15 Things To Do In Thomasville, Georgia
One editor shares her hometown favorites.
Thomasville is a charming, one-of-a-kind town tucked away in rural Southwest Georgia, about an hour's drive from Albany to the north and Valdosta to the east. Technically, it has just over 18,000 full-time residents, but that number grows—especially on Saturdays—with visitors stopping in for treasured time away from the city. In the fall, you can spot bobwhite quail on land outside town, or the Florida State Seminoles football team in Tallahassee, Florida, just 35 miles to the south.
For many, a vacation in Thomasville begins with a trip downtown, and even though I lived in the city limits for my first 18 years and still visit regularly, the same goes for me. Thomasville's downtown, which stretches down Broad Street and over to Dawson, feels almost like a step back in time thanks to the brick-paved streets, historic architecture, charming restaurants and shops, and slow pace of life. This is the kind of place where everyone wants to know you by name and greets you with a smile on the sidewalk (and I'm not just saying that because I grew up here). It's a scene I almost can't describe at the risk of it sounding too friendly, too idyllic, and too good to be true. But the truth, to me and the many who are lucky enough to visit, is that Thomasville is all of those things—and it's all wrapped up in the smell of sweet, warm, freshly-baked bread (from the Flowers Foods Bakery, where they make honeybuns and loaves of Sunbeam). It's a place one must see, and experience, and enjoy to believe.
If you're traveling to Thomasville, whether for a day trip or a night's stay, here's what you need to know about where to eat, shop, explore, and relax in Georgia's City of Roses.
Downtown Thomasville is the essense of small-town charm. The main drag, Broad Street, is paved with bricks and dotted with boutique shops, restaurants, and local businesses like family-owned jewelry shops and even a drugstore that still lets you charge to your house tab. This stretch makes for a wonderful day trip, whether you're stopping by on the way to another destination or driving up from Tallahassee, but it can also be perfect for a weekend trip with a stay at the newly opened Courtyard Thomasville Downtown.
P.S. If you have kids with you, begin your visit at the Thomasville Visitors Center. You can find a map and embark on a scavenger hunt to find bronze sculptures of bobwhite quail that are hidden throughout the district.
As a local shopping enthusiast, I could write an entire article about the shopping in Thomasville alone! What any newcomer needs to know, though, is that downtown is the prime area. Park your car on Broad Street and plan to spend a few hours meandering in and out of the shops, perhaps stopping for a sandwich at The Scoop or a cup of coffee at Grassroots Coffee in between. There is a store for everyone here. Kevin’s is a must-stop for the whole family with stylish accessories from their private label, elevated outdoor sportswear, and unique housewares inspired by the area. The Bookshelf is a bookstore for readers of all ages. Sensoree is a relaxing escape for ladies looking to treat themselves (or others!) to fragrant candles, serums, lotions, and "good pajamas." Other shops include: Relish for gourmet groceries and utensils, The Gift Shop for entertaining essentials, and Firefly for jewelry, home goods, and the prettiest complimentary gift wrapping around.
Search for Unique Antiques
Hunt for treasures at Toscoga, a marketplace and furniture store selling new pieces on the first floor and an assortment of antiques with two floors of privately-owned booths above. Abode is another shop with a mix of old and new pieces—picture vintage rugs, modern art, and accessories for the bar cart and coffee table.
Visit the Arts District
The Bottom, also known as the city's art’s district, is a recently revived neighborhood south of Broad Street. It is now home to Tvelo Brewing Company, Thomasville's first craft brewery; The Kickstand, a seasonally-motivated taco stand and bike shop; The Fuzzy Goat, a yarn shop beloved by knitters; Empire Bagel, a New York-style delicatessen owned by two chefs who met in Manhattan; and The Juice Box, a small but adorable business serving fresh juices and a variety of vegan cheeses.
Take Photos at The Big Oak
Dating back to 1680, The Big Oak is one of the largest oak trees east of the Mississippi. Today, it stands over 68 feet tall in Elizabeth Ireland Poe Park, just off of Dawson Street. You can have your picture taken with it through the Big Oak Cam.
Learn About Thomasville's Storied History
There are several notable museums that are a worth visiting around town. The Jack Hadley Black History Museum showcases more than 4,000 artifacts curated by James “Jack” Hadley to celebrate Black culture and excellence. The History Center, located in a restored home on beautiful Dawson Street, gives an overview of the town's history, from its days as a winter retreat as the "last stop" on the railroad through the rise of quail hunting prominence. The History Center also operates the Langham-Patterson House, a National Historic Landmark that was once my great, great grandparent’s home, across the street. Today, the home functions as a house museum and is a testament to architecture of the Victorian period.
