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25 Things the State of Georgia Is Known For

Savannah, Georgia, USA, Square with trees

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Wondering what the state of Georgia is known for? You’re in the right place.

In the southeastern United States, you’ll find the state of Georgia. You might be surprised to find that the state has been populated for over 13,000 years.

When the colonizers arrived, they found Apalachee, Cherokee, and Choctaw tribes settled in the area.

Fast-forward through years of genocide and displacement, and the state of Georgia was the 13th colony and, still later, the fourth state in the established United States. It was named after King George II.

From 1861 to 1865, the state sided with the Confederacy before returning to the United States at the end of the Civil War. 

That’s a lot of history condensed into a paragraph! The state of Georgia has changed a lot over the years.

Some things, however, have remained the same. We’re still known as the Peach State, and here are 15 other things the state of Georgia is known for in the modern world.

15 Things the State of Georgia is Known For

Eatonton Georgia Brer Rabbit Statue
Downtown Eatonton Georgia Brer Rabbit statue – Photo by Crystal Jackson

Before we begin, I should tell you that I am not original to the Peach State. I grew up in Tennessee, but I’ve lived here most of my adult life.

It’s my chosen home, and it would have been easy to add even more things you need to see and do in Georgia, but I’m sticking to the most famous. Here’s what the state of Georgia is known for. 

1. Atlanta

The city of Atlanta is easily the most well-known city in the state of Georgia. It’s the state capital, and it has a population of nearly half a million.

You might even have heard it referred to as Hotlanta, a name only outsiders use to call the city. To be fair, the weather is quite hot here, particularly in the summer, but the use of the moniker Hotlanta will surely let Georgia residents know that you’re not from around here. 

There’s much to see and do in the city of Atlanta. Residents and visitors alike complain about the congested traffic in and around the city, but it still has its charms.

Atlanta was made even more famous when the 1996 summer Olympics were held in Centennial Park.

It achieved notoriety when Eric Rudolph planted a bomb in the park that killed two and injured hundreds of visitors.

He was placed on the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List in 1998 and wasn’t captured until 2003. 

2. The Empire State of the South

Morgan County, Georgia, US
Morgan County, Georgia – Photo by Crystal Jackson

You might have heard Georgia referred to as the Empire State of the South — but what exactly does that mean?

Georgia industrialization during the Antebellum Period was legendary. Textile mills processed the state of Georgia’s largest agricultural product — cotton.

From 1840 to 1890, Georgia produced more cotton products than anywhere else in the South. It’s massive output and economic growth contributed to it being named the Empire State of the South. 

3. Civil Rights Movement

The state of Georgia is also famous for its part in the Civil Rights Movement.

Atlanta, Georgia, was the home of Martin Luther King, Jr. Black Georgians protested segregation and white supremacy long before it became popular during the Civil Rights Movement.

However, the national movement sparked mass protests in cities throughout the South. The most significant was the Albany Movement, a series of protests from 1961 to 1962 that Martin Luther King, Jr. participated in and encouraged. 

4. The Varsity

You can’t talk about the state of Georgia without mentioning The Varsity. Not only is it The World’s Largest Drive-In Restaurant, but it’s also an Atlanta institution that’s been family owned and operated since 1928 serving hot dogs, burgers, shakes, and more.

It has multiple locations now, but the flagship location is still in Atlanta.

The Varsity is also known for its famous visitors including Minnie Pearl, Clark Gable, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and many others.

Although owner Frank Gordy passed away in in 1983, The Varsity continues to be run by the Gordy family. 

5. The Braves

The state of Georgia is also famous for its professional baseball team, the Atlanta Braves, which has been in Atlanta since 1966.

You might be surprised to know that the original team operated out of Boston, Massachusetts, for 77 years and spent another 13 years in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, before settling in the Deep South.

The Braves lost their very first game in Atlanta to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Hank Aaron hit his historic record-breaking home run for the Braves in 1974.

Although the team has experienced ups and downs over the years, it won the World Series in 1995 in a game against the Cleveland Indians and won again in 2021 against the Houston Astros.

You can still catch a game at Truist Park just north of the city of Atlanta. 

Although baseball might be the first thing you think of when you consider the state of Georgia, it’s known for many of its other professional and college sports teams.

We have the Atlanta Falcons for professional football, the Atlanta Hawks and the Atlanta Dream for basketball, and Atlanta United for Major League Soccer. Even minor league teams like the Savannah Banana baseball team have a huge fan following. 

6. International Airport

The state of Georgia is also known for being the world’s busiest airport. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport was established in 1925 and is the home of Delta Air Lines.

It was built on the abandoned Atlanta Speedway racetrack and was known as Candler Field. Later, the name would be changed to Atlanta Municipal Airport and then William B. Hartsfield Atlanta Airport after the mayor of Atlanta on his death in 1971.

“International” was soon added to the name, and in 2003, the Atlanta City Council added “Jackson” to the name in honor of former mayor Maynard Jackson who died that year.

These days, this international airport gets just as much traffic as ever. If you’re flying in or out of Atlanta, you’ll want to make sure to allow plenty of time for security checks. 

