The average price of gas in Georgia is $3.47 per gallon. A road trip from Atlanta to Orlando, Fla., is more than 430 miles—that’s an estimated $73 gas cost one-way. Those families wanting to cut back on vacation expenses (but not the fun) should consider Cartersville.
“Did you say Cartersville?” you may ask. Yes, I did.
Located 45 miles north of Atlanta, Cartersville might not be high of your list of weekend getaways–but it should be. It offers a wide range of cultural sites and engaging activities.
I found this in-state destination while searching the internet. A “visit Cartersville” website described the area’s historic attractions–various museums, ancient Indian mounds and the world’s first outdoor Coca-Cola advertisement. It piqued my interests.
I made arraignments for a casual day trip, and my travel partner and I hit the road. Our route was a breeze–approximately 50 minutes on I-75 north.
My initial thoughts on Cartersville were, “Why had I not been here before?” It has a small-town feel with an updated look and major shopping and food establishments that I’m accustomed to in the “big city.”
Our first stop was the Booth Western Art Museum. According to their website, the museum houses the largest permanent exhibition space for Western art in the United States and is the second largest art museum in Georgia. The 120,000-square-foot museum allows visitors to “See America’s Story” through contemporary Western art, Civil War art with more than 200 Native American artifacts, a Presidential Gallery and the Sagebrush Ranch–an interactive children’s gallery.
Words simply cannot convey the beauty of the artwork and the awe-inspiring details in the various sculptures. I was captivated. My travel partner said she was amazed by the heritage and culture that was on display.
Some of my favorites were The Modern West gallery, the Ed Mell: New West Visionary exhibit and the Eagle Catcher sculpture.
I had only planned to stay an hour. We stayed more than two-and-a-half hours, and could have stayed longer.
The next stop, just a few miles away, was the Tellus Science Museum. This place made science look cool. The museum’s exterior is a modern, modular, Lego-like building that prompted the question: “What’s over there?”
The answer: more than 125,000 square feet of fossils, gems, minerals, dinosaurs, vintage cars, a spaceship, a hands-on activities area and a planetarium.
The museum is divided into different sections such as The Weinman Mineral Gallery, Fossil Gallery, Science in Motion and Collins Family: My Big Backyard.
The museum brought out the child in us both. There were signs in the some of the exhibits that encouraged us to touch. Science terms and acts of nature such as earthquakes were explained and demonstrated. The life-size fossils showed the sheer size of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures. The Science in Motion area had well-persevered and restored vintage electric, steam and gasoline-powered cars. Replicas of the Apollo I capsule, a Mercury capsule, a space suit and Sputnik are also on display.
We lost track of time while there, and we didn’t even see everything. We weren’t able to visit the Solar Decathlon House, which was designed and built by engineering and architectural faculty and students at Georgia Tech for an international competition, the Fossil Dig and Gem Panning area or the Planetarium.
I should have budgeted more time.
But, we had an appointment to tour and have dinner in the historic ruins at the Barnsely Garden Resort, a beautiful luxury resort located 20 minutes from Cartersville.
For more information on Cartersville and its attractions, visit www.notatlanta.org
Booth Western Art Museum
501 Museum Drive, Cartersville
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Thursday - 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sunday – 1 – 5 p.m.
Adults - $10
Seniors (65 and older) - $8
Students - $7
Children 12 and younger – free with paid adult admission
Tellus Science Museum
100 Tellus Drive, Cartersville
Monday-Sunday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Adults - $12
Children (3 - 17) - $8
Students with ID - $8
Active Military with ID - free
Seniors (65+) - $10
Fossil Dig & Gem Panning included with admission
Planetarium- $3 - Must include paid admission, free member admission, or complimentary admission pass.
$2 - second planetarium show for an individual during one visit
Solar House- Tellus offers tours of the Solar House every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 1 - 4 p.m.