In Rutledge GA, locals use a four way barrel stop to give directions. When I reached the steel barrel painted red with four stop signs affixed to it, I knew I’d arrived in this delightful historic town just three miles off Georgia I-20, on the way to Hard Labor Creek State Park.
I love historic small towns. Most people pass through Rutledge, Georgia on their way somewhere else, but this little town is worth a stop all by itself. Here are 6 reasons you should stop in Rutledge GA for a visit!
VISIT HARD LABOR CREEK STATE PARK
My father thought Hard Labor Creek State Park sounded more like a prison than a state park. Don’t let the name fool you; this is one of Georgia’s most popular state parks for a reason. The Hard Labor Creek Golf Course is known for it’s challenging layout and reasonable pricing. I’m more comfortable on the 18-hole, recently renovated, mini golf course.
There is swimming, fishing, canoeing and kayaking on one of two lakes on property. It’s also home to the Hard Labor Creek Observatory. Many of the cabins and campsites have been renovated and are really amazing.
But why the funny name? The name is thought to come from the slaves who worked the rocky soil planting cotton, or from American Indians who found the creek hard to cross.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE RAILROAD HISTORY OF RUTLEDGE GA
In the mid-1800s, Rutledge GA was a popular railroad town. Folks used to stop on their way from Atlanta to Augusta. The only train car in town now is The Caboose restaurant (more on it below).
Now folks come by car, hence the need for the barrel. The train station is still there, informing travelers that it is 58.6 miles to Atlanta, and 112.2 miles to Augusta.
THE CABOOSE RESTAURANT
You can’t miss the bright red caboose located in the heart of downtown, right at the barrel stop. Inside, you’ll find an amazing restaurant, aptly named The Caboose. The menu is modern, with a traditional southern flair.
The homemade soup is owner Ed Hogan’s recipe, but his wife Mollie likes to experiment with the menu.
The Hogans make the hamburgers with local, natural beef from nearby Verner Farms. Friends recommend topping your patty with some homemade pimento cheese and jelly for a southern twist on the classic American favorite.
The Amtrak sandwich (smoked turkey, bacon and provolone cheese) is popular with locals, as are the Blondie treats, but it was the 7 UP cake that took me back to my childhood. Cool off with Mayfield ice cream, or shaved ice, or stay warm with homemade soup.
Rutledge Hardware is basically an amazing museum that sells plumbing. I’m a sucker for old things, and Rutledge Hardware has a lot of them, but those items aren’t for sale.
Owner Paul Smith says his best sellers are plants and plumbing. Since I wasn’t really in the market for either, Paul was kind enough to give me a little tour of the store. “What is this?” I asked over and over. A peanut warmer. A roller to hold screen. An umbrella and walking stick showcase.
What’s the oldest item in the store? Probably a letter from the 1800s, but Paul has also found parts for buggies. He showed me a ledger from the 1940s, including the entries for his father. I could have snooped all day in that store. In the end I purchased some locally made honey and made myself a promise I could spend more time another day.
YESTERDAY’S CAFE RUTLEDGE
This place is worth a stop for their buttermilk pie alone — but they’ve also got so many other goodies too!
Yesterday’s Cafe in downtown Rutledge is housed in a former general store that was built in 1893. The cafe serves classic American food made from scratch with the freshest ingredients.
In addition to their delicious pies (you can order them by the slice, or take a whole one home with you), this awesome eatery is also open for breakfast and dinner, Wednesday-Saturday. Try the Carolina Fried Chicken Biscuit for breakfast, or the Fried Green Tomatoes or Pimento Cheese Fritters for lunch.
SUMMER CONCERT SERIES
June through September, locals head downtown to meet the neighbors during the Friday night Summer Concert Series. Call ahead to Yesterday’s or The Caboose for dinner — this is a popular event and you’ll want a local picnic to go along with the music.
Bring the kids too! The park has swings and old fashion see-saws, making it the perfect way to spend a family-friendly weekend.
MORE FUN NEAR RUTLEDGE GA
SOUTHERN CROSS GUEST RANCH
Southern Cross Guest Ranch is not your normal nose-to-tail trail rides — you’ll get to fully immerse yourself in all things horses, and learn how to care for your horse too.
Located in nearby Madison, GA — this is where you and your family should go if you’re looking for an unforgettable ranch vacation. Just thinking about it makes me want to make a return trip.
GEORGIA OFF ROAD ADVENTURES
Georgia Off Road Adventures, formerly known as Durhamtown Off Road Resort in Union Point, is about 45 minutes away from Rutledge, but worth it!
My boys LOVE Georgia Off Road Adventures. We’ve only ridden the ATVs, but they have motorcycle tracks, hunting, and a whole lot more.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO GEORGIA
- YOUR GEORGIA VACATION
- AUGUSTA: The Best Things To Do In Augusta GA: A Weekend Itinerary
- CONYERS: Things to do in Conyers and Covington
- ATHENS: The Best Things To Do In Athens GA For An Exciting Weekend
- CAMPING: Georgia State Parks Camping: 52+ Essential Things To Know
We make no guarantees of any price listed on our site. We are not responsible for content on external web sites linked from ours, including linked resources, an external blog post, any partner site, hotel property sites, or affiliate sites. We only write about places we love in an attempt to help you in your adventures, but we can’t guarantee you will love them, too.
Posts may contain affiliate links at no cost to you. Several of our trips are also compensated by the respective tourism boards for the city or state we are visiting. This never impacts how we share the destination with you – opinions are always our own and we pride ourselves on that. We do not sell links or accept unsolicited guest posts under any circumstances. Don’t even ask.
United States Copyright, 365 Atlanta Family, LLC