Historic Sites In Georgia. I’ve got 10 incredible must-see sites for you.
As a 40 year Georgia resident, I’ve been to so many of these amazing places since retiring from teaching in 2018. Did I mention that I taught history?
I spent a lifetime teaching about the history behind these momentous sites. Then I got to see them firsthand. And now I’m sharing the stories of these incredible places with you. It doesn’t get any better than that!
What I’ve done is team up with the friendly folks at More Than Just Parks to bring these incredible places to life.
I’m going to give you my list of the top 10 historic sites in Georgia that you’ll want to see. We’ve got amazing monuments, fascinating exhibits, historic museums, legendary battlefields and so much more.
To be clear, this list includes national park sites (as in sites managed by the National Park Service) as opposed to national parks. (More on that below)
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
Historic Sites In Georgia
#10. Jefferson Davis Memorial Historic Site
We begin our top 10 countdown of historic sites in Georgia with the Jefferson Davis Memorial Historic Site.
Jefferson Davis was one of the most well-known figures of the American Civil War. He was a Southern planter, Democratic politician and hero of the Mexican War who had represented Mississippi in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate and served as U.S. secretary of war (1853-57). In 1861, Davis was chosen to serve as the first and only President of the Confederate States of America.
In Fitzgerald, Georgia, visitors can visit the monument and museum in the place where Davis was captured by the Union army in 1865. After being arrested here, Jefferson Davis was held as a prisoner in Virginia for two years before being released.
It’s a 13-acre historic site that has a museum, small trail, picnic tables, and a gift shop.
Nearby attractions include the Flint River Aquarium in Albany, the Blue and Gray Museum, the Crime and Punishment Museum, and General Coffee State Park.
#9. Fort Frederica National Monument
At #9 on our list of historic sites in Georgia is the Fort Frederica National Monument.
Georgia has more to offer than just Civil War history. Before there was even a United States of America, Georgia’s Fort Frederica played a decisive role in the history of the region.
Georgia, which was named after King George III, was established in 1732 as one of the original thirteen colonies.
Georgia was founded by James Oglethorpe. In 1736, four years after establishing the crown colony, Oglethorpe built Fort Frederica to protect the southern boundary of his new colony from the Spanish in Florida. Colonists from England, Scotland, and the Germanic states came to Georgia to support this endeavor.
Six years later, in 1742, Spanish and British forces clashed on St. Simons Island. At stake was Georgia’s future. Fort Frederica’s troops defeated the Spanish thereby ensuring Georgia’s future as a British colony.
Today you can visit this national monument which is located on St. Simons Island. A trip to the visitor’s center, which contains some fascinating exhibits and an interesting 23 minute film on the fort is recommended before going on to explore the fort itself.
#8. Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
Coming in at #8 on our top 10 list of historic sites in Georgia is Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park.
Like so much of Georgia, Kennesaw Mountain is rich in history. It’s the site of The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain which took place in 1864. The battle pitted Union General William Tecumseh Sherman against Confederate General Joseph Johnston.
The battle fought at Kennesaw Mountain was part of a campaign which lasted from June 19, 1864, until July 2, 1864. Sherman’s army consisted of 100,000 men, 254 guns and 35,000 horses.
Johnston’s army had 63,000 men and 187 guns. More than 67,000 soldiers were killed, wounded and captured during the Campaign.
A 2,965 Acre National Battlefield
Today Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park is a 2,965-acre National Battlefield that preserves a Civil War battleground of the Atlanta Campaign.
The visitor center provides information about the battle. There are 17.3 miles of trails which include historic earthworks, cannon emplacements and various interpretive signs.
#7. Andersonville National Historic Site
At #7 on our list of the best historic sites in Georgia we have the most infamous prisoner-of-war camp of the Civil War–Andersonville.
Andersonville is the site of the infamous Confederate prisoner-of-war camp. There were 150 military prisons and Andersonville was both the largest and the most notorious. Of the 45,000 Union soldiers imprisoned there, almost 13,000 died.
In “Civil War Prison Camps,” author Gary Flavion chronicled the suffering at this camp writing, “Robert H. Kellog was 20 years old when he walked through the gates of Andersonville prison. He and his comrades had been captured during a bloody battle at Plymouth, North Carolina. In the depths of Georgia, they discovered that their hardships were far from over.”
Conditions of the Camp
Robert Kellog described the conditions of the camp. “As we entered the place, a spectacle met our eyes that almost froze our blood with horror…before us were forms that had once been active and erect—stalwart men, now nothing but mere walking skeletons, covered with filth and vermin…Many of our men exclaimed with earnestness, ‘Can this be hell?'”
Andersonville is the only national park to serve as a memorial to Americans held as prisoners of war. Andersonville National Historic Site preserves the site of the largest of the many Confederate military prisons that were established during the Civil War.
To Learn More
Before you travel to Andersonville, however, you may want to learn a little bit more about it. You’re in luck!
- Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor. MacKinlay Kantor’s Andersonville tells the story of the notorious Confederate Prisoner of War camp, where fifty thousand Union soldiers were held captive—and fourteen thousand died—under inhumane conditions.