7. Coca-Cola

Georgia is the home of famous soda creator Coca-Cola.

You can even visit World of Coca-Cola in the city of Atlanta to see the rich history of this company in the area and even taste the different flavors of Coke around the world. You’ll find that most of the restaurants in the state are firmly Coca-Cola fans.

You won’t find Pepsi on the menu in most places here. In fact, if you’re asked which you prefer, the only answer Georgians will accept is Coke. Just for fun, drop salted peanuts in your Coca-Cola before you drink it. This is a local tradition that you’ve got to try at least once! 

8. The Georgia Aquarium

The Georgia Aquarium — Photo by Crystal Jackson

Across from the World of Coke, you’ll find the Georgia Aquarium, a non-profit organization that promotes the education, research, and conservation of aquatic life.

With over 10 million gallons of water in the tanks in the Georgia Aquarium, there’s plenty to see.

There are dolphins, sea lions, whale sharks, penguins, stingrays, and many other aquatic creatures who call the aquarium home.

You can even visit some hands-on exhibits to touch stingrays, sharks, and other sea creatures. My favorite way to see the Georgia Aquarium is to attend one of the evening events with live music. 

9. Stone Mountain Park

Stone Mountain Park is a notable attraction in Georgia — and one of the more controversial, as you’ll find Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson carved into the mountainside.

While I, personally, would rather see a representation of The Golden Girls in this three-acre carving, Mrs. C. Helen Plan, an original member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, donated this land in 1916 specifically for a Civil War monument.

While distasteful in light of the Confederacy’s ties to white supremacy, protests against the monument haven’t been successful at convincing the park to make changes. 

While Stone Mountain Park offers controversy, it’s also a place to hike, golf, ride around the mountain on a passenger train, and even enjoy the many festivals and events offered year-round.

In the winter, you’ll even find that Stone Mountain Park brings snow to an area that rarely sees it. You can go sledding, build snowmen, and more each winter in the park. 

10. Wesleyan College 

The state of Georgia is also famous for having the first college in the world to grant degrees to women. Georgia Female College was established in 1836 in Macon, Georgia.

It opened its doors to 90 young women in 1939. Its slogan is “First for Women” and now operates under the name Wesleyan College

11. Hollywood of the South

Madison, Georgia, USA
Madison, Georgia – Photo by Crystal Jackson

Recently, Georgia has become known for being Hollywood of the South. In fact, more films were made in Georgia than in California in 2016.

Marvel Studios relocated to Georgia, and former governor Sonny Perdue signed tax incentives for film production in 2008 giving incentives to big-budget productions.

Productions filmed in Georgia include The Walking Dead, Stranger Things, Avengers: End Game, Ozark, Black Panther, Remember the Titans, Fried Green Tomatoes, Forrest Gump, My Cousin Vinny, and many more! 

12. Jimmy Carter

Former President Jimmy Carter is quite possibly one of the state’s most famous residents. He served as the 39th President of the United States from 1977 to 1981.

Prior to that, he was a state senator. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, and until 2020, he volunteered with his wife building houses for Habitat for Humanity.

In February of 2023, he entered into hospice care at home where he remains with his family. 

13. The Gold Rush

Downtown Dahlonega, Georgia, US
Downtown Dahlonega, Georgia — Photo by Crystal Jackson

You might not be aware that one of Georgia’s claims to fame is that it had the country’s second gold rush. It happened in 1829 in Dahlonega.

The north Georgia mountains became known as the Georgia Gold Belt, but by the 1840s, miners began looking elsewhere to strike it rich. To this day, you can still visit the beautiful town of Dahlonega for your own gem mining expedition. 

14. Gone with the Wind

It’s possible you think of Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 novel Gone with the Wind when you think of Georgia, but none of the film was actually made here in the state.

The movie did premiere in Atlanta in 1939 and was attended by 18,000 people hoping to catch sight of the film’s famous actors on opening night including Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Leslie Howard, and Olivia de Havilland.

While the movie wasn’t made here, both the book and film are set in the state of Georgia. You can even visit modern-day Marietta to take a look at movie memorabilia at the Gone with the Wind Museum

15. Savannah

The state of Georgia isn’t just known for the city of Atlanta. You’ll also find that the city of Savannah is just as famous.

You’ll find it located on the Savannah River just south of South Carolina. This beautiful city is known for antebellum architecture, live oaks dripping with Spanish moss, lush gardens, well-kept parks, and — of course — the thriving cobblestone area known as River Street.

It’s easily one of the most romantic destinations in Georgia, but it’s also known as a prime destination for historic tours and ghost tours. 

Downtown Monroe, GA, US
Downtown Monroe, GA – Photo by Crystal Jackson

10 Famous Georgia Foods You Need to Try

Georgia isn’t just known for its history and famous landmarks.

It’s also known for some pretty amazing southern staples. If you visit Georgia, here are 10 famous foods you really need to try!

1. Peaches

There’s a reason we’re known as the Peach State. While you’re here, be sure to stop at a roadside stand and try a peach at the peak of the season.

