Visit Senoia for a Walking Dead tour and Juliette for a meal at the Whistle Stop Cafe.
Small Georgia towns on my mind
One southern state popular with tourists is Georgia and is best known for its delicious peaches. Small Georgia towns are plentiful with parks, rivers, waterfalls, and hiking trails, and there is always a place to venture outdoors. Savannah, Blue Ridge, Dahlonega, Jekyll, and Cumberland Islands are areas that top my favorites list.
Recently, two quaint towns that have left a lasting impression are Senoia and Juliette. Neither are large enough for a traffic light but have a classic, southern charm which is rare to find. Off the beaten path, these towns have a Hollywood connection that most people may not know. Fried Green Tomatoes, produced almost 30 years ago, was filmed in both these locations. Fannie Flagg, a true southerner, wrote the novel that later became the award-winning movie.
History of Senoia
Senoia (pronounced seh-noy) is located in Coweta County and sits at a once active railroad crossing that runs directly over Main Street. There are different theories on how Senoia’s unusual name was derived, but most believe it came from a Creek Indian chief’s mother, Princess Senoyah. The Creek Indians were the first to call this area home until migrating colonists from South Carolina arrived in the Fifth Land Lottery of 1827.
Senoia was established in 1866 when the railroad brought life to this fertile land transporting crops yielding corn and cotton. Even though the railroad has long since gone quiet, the town still survives because it attracts tourists with other curiosities.
Historic home tours offered in small Georgia towns
There are many historic homes in the area and building structures dating back to the 1850s still standing. Senoia offers Historical Home tours for those interested. For more information on a home tour, you can contact the Senoia Area Historical Society.
Among the historical homes stands a large white farmhouse with a green shingle roof. Located just a block from Main Street is the house featured in the movie Fried Green Tomatoes. It was the home place to the Threadgoode family and young Idgie, who is the story’s main character.
Movies made in Senoia
Senoia boasts over 25 movies and scenes produced there, and so these movies are celebrated in the brick sidewalks framing Main Street. The golden plaques displayed credit the movie title, and the year it was released.
A few notable mentions are Footloose, Driving Miss Daisy, Sweet Home Alabama, Meet the Browns, Andersonville, and Pet Sematary II. It was exciting trivia to discover, as we reminisced of the scenes of town buildings, area homes, and the water tower used as backdrops in so many movies we had seen.
Book a Walking Dead Tour
It is a popular television show, The Walking Dead, that has made this area a tourist attraction. Most of the series has been filmed in Senoia along with parts of Atlanta and recently Jekyll Island. There are several Walking Dead tours available for the AMC hit series in and around town.
The Georgia Touring Company offers a daily (2 hr) Walking Tour and a Location Tour (8 hrs), which is an excursion to exclusive filming locations. Pricing and tour times can be found on their website.
Browse the Woodbury Shoppe on Main
The amusing Woodbury Shoppe on Main Street has plenty of The Walking Dead merchandise for sale. Be sure to see the basement below the store where you can find memorabilia, autographs, and well-known props. Locals say that when the show was first released, the actors could visit Senoia for a cup of coffee, a quick breakfast, and lunch between filming. After only one season, it became one of the most-watched cable series ever created.
Alexandria, a neighborhood and a set location
A residential section near town is one of the show’s central location sets, Alexandria. The neighborhood has several homes and a church inside the metal walls often seen in the backdrops. Because of the popularity of the zombie hit show, the metal-wall fencing created for Alexandria to keep the zombies (walkers) out continues to stand to maintain privacy for the residents and to keep tourists out.
Senoia Coffee & Cafe, Maguires Family, Main Street Fudge & Ice Cream Shop, and Nic and Norman’s are a few of the restaurants we would recommend in town.
Nic and Norman’s restaurant and bar is a good choice
During the show’s current season, the restaurant and bar offer dinner followed by the Sunday night viewing of the show on their big screens. Greg Nicotero and Norman Reedus have both visited Senoia on occasion and surprised guests at their restaurant. You may even see a few look-a-likes, Rick, Carl, Negan, and a few gruesome whisperers have also been spotted.
We have met fans traveling as far as from California just to experience The Walking Dead tours, visit the town, and have a meal and a beer at Nic & Norman’s. If you would like to try this experience during your visit, be sure and reserve ahead since there is limited seating.
If you need accommodations for an overnight stay in small Georgia towns, there are hotels within ten miles of Senoia and even more available in nearby Newnan.
Juliette is another town stationed only yards away from railroad tracks that brought industry and jobs to the area in the early 1900s. The town, founded in 1882, was initially named Glover after a local doctor. The name changed to Juliette, after a railroad engineer’s daughter, Juliette McCrackin. McCrackin Street is the main street and the only street that runs through the center of town.
