Category: Southern Experiences

The “Honeymoon” Mansion

Thank you to Lake Oconee Living for allowing me to feature the “Honeymoon” mansion. 


Four dramatic Doric columns make this grand home on the south end of Madison’s historic district a quintessential example of the Greek Revival style built in 1851. The entire house is 5,000 square feet.

This home, known as the “Honeymoon” mansion, was owned by the Godfrey-Candler-Hunt family. If you know the history of Atlanta, this house was home to Charles Candler the son of the founder of Emory University and the nephew of the man responsible for Coca-Cola’s early growth.

This home has gone through some significant changes and renovations thanks to Jimmy Stanton of Stanton Home Furnishings. Mr. Stanton calls “Honeymoon” his second home, as he splits his time between Atlanta and Madison. He purchased the house three years ago and since then has made this historic home quite the statement piece in Madison.

As you enter the front door, you are welcomed by a two-story entrance foyer that reminded Mr. Stanton of the entrance from Grey Gardens. It was one of the elements that drew him to the home. To the left and right of the entrance foyer are two parlors designed to imitate day and night. The dark parlor is one of Mr. Stanton’s favorite rooms.

As you move towards the back of the house, there is a secondary foyer with a sitting area and dining room. The back of the home has a butler’s pantry and cozy kitchen. Personally, I loved the dining room and all the books in the fireplace.

As you exit out one of the back doors, you move into a beautifully manicured property of five acres. The back of the property includes a pool and pool house, which was originally the garage and potting shed, as well as a firepit and outdoor dining area. The pool house is another favorite room to the owner.

Upstairs boasts four bedrooms, all with a diverse style and stunning views.

The renovations took all of two weeks to complete, including a complete renovation of the kitchen and pool house.

All the floral work in the home was designed by Zeb Grant Design. All of the Christmas floral decorations were sourced from the property and were designed to meld together traditional and modern.

Mount Cheaha

Take a trip to Mount Cheaha, situated in the Talladega Mountains, and visit Alabama’s highest point at 2,407 feet above sea level. Located in Cheaha Resort State Park, the state’s oldest continuous operating state park, this mountaintop destination is the perfect day trip for anyone in Atlanta or Birmingham.

There are several hiking trails around the park, but none take you directly to the summit. If you desire to reach the summit by foot, then I recommend taking the Cheaha Express and cutting across to one of the roads that lead to the summit. If you would prefer to drive, like us, then there is a road that takes you directly to the summit.

The highest point in Alabama is marked with an observation tower named Bunker Tower. This tower was completed in 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. In fact, the Civilan Conservation Corps statue in front of the tower is the only CCC statue in the state of Alabama. The wing to the right of the main tower is home to the CCC museum. I highly recommend taking a look around, as it is very educational.

Have you ever climbed the highest point in your state?

Checking In: Hotel Finial

Checking In is a series for reviewing properties, whether it is a hostel, hotel or other forms of accommodation. To suggest a property please send us an email.

This post is brought to you by Hotel Finial. I received a free stay at Hotel Finial in exchange for writing a review on the blog. All opinions are my own. Thank you for your support surrounding sponsored posts. 


I have mastered the art of weekend getaways. Whether it is a day trip up to the North Georgia mountains for wine tasting or driving a few hours to check out a nearby city, I am always looking for something to do on the weekends. A few weekends ago, I was provided the opportunity to visit a city I had never really explored before and to stay in one of the city’s historic hotels.

Situated on a hill above downtown Anniston, Hotel Finial is located in a Queen Anne Victorian mansion that was built in 1888. Prior to being a hotel, this mansion was home to some of the city’s most prominent families including the McKleroys, Wilsons and Kirbys. Each of these families are honored with suites named after them in the main house.

The hotel features 61 rooms including five suites. Four of these suites are located in the main house, the three mentioned above as well as a Ballroom Suite that is the entire third floor of the main house.

The last suite is The Cottage, where we stayed.

(Check out this video for a walking tour of The Cottage.)

Every morning, Hotel Finial starts off with a delicious Southern breakfast prepared by Charlene, the hotel’s chef, that you can enjoy in one of the four dining rooms. All the dining rooms are located in the main house and include the original hardwood and fireplace from the 1800s.

