Atlanta - Off the beaten track
Little Five Points
Little Five Points is as close to bohemia as Atlanta gets. The neighborhood has come a long way since the turn of the century, when it was the commercial district of an elite bedroom community called Inman Park. After a post-WWI decline, Inman Park found itself in the hands of ambitious fixer-uppers and on the National Register of Historic Places. Five Points, having gone through a similar slide, revived under the patronage of the youthful new clientele that bought up Inman Park's crumbling houses. Somewhere along the line, Little Five Points took a slightly beatnik/hippy turn and has been on that road ever since. The centre of the neighborhood is at the intersection of Moreland and Euclid Aves, locale of small shops, live theatres, cinemas, bookstores, cafes and restaurants. The nearby Museum of the Jimmy Carter Library features exhibits on Carter's four years (1977-1981) as President of the US.
Marietta is a small, sleepy town about 20mi (32km) northwest of Atlanta, famous as the locale of one of the goofier episodes of the Civil War. The 'Great Locomotive Chase' involved one Confederate engine running backwards to nab another that had been stolen by Union soldiers. There hasn't been as much excitement since, but one of the locomotives, the General, is on display along with other Civil War artefacts at the Kennesaw Civil War Museum (also called the Big Shanty Museum).
If you fancy a night away from Atlanta then Savannah, 230mi (380km) away, is a great town to visit for a touch of history and some beautiful scenery. Founded in 1733 as the first settlement in the new colony of Georgia, Savannah was spared destruction during the Civil War by Union General Sherman (who'd just torched Atlanta). Economic troubles in the late 1800s put Savannah into severe decline - had it prospered, its elegant streets may well have been demolished in the name of development. As a result, the city has an extraordinary collection of well-preserved 19th-century buildings. Its downtown Historic District has over 1000 restored Federal and Regency buildings, wide tree-lined streets, shady squares and a serene Old South ambience. Chippewa Square, in the middle of the district, features Forrest Gump's famous park bench.
Southeast of downtown is the traditionally African-American Victorian District, where the King-Tisdell Cottage has exhibits on African-influenced crafts, and African Americans through slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction. The Beach Institute displays current African-American art.
Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial
Although it's getting harder and harder to do so openly, many Southerners (white Southerners, at least) aren't shy about celebrating their nostalgia for the Confederacy (the side that lost the Civil War). Georgia's Stone Mountain Park, 16mi (26km) east of town, is a fairly brazen celebration of the rebellion and its leaders, whose 90ft/27m-high likenesses have been carved out of the side of a granite monolith. The park has several lakes, picnic areas, a restored plantation and a skylift to the top of the 825ft (247m) peak.