Marietta, Georgia reminds me of those towns you see all the time on Hallmark movies. There’s a quaint town center, or square in this case, where people come together for festivals and concerts, art walks and a farmers market. Restaurants abound in the city, offering up all kinds of eats. And there’s history everywhere you look.
Marietta is located just outside Atlanta, a suburb to the big city, but with an identity all its own. It features attractions that draw people from near and far, complete with a welcome center situated in an old train depot. There are gardens and trails where you can spend hours, along with theaters offering up entertainment for any age.
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COOLEST PLACES TO STAY IN MARIETTA
- Best near Marietta Square. The Stanley House Inn is an 1895-era Marietta bed and breakfast that’s only an 8 minutes walk to the historic Marietta Square. Features include a full Southern breakfast and uniquely decorated guest rooms with free WiFi.
- Best for Foodies. The Hilton Atlanta/Marietta Hotel & Conference Center is home to the City Club Marietta Golf Course and the Gone with the Wind Museum at Brumby Hall. They offer golf course and mountain views from your room, and an outdoor pool. Hamilton’s restaurant is an upscale dining establishment that features the best in “New South” cuisine.
- Best with Indoor Pool. Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Atlanta Marietta is situated in Marietta, 3.2 miles from Truist Park. You’ll love the indoor pool and the breakfast buffet here.
SPEND AN AFTERNOON ON THE MARIETTA SQUARE
If there’s one main draw to Marietta, it’s the town square. I think of it as the hub of the city. The Marietta Square, as residents call it, is home to a wide range of activities, like dozens of shops and restaurants, an art gallery and the Strand Theatre.
In the heart of it all is a greenspace, Glover Park, which is ideal for picnics. It’s also home to a gazebo (like all Hallmark movies, right?) that’s been the setting for countless prom photos and weddings. There’s a bandstand where the city holds concerts and events, and a playground area with a replica of the famous locomotive known as The General. And in the heart of it all is a beautiful fountain.
The cool part about this park is that the land was donated by Mayor John Glover in the 19th century, with the promise that it always remain a park, or revert back to his heirs.
SHOPPING & RESTAURANTS
The streets surrounding the Square are packed with unique gift shops and boutiques, some antique shops and, of course, candy stores and an ice cream shop.
There are dozens of bars and restaurants around the square offering up every kind of food you can think of, and many have outdoor seating, which is perfect on weekends. Now, there’s even the Marietta Square Market, which is a food hall of sorts created in a revitalized warehouse space, located next to Marietta Square’s historic railroad tracks.
MARIETTA SQUARE EVENTS
You’ll also find the Marietta Square Farmers Market here. It runs year-round, each Saturday from 9am until around noon. There are typically more than 50 vendors selling fruits and vegetables, arts and crafts, and all kinds of other fun finds.
They have the staples, like potatoes and tomatoes, but they also have options you can’t always find in a grocery store. There are honeys and jams, herbal soaps and cut flower arrangements, along with garden, yard and herb plants you can bring back to your own home.
The Marietta Square Art Walk is also something to see. It’s a free self-guided tour of The Marietta Square where you can check out the galleries, museums and cultural venues. It happens on the 1st Friday of each month from 5pm until 9pm. Each venue will feature a local artist outside their storefront as part of the event.
Any day of the week is fun in the Square, but Saturday mornings are ideal if you’re looking for a spot for the family to take in the feel of the town. Again, the Hallmark movie experience takes over in this little slice of Americana.
The Square is packed with history, too. It’s where the Great Locomotive Chase of the Civil War started. And during the war, the park is where some of the militia trained. Several of the buildings in the area were burned during General Sherman’s March to the Sea.
GO BACK IN TIME AT THE MARIETTA MUSEUM OF HISTORY
You can find out all about the area’s past with a visit to the Marietta History Museum.
The museum is located in the historic Kennesaw House (more on Kennesaw later) near the train tracks we mentioned earlier. They say the building once served as a hospital and morgue during the Civil War, and word is it’s haunted by as many as 700 ghosts.
The museum is packed with collections of photographs, artifacts and information about Marietta and North Georgia.
DON’T MISS THE GONE WITH THE WIND MUSEUM
Remember that mention of General Sherman earlier, and the fact that several of the buildings in the area were burned to the ground? Well, that’s one of the main scenes in the book and movie Gone with the Wind, and you can find out all about it when you head to the Gone with the Wind Museum.
The museum is housed in the historic Brumby Hall, built in 1851. The museum features an extensive collection of memorabilia relating to the book and movie, though you don’t have to be a die-hard fan to enjoy it.
I dare you to walk out without, at some point, quoting the famous line, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” exactly as Rhett told Scarlett in his last words to her.
HIKE OR PICNIC AT KENNESAW MOUNTAIN NATIONAL BATTLEFIELD PARK
If you want to continue with the historic kick, put on your hiking shoes for this next stop. It’s the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, the site of the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain and other Civil War-related sites.
You can hang out in the fields or make the trek up the mountain from the parking lot, which I did almost weekly for a while when I was training for a bigger hike in Africa (which never happened, but I digress). The point is, it makes for great training ground, with lots of steps going up and up and up some more.