My favorite part about the hotel, though, is the details! The intricate fireplaces and stained glass really bring character to the main house. And don’t miss Spencer’s Bar located in The Carriage House on the property.

So, whether you are passing through on I-20, traveling on business or looking for a weekend getaway, I highly recommend booking your next Anniston stay with Hotel Finial.

The Model City {Anniston, AL}

In the foothills of the Appalachians lies the sleepy city of Anniston, Alabama. Located just 60 miles from Birmingham, Alabama and 90 miles from Atlanta, Georgia, this city makes the perfect weekend getaway destination for either city. Check out this list of things to see and do during your next visit to The Model City.

Museums

There are two museums located in the city of Anniston: Anniston Museum of Natural History and Berman Museum of World History, which are conveniently located right next door to each other. We opted to explore the Natural History Museum since my mom tried to take me as a kid.

The Anniston Museum of Natural History was established in 1930, has seven permanent exhibits and is a proud member of the Smithsonian Affiliate Membership Program. In addition to the 2,000 natural history items on display, there is also a wildlife garden, nature trails, and open-air animal exhibits. This is definitely worth the visit to Anniston alone.

Wall Art Scavenger Hunt

If you are looking to familiarize yourself with the city of Anniston, there is a great walking tour that will take you through historic downtown and show off various wall murals sponsored by local businesses. It is definitely a fun little scavenger hunt, and you get to walk past some cute antique stores along the way.

Oldest Saloon in Alabama

Did you know Anniston is home to the oldest saloon in Alabama? The Peerless was established in 1899 and joined the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

The Peerless Saloon and Grille is located on the corner of 10th Street and Atlanta Avenue. The Grille is a full-service restaurant that offers some tasty offerings. We highly recommend checking out their Shrimp & Grits and Reuben. Righ next door is the Saloon if you are looking for an evening cocktail and good music. Be sure to take a look at the mirror behind the bar; it has been in the building since 1906.

Mount Cheaha

Mount Cheaha is the highest point in Alabama, and it is only 45 minutes outside of town. It is definitely worth the day trip to say you have been to the top of Alabama.

Hotel Finial

Last, but not least, you will need a place to stay. Be sure to check out the historic Hotel Finial.

 

What do you want to see and do during your visit to Anniston?

Habersham Vineyards & Winery

Habersham Vineyards & Winery has been in the wine business since 1983 and is one Georgia’s oldest and largest wineries. You can find this winery in the North Georgia Wine Country about a half mile south of Alpine Helen.

Habersham is open daily for tastings, and they also boast a large gift shop with gourmet foods and wine themed items from around the world. Habersham also carries imported cheese and the essentials to create the perfect picnic for the North Georgia mountains.

This winery has around 20 wines divided into three categories, Habersham Estate, Creekstone and Southern Harvest for you to try. My personal favorites were the NV Habersham Chardonnay and the 2015 Gewürztraminer from the Habersham Estate collection; the 2011 GA Creekstone Cabernet Sauvignon from the Creekstone collection; and the Belle Blush from the Southern Harvest collection.

Before you leave, be sure to grab one of their tasty frozen wine drinks and enjoy some time on their outdoor patio.

What is your favorite Georgia winery? What is your favorite Habersham wine?

Vulcan, The Keeper of Birmingham

Situated on top of Red Mountain in Birmingham, Alabama sits the world’s largest cast iron statue: Vulcan.

Now you are probably thinking why does a classic southern city have a Roman god as its symbol?

Birmingham, founded in 1871, has a deeply rooted history in the steel and iron industry. With rich veins of coal, iron ore and limestone this city boomed as an industrial city. To help advertise the city and state, Birmingham officials funded the building of a cast iron statue to be revealed at the 1904 World’s Fair, and thus Vulcan was born. Designed by Giuseppe Moretti, Vulcan was revealed on June 7, 1904 and moved back to the city in 1905.

Since his move to Vulcan Park on Red Mountain, Vulcan has been the keeper of Birmingham.

If you are looking for a unique perspective of the Magic City and want a history lesson of it’s industrial history, check out the Vulcan Park & Museum. The museum offers an interactive experience of Birmingham and Vulcan’s history.

