Photo: Tammy McCracken

The Best Things To Do, Eat, and See on a Trip To Cartersville, Georgia

Insider Guides
by Tammy McCracken Nov 30, 2023

Founded in 1850, Cartersville, Georgia, rests between Atlanta and Chattanooga at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. A charming small city, Cartersville is carving a niche of its own as a cultural and historical hub for tourism. Headlining are a slew of museums: the Booth Western Art Museum, Tellus Science Museum, and Savoy Automobile Museum. In addition, Cartersville is home to two state parks, Red Top Mountain State Park and the Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site. Despite the attractions, the small town feels connected with a welcoming community.

Like many cities in America’s southeast, Cartersville showcases all four seasons and has a mild climate. With an average of 213 sunny days per year, there are plenty of opportunities for exploring the scenic outdoors. And there’s never a shortage of fun events to go to, places to explore, or food to ingest; the variety of good times at Cartersville occur throughout the year.

What to do in Cartersville, Georgia

Savoy Automobile Museum

The Savoy Automobile Museum in Cartersville Georgia

Photo: Tammy McCracken
Weighing in at approximately 11,000 lbs., Bigfoot #20 is the world’s first electric monster truck.

With nearly 100 restored classic cars, the Savoy Automobile Museum has cordoned off 65,000 square feet of its 37-acre property to display the cultural diversity of the automobile.

The museum found its name during the clearing of the property when a rusty abandoned 1954 Plymouth Savoy was discovered and preserved. In addition to the galleries, Savoy showcases a 297-person theater, research library, cafe, private dining rooms, vehicle storage building, and an outdoor space that will accommodate upwards of 1,000 vehicles.

Savoy is focused on keeping their exhibitions fresh and rotates the displays in the Great Hall and Galleries A, B, and C on a regular schedule. Currently, it’s showcasing the evolution of Bigfoot, a prominent name in the world of monster trucks. The Savoy has several vehicles from the line that have continuously evolved over the past 48 years and prominently displays Bigfoot #20, the world’s first electric monster truck.

Savoy Automobile Museum: 3 Savoy Ln, Cartersville, GA 30120

Tellus Science Museum

Dinosaur at Tellus Science Museum

Photo: Tammy McCracken
The “Thunder Lizard”. This 82-foot-long Brontosaurus was one of the longest and largest dinosaurs to roam North America.

The Tellus Science Museum is a world-class museum that features a variety of exhibits on science, history, and technology. With over 120,000 square feet of space, the museum features four main galleries: The Weinman Mineral Gallery, The Fossil Gallery, Science in Motion, and The Collins Family My Big Backyard, as well as a 120-seat digital planetarium and an observatory with a state-of-the-art 20-inch telescope.

Tellus Science Museum: 100 Tellus Dr, Cartersville, GA 30120

Booth Western Art Museum

The Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville Georgia

Photo: Tammy McCracken
In 1992 Mehl Lawson was awarded Best of Show honors for a smaller version of this sculpture at the annual Cowboy Artists of America exhibition.

The Booth Western Art Museum was named America’s best art museum by USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice Awards in 2020, 2021 and 2022. Along with the Tellus, The Booth Museum puts Cartersville on the map as the smallest US city with two Smithsonian Affiliate Museums.

An architectural showcase, Booth is the world’s largest permanent exhibition space for Western art and the largest museum of its kind in the Southeast. It covers 120,000 square feet and has three floors devoted to Western art and the telling of America’s story.

Don’t miss “He is, They are” sculpture by Glenna Goodacre, where she expresses the banishment of Native Americans from their land in bronze.

Booth Western Art Museum: 501 Museum Drive, Cartersville GA 30120

Bartow History Museum

Photo: Tammy McCracken
The present Bartow History Museum served as the Bartow County Courthouse from 1869-1903.

The Bartow History Museum, housed in the refurbished 1869 Courthouse building, is in the heart of downtown and is the fourth museum managed by Georgia Museums, Inc. It displays Bartow County’s history that spans 200 years, from the early 1800s when the area was inhabited by Cherokee to exhibits that have influenced the town today.

Bartow History Museum: 4 Church St., Cartersville, Ga. 30120

Rose Lawn Museum

Sign outside of Rose Lawn Museum in Cartersville Georgia

Photo: Tammy McCracken
Rose Lawn House Museum, home to Sam P. Jones; an American lawyer and businessman from Georgia who became a prominent Methodist Episcopal Church revivalist preacher across the South.

Rose Lawn, a restored 18-room Victorian mansion in Cartersville, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and was purchased by Bartow County five years later after lying abandoned for five years. It was once the home of evangelist Samuel Porter Jones. Local legend has it that Jones converted Thomas Ryman, a purveyor of spirits who attended one of his tent revivals in Nashville, prompting Ryman to build the Ryman Auditorium so Jones would no longer have to preach in tents.