- John Ransom’s Andersonville Diary. A stirring account written by a man who was actually there as a prisoner of war. A whole array of characters are noted through the pages of the diary, from the Andersonville Raiders who were ruthless Union prisoners that persecuted those around them to survive, to more benevolent figures like George Hendryx who was always looking for a way to escape and the Native American Battese who helped Ransom through his darkest days.
- The True Story of Andersonville Prison: A Defense of Major Henry Wirz by James Madison Page. Page was captured on September 21, 1863 along the Rapidan in Virginia and spent the next thirteen months in Southern military prisons, seven of which were at Camp Sumter near Andersonville, Georgia. The prosecution did not call him to testify, but Page felt that he needed to tell his incredible story nonetheless.
- Andersonville and Camp Douglas: The History of the Civil War’s Deadliest Prison Camps by Charles River Editors. This book examines how Andersonville and Camp Douglas became so notorious, and what life was like there for the prisoners.
#6. Ocmulgee Mounds National Monument
Completing our bottom 5 (of the top 10) historic sites in Georgia is Ocmulgee Mounds National Monument.
How would you like to visit a site that has evidence of 17,000 years of continuous human habitation?
Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park, located in Macon, Georgia, offers over ten millennia of culture from the Native Americans of the Southeastern Woodlands.
Visitors can walk the grounds and see ceremonial mounds, burial mounds and defensive trenches. It took skilled laborers many years to construct these marvels.
In the 1930s and 1940s, workers excavated portions of eight mounds, finding an array of archaeological artifacts which document a trading network and sophisticated culture.
Ocmulgee features a visitor center which includes an archaeology museum. It displays some of the artifacts that have been discovered there as well as interpreting the successive cultures of the prehistoric Native Americans who inhabited this site for thousands of years.
There’s also a short orientation film plus a gift shop which has a variety of craft goods and books related to the park.
Top 5 Historic Sites In Georgia
#5. Fort Pulaski National Monument
We begin our top 5 countdown of the best historic sites in Georgia with Fort Pulaski National Monument.
The Fort Pulaski National Monument is located on Cockspur Island between Tybee Island and Savannah. The fort was originally built after the War of 1812 when President James Madison ordered a new series of coastal defenses to protect the United States against future invasions.
Interestingly, the fort’s construction began in 1829 under the direction of Major General Babcock and a recent West Point graduate by the name of Robert E. Lee.
Lee was a young lieutenant at the time who would distinguish himself in the Mexican American War before moving on to even greater accomplishments in the American Civil War.
Pulaski in the Civil War
The fort figured prominently during the Civil War. The only battle at Fort Pulaski occurred on April 10th & 11th, 1862, between Union forces on Tybee Island and Confederate troops inside the fort. Union forces occupied the fort beginning in April of 1862.
It was used as a place where the Union tested new weaponry including a rifled canon. The fort also held Confederate prisoners of war.
Today the fort, which is only 20 minutes east of Savannah, offers its visitors an incredible series of outdoor exhibits. Discover rooms housed with period furnishings and beautiful nature trails. It’s definitely worth a trip especially if you love history, nature or both.
#4. Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park
We’re on to the “final four” with Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park coming in at #4.
During the Civil War, Chattanooga was the “Gateway to the Deep South.” Battles were fought there and at Chickamauga which proved decisive in the ultimate defeat of the Confederacy.
The Union Army was saved from annihilation by the stubborn defense of George Thomas and his soldiers. This defense earned Thomas the nickname of the “Rock of Chickamauga.”
A Union Victory at Chattanooga
The battered Union forces were then reorganized under the leadership of Ulysses S. Grant. They went on to win battles at Orchard Knob, Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge. These victories opened the west to Union forces.
At the Battle of Lookout Mountain, Union forces under the command of General George “Rock of Chickamauga” Thomas swept the Confederates from the field.
After these victories, Ulysses S. Grant traveled east to take command of all of the Union armies. He left William Tecumseh Sherman in the west to take Atlanta. And take Atlanta Sherman did!
Relive That History Today
Today, you can relive part of this exciting history at the Chickamauga Battlefield Visitor Center. The center is located at the north end of Chickamauga National Military Park. Inside are museum exhibits on the Battle of Chickamauga and Campaign for Chattanooga.
Believe it or not, I was one of those guys who sat in class taking notes and, when the professor threw out the name of what sounded like an interesting book, I not only wrote it down, I went out and purchased it. Yes, I am that guy which is why I ended up teaching history.
If you love history as much as I do and you’re particularly interested in how this conflict impacted the men who fought in Georgia then I heartily recommend Scott Walker’s Hell’s Broke Loose in Georgia: Survival in a Civil War Regiment.
#3. Roosevelt’s Little White House At Warm Springs
We’re down to the Big 3. The best of the best when it comes to historic sites in Georgia!
Coming in at #3 is Roosevelt’s Little White House At Warm Springs.