Kids will run by you as you struggle, out of breath. Try not to hate them, and if it becomes too much, there are benches periodically you can rest on, and even some spots with big rocks that offer incredible views of Atlanta in the distance. It’s a good place to catch your breath, while pretending you’re just stopping to enjoy the view.
The view gets even better at the top. If you prefer an easier route, there is a paved road around the side that you can take for a smoother climb, and even push a stroller if you’d like.
Read More: DAY TRIPPING TO THE BREATHTAKING NATIONAL PARKS IN GEORGIA
VISIT THE ROOT HOUSE MUSEUM
Another historic spot you can visit is the William Root House Museum. It’s a home originally built in 1845 for the Root family. They were early settlers of Marietta.
The home offers a deep look into daily life of the family and the slaves who worked and lived on the property. It’s now decorated with period antiques in an attempt to keep it authentic to the day.
The museum has been recognized for excellence and for its groundbreaking use of interactive museum technology, since it was the first house museum in the U.S. to offer a fully self-guided touchscreen tour.
INDULGE ON THE MARIETTA FOOD TOUR
My favorite way to see a city and learn a bit about the history is typically with a food tour.
The Marietta Square Food Tour is an option if you want to sample some of the best food and hear a bit about the history while you walk. It focuses on locally owned and operated eateries and lets you absorb a bit about the architecture and culture while you work off the calories.
Tours of Marietta also offers Ghost Tours and History Tours as well.
WATCH A GAME AT THE ATLANTA UNITED TRAINING GROUND
We mentioned the Atlanta United team earlier. That’s Atlanta’s beloved soccer team that won the city a national championship a few years back. Well, their training ground is in Marietta.
The Atlanta United Training Ground is a 33-acre site at Franklin Gateway, featuring a 30,000 square foot headquarter building with six full-size fields, including three natural grass and three FieldTurf surfaces. It hosts training sessions and tournaments, along with visiting clubs.
Starting in 2023, you’ll be able to buy tickets to watch the training matches.
SEE A SHOW AT THE STRAND THEATRE
While you’re in town, make a point to see a show at the historic Strand Theatre, located in Marietta Square.
The theater offers a beautifully-lit marquis advertising shows year round. There are live theater performances, films, concerts, comedy shows and private events held at the venue.
Seeing a show here is a definite treat, especially if you can get access to the rooftop terrace.
VISIT MARIETTA COBB MUSEUM OF ART
For a few bucks, you can also stop by the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art. It’s situated near Marietta Square in the former Cobb County Post Office building, which was built in 1910.
The museum features a permanent collection of American art, but also hosts special exhibits and events throughout the year.
STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES AT SMITH-GILBERT GARDENS
If all the exploring makes you want to stop and relax for a minute, the Smith-Gilbert Gardens are the perfect place to do it.
The gardens feature beautiful blooms along with intriguing outdoor sculptures, but you can also check out the historic Hiram Butler House. There are seasonal exhibits, too.
STROLL MARIETTA’S HISTORIC CEMETERIES
Note: The Marietta Confederate Cemetery is currently closed due to maintenance.
With all the Civil War history in the area, of course there are some historic cemeteries you can spend time in, too. The Marietta Confederate Cemetery is among them, and is located right next to the Marietta City Cemetery.
The Marietta Confederate Cemetery is one of the largest burial grounds in the nation for Confederate soldiers. It was created in 1863, with the burial of a Confederate surgeon from Kentucky. A few days after that burial, soldiers who died in a train collision were brought there for burial. And the bodies kept coming. Now, you’ll find more than 3,000 graves.
TAKE A SWING AT THE CITY CLUB OF MARIETTA
If golf is your thing, you’re going to want to be sure to swing by (see what I did there?) the City Club of Marietta.
This golf course is good for all skill levels and features a scenic backdrop while you play. It plays host to many events and tournaments, and the building offers conference room options, as well.
BIKE NOONDAY CREEK TRAIL OR SILVER COMET TRAIL
If you want even more outdoor time, you should definitely grab a bike and head to the Noonday Creek Trail or the Silver Comet Trail.
The Noonday Creek Trail is open in two sections (disconnected) with one part in the Woodstock area, but the other (better, in my opinion) one is located in Cobb County. That portion runs six miles, right to the bottom of Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, which we already mentioned.
There’s also the Silver Comet Trail, which runs much, much longer, at 61 and a half miles to be exact. It’s a paved pedestrian rail-trail that actually goes through several counties, with Cobb being one of them. It’s built for walkers, hikers, and bicyclists. You’ll also see horses and rollerbladers.
HIKE THE CHATTAHOOCHEE RIVER NATIONAL RECREATION AREA
If you’d rather hike than bike, the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area might be more your flavor. The area preserves several sites between Atlanta and Lake Lanier along the Chattahoochee, or the Hooch, as locals call it.
The 48-mile stretch of the river offers up several public recreation spots, along with access to historic sites. There are park trails for biking and hiking, and several spots along the way offering up scenic views of the river.