Rose Lawn, a name derived from the 200 rose bushes planted on the property, began as a small, one-story structure. In 1872, the attic was converted in to bedrooms. And in 1895, the original structure was raised with hand jacks and mules to add a story underneath, leading to its present state. The museum now operates as a house museum, showcasing the writings and memorabilia of Jones and Rebecca Latimer Felton, the first woman to serve in the US Senate.

Rose Lawn Museum: 224 W Cherokee Ave Cartersville, GA 30120

Old Car City USA

Old Car City USA in Cartersville Geogia

Photo: Tammy McCracken
The Mayor of Old Car City USA, Dean Lewis, is starting a new collection of Hot Wheels lining his office walls.

Originating in 1931 and known as the world’s largest known classic junkyard, this forest of forgotten cars is a paradise for photographers and gearheads. With more than 4,000 unsalvageable mid-century American steel classic cars and six miles of walking trails over 34 acres of land, founder Dean Lewis has woven scraps of steel versus nature into more of an art project than a junkyard. Dean, a self-professed doodler, exhibits thousands (literally, thousands) of Styrofoam cup doodles that he’s crafted since 1978. In addition to the doodles, he’s midway through a project to line his office walls with Hot Wheels die-cast cars; needing another 5,000 more, he expects to complete this sometime next year.

Old Car City USA: 3098 Hwy 411 NE White, GA 30184

Red Top Mountain State Park

Photo: Tammy McCracken
A scenic viewing point on the edge of Lake Allatoona.

Red Top Mountain State Park is a favorite of Georgia’s parks. Named for the soil’s rich red color caused by high iron-ore content, Red Top Mountain was once an important mining area.

Located on the 12,000-acre Lake Allatoona, the lake serves as the population’s drinking water and is the setting for many things to do. The park offers something for everyone, but the highlight is access to the lake, a sandy swimming beach nestled in a cove, and 15 miles of easy-to-follow, clearly marked hiking trails. The most popular trail is the four-mile Iron Hill Trail, which is open to both hikers and bikers.

The park offers many amenities, including 20 cottages, group picnic shelters, 90 tent and RV sites, along with hiking trails, swimming, boating, putt-putt golf, fishing, and tennis courts. Visitors can bring their own boats or rent one from nearby marinas.

Red Top Mountain State Park: 50 Lodge Road SE Acworth, GA 30102

Walking tour of Historic Downtown Cartersville

Coca Cola sign in Cartersville Georgia

Photo: Tammy McCracken
A perfect location for your social media pictures. Painted wall advertisement dating back to 1894.

Your visit would not be complete without exploring Cartersville’s downtown district. While known as a shopping destination, the district has wonderful restaurants and historic places and structures.

Authenticated and one of the most photographed locations, don’t miss the world’s first outdoor painted wall sign for Coca-Cola.

A local institution, 4 Way Lunch, has operated in the town since 1931. Also known as “Georgia’s Oldest Restaurant Without a Telephone,” this establishment serves up incredible countertop eating at a very affordable price. Get the fries.

Another fun stop is Olive Tree and Vine, a specialty shop and tasting room offering olive oils, balsamic vinegar, local art, wine, craft beer, and even a coffee shop. To sip and shop, JZ’s Taste of Georgia carries a wide selection of wine and beer made in the state, along with a selection of meads and curated Georgia-made gifts to take home.

Etowah Indian Mounds

Burial Mound at Etowah in Cartersville Georgia

Photo: Tammy McCracken
Burial Mound at Etowah standing approximately 65 feet high.

One of Cartersville’s most popular attractions, Etowah Indian Mounds, was home to several thousand Native Americans from 1000 to 1500 AD. Six burial mounds are scattered among the 54-acre site. The largest mound stands over 63 feet high and covers three acres.

The Etowah’s village was occupied for 600 years. The residents raised crops, hunted, fished for food, and established an education system for their children. After 1550, the residents abandoned the village, moving further down the river.

Beyond the mounds is a river walk and nature trail. Information signs are dotted along the paths highlighting how sophisticated this ancient civilization was.

Etowah Indian Mounds: 813 Indian Mounds Road SE Cartersville, GA 30120

Where to eat and drink

Appalachian Grill

Photo: Tammy McCracken
Appalachian Grill is a wonderful dining experience with a charming decor.

A do-not-miss restaurant in the heart of downtown Cartersville, tucked away under the bridge, is the Appalachian Grill. It offers a warm atmosphere, welcoming staff, and delicious food. An absolute must-order is the blackened salmon and shrimp over chipotle mashed sweet potatoes and sautéed spinach topped with a margarita beurre blanc. However, the menu is extensive and offers plenty of options for everyone.

Appalachian Grill: 14 E Church St, Cartersville GA 30120

Table 20

Salmon with sides of roasted sweet potato at Table 20 in Cartersville Georgia

Photo: Tammy McCracken
Seed Crusted Bay of Fundy Salmon with sides of roasted sweet potato, goat cheese, and an olive tapenade.

