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Are you looking for things to do in Madison GA? I share some of my favorite places in this small, beautiful town.
Madison, GA is a charming town located about an hour east of Atlanta. It is known for its stunning antebellum architecture, picturesque countryside, and vibrant community.
Visitors can take a leisurely stroll through the town’s charming oak lined streets, stopping to admire the well-preserved Antebellum architecture.
In addition to its historic sites, Madison is surrounded by beautiful countryside and recreational parks. Visitors can hike trails, take a scenic drive, or explore one of the many nearby parks or lakes.
For years, I have wanted to stop in Madison when traveling through Georgia. It’s just a short detour from Atlanta, so this time, I said why not?
I think I literally fell in love with it at my first glance downtown. It feels similar to Savannah or Charleston, without the hustle and bustle. Madison is ideal for those looking for all the charm of the historic southern city but without the traffic (and on a much smaller scale).
One of the things I also love about Madison is the people. Southern hospitality is well-represented in this quaint city. Locals will say welcome you into their businesses, hold doors, and go out of their way to make you feel comfortable.
If you’re looking for a peaceful weekend getaway, you’ve found it! Or even if you’re visiting for the day, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy. Here are my favorite things to do in Madison GA!
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I do my best to keep the current hours of operation and pricing up to date. However, business information can change at any time. I highly recommend checking hours and pricing for your travel dates on their official websites provided below.
23 Best Things to Do in Madison GA
In no particular order, here is my list of the best things to do in Madison GA. At the end of this article, I have included frequently asked questions to make the most out of your trip.
Self-Guided Walking Tour | Madison Film Tour
Over the years, Madison is one of the most popular locations for filming small town Hollywood films. Explore some of the famous destinations such as the Morgan County Courthouse from Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2. Back in the 1980’s Tatum O’Neal and Michael J. Fox also did films in Madison.
On the Madison Film Tour website, they provide details about each film location and the historic sites. Most are in downtown Madison, but some are a bit further away in the neighboring cities of Rutledge and Bostwick. On a nice day, a self-guided walking tour is truly one of the best things to do in Madison GA.
Bonar Hall on Jefferson Street was the filming location for “The Vampire Diaries” and “The Originals.”
John Byne Walker and Eliza Fannin built the two-story Georgian-inspired home in 1839. Eliza inherited the land from her father, Isham Fannin. Its inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 made it a historical site.
Madison Morgan Cultural Center
The Madison Morgan Cultural Center has been around for 128 years. The historic center has various educational opportunities and programs, especially for the arts. It also serves as the Piedmont History Museum. You can learn more about Morgan County, and it even has its original classroom from 1895.
The center has a theater for theatrical and musical and non-musical productions. It also serves as a venue for lectures. There are rotation visual art galleries. Meanwhile, an arts and crafts gallery, as well as art programs, are available for children.
Every year, the Madison Morgan Cultural Center holds a variety of events including the Spring Tour of Homes, the Madison Antiques Show, and the Classic Car Show.
- Hours: Tuesdays – Saturday 10 am – 5 pm; Closed Sunday & Monday
- Pricing: Adults: $5, Seniors: $4, Students: $3, Children 6 and under are free
Travel Back in Time on Georgia’s Antebellum Trail
If you like charming drives, Georgia’s Antebellum Trail is a fun day trip experience. This 100-mile trek allows you to experience Madison’s southern charm and hospitality, as well as multiple other cities along the drive. You’ll love the antebellum architecture straight from a southern living magazine.
Seven historic communities escaped Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman’s burning during the final months of the Civil War. Today these beautiful hidden gems provide a window back in time to the rich history of the traditional Old South.
The drive from Athens to Macon is full of southern treasures and a view of classic Antebellum architecture. I highly recommend driving the backroads of Georgia, strolling past grand Antebellum mansions, and exploring the historic towns. You’ll miss the grandeur and uniqueness if you just drive I-75.
Morgan County Courthouse
The Morgan County Courthouse is another famous filming location in Madison’s downtown square. It opens its doors to visitors when the court’s not in session.
