Warm Springs is far enough away from Atlanta for travelers to escape the city's sprawl but close enough for a day trip and well worth an overnight one, especially for history buffs.
Franklin D. Roosevelt began seeking therapy for his debilitating polio in the warm mineral spring water here in 1924. He liked the place so much he kept coming back, not only for therapy but also to escape the stress of Washington after he was elected President. Relaxation came easy in Warm Springs and FDR relished the scenery of the surrounding area, where the rolling upper coastal plains bump up against Pine Mountain.
It was in Warm Springs where the elder statesman passed away in 1945 while posing for a portrait in his vacation cottage called the Little White House. The small-town charms that brought FDR to Warm Springs still exist today, and one weekend each year visitors can swim in the same warm spring-fed pools that once served as an oasis for one of the most important and influential figures in modern history.
Roosevelt's Little White House Historic Site
A small vacation cottage in the woods, the Little White House has been maintained much like it was on the day Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945. The site includes a separate 12,000-square-foot FDR Memorial Museum, containing many of Roosevelt's artifacts and records, the Historic Pools Museum, the Memorial Fountain and picnic grounds. $2-$12. 9 a.m.-4:45 p.m. daily. 401 Little White House Road, Warm Springs. 706-655-5870, gastateparks.org/LittleWhiteHouse.
F.D. Roosevelt State Park
The largest of Georgia's state parks is crisscrossed by an extensive trail network offering plenty of options for day hikes or overnight backpacking trips, including the 23-mile long Pine Mountain Trail, which can be accessed at many different points as it traverses the park. Dowdell's Knob on Pine Mountain offers a nice view of the valley below and was FDR's favorite picnic spot. It is said he ruminated over the founding of the United Nations and other issues of the day here. Today there is a life-sized statue at Dowdell's Knob depicting the President on his removable car seat enjoying the view, a subtle reference to his handicap. There is enough space on the car seat next to the President so you can have a seat yourself and put your arm around him for a photo op.
The guides at Roosevelt Stables, a private company operating inside the park, take visitors on a horseback tour along 28 miles of riding trails. Many of the structures in the park, including the stone cottages, were built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a New Deal program started by Roosevelt to provide jobs during the Great Depression. The Liberty Bell Pool, also built by the CCC, is a popular swimming spot fed by a natural spring that spews cool rather than warm water. F.D. Roosevelt State Park. 2970 Ga. 190, Pine Mountain. 706-663-4858, gastateparks.org/FDRoosevelt. Roosevelt Stables. 1063 Group Camp Road, Pine Mountain. 706-628-7463, www.rooseveltstables.com.
If you go
Warm Springs is a 90 minute drive south of Atlanta via I-85, Ga. 100 and U.S. 27.
Stay: Hotel Warm Springs B&B Inn. A historic step-back-in-time building with modern conveniences and a variety of room sizes and styles. 47 Broad St., Warm Springs. 800-366-7616, www.hotelwarmspringsbb.org.
Mountain Top Inn & Resort. Cabins and guest rooms on top of nearby Pine Mountain inside F. D. Roosevelt State Park. 177 Royal Lodge Drive, Warm Springs. 706-663-4719, www.mountaintopinnga.com.
Eat: The Bulloch House. A Warm Springs destination unto itself serving Southern specialties buffet-style in a large Victorian house. Buffet served daily. 70 Broad St., Warm Springs. 706-655-9068, www.bullochhouse.com.
Oscar's Steaks & Seafood. A steakhouse located in the middle of a pasture a few miles south of town. 4776 Nebula Road, Warm Springs. 706-655-2563.
The Bakery and Cafe at Rose Cottage. A visit here will keep the old times vibe going. 111 East Broad Street, Pine Mountain, 706-663-7877, www.facebook.com/RoseCottageCafe.
Tourist info: Meriwether County Chamber of Commerce. 706-655-2558, meriwethertourism.com.
-- Provided by Demand Studios