Peachtree City is a sweet stop for a summer holiday. Golf cart town has surprises for film, music and dining fans
By Peter Covino
You may not be able to walk with a zombie in Peachtree City, Ga., but you can walk in their footsteps in the unique south Atlanta suburb.
Peachtree City, frequently listed in Money magazine’s best places to live in the United States, is also the best place in the U.S. to see The Walking Dead.
The hugely popular AMC series is filmed in nearby Senoia and you can actually take a movie tour that includes highlights of the many places the TV series has used in the area over the past four seasons. The show is currently filming season five, so yes, there are zombies about, and will be throughout the summer.
The quaint town of Senoia, and its surroundings, also has been used in several major motion pictures including Driving Miss Daisy, Sweet Home Alabama, Joyful Noise Killers and the TV series, Drop Dead Diva. The movie tour stops by at some of those familiar locales as well, but more on the tour later.
This nearby, affordable vacation begins and ends in Peachtree City, a city started by then young entrepreneur Joel Cowan, a college student with a dream back in the mid-1950s.
Affectionately called “The Bubble,” by residents, which includes Nancy Price, executive director of the Peachtree City Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) , it is an area that includes 23 small communities.
It is “The Bubble,” Price said, “because it is our own little world.” But the city is far from isolated. To start with, there are well over 100 restaurants.
Cowan, the Peachtree’s first mayor, is still very much around and active in the city of nearly 40,000 that he started. You can’t avoid having an encounter with the local legend if you visit the city. One of the main thoroughfares, Joel Cowan Parkway, is named for him.
But what you might not see at first, is behind all those trees are side roads, heavily forested on all sides, and homes tucked in, and out of view, from the roadside.
There are many lodging options in the city, but two of the very best are the Dolce Hotel and Conference Center and the Wyndham Peachtree Conference Center.
Both offer unique stays, great dining opportunities and more.
It doesn’t get more tranquil then Dolce. Originally started as a retreat for corporate meetings, the center now welcomes the traveling guest as well.
Located on a scenic, wooded 40-acres, the trails inside this retreat alone make this a memorable stop. Included in rates that start at $99, has Internet, and other amenities such as tennis, volleyball, a fitness center, billiards, spa and heated pool. For information on accommodations, call 770-487-2666 or visit dolceatlantapeachtree.com.
The Wyndham also is nestled in green on 18-acres of woodland. It too is loaded with amenities that include Internet, swimming pools, racquetball courts, tennis courts and more. The dining also is exceptional and both hotels make it easy to get to and from the Atlanta airport if you fly. You can contact the Wyndham at 770-487-2000 or online at www.wyndhampcc.com,
The Wyndham is also a great place to start to take advantage of one of the most unique things the city has to offer: the golfcart.
While some golf communities have golf carts to make it convenient to get to and from the golf course, the golf cart is a way of life in Peachtree City.
The city’s slogan is “Discover Life at 15 mph.” There are more than 90 miles of multi-use recreational and golf cart paths in the city. There is a golf cart path practically outside of every residence and to every business. It is the easiest way to explore all the city has to offer, including its three world-class golf courses and three lakes. The CVB (678-216-0282) can provide information on where you can rent a golf cart during your stay. Rentals are also available at The Wyndham.
One of the other fun activities you can do on a golf cart in the city is geocaching, the high-tech treasure hunting game using GPS technology. Peachtree City is recognized as one of the best places in the country for the unique outdoor game, with more than 300 hundred hidden caches in the immediate area.
If you want something truly unique via golf cart, go to an evening concert at the city’s scenic musical showcase, the Frederick Brown Jr. Amphitheater, or as the local’s simply call it, “The Fred.”
There are many golf cart/bike trails right in the wooded areas, and it night, you just might get lost in the dark, but when it is a concert night, you can just follow the other golf carts to this intimate concert experience under the stars. There is, for the boring vehicular traveler, a large parking lot with free parking.
During the recent trip to Peachtree City, Gladys Knight took to the stage for a remarkable performance after dark. Upcoming acts at “The Fred,” Summer Concert Series includes Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers, The Beach Boys and Michael Bolton. Great fact: While The Fred has some excellent concessions for food and drink, you can bring your own food and drinks, coolers and picnic baskets. You can find out more information and get tickets for the 2,800-seat venue at www.amphitheater.org.