The building, built in 1905 by J.W. Golucke and Company, has a Neoclassical Revival design. It houses the superior court, probate, and magistrate. Some famous films that used it as background are “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2” and “American Made.”
277 South Main Street
Madison, Georgia 30650
The Heritage Hall was built in 1811. Dr. Elijah Evans Jones, the town’s famous physician, bought it in 1830. He turned it into a private house. In 1977, it was donated to the Morgan County Historical Society.
Since then, Friends of Heritage Hall has been maintaining the hall. This beautiful and historic home is available for public viewing. Tours take approximately 50 minutes.
- Cost: $10 or $15 for a combination tour of Rogers House & Rose Cottage. Discounts offered for seniors, students, and children.
- Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 11 am to 4 pm;
and Sunday, 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm.
Steffen Thomas Museum of Art
4200 Bethany Road
Buckhead, Georgia 30625
It’s a single artist museum by Steffen Thomas, one of Atlanta’s renowned artists. After he died in 1990, his wife, Sara Thomas, and their four children started preserving his works of art. They displayed his works in the museum. Today, it has several main galleries showcasing more than 400 artworks.
Meanwhile, you can also see many of his masterpieces on the city’s streets. He has a marble sculpture of the Reclining Mother and Child outside the Roswell Public Library. His bronze sculpture of former governor Eugene Talmadge is at the corner of the Georgia State Capitol.
- Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 11 am to 4 pm (not including holidays); Closed on Sundays & Mondays,
- Pricing: Adults – $10; Students & Seniors (65 and up) – $8; Children under age 6 are free.
Town Park is hard to miss as it’s in the heart of Madison. It’s the ultimate venue for concerts, festivals, and other events in town. The park has a lush green lawn, a gazebo, sunny picnic areas, free Wi-Fi, and public restrooms.
Sarah Benham Judd Cooke donated the Cooke Fountain. It’s known as the “First Class Watering Hole” for horses. Though the original fountain got lost in the 1900s, they were able to find the original molds. They recreated the fountain, which is now Town Park’s centerpiece.
Visit the Downtown Madison Shops & Boutiques
Downtown Madison has beautiful and affordable indoor flea markets, shops, and boutiques. Visiting them is one of the fun things to do in Madison, Georgia. Here are some of them:
Madison Grace Home
This shop has extraordinary home décor, furniture, and accessories. It’s also a gift shop where you can find the perfect present for all occasions. It also has a Shop Local section featuring items made by locals.
In High Cotton
Transform your home and give it that Southern charm with furnishings from In High Cotton. The shop has home and garden furniture and accessories showing Georgia’s hospitality.
Barkin Dogs Shoe Co
This boutique is an old-fashioned shoe store. Guests can sit and fit stylish shoes and accessories. Their brands include Mephisto, Able, French Kande, Sabrinas, Pedro Anton, and more.
Town 220 Restaurant
The Town 220 Restaurant offers a world-class dining experience. French chef, Francisco De La Torre, is the mastermind behind the menu.
This famous local eatery has an elegant ambiance, friendly staff, and delicious dishes. Their menu includes mouth-watering appetizers like black mussels and escargot. They have soups and salads, too.
For entrees, they have everything from steaks to seafood. Try their Jack Daniels bread pudding or New York-style cheesecake for desserts.
Horseback Riding at Southern Cross Guest Ranch
Enjoy horseback riding at Madison’s Southern Cross Guest Ranch. It’s a horse farm with six miles of breathtaking trails. It has trained horses and competent guides.
They offer horseback riding programs and personalized riding experiences for beginners. They also have unguided tours for expert riders.
While the Southern Cross Guest Ranch has all-inclusive packages, you don’t have to stay here to go horseback riding.
The Rogers House Museum and Rose Cottage
179 E Jefferson Street
Madison, Georgia 30650
The Rogers House and Rose Cottage take you back to Madison the way it was in the 1800s. The preserved homes tell incredible stories and valuable information on local history.