As historian William E. Leuchtenburg, professor emeritus of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill concluded, Franklin D. Roosevelt may have done more during the twelve years he served as president to change American society and politics than any of his predecessors in the White House, save Abraham Lincoln.
Roosevelt led the nation through the twin crises of the Great Depression and World War Two. In the process, he transformed the role of the federal government. The programs unleashed by FDR’s New Deal sought to insure that the economic, social, and political benefits of American capitalism were distributed more equally among America’s large and diverse populace.
FDR also transformed the American presidency. Under his leadership, the President’s duties grew to encompass not only those of the chief executive—as implementer of policy—but also chief legislator—as drafter of policy. He greatly increased both the powers and the responsibilities of the office.
Things To Do At Warm Springs
Roosevelt built this house while he was the governor of New York before he became president, in search of relief and a cure for his polio. He swam in the 88-degree spring waters, which didn’t cure his disease, but did bring him comfort and health improvements.
Top things to see and do here include the Unfinished Portrait, the Walk of Flags and Stone, Memorial Fountain, the guest and servant quarters, and scavenger hunts to learn more about history. To make a weekend out of it, you can also check out the nearby city of Columbus, Callaway Gardens, and the F.D. Roosevelt State Park.
#2. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park
The final two have at least two things in common. Both were born and raised in Georgia. And both were awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace.
At #2 is the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park.
Described as the “conscience of the nation,” Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Baptist Minister who became the leading spokesperson of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.
Dr. King advanced the cause of Civil Rights through nonviolence. His marches and protests helped to build pressure to bring about landmark civil rights and voting rights acts.
Things to see
The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park consists of several buildings in Atlanta, Georgia. It includes Dr. King’s boyhood home, the original Ebenezer Baptist Church and The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (“The King Center”).
The National Park Service has restored many of the neighboring buildings to reflect their appearances in the 1930s and 1940s — the period of time when Dr. King grew up there.
Visitors today can step into that era and imagine themselves walking with the residents, hearing the noise of this lively neighborhood and experiencing what life was like in those tumultuous times. (Source: National Park Service)
The #1 Historic Site In Georgia
#1. Jimmy Carter National Historical Park
At #1, More Than Just Parks selected the only President of the United States to come from Georgia. The Jimmy Carter National Historical Park celebrates the man who has been universally acclaimed as the most successful former president in history.
Carter, however, was not only a successful ex-president. History is finally catching up with the man who today is recognized as having been decades ahead of his time.
Things To See & Do at The jimmy Carter national historical park
At the Jimmy Carter National Historical Park, visitors will learn how Carter’s early years formed an integral part of his character.
The Jimmy Carter National Historic Site includes the Plains High School which serves as the park visitor center and museum. Here visitors will find a restored and furnished classroom, principal’s office, and auditorium.
Visitors will also be able to see exhibits on Carter’s life and accomplishments and watch his friends, neighbors, and family talk about the Jimmy Carter they know in a 25-minute video.
There’s also the Plains Depot, which is a self-guided museum with exhibits focusing on the 1976 presidential campaign.
If you’re as fascinated by the forward-thinking and visionary presidency of Jimmy Carter as I am then I would recommend two wonderful books. His Very Best by Jonathan Alter and The Outlier: The Unfinished Presidency of Jimmy Carter by Kai Bird.
List Of Historic Sites In Georgia
- Jimmy Carter National Historical Park
- Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park
- Roosevelt’s Little White House At Warm Springs
- Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park
- Fort Pulaski National Monument
- Ocmulgee Mounds National Monument
- Andersonville National Historic Site
- Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
- Fort Frederica National Monument
- Jefferson Davis Memorial Historic Site
Map Of Historic Sites In Georgia
About the Folks Behind More Than Just Parks
You should probably know that we don’t just make this stuff up out of thin air. My sons have spent their entire adult lives exploring and filming America’s national parks and public lands.
As for me, I’m a retired lifelong educator and a proud dad of these two wonderful guys who are hopelessly obsessed with the national parks. I taught history for over a quarter of a century. Now I enjoy researching and writing articles for More Than Just Parks. I’m always on the hunt for topics where nature and history intersect so please feel free to share any ideas that you might have with me.
We’ve worked with the National Park Service, the Department of Interior, and the U.S. Forest Service for years creating films on important places and issues. Our work has been featured in leading publications all over the world and even some people outside of our immediate family call us experts on the national parks.
Meet The Parks Brothers
We’re Jim Pattiz and Will Pattiz, collectively known as the Pattiz Brothers (and sometimes the Parks Brothers) and we absolutely LOVE the national parks.
Our goal here at More Than Just Parks is to share the beauty of America’s national parks and public lands through stunning short films in an effort to get Americans and the world to see the true value in land conservation.
We hope you’ll follow our journey through the parks and help us to keep them the incredible places that they are. If you’re interested in joining the adventure then sign up below!
To learn more about the difference between the various National Park Service designations check out our article that explains everything!
Civil War Sites: Top 10 Best Civil War Sites & Battlefields
Georgia National Parks: 10+ AMAZING Georgia National Parks