Stop and Smell the Roses
Thomasville is known as the City of Roses, and the Thomasville Rose Garden is a nice outdoor activity during spring and summer months. The garden is home to more than 1,500 varieties of roses, ranging in colors from peach to red and yellow. It's also next to Cherokee Lake Park, a mile-long walking trail around a fishing lake, that is free and open to the public, so you can do both at the same time.
Explore the Many Historic Districts
If museums aren't your thing, you can still take in the history of the area. The Visitors Center has everything you need to embark on a self-guided walking tour that's easily doable from downtown. There are nine historic districts in total, but I suggest a walk or drive down Dawson Street, Hansell Street, and Gordon Avenue to see some of the most stately Southern homes.
Enjoy Fresh Gulf Seafood
A short hour-and-a-half drive from the Gulf of Mexico, Thomasville has no shortage of fresh seafood from local fisherman. Many chefs and restaurant owners grew up spending time along Florida's "Lost Coast" so the area has also influenced menus at restaurants such as the newly-opened St. James. Jonah's is a destination of its own in Thomasville, with visitors driving in from surrounding towns for a taste of their famous shrimp and grits. You'll find a line out the door no matter what time you visit. (Local tip: They accept reservations, so put your name on the list, then walk around and shop while you wait on a table.) George & Louie's is another restaurant loved by locals and visitors alike. It's family-friendly, has a beautiful patio outside, and offers a menu of fried green tomatoes, fresh grouper and shrimp, and a delicious Greek salad.
Order a Hot Dog at the Billiard Academy
Hot dogs might not be everyone’s thing, but this place is worth a visit for the experience alone. Sandwiched between Kathy’s Shoes and Sweet Grass Cheese Shop, The Billiard Academy has been serving chili dogs, also known as a "pool room hot dog" to locals, since 1949. This watering hole is a dive bar on the inside—you’ll find people packed in at all hours, often sipping on a cold one and playing pool—and a grab-and-go food window on the exterior. Order a chili dog with all the toppings, cold bottle of Coke (in a glass bottle!), and bag of salty Wise potato chips for $4.50 total.
Post-Up With Some Wine and Cheese
If Sweet Grass Dairy sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve likely seen it at grocery stores and on restaurant menus across the country. The artisan cheese company is based in Thomasville, and has a brick-and-mortar store and restaurant on Broad Street. Here, you’ll find a full lunch, dinner, and bar menu—the burger topped with pimiento cheese is especially popular, as is the spicy rosemary margarita—along with customized cheese boards such as the Taste of Thomasville, which features four homemade cheeses, Blackberry Patch preserves, and roasted Schermer pecans. Liam's is another restaurant, bar, and cheese shop that is cozy, beautifully designed, and features a menu of tasty cocktails.
Dine at One of Georgia's Oldest Restaurants
For a true taste of Thomasville, there is no place like The Plaza Restaurant & Oyster Bar. With dining rooms, event spaces, and a bar, it stretches across the intersection of Broad and Smith streets, and features a menu of Southern-meets-Greek food, with stand-outs like homemade pies, seafood, and, my personal order, the Greek Chicken. Established in 1916, it was named the oldest continuously running restaurant in Georgia in December 2020. For locals, this is the type of place where you have a regular order, and "regulars" you see here the same day, or even multiple times, a week. It also turns into Thomasville's one-and-only bar scene at night, and if a movie is filming in town, you may even spot a celebrity on the karaoke mic.
Enjoy Live Music at the Amphitheater
Located in "The Bottom" district, The Ritz Amphitheater is an exciting new addition to Downtown Thomasville. It's a state-of-the-art facility and park where, on the first Friday of every month, a concert takes place from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. after Downtown Thomasville's First Friday Sip & Shop—a time in which visitors can shop until 8 p.m. and enjoy open beverages along the historic brick streets.
Pick Up Produce at the Farmer's Market
There's a farmers' market every Saturday in Downtown Thomasville hosted at Hubs and Hops Market from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. If you're in town on a weekday, you can also always visit Lewis Produce, which is just a short drive from downtown. It's the second largest commercial, fresh-produce market in the Southeast, and you can find local vegetables from Thomas County as well as locally made goods such as fried peanuts, chocolate-covered pecans and divinity, and my snack of choice, the homemade boiled peanuts.
Take a Sweet Treat Home
There are plenty of delicious restaurants in Thomasville, including many that specialize in dessert. Savannah Moon is a cafe serving soups and salads and lunch, but their Key lime cookies are a favorite of mine. Across from Jonah's, Sweet Cacao is a brick-and-mortar storefront selling homemade chocolates, macaroons, and Fuzzy Goat coffee. Sass! Restaurant, which is housed in the old train station a short drive from The Bottom, is famous for their Bananas Foster Pound Cake with Caramel Rum Sauce. According to my dad, this is a dish you'll be dreaming about until your next visit to Thomasville.
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