Table 20 is a popular bistro in downtown Cartersville and serves contemporary, fresh American fares with a twist. Allie Bearden opened her restaurant with the goal of serving the freshest food with as many in-season ingredients as possible. Their craft cocktails menu is outstanding, and the atmosphere is quiet and relaxing.

Table 20: 20 S Wall Street Cartersville GA 30120

The City Cellar and Lofts

The outdoor section greets you with a few tables in a very cozy patio area. However, the best place to be is down in the cellar. This family-owned and operated full-service restaurant and bar has craft cocktails and local brews for a post-dinner drink. Southern hospitality is on full display with — quite possibly — the friendliest staff in Georgia. Make sure you stay for dessert.

The City Cellar and Lofts: 110 N. Museum Drive Cartersville, GA 30120

Drowned Valley Brewing Co.

Just off the center streets of downtown, Cartersville’s first craft brewery is just what is needed after a long day of exploration. Its inviting atmosphere, an outdoor fire pit, 16 (or more) beers and seltzers on tap, and a passion for exceptional craft beer are apparent in every corner of this renovated mechanic shop-turned-taproom. The brewery is family and dog-friendly, and you may stumble upon some live music and food trucks. The owners and staff are passionate about creating a space for all customers. You must try the Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Sour.

Drowned Valley Brewing Co.: 4 South Tennessee Street, Cartersville, GA 30120

Ross’ Diner

Ross Diner in Cartersville Georgia

Photo: Tammy McCracken
Ross Diner, a central hub of Cartersville, where the locals go to eat.

This no-nonsense diner has been serving up southern-style breakfast and lunch items since 1945. It is the place to go to meet and mingle with the locals. The counters are filled around mealtimes, and the food and service are great. With a few tables outside, you feel even more connected to the buzz of the city center location. Come for the homemade biscuits and gravy, stacks of pancakes, and the best grits in town.

Ross’ Diner: 17 N Wall St, Cartersville, GA 30120

Noble & Main Coffee Co.

Photo: Tammy McCracken
Noble & Main serving up delicious coffee where the beans are roasted on premise.

Madi and Justin dreamed of this place for quite some time, and when the perfect location opened, they took their first steps in realizing their dream of sharing their passion for coffee. They took over the old service station on Main Street and turned it into a hub for those with a morning routine, a desire to gather, and remote workers carving out their workspace. Stop by for the blackberry mocha you won’t regret it.

Noble & Main Coffee Co.: 145 W Main St. Cartersville, GA 30120

Nagel’s Bagels

With the last name Nagel, owners Rich and Kelly have created an amazing space that serves up fresh artisan bagels with many flavors to choose from. The business began in their home and quickly expanded to the current brick-and-mortar location on Main Street. They don’t follow the ‘rules’ of traditional bagel making, and the results are extraordinary. The cranberry bagel with sweet cream cheese is fantastic, but if adventure is what you need, try the Cuban.

Nagel’s Bagels: 125 W Main Street, Cartersville, Georgia 30120

Southern Muggs Coffee Shop

This shop has layers — lots of layers. For your early morning routine, come for the coffee. But first, you’ll navigate through an extensive olive oil, wine, and craft beer section until you reach your goal. The shop is a gem, and the owner and staff are very friendly. The menu rotates and has seasonal offerings. If you get there in time, grab the blackberry pancake latte. It’s out of this world.

Southern Muggs Coffee Shop: 26 West Main Street, Cartersville, GA 30120

Ate Track

Ate Track in Cartersville Georgia

Photo: Tammy McCracken
Ate Track.

Lying amidst historic structures, you will find a rock ‘n roll-themed restaurant born out of love and a tribute to the nostalgia of the 60’s,70’s, and 80’s music world. Riddled with vintage collections and décor, the restaurant offers a diverse menu of taqueria-style dishes, house-ground steak burgers, and seafood and chicken entrees.

Ate Track: 25 North Wall Street Cartersville, Georgia 30120

Where to stay

Courtyard by Marriott Cartersville

Photo: Tammy McCracken

A relatively new property, the Courtyard has nice amenities to make your stay enjoyable. There’s Starbucks coffee in the main lounge, a superb breakfast, and dinner service, and quiet and comfy technology nooks. With phenomenal staff supporting your stay, pick this property when you go.

Courtyard by Marriott Cartersville: 5460 Highway 20, Cartersville, Georgia, 30121

Red Top Mountain State Park Cabins

Not only does Red Top Mountain offer swimming and fishing areas, tennis courts, and some of the best hiking trails around, but they recently renovated their cottages and yurts for the ultimate glamping experience. You’ll be in awe of the incredible views surrounding your yurt or cottage. Go off the grid in one of the 20 cottages, which can accommodate up to 10 people and offer full showers and baths, a grill, cable, and a fireplace. \

Red Top Mountain State Park Cabins: 50 Lodge Rd SE, Acworth, GA 30102

How to get there

Located just north of Metro-Atlanta, Cartersville is easily accessible from I-75. It’s also 60 miles from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, one of the world’s busiest airports, or 70 miles from the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport, so there are convenient options to get here.

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