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Buena Vista: More than meets the eye

Updated: May 29

This mid-state county seat might be small, but it boasts a bounty of genuine, rural Georgia flavor.

The Longleaf Forest mural, Buena Vista, GA
“The Longleaf Forest,” a mural by Christoph Johnson, is located across Broad St. (GA Hwy. 41) from the Marion County Courthouse.

With a few more than 2,000 residents, tiny Buena Vista, Georgia, is home to more than meets the eye. That’s fitting for a place whose Spanish name, borrowed from an 1847 victory in the Mexican-American War, means “good view.” Don’t be fooled, though—the quickest way to earn yourself a “You’re not from around here, are you?” is to mispronounce the town’s name. Pronounce it phonetically, according to the rules of Southernese (not Spanish), and you will fit right in.

You can get to Buena Vista a number of ways, but you can’t miss it if you’re traveling from Columbus to Americus on State Highway 26, as it will be the halfway point—and a very good place for a pit stop. The town’s one traffic light, at the corner of 26 and State Highway 41, stands at the southwest corner of Marion County’s courthouse square. One of several area buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the 1850 structure was built using local brick and replaced the county’s first, wooden courthouse which still stands in nearby Tazewell and also boasts a National Register listing.

Marion County’s courthouse was constructed in 1850.

Skirting the stately, antebellum courthouse are 6th and 4th avenues (which run east and west) and Broad and McDuffie streets (running north and south). Surprisingly, the square hops with activity today just as it might have a century ago, and amid the shops and restaurants on these four streets, you’ll find enough activity to fill a day. Since you don’t have all day to read about Buena Vista, we will give you the highlights and let you explore and discover the rest for yourself.

First, decide what you want to eat; there are plenty of choices! Located at the northwest corner of the square, at the intersection of Broad Street and 4th Avenue is Annie D’s. This little gem serves up soul food in a hole-in-the-wall whose parking lot is rarely empty. If you’ve learned to judge restaurants by the number of pick-ups parked outside, you will know at first glance that Annie D’s is one of the greats. This is your place for a meat-and-three and has become a favorite of the scores of seasonal residents who are flocking to the area for the fantastic whitetail deer hunting, a subject you’re likely to overhear being discussed while at Annie D’s.

A spin around the square will reveal even more delicious, local food and beverage options. Coffee Club Southern Kitchen serves breakfast and lunch six days a week as well as supper on Friday nights. Menu items include soups, sandwiches, salads and lunch special favorites like smashburgers and loaded baked potatoes. A wide variety of delicious dessert items and, obviously, coffee drinks round out a robust menu.

The square is also home to Los Aztecas Mexican restaurant and J&L Pizzeria—both beloved by BV locals. You won’t be disappointed by a meal at either location. In fact, Buena Vista boasts more one-of-a-kind, locally owned, operated shops and restaurants than most any other town its size. So, pick a place and enjoy supporting the local economy.

Coffee Club Southern Kitchen is a local favorite for breakfast, lunch and, of course, coffee.

If you’re feeling like a little browsing after lunch, you can find something for every taste without cranking your car. A stroll east on 6th Ave. will take you to Wells & Welch Department Store. Though the store specializes in outfitting the hard-working outdoorsman with all the best brands—Carhartt, Drake, Ariat and Muck Boots, to name a few—every well-dressed woman in the tri-county area knows Wells & Welch as a go-to location for finding the perfect outfit, shoe or accessory for work or fun.

Likewise, Hall & Co. Boutique, located in a restored 1930s “filling station” on the opposite end of 6th Ave., offers trendy, affordable women’s fashions and accessories and is open Wednesday through Saturday afternoons. Shoppers can also view inventory and shop online through the boutique’s Facebook group.

Located in the eye-catching yellow building across the square is Buttermilk Hill Mixed Market, home to a delightfully eclectic mix of antique, vintage and handmade items from a variety of local vendors. Buttermilk Hill is open Wednesday through Saturday.

While you’re shopping, don’t pass by The Dime Store, just across 4th Ave. from the courthouse. Browse the gift shop up front to find the perfect present for any occasion, or stroll to the back to locate everyday staples and toys galore. Locals know the Dime Store’s flower shop as the place to call for artfully arranged blooms fit for any event or celebration. The store’s proprietor, Cody, also leads the local chamber of commerce and is a welcoming wealth of information on what to do, see or eat in and around Marion County.

If you find yourself parched, pop in at the Swamp Fox Distilling tasting room on McDuffie St. behind the courthouse to sample locally produced, small-batch spirits. Dubbed the Swamp Fox in honor of the county’s namesake, Revolutionary War hero and guerrilla warfare pioneer Frances Marion, the distillery offers free tours and tastings of their award-winning spirits every Friday and Saturday.

Swamp Fox Distilling Company hosts free tastings and tours on Fridays and Saturdays.

If you have a little longer to spend, catch a show at The Moon. The square is also home to a number of festivals and events throughout the year, including the Rural America Festival, which takes place in early November.

A six-mile drive out of town will take you to Pasaquan, an other-worldly artist’s compound unlike anything you’ve likely seen or will see again. Home to an annual arts and music festival known as Pasafest, Pasaquan was named as one of 16 must-see locations for 2016 by CNN.

Again, there’s more to this dot on the map than meets the eye. But don’t just take our word for it; go and have a “good view” of this great little town for yourself! Click here to find the best route to get there, and enjoy a pleasantly rural surprise.

Are you convinced that your hometown is the sweetest spot in rural Georgia? Let us know! We would love to feature your special place on our blog and social media.

Photo credits: M.C. Gaston


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