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Small-town Side Trip: Madison, Georgia

From its bustling downtown to its beautiful tree-lined streets, Madison is worth slowing down for.

Located between Atlanta and Augusta in historic Morgan County, Madison, Georgia, was recently named one of the South’s prettiest towns by Southern Living. But there’s more to this quaint county seat than good looks. Read on to find out why the Rural Center recommends it as our first small-town side trip!

Where is Madison?

In addition to being a destination in its own right, Madison is located “on the way” to Atlanta, Augusta, Macon, Athens, and the north Georgia mountains via Interstate-20 (east-west) and U.S. Highway 129/441 (north-south).

From I-20, exits 113 and 114 lead to lovely downtown, which is situated about 60 miles east of Atlanta and 90 miles west of Augusta. From exit 114, downtown is just a quick, 2.5-mile jaunt.

U.S. 129/441 runs right through the center of Madison, just 30 miles south of Athens.

Who should make Madison a stop?

Honestly, everyone should take the time to visit this quintessential Southern town! In particular, history buffs, antebellum architecture enthusiasts, and anyone who enjoys supporting rural economies and small businesses should add Madison to their middle-Georgia travel itineraries.

Sinclair Madison
The Sinclair is one of several Madison restaurants offering outdoor seating.

What’s best to do, see, and eat in Madison?

Depending on how long you have to spend on this small-town side-trip, there is plenty to prioritize, but here are a few popular suggestions.

DO: Drive, stroll or bicycle through the Madison historic district, one of the most expansive in the nation. SEE: Tour one (or several) of Madison’s beautifully maintained antebellum homes, likely spared from flames during Sherman’s March to the Sea thanks to Madison native and U.S. Senator Joshua Hill’s pro-Union politics.

EAT: Locals and visitors alike rave about Farmview Market, Madison Produce Company as well as Adrian’s Place, but downtown is home to several other spots to grab a quick (or slow) bite to eat. If caffeine is what you crave, get your fill at The Sinclair. And if a sweet treat is all you‘re after, there’s plenty to pick from at Scoops or the Patisserie on Main.

Find out more at, check out Main Street Madison on Facebook, or scroll through reviews of Madison hot spots at TripAdvisor.

When is the ideal time to visit Madison?

With abundant azaleas in peak bloom, spring is probably the prettiest time of year to visit Madison, in our humble opinion. The annual Madison Spring Tour of Homes takes place the second weekend of April, while Madison Fest, a.k.a. “MadFest,” takes place the third weekend of April and features arts, crafts, food, and live music. A host of other events take place throughout the year and are detailed on the Madison Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau web calendar.

How much time should I allot for a side-trip to Madison?

Due to downtown’s proximity to major travel routes, you can be in and out of Madison for a bite to eat or cup of Joe in under an hour if need be. However, the Rural Center recommends you allocate a little more time to stretch your legs on a stroll around the courthouse square or Madison Town Park at the very least. We can’t make any promises, but we bet after just a bit in this bucolic borough, you will want to plan an extended stay just as soon as you can!

Want to recommend a serene small-town side-trip to the Rural Center team? Email with details.

Photo credits from top:

Madison Homes 021 by Ralph Daniel

The Sinclair Madison by Mary Catherine Gaston


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