10 (somewhat) hidden gems to explore

Hidden treasures you’ll find along I-20 east of Atlanta

Atlanta is full of hidden gems to explore, but it doesn’t have all of them. Jump into the car and head east along Interstate 20 to explore more Georgia treasures in cities full of Southern charm.

» Take a 3-mile hike to this hidden Georgia gem this summer

Conyers

Most people know about the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, where monks not only lead a holy lifestyle but also make biscotti, fudge and fruitcake. The church itself is an architectural wonder — the largest hand-poured cement Gothic structure on Earth. It has more 40 arches, 20 of which are higher then four stories. 

» PHOTOS: Scenes from Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers

And you might have visited the Georgia International Horse Park during the 1996 Olympics, because equestrian events were held there. Right now it is the site of coronavirus testing, but during normal times the park holds festivals, rodeos and other events.

Historic Olde Town Conyers is a great destination for “one-of-a-kind shopping, dining or a stroll through the Lewis Vaughn Botanical Garden,” its website states.

Also be sure to check out the Cherokee Run Golf Club, Walk of Heroes Veterans War Memorial and Panola Mountain State Park.

» 46 hidden gems at Georgia's state parks

Covington

Covington has trademarked its motto of “Hollywood of the South.” The Georgia city has been transformed into a Civil War village, a 1950s town and more for its roles in “The Vampire Diaries,” ”The Dukes of Hazzard,” “In the Heat of the Night” and more tha 60 film productions. You can pick up an “On Location” brochure at the visitors center to find downtown filming sites. When you’re done star-gazing, the downtown area has restaurants and shopping for every taste.

» What was filming in Georgia before the pandemic shut down production

Social Circle

Georgia’s “Greatest Little Town” was was founded in 1820.  Social Circle’s downtown is home not only to a variety of shops, but also to the internationally acclaimed Blue Willow Inn restaurant. The city also holds its Friendship Festival each year. If you’re looking for something a bit more laid back, Hard Labor Creek Reservoir is now open for public fishing. Note that only electric or self-propelled boats are allowed, considering the reservoir’s main purpose is providing drinking water for the area. 

The Blue Willow Inn, seen in this 2002 photo, is not currently on the auction block but it faces financial trouble.
Photo: AJC file

» Blue Willow Inn's history is as juicy as the food

» Recipe: Blue Willow Inn’s Seafood au Gratin

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