Built on seven hills at the confluence of the Etowah, Oostanaula, and Coosa rivers, Rome is a charming alternative for a quick weekend getaway.
Around 90 minutes northwest of Atlanta, Rome is probably best known as a college town thanks to the presence of Berry College and Shorter University, but there’s also plenty of museums, historic sites, dining, shopping, and beautiful places to stroll along the river.
Where to Stay
Rome is mostly a chain hotel room town, so if that’s what you’re looking for, go for the two that put you right smack-dab in the middle of the action: Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham (wyndhamhotels.com) or Courtyard Marriott Riverwalk (marriott.com).
At press time, rooms were going for around $135 per night. Both hotels are downtown, so all the restaurants, shopping, and places of interest are literally outside your door. They also both are on the Oostanaula River, so see if you can book a room with a view.
The other option is Airbnb (Airbnb.com). There are a few places downtown, but you’ll likely be in the more residential areas outside the city center. From lofts to charming cottages, there’s likely a home to suit you.
Where to Eat
Broad Street is Rome’s bustling main thoroughfare, and you’ll find plenty of delicious places to eat and shop (more on that in a minute). Harvest Moon Café (myharvestmooncafe.com) has giant burgers and tortilla chips with homemade pimento cheese dip, while La Scala (lascalaromega.com) offers up pasta, fresh seafood, and a good wine list.
Ana’s by the River (anasbytheriverrome.com) has rotolo, sandwiches, and salads. Or, if you’re craving Mexican food, El Zarape (elzaraperome.com) has tacos, fajitas, and margaritas. For dessert, stop by City Creamery (facebook.com/thecitycreamery) for some hand-scooped ice cream or frozen yogurt.
What to See
To get the lay of the land and a spectacular view of the rivers and downtown, go to historic Myrtle Hill Cemetery.
Built in 1857, the terraced resting place’s most noted residents are former First Lady Ellen Axson Wilson, the wife of President Woodrow Wilson, and Private Charles Graves, a World War I veteran chosen as the “Known Soldier” to be buried alongside the “Unknown Soldier” at Arlington Cemetery in Washington. Graves’ mother objected, and he was brought home to Rome instead.
Another Rome landmark is the Clock Tower, which dates to 1872. There’s a museum inside that’s open the first Saturday of each month. If you want to climb to the top for another impressive view of Rome, it’s 109 steps to the top.
Walking and biking paths along the river are a great way to relax and check out the city. Be sure to cross the Robert Redden Footbridge, which was formerly a railroad bridge across Oostanaula River where it meets the Etowah to form the Coosa. There’s a touch of Paris on the bridge, as couples have attached locks to the railing to symbolize their love.
The Chieftains Museum is located in the home of Major Ridge, a leader of the Cherokee tribe who was eventually assassinated for his role in ceding Indian land to the United States, which led to the infamous “Trail of Tears” – the forced removal of indigenous people to reservations.
The Town Green just off Broad connects to the riverfront and is often the spot for concerts, events, or just chilling with the free WiFi.
Berry College has more than 80 miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails, and disc golf courses, all open to the public. The European style feel of the campus and its lovely ground are also perfect for a stroll. The campus has become a favorite movie location, with “Stranger Things,” “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Remember the Titans” as just some of the TV shows and films that have been shot there.
To find even more tourist spots, visit romegeorgia.org.
Where to Shop
Head back to Broad for some unique shopping, including a stop at Dogwood Books (dogwoodbooks.net), which has 20,000 used, rare, and new titles to choose from. Do Good Boutique (dogoodboutique.shopsettings.com) offers women’s apparel, accessories, jewelry, food items and home goods that are fair trade, use re-purposed or recycled materials, and support charities.
Riverside Gourmet (riversidegourmet.com) is a charming shop full of kitchen necessities, gadgets, and wine, while Whistle Britches (facebook.com/whistlebritchesrome) has women’s clothing, accessories and more.