There’s nothing quite like a Georgia peach on a hot summer’s day. You’ll also want to try peach cobbler while you’re here, probably the most well-known peach dessert in the state. 

2. Boiled Peanuts

If you’re not from around here, boiled peanuts might not sound delicious. Still, on your visit to the state of Georgia, you’ll want to at least give them a try.

You’ll find roadside stands all over the state offering fresh boiled peanuts. Some even offer them with various spices. Whether you love them or hate them, barring a nut allergy, you need to try them! 

3. Pecans

We might be known as the Peach State, but our largest crop is actually pecans. You’ll find pecan trees thriving all over the state.

You can pick up a bag to snack on or to use for baking, but you might want to try some of the area’s other pecan specialties.

On River Street in Savannah, Savannah’s Candy Kitchen offers praline pecans that are both decadent and delicious.

You’ll also notice that another favorite pecan treat in the state is the pecan pie. Whether you pronounce it pee-can or puh-cahn, you’ll want to have some in Georgia. 

4. Vidalia Onions

You might be surprised to know that the state has an official state vegetable, and it’s a Vidalia onion. It’s a hybrid yellow onion with a notably sweet flavor.

They can only be grown in Georgia, and while your local grocery store may carry them, see if you can find them fresh on your visit here.

They’re perfect for onion rings, and you’ll often see them served in restaurants as a blooming onion. 

5. Brunswick Stew

Brunswick stew might be the most controversial item on the foods-to-try list for the state.

Several states claim that the stew originated in their town of Brunswick, and Georgia is no exception. Whether you believe it came from Georgia or hailed from other parts of the country, it’s certainly something to try while you’re visiting.

This tomato-based soup contains local vegetables and beans as well as a meat of some kind — which can include game meat. Today, you’ll most often find it made with pork, beef, or chicken. It often has a barbecue flavoring. 

6. Fried Chicken

You likely won’t be surprised to learn that fried chicken is a southern staple, particularly in the state of Georgia.

However, it might surprise you to know that the city of Gainesville, Georgia, once passed a law outlawing the use of cutlery when eating fried chicken.

As the story goes, even KFC’s Colonel Sanders was once caught trying to use a fork on his chicken and was ordered to eat the rest of the meal with his fingers. This Poultry Capital of the World certainly takes its fried chicken seriously!

7. Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken and dumplings are a traditional comfort meal in the state of Georgia, but it has roots in Germany and likely came here through the recipes of German immigrants and later evolved through the use of enslaved African cooks.

Today, this hearty dish is affordable, filling, and simply delicious. Give it a try and see if you’ll add this to your own list of favorite foods. 

8. Grits

A popular state of Georgia breakfast food you’ll want to try while you’re here is grits. It was popularized in the South but originates from indigenous tribes who lived here.

It can be made from coarsely-ground corn or hominy and seasoned with salt and butter. It’s sometimes served with cheese or other toppings and has a porridge-like consistency.

You’ll love it or hate it, but you should at least give it a try.

9. Fried Green Tomatoes

Jewish immigrants in the North might have brought fried green tomatoes to the United States, but it became popular when the book and movie Fried Green Tomatoes were released.

The movie was filmed in Juliette, Georgia, and you can still head there to have lunch at The Whistle Stop Cafe where much of the movie was set.

Although fried green tomatoes aren’t original to our state, they have certainly become a favorite and are now forever associated with Georgia. 

10. Buttermilk Pie

Buttermilk pie likely has roots in the United Kingdom, but it’s become a fan favorite in Georgia. You might also hear it referred to as chess pie.

It can be served as a plain buttermilk pie or with chocolate or other additions. It might have started out elsewhere, but it’s now known as a state of Georgia specialty.

You’ll want to give it a try if you happen to find yourself visiting this southern state. 

Georgia On My Mind

Morgan County, GA, US
Morgan County, GA- Photo by Crystal Jackson

The state of Georgia is known for many things. It has a rich history going all the way back to the original 13 colonies, but it also extends further back into the indigenous populations who were here long before European settlers ever arrived. 

These days, you can visit the state and learn about the tumultuous history, tour some antebellum homes, and eat a fried chicken — with your fingers, of course.

You’ll want to do all that with a glass of iced sweet tea in hand — the only way we drink it here in the South. 

Georgia is known for its hot and humid summers and mild winters, but a visit to the state any time of year can yield much to see and do.

For the best weather, you’ll want to visit during the Spring or Fall.

While you won’t be guaranteed to see snow in winter in much of the state, you’ll still find that many of the towns in Georgia go all out decorating for the holiday season. 

If Georgia’s on your mind, you might want to plan your visit. Count on southern hospitality, deep-fried food, and landscapes ranging from mountains to the sea. 

You might be called “honey” or “sweetie” by locals of the South, but beware of the malice intended in any “bless your heart” uttered by southern lips.

The South is a culture all its own, and Georgia stands out among the other southern states. But do yourself a favor, and don’t take my word for it.

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Photo by Benjamin Disinger on Unsplash

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