Great Things to Do in Historic Downtown Cartersville
Part I: The EAST SIDE OF THE PUBLIC SQUARE
EAST MAIN STREET, from Gilmer to Museum Street
On those hot Georgia days, nothing is as refreshing as cooling off with ice cream, floats, Hawaiian shave ice, or healthy smoothies at Coconuts Ice Cream, where the slogan is “Life is Uncertain. Eat Dessert First!” Try a Tsunami: the combination of Hawaiian shave ice and a scoop of ice cream creates the perfect storm of flavors.
Ready to time travel back to the mid-20th century? If you can find an available seat, grab one of the twelve stools at the lunch counter of the quaint, tiny, and picturesque Four Way Lunch on the corner of Main and Gilmer. You can’t miss this landmark, one of Cartersville’s most venerable historic establishments. Order your hot dog or burger “all the way with a side of chili fries,” and you’ll be in food nostalgia heaven. A living museum, the restaurant dates back to the infamous Jim Crow days of racial segregation, with a side door leading to what was formerly a segregated lunch counter.
Let out your inner artist on Cartersville’s artist’s row on E. Main Street! Take a painting class at Cartersville Artist In You. Children and adults alike will enjoy the variety of classes offered Tuesdays through Saturdays for a hands-on arts experience in a variety of mediums. Check the class schedule at 21. E. Main Street or on their website. At 15 E. Main you’ll find Spring Place Pottery and Artists’ Gallery, a Cartersville staple for fine arts and crafts including: pottery, handmade jewelry, paintings, prints, note cards, wooden boxes, ornaments, mixed media projects, painted glass, and more. You can get your painting framed at Frame Art & Antiques next door and farther down E. Main you can browse the high quality antique furniture and vintage items at Cartersville Antique Gallery.
This block is also a place to get healthy! Enjoy the fresh, healthy food and eclectic ambiance of the acclaimed Swheat Market on the corner of Main Street and Museum Drive by the railroad track. For a delightful view of the city’s Public Square, choose a table in the front window while you try one of Bob’s delicious homemade soups and salads with your sandwich or burger of choice. Don’t miss the marinated House Cucumbers and the singular potato salad! Lots of veggie options will make everyone in your party happy. A few buildings east, at 19 E. Main, you’ll find The Herb Shoppe, headquarters for your natural herbs and vitamins as well as local honey, handmade soap, essential oils and candles.
Turn left before you hit the tracks and you’ll find a taste of Cartersville’s pub atmosphere at The City Cellar and Loft. The City Cellar is one of downtown’s top-rated restaurants. It is the perfect place to pull up to the bar for a great beer or to enjoy an intimate meal in one of the cozy booths. Here you’ll enjoy upscale Southern cuisine such as their signature shrimp and grits or one of their hand-cut steaks, and you’re likely to have a chat with the owner, Bob Smith, who often circulates to greet the guests. This is Southern hospitality at its finest. And in a small town, we like to know your name.
BOOTH WESTERN ART MUSEUM
The Booth Western Art Museum is truly not to be missed. It is a world-class institution that opened in August 2003, and its 120,000 square foot space is home to the largest permanent exhibition of Western art in the country. Galleries feature contemporary western American art, historic western art, Civil War art, presidential portraits and letters, western movie posters, and western illustrations. The Sagebrush Ranch is an interactive gallery where children of all ages can learn about art and western America, and the museum’s special and temporary exhibit galleries host six to ten different exhibits per year.
The Museum Store offers books on art and the West as well as prints and other items featuring western American art images. The Booth Café offers light lunches for guests and members visiting the museum, with a great view of the train tracks and downtown Cartersville. A multimedia theater, with seating for 60, shows the award-winning orientation film “The American West” every 20 minutes.
In addition to all of this, the museum hosts several lectures per month by authors, writers, historians, and artists, including Art for Lunch, held the first Wednesday of each month from 12:15 pm to 1:00 pm. A lecture or entertainment event is usually held on the third Thursday evening of each month. These events begin at 7:00 pm in the 140-seat Booth Theatre and many feature book, print, or poster signings following the lecture. Entertainment events are generally free for members and included in regular admission for not-yet-members.
UNDER THE BRIDGE and WALL STREET
After your visit to the Booth Western Art Museum, come out the back door of the museum and walk down the path to the Public Square. The first spot you’ll discover is known as the Under the Bridge area, where you will find some of the gems of downtown Cartersville hidden under the Church Street bridge. The large brick building by the train tracks is the Bartow History Museum, which is housed in the recently-restored 1869 county courthouse. Interactive exhibits allow young and old alike to step back in time and experience Bartow County through the ages.Hands-on interactive activities allow you to step back in time and touch history by exploring the belongings and households of Cherokee Indian and early Pioneer families, experiencing the hardships of a Civil War soldier, listening to the stories of Bartow County history-makers in an authentic 1940s telephone booth, shopping at the General Store, working a shift in a textile mill, and reading a book at the old fashioned school desks.
Coming out of the history museum, you can turn left to go into Meg Pie at 10 E. Church Street: a colorful, whimsical gift shop with a hidden coffee house in the back. After a break for coffee and homemade desserts, check out their bath and body products, jewelry, baby gifts, and handbags. They will even wrap your gift in fancy paper with a bow!