What is your favorite sight in Birmingham?

North Carolina Zoo

The North Carolina Zoo is located just south of Asheboro in the Uwharrie Mountains and has been open since August 13, 1976. (We were there for the 40th anniversary.) With over 2,000 acres of land, this zoo is the most extensive “natural habitat” zoo in the United States and the largest walk-through zoo in the world. The NC Zoo has over 1,600 animals primarily representing Africa and North America.

Advice: Bring Binoculars!

Africa

We opted to start with Africa. The Africa section is divided into two distinct parts: Forest Edge and Watani Grasslands. The Forest Edge is where you’ll find zebras, giraffes, and ostriches wandering together. The Watani Grasslands mimics the African savannah, and it is where you’ll find rhinos, African elephants, gazelle, and other African species. Chimpanzees, lions, gorillas and one of the largest baboon troops in the country each have individual exhibits in the African half of the zoo.

Aviary

The R. J. Reynolds Forest Aviary recreates the hot, humid conditions of a tropical forest. It displays more than three thousand tropical plants and allows visitors to walk among 35 species of free-flying tropical bird.

North America

The North American section is divided into five different sections: Cypress Swamp, Rocky Coast, Streams of North Carolina, Prairie, and Sonoran Desert. We particularly liked the Rocky Coast (polar bears!) and the Streams of North Carolina. It is always good to know what is happening in your local area.

What is your favorite animal?

Historic Banning Mills

An hour west of Atlanta is the world’s longest zip line, Screaming Eagle. Surrounded by 300 beautifully wooded acres, Historic Banning Mills offers visitors an adventure resort. The facility offers multiple levels of ziplining courses, high and low ropes courses, Guinness World Record climbing wall, nature trails and more.

If you are looking for a high adventure, close to home, then Historic Banning Mills is the place to visit. With multip tour levels, there is something for every level of daredevil. We opted for the Extreme Tour, which provided us the opportunity to fly through and over the treetops with around 24 ziplines and to traverse 20 sky bridges. This tour included the Sky Trek Bridge that is 600 feet long and 190 feet high over the gorge, and Screaming Eagle, which is like stepping off a 30-story building. If you are going to do an adventure course, I highly recommend this tour!

I will say in spite being terrifying, the view of Snake River from the sky bridges is absolutely beautiful!

In addition to the ziplining adventure, Historic Banning Mills offers a number of accommodations so you do not have to worry about driving back after a day swinging in the trees. I topped our time at the resort with a stay in one of the tree house rooms and dinner at the lodge. It was absolutely worth it! The food was absolutely fantastic, and the atmosphere was quite intimate. The tree house itself was perfectly cozy, and had all the amenities of a hotel…but in a tree! Plus the view from the porch makes the perfect setting for sipping your hot beverage of choice before heading to breakfast in the lodge.

Next time you are looking for an adventure be sure to add Historic Banning Mills to your list!

What’s your favorite high adventure activity?

World of Coca-Cola

The World of Coca-Cola is the only place where you can experience the fascinating story of the world’s best-known beverage brand, and it is located in the heart of downtown Atlanta.

World of Coca-Cola | Atlanta, GA

I recommend starting with the Vault of the Secret Formula exhibit. Through this multi-media exhibit, you can view not only the vault where the secret formula is stored but also 125 years of history, special moments and memories of this classic beverage. I particularly liked trying my hand at the Virtual Taste Maker to see if I could duplicate THE secret formula. I failed.

Coca-Cola has touched millions of lives. In the Milestones of Refreshment exhibit, navigate your way through Coke’s history. This exhibit is composed of ten galleries and a thousand of original artifacts, some dating back to the earliest days of the beverage’s history.

In Bottle Works, you get a behind the scenes look at an operating Coca-Cola bottling process. Bottle Works showcases some of the same equipment and processes that are found in a full-size bottling plant. You even get a complimentary commemorative bottle as you are leaving the World of Coca-Cola.

Your last stop is the Taste It! room. Here you can try 100 different beverages from five different regions around the world. Beverly from Italy is a fun one to try! But we really liked Inca Cola from Peru and another from Africa.

Last not least, be sure to grab a picture with the Coca-Cola Polar Bear!