The Roger House, built in the early 1800s, boasts of Piedmont Plain architecture. The style was popular in the southern rural states.
Meanwhile, Adeline Rose built the Rose Cottage in 1821. She used to wash and iron laundry for 50 cents. The City of Madison recognized her sacrifices and the love she devoted to the little house. So, they decided to preserve Rose Cottage for the future generation. It is conveniently located next to the courthouse.
Ricardo’s Kouzzina | Madison Restaurants
Ricardo’s Kouzzina provides locals and visitors with a unique dining experience. It’s open six days a week. The restaurant is open from 4:30 pm to 8:30 pm every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, it opens at 4:30 pm and closes at 9:00 pm.
The two-level restaurant has a lounge downstairs. Guests can also dine upstairs, overlooking the lounge below. They can also dine outdoors in the eatery’s covered seating area.
A full-service bar is available in the lounge. There’s a private dining room downstairs for special parties or functions.
Things to do in Madison GA Nightlife
Heart & Crown
You can experience Madison’s fun nightlife at the Hart & Crown Tavern. It offers snacks, salads, sides, plates, and sweets for lunch and dinner. It also has a varied drinks menu which includes draft beers, bottles, and wines. They have signature drinks like the English Garden, Bramble, Buck’s Fizz, and Snakebite.
They also have liquor like gin, vodka, Irish whiskey, and tequila. Scottish whiskey, bourbon, rum, and cordials are also available.
The Morgan County African American Museum
156 Academy St
Madison, Georgia 30650
The Morgan County African American Museum is a non-profit organization aimed at preserving African American art and history.
You can take a guided tour or go around the art museum at your own pace. It’s a small museum full of sculptures and other artifacts on African American heritage.
- Tuesday to Friday: 10 am to 4 pm
- 1st & 3rd Saturdays: 12 pm to 4 pm
- The cost is $5 for adults and $3 for children
Get a Massage at Pure Bliss Spa & Shop
131 W Jefferson Street
Madison, Georgia 30650
Pamper yourself at the Pure Bliss Spa and Shop after a day of exploring Madison. Their spa services include massage therapy, body treatments, skin treatments, and reflexology. Spa and beauty packages like make-up, spray tans, brows, and lashes are also available.
The spa also has a retail shop so you can take care of your wellness at home. Visit the shop and buy essential oils, scented candles, moisturizers, and other products.
Fishing & Watersports Near Madison
Morgan County boasts 55 miles of shoreline ideal for watersports and fishing adventures. One of its ideal recreational spots is Lake Oconee. It’s a 19,971-acre reservoir formed by the Apalachee and Oconee Rivers.
Public boat ramps are available at the Sugar Creek Marina in Buckhead. You can find some at Sinclair Marina on Lake Sinclair, too. You can rent a boat and fish or hop on one of the jet skis for a thrilling ride.
Another must-visit place is the Hard Labor Creek State Park, home to two lakes. Lake Rutledge has 275 acres, while Lake Brantley has 48 acres waiting for you to explore. You’ll have fun fishing, boating, or swimming. There are various watersports to enjoy, too.
2610 Eatonton Road
Madison, Georgia 30650
Farmview Market has a humble beginning. The Garden at Broughton started as a small garden. In the past, it only aimed to provide fresh produce for its employees. Today, it yields over 100,000 pounds of produce annually and supports around 200 families.
Further, they also have a family farm known as Rock House Farm. It specializes in producing grass-fed and grass-finished beef and Berkshire hogs.
You can enjoy all these and more at the Farmview Market. Their unique retail environment comprises a traditional butcher shop and a grocery store. The open-air farmers market is open from May to September from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm.
It’s the perfect place to buy organic and local produce. Also, there are artisan foods, arts and crafts, health and wellness items, gifts, and more.
They also have a café that serves breakfast and lunch. They serve pancakes, salads, sandwiches, burgers, desserts, and more.
Oconee National Forest
Suches, Georgia 30572
Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest is the perfect place near Madison for nature lovers. If you’re driving from Madison, it’s about about a 14-mile drive away and about 20 minutes by car.