Continue on Under the Bridge and you will find one of the most noted restaurants in downtown Cartersville, the Appalachian Grill and Black Bear Lounge, known for its steaks and seafood, where you can enjoy some of the finest New Southern cuisine in the region.
Beyond the Appalachian Grill,be sure to check out the fabulous and distinctive shops Under the Bridge, including Lulu Boutique, featuring upscale, unique, and eclectic women’s clothing; the colorful Periwinkle, where you’re likely to find home furnishings, wall art, jewelry, and clothing to add to your collection; and Love June, a modern women’s clothing boutique.
If you’re done Under the Bridge, then head across the street and into the public square where you’ll find a long row of historic buildings lining the eastern edge of the space. Here you’ll find fabulous shops, places to explore the arts, and some great spots to eat, drink, and socialize.
As you emerge from under the bridge one of the first things you will see (at 28 N. Wall Street) is Ate Track Bar and Grill, a unique place to enjoy a drink or a meal where you can dine al fresco on the square, watching the trains go by, or sit inside and appreciate the attention to detail that went into decorating this memorial to the 1970s Rock ‘n Roll era. With authentic rock memorabilia lining the walls and ceiling, plus a great playlist of music to keep your feet tapping, you are certain to have a nostalgic moment or two at this local establishment.
Speaking of food and nostalgia, if you happen to be in the mood for an old-school breakfast along with a blast from the past, then step into Ross Diner at 17 N. Wall Street, which has been in operation since 1945. Grab a stool at the formica counter and take a moment to peruse the menu – order two eggs over easy, with a side of grits, and fried bologna if you want a taste of an authentic Southern breakfast.
Before you leave this side of the square take a moment to check out some local art. The Downtown Gallery, located at 13 N. Wall Street, features original works of art by members of the Booth Museum’s Artists’ Guild and the Booth Photography Guild.
Next to the Grand, at 7 N. Wall Street, watch the DJ broadcasting live through the front window of WBHF, Downtown Cartersville’s community radio station. You can also listen at 1450 am or 100.3 fm.
Time your visit to catch a musical, ballet or theatrical performance at The Grand Theatre, one of Historic Downtown Cartersville’s greatest landmarks. Dating to the early 1920s and replacing the 1910 Greenwood Theatre that burned to the ground, this opera house-turned-movie theatre came onto the scene just as Hollywood was booming, creating the need for downtown movie palaces that would make viewers feel transported into fantasy realms. The Grand witnessed the birth of “talkies” in 1929, leading to the renovation of the theatre’s facade in 1930 in the Beaux-Arts style of architecture with Corinthian columns, urns, swags, and an elaborate marquee. The Grand was one of the first air-conditioned buildings in the city. Since 1977, when it ceased showing movies, the Grand has been a central venue for live, community-based performing arts.
The distinctive gift shops on Wall Street provide one-of-a-kind opportunities for shoppers to buy high quality products from local vendors, which is one of the great appeals of small-town shopping. Why go to the mall when you can find it here? Lil Dollz n Gentz, a children’s clothing boutique, is one of Downtown Cartersville’s newest shops, now at 21 N. Wall Street. Passing the Grand Theatre and crossing Cherokee Street, you will come to Canopy Home Décor, at 2. S. Wall Street, the place to find a wedding gift, with registries for fine china and table accessories, elegant linens and cloths, novel soaps and candles, scents and diffusers. Write! Downtown, also at 2 S. Wall Street, is a fine stationery and gift store, then don’t miss Lulabelle’s Closet, at 6 S. Wall Street, a modern vintage clothing and jewelry boutique featuring trendy clothes, from small to plus sizes, at an affordable price. It’s About Time Boutique at 10 S. Wall Street features memorable jewelry, watches and luxury gifts. Wall to Wall Frames, at 14 S. Wall Street, carries a variety of prints, paintings and gifts, specializing in framing photographs and pictures. Next door, at 18 S. Wall Street, The Olive Branch carries unique vintage and antique decor, as well as handmade items including custom signs, jams and relishes, and clothing.
Coming soon: the West side of the Public Square!
- Coca-Cola memorabilia from Young Brothers Pharmacy, an old-fashioned drugstore
- Creative Tag Estate Sales
- Blue Sky Outfitters and Cohutta Fishing Company for your outdoor needs
- Southern Guitars musical instrument store and music lessons
- The Cartersville Train Depot to see what rail travel used to be like
- Gourmet vinegar and olive oil from Olive Tree and Vine
- Southern Mugs Coffee Shop
- Coffey Brazilian Jui-Jitsu
- Maine Street Coast Cuisine
- Take a yoga class at Etowah Valley Yoga or Allatoona Lake Yoga
- Visit the old-fashioned Findley’s Butcher Shop (the one with the cow in front)
- Love’m and Leave’m trendy formal wear & high-end consignment shop and the Community Church Shop
- Experience community theater by The Pumphouse Players at The Legion Theatre
- Cartersville Pawn ‘n Shop
- Sam Franklin Furniture
- Primo’s Mexican Restaurant
- Agan’s Bakery
- Free books at the little library by the fountain
- Picnic under Founder’s Oaks by the Fountain
- Visit the Etowah Valley Historical Society in the 1903 Gold Domed Courthouse
- Explore a local farm supply store right in middle of downtown
- Walk through surrounding neighborhoods with historic homes