While many folks already know about things like Atlanta’s Olympic Torch Tower, Marietta’s Big Chicken, Alpharetta’s Cagle Castle, or Ball Ground’s Burger Bus, there are many other interesting/peculiar Georgia attractions you may not know existed, which may be worthy of a short detour on your next road trip.
Here are a few you may want to check out:
57th Fighter Group Restaurant
3829 Clairmont Road
This aviation-themed restaurant is decorated to look like a WWII active war zone, with vehicles and planes on the grounds outside, while the restaurant itself is made to look like a bomb-damaged French farmhouse. Inside, you can put on headsets to listen to nearby air traffic control tower chatter because the establishment is located on the runway of Peachtree Dekalb Airport, so you can also watch small planes take off and land while you eat. Additionally, the interior walls are covered with 1940s memorabilia and pictures.
Howard Finster’s Paradise Garden
200 North Lewis Street
Known for designing album covers for rock groups such as R.E.M. and the Talking Heads, artist Howard Finster originally started out to build a roadside folk-art tribute to inventors out of junk and scraps. However, according to the Paradise Garden Foundation website (ParadiseGardenFoundation.org), Finster shifted his focus when he was “using his fingers to apply paint to a refurbished bicycle, he noticed that the paint smudge on the tip of his finger had formed a human face. A voice spoke to him, saying, ‘paint sacred art.’” Finster went on to create almost 47,000 pieces of art in his lifetime, many of which can be seen in Paradise Garden.
Tank Town USA
10408 Appalachian Highway Morganton
Have you ever wanted to drive a tank, but you just don’t think you’re cut out to join the military, endure the rigors of boot camp, and then uproot yourself to go wherever Uncle Sam sends you for training and duty? If your answer is, “Yes!” then this place is for you. Well, you won’t actually get to drive a tank because the U.S. will not sell operational armor to the public. Instead, you can operate a FV432, which is an armored personnel carrier that the British army used to drive. However, most people would label this vehicle a tank, as it is fifteen tons of armor-plated steel.
You’ll be driving around in a dirt pit that gets especially muddy when it rains, so you probably don’t want to wear expensive designer duds on this field trip. If you really want to get rid of some pent-up angst in a healthy way, for $599, you can drive the “tank” over a car and crush it!
238 Eddie Martin Road
Eddie Owens Martin, the artist/creator of Pasaquan, had been “sick with a fever when he was visited by three very tall humanoids from the future world of Pasaquan. They chose him, they said, to be their envoy, ‘St. EOM,’ the only Pasaquoyan of the twentieth century.” Eddie’s job was to “make art and live his life in a way that would show people how wonderful the future would be.” Eddie went on to spend thirty years adding rooms onto his deceased mother’s farmhouse and filling them with paintings and sculptures of “Pasaquoyans in their anti-gravity power suits.” The seven-acre compound is covered with mystic symbols and zany structures that are a testament to this artist’s colorful past and eclectic personality.
Old Car City USA
3098 Highway 411, NE
This place is a haven for photographers who love to scour its 32 acres for the perfect rusted-out old vehicle with the best mix of light and shadows dancing across its hood from just the right angle. Opened as a general store during the Great Depression, Old Car City gradually evolved into a large old automobile junkyard. In 2009, owner Dean Lewis realized he could turn it into a tourist attraction because “lots of people seemed to share his love of decomposing automotive carcasses.”
While in White, have lunch at Wes-Man’s restaurant (3167 Highway 411, NE), where the old 1940s truck parked out front is repainted every single day and utilized as a welcome sign and message board.
Labyrinth of Rome
402 Civic Center Drive
Need to get out of your car to stretch your legs and clear your head? In 2010, the 1930s Works Progress Administration amphitheater was transformed into a meditative labyrinth composed of 5,490 bricks. According to RomeGeorgia.org, “A labyrinth has only one path, and the intention is not to confuse, but rather to help one focus. The path into the center is a search for your true self, as the stresses and concerns of the world slip away from your consciousness. This particular labyrinth is a bit more strenuous than most as it is on different levels, not unlike how we live our lives.”
2315 Georgia 17
This box/cage contraption is located outside the Old Sautee Store. It has delighted, intrigued, and frightened travelers for more than twenty years. One traveler recalled visiting the wampus box as a child: “Inside, they say there’s a rare and dangerous animal. You can peak inside, but you can’t reach in. All you see is a wampus tail sticking out from an inner hole. Now, being kids, we wanted to see the whole wampus, so we did what they dared you not do and opened the box from the front latch. Well, needless to say, a ‘wampus’ leaps out and nearly scares the bajeebees out of you!”
Bettis Tribble Gap Road
A gravity hill, it is said that “ghosts haunt the nearby slave burial ground” because they don’t want visitors, “so they pull your car back up the road. And leave hand prints.” At the bottom of the hill, when you put your car in neutral, it will defy gravity and roll up the hill. According to one person who tried it, this road is very busy in the daytime, so you may want to try it at night when it is less busy (and creepier!). The same person also claimed that the car “picked up speed” as it ascended.