North & South: elegant inns cater to reunions by Jacky Runice

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The Georgia Music Hall of Fame is a wonderful intergenerational option entertaining fans of performers as diverse as Lena Horne, Tommy Dorsey, the B-52s and Trisha Yearwood. Thematic exhibits offer plenty of interactive fun, musical artifacts and nostalgia. Hometown boys, the Allman Brothers, have their own shrine here as well as in the magnificent Rosehill Cemetery where Berry Oakley and Duane Allman rest. Make a date with some of the most interesting dead people during one of Phil Comer’s “Rose Hill Rambles” Cemetery Tours (478-742-5001). The native Maconite enchants guests with his breadth of local history knowledge and lore from the Confederate graves to those of the aforementioned rock stars. Halloween ideas, anyone?
Drive a NASCAR simulator, kick the winning field goal and throw the last second TD pass on a football field or shoot hoops at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. In the museum’s theater, you can sit in a stadium of yesteryear or be part of the crowd at old Ponce de Leon Park in Atlanta where the historic Crackers played.

The Georgia Music Hall of Fame, Sports Hall of Fame and the Tubman African American Museum are within walking distance of each other. The Tubman features achievements of great American inventors, artists, writers, musicians, military leaders and more. There will be a new larger Tubman Museum in 2003.

History buffs won’t want to miss the Cannonball House where a Union shell remains after it crashed through the parlor and rolled across the floor in an 1864 attack.
A trolley stop across the street from the 1842 Inn, takes visitors to all of the aforementioned attractions for a mere 25 cents, as well as famed poet Sidney Lanier’s cottage and the historic Douglas Theater where Little Richard and Otis Redding performed in the 1950s. The restored theatre now serves as a state-of-the-art film, performance and meeting venue.

The Macon-Bibb County Convention & Visitors Bureau (800-768-3401) or email at maconcvb@maconga.org can inform reunion planners about “Around-Town Tours,” packaged attractions at up to 25% discount including historic homes, interactive museums and trolley transportation. Thousands of Macon’s acres are National Register Historic Districts. You won’t want to miss National Historic Landmark Hay House, an Italian Renaissance Revival Villa, completed in 1859, featured on A&E’s “America’s Castles as the Palace of the South.” Ocmulgee National Monument reaches way back 12,000 years ago to Native American life with great earthen mounds, artifacts and dioramas.

Back at the 1842 Inn, the daily hospitality hour lingers from 5:30 to 7 PM. This is the south, so indulge in one of Miss JoAnne’s persuasive mint juleps while younger travelers nibble freshly baked cheese straws, cold chicken salad on crackers or warm artichoke dip. Emma Williamson, another of the Inn’s fine associates, may get the little hairs on the back of your neck to stand at attention with her ghostly experiences in the AAA Four Diamond property. Williamson and JoAnne Dillard are Macon graciousness experts.

Music fans must have dinner at the Tic Toc Room, where Little Richard held court in the early 1960’s. Remember the singer’s “Long Tall Sally?” She was a daughter of the site’s original owner. Today, the restaurant boasts a young chef who does wild and wonderful things with fried green tomatoes, Macon-style crab cakes and other southern delights. Bert’s, on lively Cherry Street, kicks Southern food up a notch with offerings such as “New Southern Grits Cakes (ladled with roasted pepper cream sauce and grilled portobello mushrooms) and an astonishing wine list. For incredibly cheap and down-home barbecue, townsfolk swear by Fincher’s BBQ. A pig (chopped pork) sandwich or a Brunswick stew will set you back $1.83. The restaurant boasts that it was the first BBQ to go in space in the 1989 space shuttle. (Finally, the government making good choices!) Fincher’s caters, too.

The 1842 Inn is a perfectly delicious retreat for groups who want to experience the kindness of strangers. Call 800-336-1842 or mosey over www.1842inn.com especially if you want to visit during the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. Macon’s 270,000 flowering cherry trees are celebrated in the Cherry Blossom Capital of the World each March. The 1842 Inn has a 25 person meeting space, pets are allowed and it is handicap accessible. Y’all come down now, ya hear?

About the author
Journalist/Editor Jacky Runice has penned a weekly travel column for Chicago’s Daily Herald since 1994 and writes about travel and dining for USAToday.com; CBS Local Chicago; and Examiner.com. She expands her repertoire at Kane, Lake and McHenry County (IL) Magazines with articles about everything from healthy living to technology. A former Chicago radio talk show host, Jacky has three grown children who have inherited her love of sampling new cultures, countries and cuisine.

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