell’s novel, Gone With the Wind. Georgia’s Gone With the Wind Trail makes planning your itinerary easy while Atlanta’s History Museum depicts the history surrounding the novel. Your teens will be eager to tag along if you inform them the Atlanta filming location of The Hunger Games is part of the journey.
Road to Tara Museum
Our first stop was the Road to Tara Museum located in Jonesboro, Georgia’s, historic train depot. On the first few pages of Margaret Mitchell’s novel, Gone With the Wind, Scarlett’s home, Tara, is set in Jonesboro. Clayton County is a part of the Gone With the Wind Trail, a state designated trail for visitors to follow, linking sites dedicated to Margaret Mitchell, her novel and subsequent film.
Clayton County was home to Margaret Mitchell’s maternal great-grandparents, the Fitzgeralds. They resided outside of Jonesboro and as a result, Clayton County and Jonesboro were designated the official home of Gone With the Wind in 1969. As a child, Mitchell listened to the stories about the war that would later be transferred from typewriter to the big screen.
We enjoyed the comprehensive collection of memorabilia including reproductions of many of Scarlett’s dresses, original props, wardrobe items and collections of pieces from the 1939 premiere. I loved Scarlett’s pantalettes—worn by Vivian Leigh when she was getting ready for the barbeque at Twelve Oaks. Notice the 24 inch waistline. Mitchell’s china is on display as well. History buffs will appreciate the exhibit on the Civil War’s Atlanta Campaign and Battle of Jonesboro that depicts the real history as well as fictional history to fans.
Be sure and board one of the “Historic Bus Tours” at the depot. The Gone With the Wind Tour is a nostalgic audio narrative through the antebellum era that inspired Mitchell’s legendary novel and ties to Jonesboro. Tour Stately Oak, a 1839 white columned home where visitors learn about customs of the day. Costumed interpreters will give you a personal tour of the restored home. Relax under the oak trees, and visit the outdoor Log Kitchen and Juddy’s Country Store. Other stops along the Gone With the Wind Trail include the Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum: Scarlett on the Square, Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System’s Central Library (see Mitchell’s typewriter and Pulitzer Prize,) and Oakland Cemetery.
The Atlanta Connection
The Gone With the Wind Trail continues in Atlanta with our favorite two stops—the Margaret Mitchell House and the Atlanta History Center. The house which Mitchell wrote her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel was a small downtown Atlanta apartment shared with her husband, John Marsh. The two-room basement apartment Mitchell dubbed “The Dump” became the Margaret Mitchell House, a designated historic landmark. The 30-minute guided tour took us to the spot where the author penned the novel. The guide also shared tidbits including the inspiration for the book, why Mitchell began writing, how her life came to a tragic end, and her legacy.
Exhibits include “Stars Fall on Atlanta: The Premiere of Gone With the Wind, documenting the three days surrounding the December 1939 world premiere, the film’s cast and Atlanta’s antebellum past. Examine the film’s production, The Making of a Movie Legend: Gone With the Wind. Admission includes galleries, the house and the Atlanta History Center, just a five-minute drive away.
Atlanta History Center
The Atlanta History Center is situated on thirty-three acres in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta. The center features one of the largest history museums in the Southeast, two historic house museums, five gardens and a nature trail. The Turning Point: The American Civil War Exhibition presents more than 1,500 original Union and Confederate artifacts coupled with life-size displays conveying the struggles of the war.
The heart of the exhibition is the DuBose Civil War Collection, one of the largest collections of Civil War memorabilia in the world. The museum’s website details the exhibit: “With over 1,500 Union and Confederate artifacts, including cannons, uniforms, and flags, visitors experience the Civil War through the eyes of soldiers and civilians. Highlights include the Confederate flag that flew over Atlanta at the time of its surrender, a Union supply wagon used by Sherman’s army, General Patrick Cleburne’s sword, a Medal of Honor won by the United States Colored Troops, the logbooks of the C.S.S. Shenandoah, medical equipment, firearms, and more. In addition, dioramas, videos, and interactive learning stations help bring this chapter of history alive. A final section of the exhibition explores how the Civil War continues its impact on us today.”
Take a walk through the Center’s Tullie Smith Family Farm, an 1860s farm where you can meet living history characters who share the challenges of life during the Civil War. The live animals are a big hit with all ages.
The Hunger Games: Catching FireTeens and young adults will want to visit the Swan House at the Atlanta History Center. This classically styled 1928 mansion was the location for the film The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The home was President Snow’s mansion in the film, and was chosen for its Classical look and original antiques. The film crew was on the property for about three weeks, and built some of the sets on the front lawns and gardens. The filming actually took five days.
Be sure to embark on the Capitol Tour—the movie tour of the home. The tour experience includes a guided tour through Swan House showcasing the rooms that were used during filming. Visitors will have exclusive admittance to a behind-the-scenes exhibit displaying photos from the production at Swan House and select props from the film.
Bring your camera for two unique photo opportunities presenting recreations of portions of sets from scenes in the movie. There are more photo opportunities in the gardens and lawn. Tickets for the Atlanta History Center’s Capitol Tours are available to purchase online and include general admission to the History Center’s gardens, historic houses, and exhibitions.
Lodging and Dining
We lodged at the InterContinenetal Hotel in the heart of Atlanta’s Buckhead community where we grabbed an amazing great weekend rate. Here, you will find 401 rooms and 21 suites, a heated outdoor saline pool and hot tub, spa and one of the best mattresses on the planet. Try the hotel’s Southern Art restaurant with Southern-inspired dishes such as shrimp and grits. The hotel offers a complimentary car and driver that will whisk you away to the attractions and restaurants within a two-mile radius. Lenox Square Mall is nearby and restaurants such as the famous Kyma and Buckhead Diner are always on our Atlanta list.
Fast Facts: For more information on the stops along the Gone With the Wind Trail, visit www.gwtwtrail.com. For information on the Atlanta History Center’s Capitol Tours, visit www.AtlantaHistoryCenter.com/swan-house-capitol-tours
For reservations: InterContinental Hotel Buckhead Atlanta, visit intercontinentalatanta.com, or call 404-946-9000.
For more tourist information, visit www.atlanta.net.