Georgia on my mind ... Goodbye Andy Griffith ... Chicago makes tourism push
Mountains with crystal-clear streams perfect for fishing or kayaking. A fabulous coastline with historic hotels and terrific golf courses. Gracious plantations with porches big enough for a game of croquet. And one of America’s biggest cities, with a renowned aquarium and tons of great food and other attractions.
Georgia is a surprising place, as Governor Nathan Deal told me last week.
“I think it’s more geographically diverse and so much larger” than some folks expect, Deal said. “We have 100 miles of coastline and Savannah, a broad agricultural belt, Civil War trails, the Appalachian Mountains. There’s a real revival in interest in our mountains, and more people are making their permanent homes in the area. There’s a growing winery business in the foothills, and state laws now allow tasting rooms.”
Jekyll Island (see photo), which has the outstanding Jekyll Island resort (an old Victorian style place with class and beautiful grounds and a million activities), has a new convention centre that’s right on the Atlantic. Deal says it’s the largesst convention centre on the ocean south of New Jersey, and that Jekyll also new hotels and restaurants to lure customers.
It’s a lovely for spot for long walks on the beach and for biking as it’s relatively flat. There’s fine dining but also terrific barbeque in the area, and the Jekyll Island golf courses are fun and affordable.
You also can live it up at the Cloisters of Sea Island, which has some of the most beautiful coastal golf in the South as well as old-world service in a solid, romantic building that will make you feel like one of the Rockefellers.
They’ve apparently taken down some of the dams on the Chattahoochee River in Columbus (see photo of the city's riverwalk), over on the Alabama state line, and it’s created some great, urban rapids for whitewater fans. It’s said to be one of the largest urban whitewater stretches in the world.
Deal said nearly a million Canadians visited his state in 2010 and that visitation has gone up significantly, as has spending. Of those Canadians, by the way, 65 per cent are from Ontario and 24 per cent from Quebec.
I’ve never been a huge Atlanta fan but there are fabulous restaurants both downtown and up in Buckhead and the aquarium gets tremendous reviews. The Martin Luther King Jr. center is definitely worth seeing, and a lot of folks get a charge out of the World of Coca-Cola.
You can find special offers at exploregeorgia.org.
Speaking of the south, there was a great outpouring of emotion down in Mt. Airy, North Carolina after the passing last week of Andy Griffith. Folks flocked from all over to pay their respects at the visitor centre and Andy Griffith Museum. According to a story in the Mount Airy News, visitor centre volunteers “love to tell tourists that there is a Snappy Lunch, a Floyd’s Barber Shop, Pilot Mountain and the Andy Griffith Museum.”
The Chicago Tribune reports the city of Chicago has combined two tourism offices into a new one that’s called Choose Chicago.
“The city launched Choose Chicago this week with an announcement of new international offices, improved visitor centers and a goal of attracting 50 million visitors by 2020. Choose Chicago combines the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau and the tourism part of the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture. A release from Mayor Rahm Emanuel's offices says reducing overlap saves $2 million a year.”
A great town, for sure, and one that’s making a bigger push for Canadian visitors, as well as for business from South America and Asia.