World of Coca-Cola | Atlanta, GA

Open Happiness, and visit World of Coca-Cola next time you are in Atlanta.

What is your favorite Coca-Cola product?

Getting Around Atlanta: MARTA Stops & Attractions

Atlanta is a big city to navigate, and with the added traffic factor, getting around to see the memorable landmarks can be even more difficult. MARTA is the quickest, most efficient way to navigate around Atlanta, and some of the best attractions minutes from a MARTA rail station.

MARTA Stops and Attractions

Here are some not-to-miss MARTA stops and attractions:

Peachtree Center MARTA Station

Apex Museum
The Apex Museum, just minutes from the Peachtree Center MARTA station, celebrates the historical significance of African-Americans, the Civil Rights Movement, and the profound culture and history of the city’s African-American community.

Skyview
Get off at the Peachtree Center MARTA station for Skyview, another big Atlanta attraction, located near Piedmont Park. It offers one of the best ways to see the city lit up at night as well as panoramic city views during the day. Visitors can also visit the Ferris wheel during other big events, such as Music Midtown.

Atlanta Streetcar
The Atlanta Streetcar, a new addition to the Atlanta public transportation system, is the 21-century symbol representation linking Atlanta to its past with train and rail transportation. Functioning as a piece of the MARTA system, the Atlanta Streetcar, now in Phase One, shuttles passengers on the East-West route to several other area attractions and landmarks.

Inman Park/Reynoldstown MARTA Station

Atlanta BeltLine
The Atlanta BeltLine is one of the biggest developments to hit the city in recent years. With planned hiking trails, parks, and neighborhood strengthening programs in place around the city, the BeltLine is a must visit. Take advantage of the free year-round tours of the 22-mile railroad corridor encompassing Atlanta. The tour leaves from the Inman Park Station on Friday and Saturday mornings.

Little Five Points Shopping District
Little Five Points is one of Atlanta’s alternative neighborhoods. Lining Moreland and Euclid Avenues, storefronts and consignment shops sprinkled throughout the small district, it is easy to see why the small district attracts Atlanta locals.

Shops like Junkman’s Daughter and Criminal Records or restaurants like Vortex and Savage Pizza lend an eclectic vibe similar to the Haight-Ashbury counter-culture in the 60s and 70s, but without the psychedelic tie-die and drugs.

Arts Center

MODA
Unifying design and functionality, MODA or Museum of Design Atlanta, incorporates the best parts of design fused with functionality. It enriches the local community through exhibits and educational events for all. Exhibits range from the art of 3-D printing to sustainable architecture.

Discover exhibits highlighting the best in functional design and art, or if creation is your fancy, consider immersing yourself in a creative design class offered at the museum.

Center For Puppetry Arts
Children love the Center for Puppetry Arts. A community favorite in Atlanta, the center is known for their lively shows and hosted events throughout the year. The center really comes to life during the holidays with puppet shows such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty, The Snowman.

Additionally, the center is also a focus the performance industry with knowledgeable staff leading on-site workshops and museum tours.

Atlanta, a hub for multi-cultural dining, events, and history, is brimming with activities and excitement for locals and visitors. Don’t miss the most iconic places in Atlanta: World of Coke, Georgia Aquarium, or CNN Center. Visiting Atlanta? Explore Atlanta like the locals do.

 

About Holiday Inn Express® Hotel & Suites Atlanta North-Perimeter/Dunwoody

Neel Shah is the principal of The Holiday Inn Express® Hotel & Suites Atlanta North-Perimeter/Dunwoody located directly off Georgia 400 and I-285. This means they’re just minutes from several corporate offices and training centers. Additionally, Buckhead, Sandy Springs, Roswell, the Dunwoody Medical Centers, Northside Hospital, Children’s Health Care, St. Joseph’s, and the Dunwoody MARTA station are nearby. Enjoy a memorable stay at our modern Perimeter hotel, part of Atlanta’s upscale corporate Perimeter Center. With our courteous staff, reasonable rates, and terrific amenities, this Atlanta Perimeter hotel is the place to “Stay Smart” in the Perimeter Center area.

For more information visit: http://www.PERIMETERHOTEL.com

 

Southern Exhilaration was not compensated for this post.