Since I haven’t visited LaGrange, Ga. in nearly 20 years, I was stunned by the growth of this small city that extends from beyond the old downtown square all the way to I-85. Despite this expansion, the true heart of this historic and beautiful town is still found in and around the immaculate old Lafayette Square at its center.
A new visitors center is located just off the square in a building that has modern architecture with a Southern charm, and a friendly staff to point you to the best places and events in LaGrange. Nevertheless, any trip to LaGrange should begin on the square viewing a multitude of colorful flowers, an unforgettable fountain and a stately statue of Lafayette, who was an important leader in our Revolutionary War with the British for our independence.
An ideal base of operations for any stay in LaGrange would have to be the Courtyard LaGrange by Marriott located directly across the street from Lafayette Square. From this perfect centrally located facility, everything in LaGrange can be easily reached.
Though the hotel Bistro in the lobby has an excellent breakfast, I would suggest a short walk down the street to a very interesting local restaurant. Gus’s Grill offers a Chicago-based menu with a Greek flare and is known for their homemade biscuits. While dining, take a look around at the collectibles and clever knick-knacks throughout the dining room.
Following a hearty breakfast, a walk around the outside of Lafayette Square is a must. This unique and historic downtown area has dozens of local boutiques, antique stores and other shops and restaurants. It might be a little boring for the guys, but the ladies in your group could spend hours within minutes of the hotel!
For those who enjoy history and unique architecture, I would certainly visit the Hills and Dales Estate which is located just minutes from the downtown square. This 13,000-square-foot home of the Callaway family is surrounded by one of the best-preserved 19th-century gardens in the nation and is a legacy of the family’s lifestyle. Completed in 1916, the Fuller E. Callaway home was designed to flow gracefully into its gardens of dwarf boxwood parterres, which have adorned the terraces of the hill for more than 175 years. The classic lines of the 13,000-square-foot home have now silently watched over the gardens for over a century.
For lunch, I would suggest 505 Eats … a Korean-owned spot located just down the street from the square. The menu features delicious Southern classics, and owner and chef Joyce Sato dreams up an additional menu of specials each week. However, the hamburgers and Reuben here are utterly fantastic!
Another special place to spend some time is the Nutwood Winery which is a sprawling 10-acre farm highlighted by a 6,000 square foot Tasting Room & Vineyard Cafe along with the historic manor home and 200-year-old pecan trees that give Nutwood its name. The indoor/outdoor seating area offers guests a relaxing environment in which to enjoy good company, and of course, great wines. Nutwood’s delicious wines pair beautifully with light bites and outdoor activities that provide entertainment for the entire family. And, if you happen to be there on a Friday or Saturday, you will be treated to some fantastic music by someone like Tyrone Moultry!
If you happen to be in LaGrange on a Saturday night, nothing could be better than an evening of unique music at the Pure Life House of Music, which is an intimate music venue founded by Maggie McDonald as a place for up-and-coming musicians to showcase their work. The night I visited, I was lucky to hear the beautiful sounds of Meaghan Farrell.
Whether you have a whole weekend or just a day to spend in LaGrange, the city is sure to keep you entertained with a mix of indoor and outdoor activities, interesting restaurants and plenty of history!
Photos: by Bill Vanderford