It has an area of almost 867,000 acres, covering 26 Georgia counties. It boasts thousands of miles of streams and rivers.
The forest also has around 850 miles of recreation trails. It’s ideal for those interested in hiking and exploring the area.
Meanwhile, there are dozens of campgrounds and picnic areas. You can enjoy the fresh air and nature’s beauty after a day of exploring. The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest has fantastic scenery, rich culture, and history.
The Creek Golf Course at Hard Labor Creek
Indian Creek Golf Course opened in the early 1990s. It was before known as Covington Plantation. The golf course has undergone renovations through the years. But, it retained its Desmond Muirhead design.
Muirhead is a famous innovative golf architect. He incorporated a floral pattern of bunkers on the par-3 12th and a woman’s form on the par-5 17th. He did all these without sacrificing the course’s playability.
The course conditions were upgraded to become more challenging yet scenic. The 5th hole is still among the most demanding par 4s, while the par 3s has beautiful water hazards.
Hard Labor Creek State Park
5 Hard Labor Creek Rd
Rutledge, GA 30663
As I mentioned earlier, Hard Labor Creek State Park is famous for its golf course, The Creek Golf Course. It’s the second-largest Georgia state park, with 5,804 acres waiting to explore.
🎥 Fun fact: The movie, “Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives” was filmed in Hard Labor Creek State Park in 1986.
Located I-20 between Madison and Covington, Hard Labor Cree State Park is just a short drive away.
It has two stocked lakes and a beach for those who love swimming, boating, and other watersports. The park also has over 20 miles of trails, ideal for horseback riding, trekking, and biking.
There are cottages for overnight guests and a campground for those with tents and RVs. Meanwhile, horse owners can enjoy a private camping area near the stalls.
- Hours: 7 am to 10 pm
- Cost: $5 parking fee
Georgia Safari Conservation Park
1881 Monticello Hwy
Madison, Georgia 30650
The Georgia Safari Conservation Park will open its doors this year. It’ll offer guests an up close and personal encounter with different kinds of animals.
It has a massive area of 530 acres, including Morgan County’s grasslands and pastures. It’s home to giraffes, meerkats, zebras, and squirrel monkeys.
One of the park’s highlights is the drive-through safari. Guides take guests in a special vehicle. It will allow them to enjoy close encounters with ostriches, kudus, bongos, and more. A walk-through adventure will be available, too.
Unfortunately, the Georgia Safari Conservation Park was not open during on March 2023 visit, but it maybe worth visiting once it opens.
Final Thoughts | Things to Do in Madison GA
Madison is an excellent destination for history buffs, outdoor enthusiasts, and anyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. You’ll find plenty of things to do in Madison GA, and hopefully, I added a couple of items to your “must-do’ list!
FAQ on Things to Do in Madison GA
When is the best days of the week to visit Madison GA?
Sundays and Mondays in Madison tend to have the most closures for restaurants and businesses. It’s always best to verify hours prior to visiting to avoid unexpected closures.
What city is Hard Labor Creek in?
Hard Labor Creek State Park is located in Rutledge. The address is 5 Hard Labor Creek Road, Rutledge, GA 30663.
What movies or TV shows have been filmed in Madison, GA?
The film projects that Madison, Georgia, is known for include (by date order):
Sweet Magnolias – 2023
The Underground Railroad – 2021
The Fear Street Triology – 2021
Amazing Stories – 2020
Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 – 2017
Father Figures – 2017
America Made – 2017
Hidden Figures – 2016
In Dubious Battle – 2016
Goosebumps – 2015
Quantico – 2015
Selma – 2014
Footloose – 2011 Version
Rob Zombie’s Halloween II – 2009
Vampire Diaries – 2009 to 2013
My Cousin Vinny – 1992
Friday the 13th Part VI – 1986
Is there a welcome center in Madison GA?
The Madison Morgan County Welcome Center is located at 115 E. Jeferson Street, Madison, GA. It is open 7 days a week with free public restrooms and free parking.