I had the good fortune to visit Roswell, Georgia last fall. Several things resonated with me, not the least of which is the pride and passion displayed by its residents. modern spirit. Southern Soul. is Visit Roswell’s slogan and it sums things up nicely. This organization planned a uniquely memorable visit for us, and I know we barely scratched the surface of what there is to do and see.
On our first day, we had lunch at The Mill, experienced the Roswell Wine Festival, had dinner at the Peachtree Diner and took the Roswell Ghost Tour. (Historic Roswell – A Moment In Time) The second day began with a visit to Old Mill Park. Roswell’s Mill was the cornerstone of the town’s economy up until the early 1970s. It burned to the ground and was rebuilt – twice!
Although no longer in operation, a visit to the park is a moving experience. Quiet and peaceful in the early morning, the natural beauty is evident wherever you turn. I stood on an old bridge and watched and listened to the water running below me. Birds sang and abandoned pieces of machinery, whose purpose was long gone, lay victim to the elements. I left the Old Mill Park humbled and serene.
We visited a trilogy of historic house museums: Barrington Hall, Smith Plantation House and Bulloch Hall. It was on the front porch of one of these pre-Civil War houses I noticed what appeared to be people in a photograph I had taken on the ghost tour. I didn’t notice anyone on the porch when I took the photo. Each house museum had a fascinating history and guides whose stories brought the past to life. Teddy Roosevelt’s mom was born and raised in Roswell and grew up in Bulloch Hall. Teddy paid a visit in 1905. Each house museum had been lovingly restored.
Sandwiches were awaiting us on a visit to the Chattahoochee Natural Recreation Area Center. This 127 site is replete with native flora and fauna and is part of an area that runs from Lake Lanier to downtown Atlanta. Chris Nelson told us about this incredible spot and that Roswell has the largest collection of city parks along the river. Three and a half million visitors come to the nature center each year, including over 40,000 students from 400 different schools.
There’s an active trout fishery with both brown and rainbow trout, and it’s home to one of two wildlife rehab centers in the metro Atlanta area. The center also boasts one of the largest collections of native plants anywhere in North America. The garden is lovingly tended and is a joy to walk through. There’s truly something for everyone at the Chattahoochee Nature Center, and it’s staffed by people devoted to keeping it special.
What a joy it was to meet Judie Raiford, owner of the Raiford Gallery. Judie exemplifies passion, and clearly loves what she does. She showed us around her 9000 square foot gallery with works by area artists on display before taking us downstairs to her studio. She delighted in turning on various pieces of equipment and showing us how each one worked. She sent each of us home with a sterling silver salt spoon, inspired by a cooking show she had watched.
Our much too brief visit to Roswell was drawing to a close, and they couldn’t have picked a better place for a send-off dinner than Table & Main – a southern tavern. One of more than 200 independent Roswell restaurants, the food was plentiful and tasty and our server Morgan was charming and attentive. The Preservation Plate changes daily and is the chef’s selection of house-cured or preserved goods. Owner Ryan Pernice shared his philosophy with us calling his menu simple seasonal southern, featuring dishes “you wish you could do at home.”
I loved every moment of my all too brief visit to Roswell and look forward to a return visit. Southern hospitality in on full display here. I urge you to contact Visit Roswell, their convention and visitors bureau. They love their hometown and can’t wait to share their enthusiasm with you.
Tom Plant launched WINEormous, a food, wine and travel blog in 2009 and is a long-time member of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association. Based in Temecula, California, he offers intimate winery tours for no more than seven people. He is a three-time recipient of the best tour award from the Luxury Travel Guide in Birmingham, England. Tour details and pricing are available at www.temecula-tours.com. Call now to book your Temecula Winery Tour at (951) 907-9701! Ask about special discounts.