Despite all the golfing, fishing, concerts and other outdoor activities, the area has to offer, for many, the main reason to visit Peachtree City are those zombies.
Horror fans have had a love affair with zombies since George Romero introduced us to a Night of the Living Dead back in 1968. But zombies have become a national craze thanks to The Walking Dead and the Peachtree City area has taken advantage of that and the rest of its growing film industry via the Southern Hollywood Film Tour (Facebook.com/SouthernHollywoodFilmtour,
This is a great way to spend the better part of an afternoon via a comfortable Peachtree City van to take in the movie/TV series sites in and around Peachtree City, and more importantly, Senoia.
Walking Dead fans will recognize the downtown of Senoia right away. The downtown was closed off on both ends for several episodes during season three, as the “good guys” tried to fend off the zombies.
The tour makes a stop at Pinewood Studios, a large and growing studio on 288 acres, where the series is filmed. You can view from just outside the gate, but the studio is off limits with season five filming underway.
Other stops include the historic Starr’s Mill where scenes for Sweet Home Alabama were shot as well as the backlot for the Drop Dead Diva series.
Cost for the tour is $22.50 for adults, $20 seniors and students, children 4-12, $15. For reservations, visit www.visitpeachtreecity.com or call 678-216-0282.
You can explore Walking Dead sites on your own by starting at the CVB office for directions. The office (201 McIntosh Trail) has a nice display of Walking Dead stuff as well as more information about the area.
Even if you don’t take the tour, you need to stop at the Walking Dead Store, actually called The Woodbury Shoppe in Senoia.
This is a must for Walking Dead fans, and not even because of the T-shirts, buttons, action figures, DVDS and more that are available.
Check out, appropriately enough, the basement. It isn’t dark so there is no need to be seriously afraid, but the basement is a kind of museum for the series, with actual props from the show and many of the series cast members have personalized the walls with their autographs and thoughts. It is free too.
The shop is located at 42 Main Street, but once you are in Senoia, you will have no trouble locating it. Even if you can’t make the trip, the show has an online shop selling all of those must-have gifts for fans of the show. The website is woodburyshoppe.com.
While in Senoia, both Walking Dead fans and love-to-eat fans will be amazed and enjoy La Mesa Del Sur, a recently opened restaurant that sort of caters to the Walking Dead crowd with its Day of the Dead interior, but this place is so much more. It is an adventure in dining.
Also known as Zac Brown’s Social Club, the restaurant is pretty much a twist on all kinds of Southern cooking. The hardest decision is making choices off the menu and wondering whether or not you are supposed to tip the skeleton seated at the piano.
Just a few of the selections, and everything is worth trying at least once: Zac’s Pork n’ Greens (grilled pork loin, pimento cheese, spicy collards, candied sweet potatoes on cornbread); tacos (too many to list, but all are great like the Pollo Ahumado, Bricket Barbacoa, Carne Asada); Lobster BLT (it’s butter lettuce with cornbread croutons, tomatoes, bacon and lobster salad with a yogurt goddess dressing, and again, it is amazing).
Central Florida (and the rest of the South) really needs this restaurant. It is that good. If you go to Peachtree City, this is the one place you have to dine.
While the area has many of the chain restaurants that you find here in the Orlando area, be adventurous and check out some of the great Southern restaurants Peachtree City has to offer, such as Georgia Shrimp Co. (fine seafood and Southern-inspired cuisine and live entertainment if your timing is right). You can find out more at www.georgiashrimpco.com.
Due South, like Georgia Shrimp Co. and Le Mesa Del Sur, have the feel of a big city restaurant, but it has that small town charm (www.duesouthptc.com) of a restaurant you would typically find in the South. With a menu to match.
Even if you are not staying at the Wyndham, you might want to stop in for a libation after a hard day fighting off zombies.
The Stage 54 bar at the hotel offers some movie-inspired drinks including the Drop Dead Diva-Tini, The Walking Dead Zombie Infection and The Sweet Home Alabama Dixie Champagne.
The hotel, not surprisingly, is a frequent host to the stage and crew of the area’s growing film industry.
If you go: Peachtree City is just about a gas tank away from Central Florida, depending on your vehicle. It’s about 415 miles or a seven-hour drive, perfect for a long weekend. The upcoming calendar of events includes the city’s big July 4 event, with thousands of red, white and blue golf carts in a parade; the Shakerag Arts & Crafts Festival in September and the Dragon Boar Races & International Festival, also in September.