THINGS TO DO IN MARIETTA WITH KIDS
EAST COBB PARK AND SPRAYGROUND
If you want to hang with the locals, the East Cobb Park is one place you’ll find plenty of area families. It’s a 13-acre park that’s become one of the most-used in the county.
East Cobb Park has lots of walking trails, both paved and natural, throughout the park. There are also open fields and grassy areas where you can play, pavilions to eat and get a little shade, creek overlooks and a playground.
One thing you’ll learn fast if you spend any time in Georgia is that the heat can be relentless, so you will likely want to head to the Elizabeth Porter Park and Sprayground, which is a fun water park that’ll help you cool off. You need reservations, though, so be sure to check online before heading that way.
MARIETTA FIRE MUSEUM
If you have a firefighter fan in your family, the Marietta Fire Museum is a must-see for them. It’s free, and only two blocks away from the Square.
You’ll find all kinds of antique firefighting gear and tools that date back to the 1850s. You can take a tour on your own or get a guide if you plan it at least a week in advance.
If you look up, odds are you’ll see some kind of aircraft above when you spend time in Cobb County. The region hosts several major aviation manufacturers and a few active and reserve military installations, so it makes sense there’s an aviation museum in the area.
The Aviation Museum has military and civilian aircraft on display. It’s different from other airports in that it’s all outdoors, and because of that, seasonal.
SIX FLAGS WHITE WATER
If you really want to beat the Georgia heat, Six Flags White Water provides plenty of cooling options. It’s a 69-acre park packed with all kinds of water fun.
There are slides that’ll get your adrenaline pumping, or you can do something as relaxing as floating down the gentle lazy river. It’s only open certain months, so check the dates before making plans to go.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
TONS OF BREWERIES
If you like trying different craft beers and cocktails, Marietta is the spot for you. There are several options, from Red Hare Brewing & Distilling on the Square to Glover Park Brewery just a few blocks away.
There’s also Two Birds Taphouse, which features 32 taps of craft beer, rotating cocktails and boutique wine.
If you want the quintessential diner experience, you must head to Marietta Diner. It’s ranked as the number one diner in the state and third best in the country!
The menu is massive and has been featured on Guy Fieri’s Food Network TV show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. It’s open around the clock and you can’t miss it with its neon front.
THE MARIETTA LOCAL
If you want the comfort food the South is famous for, head to Marietta Local. This restaurant is known for its award-winning meals made from scratch, from famous fried chicken to meatloaf.
Keep in mind though, that the hours are limited, since it’s only open from 9am until 2pm.
SEED KITCHEN & BAR
Seed Kitchen & Bar has somehow figured out how to be casual and chic, comfortable and sleek. It advertises an inventive American cuisine with a few Asian & Latin accents, though you can still find the basic burger (which will be hard to get your mouth around, trust me).
Bonus note: If it’s a special occasion, be sure to call ahead and let them know, because they’ll leave you a personalized note on the printed menu that night. That extra touch makes special days feel even more significant.
MARIETTA SQUARE MARKET
We mentioned Marietta Square Market earlier, but it’s worth a repeat as we discuss eats and drinks.
The place is packed with options, so it’s perfect if you’re with a group of people who can’t pick just one kind of food for their meal. Everyone can go their own way and meet back up at the community tables to actually eat.
I personally prefer the lobster spot, but my daughter raves about the ramen. Again, there’s something for everyone.
THE RED EYED MULE
The Red Eyed Mule doesn’t look like much, but it’s always packed. It pushes its biscuits and burgers, though there are plenty of other options at the diner-style counter in this open kitchen.
The menu is simple, but they promise that’s so they can focus on making sure what they do make is the highest quality. They want to be memorable, and I think they succeed.
Their vision says it all: To create “one of those places” that everyone remembers. A place where one remembers the food, remembers the hospitality, remembers the people, but most of all remembers the overall experience.
THE BIG CHICKEN
“The Big Chicken” is part food, part landmark. If you ask for directions pretty much anywhere around Marietta, it’s likely someone will mention “the big chicken” as a marker, for good reason. It’s something you’ll definitely see as you drive down two of the busiest roads in the city; Cobb Parkway and Roswell Road.
The chicken is actually a building in the shape of a massive, 56-foot chicken, complete with a motorized mouth that opens and shuts and a rolling eyeball.
The building is home to a functioning Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. I’ve never stopped in for a meal, but I can tell you I’ve driven by the chicken countless times. It’s definitely photo-worthy, and part of the identity of the unique city of Marietta.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO GEORGIA
- YOUR GEORGIA VACATION
- ATLANTA: 53+ Things To Do In Atlanta That You Should Not Miss (From A Local)
- SANDY SPRINGS: 11+ Free Things To Do In Sandy Springs GA For An Unforgettable Time
- AMUSEMENT PARKS: The Lowdown On The Best Amusement Parks In Georgia
- RED TOP MOUNTAIN STATE PARK: 13+ Best Ideas For An Awesome Lakeside Getaway
WHERE TO STAY IN MARIETTA GEORGIA
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