Juliette is unincorporated and located in Monroe County, an hour south of Atlanta, nine miles off I-75. Tourists still visit today almost 30 years after Fried Green Tomatoes‘ success, looking for a glimpse of the famed town used as an entire movie set and for a home-cooked meal at the Whistle Stop Cafe.
The valuable industry in the town for decades was the Juliette Milling Company located within a stone’s throw of McCrackin street. The grist mill built in 1927 as the standing concrete structure you see today. The Juliette mill and the Glover cotton mill were both water-powered and built along opposite sides of the Ocmulgee River.
In the late 1950s, when the cotton and grist mill industries died, so did the town. Later, shop owners and residents began moving away, therefore Juliette was soon deserted and left standing with no community. In the early 1990s, it was rediscovered by Hollywood producers and restored for the sole purpose of being the movie set for Fried Green Tomatoes. Other films produced in Juliette are A Killing Affair, Cockfighter, and The War, but none as famous as Fried Green Tomatoes.
Try the Whistle Stop Cafe
The Whistle Stop Cafe in Juliette opened for lunch just a few years after the release of the movie. The building originally was a typical general merchandise store seen in many small Georgia towns. An autographed movie poster of Jessica Tandy and Kathy Bates, award-winning actors, hangs on the Cafe wall.
The original Whistle Stop Cafe (The Irondale Cafe), as Ms. Flagg describes in her novel, is located in Irondale, Alabama. It has been serving customers since 1928, and they, too, are famous for their fried green tomatoes. Look for the ‘Original Whistle Stop Cafe Cookbook’ with southern recipes from The Irondale Cafe.
The Cafe offers southern favorites like pulled pork, fried chicken, and pork chops, a large variety of vegetables, peach cobbler, pecan pie, and the specialty, of course, fried green tomatoes. Many visitors boast they are the best they have ever had.
A cafe made famous
The Cafe’s decor is vintage and remains today as it was in the movie, wooden floors, high-back booths, and an antique cashier counter with a glassed case. Shiplap walls and ceiling line the restaurant interior. As you walk onto the wood-planked porch and open the squeaky screen door, it is as if you’ve stepped back into a time to a more slower-paced day. These old structures are full of history and a memorable era long gone.
See the movie set locations in small Georgia towns
If you’ve seen the movie, you will also remember the Train Depot, the First Baptist Church, the Opry House, big George’s BBQ pit, and the Sheriff’s office. Hollywood borrowed this forgotten town and its dilapidated buildings as they found it in 1991 for the modern-day scenes in the movie. Next, they restored and recreated a magical Juliette bursting with activity and thriving as the fictional town of Whistle Stop, Alabama, during the 1920s.
After filming the movie, the train depot and several other buildings moved to a better location but remained inside the town limits. The railroad is still active and could run through Juliette the day you visit. You can hear the whistle loud and clear and feel the windows rattle from the fast-moving locomotive as it passes by.
For lodging after a day of driving, there are Trip Advisor recommendations within ten miles in Forsyth. The Jarrell Plantation Bed & Breakfast is the only offer within the Juliette area.
Jarrell Plantation Bed and Breakfast
A short distance, just ten miles from Juliette, is the Jarrell Plantation Bed and Breakfast. The 1920, middle-class plantation is also on the National Register of Historic Places and represents plantations of small Georgia towns. The farm offers tours Thursdays through Saturdays with a museum on site. Jarrell Plantation is another survivor of ‘General Sherman’s march to the seas’ that destroyed much of the South during the Civil War.
Juliette is worth the drive
Juliette is worth the drive if you treasure historical places, seeing a classic movie set, or dining at a delicious meat-and-three restaurant.
If you enjoy touring unique towns that remind you of how life must have been in a simpler time, then Juliette and Senoia are small Georgia towns you should see.
Other nearby recommendations from Grans On The Go
You can read other articles by Grans On The Go about the Southeast area: Top Things to Do on Jekyll Island, Cumberland Island, Georgia – Wild Horses and Wild Women, Road Scholar on Eastern Coastal Islands, and Okefenokee Swamp. Also, for hiking in the nearby Smoky Mountains, read about Seven Things to do in Bryson City, North Carolina. Compare your packing list for mountain vacations with our Smoky Mountains Packing List.
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My name is Belinda Brewer, and I enjoy being a guest writer with Grans on the Go. I’m a married mother with two sons and daughters-in-law who have blessed us with four grandchildren. My best days are spent with them. I love traveling to discover places I’ve never seen before and photographing the journey along the way. It’s a joy sharing those experiences with family and friends.