The first stop to make on a visit to Marietta is at the Welcome Center to pick up tour maps; the Center is in the renovated train station right off Marietta Square. The revitalized square is an entertainment mecca with several popular nightspots, restaurants, and the renovated Theater in the Square. The focal point of the square is Glover Park, where winding brick paths lead to a majestic, three-tiered fountain, to an ornate Victorian gazebo, and to a scaled-down replica of "The General," a celebrated Civil War locomotive, where children can climb, slide, and pretend. The park is the location for frequent special events, festivals and concerts.
A walking tour of the downtown features at least 100 homes and buildings that span the period from antebellum to Victorian and evoke the sentiment and beauty of days gone by. The William Root House, the city's oldest residence, houses a museum depicting life in Cobb County during the 1840s and is open from Tuesdays to Saturdays. Other structures include classic Victorian, Queen Anne, Greek Revival, and Plantation Plain-style residences. The 1854 Greek classic style First Presbyterian Church, St. James Episcopal Church, and the 1866 Zion Baptist Church are part of the Historic District's walking tour. Other buildings of note include former general stores, a "Breakfast House" hotel, and a former hardware store. The Episcopal Cemetery is the burial place of many early well-known local citizens.
Not far from the center of town, Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, a Civil War fortress, provides miles of wood trails, original earthworks and cannons that stand as silent witnesses to the decisive battle in which Confederate troops, vastly outnumbered, defended Kennesaw Mountain in a bloody effort to block Sherman's March to Atlanta. At the visitor's center a ten-minute slide presentation briefs visitors on the battle that took place and exhibits depict the harsh conditions the soldiers endured in the front ranks. At the park, visitors may walk on the grounds and view the family cemetery of the Kolb Farm, a significant battle site during the Civil War. Marietta is one of only two U.S. cities with both a Confederate and a Union Cemetery. The Confederate Cemetery is the final resting place for more than 3,000 Confederate soldiers. At the nearby 23-acre National Cemetery, more than 10,000 Union soldiers, 3,000 of whom are unknown, rest alongside veterans of five subsequent wars.
Well worth a visit is the Concord Covered Bridge, one of the few remaining covered bridges in operation, nestled on Nickajack Creek alongside historic Ruff's Mill. Both sites are national landmarks and part of a historic district that also features nineteenth century homes and the Concord Woolen Mills. Another interesting spot is home to the remains of the nineteenth-century Marietta Manufacturing Mill on the banks of the Sope Creek.
At the East Cobb Children's Museum, school-age children can participate in historical tours, and dress in authentic period costumes. The museum also offers live puppet shows and classroom excursions. The Aurora, a horse-drawn 1879 Silsby Steamer, is on display at the Marietta Fire Museum. It has been fully renovated and is said to be the best-restored engine of its kind in the world. The Kennesaw Civil War Museum, formerly know as The Big Shanty Museum, in Kennesaw provides a close-up look at "The General," a steam locomotive that caused quite a stir in 1862 when Union soldiers known as Andrew's Raiders hijacked it and sped northwest to damage the line and seal off Chattanooga in the Civil War campaign. Classic cars and the largest selection of miniature die-cast cars in the Southeast are on display at the Auto Motif in Smyrna. Marietta also features a Gone With The Wind Museum: Scarlett on the Square opened in 2003 and maintains a wide variety of memorabilia from the 1939 classic. Located within the historic Kennesaw House is the Marietta Museum of History that displays such items as Civil War uniforms and a local photograpy collection.
Youngsters are enthusiastic participants at Six Flags White Water, a 35-acre park featuring more than two dozen specialty water rides including speed slides and body flumes. Marietta's newest family draw is American Adventures, a "turn of the century" entertainment park with rides, games, and attractions that is also part of the Six Flags family. Another mammoth attraction, which is located in the southwestern corner of the county, is Six Flags Over Georgia amusement park, home of the Great American Scream Machine, The Free Fall, Z Force and other thrilling rides, musical revues and top name entertainers. Skull Island debuted there in 2004 and features three water-dumping towers, six water slides, and many other water-related activities. Sun Valley Beach, the South's largest swimming pool, with 2 million gallons, is located on one-and-a-half acres of land and provides sun and games at its Powder Springs location.
No visit to Marietta would be complete without paying respects to the "Big Chicken," a local landmark. In 1963 a Marietta restaurateur wanted a focal point for his eatery and commissioned a Georgia Tech student to create a plucky, triangular-shaped fowl, complete with eyes that rolled, a beak that snapped open and shut, and a comb that dipped in the breeze. At one point, a hydraulic lift made the bird operational, but for the most part it stands as a silent object of wonder for foreign visitors who have declared it to be "so American" and an important element of Marietta folklore. The Big Chicken has inspired the "Gran Poulet," an art festival featuring fowl-inspired works of every description.
The best in professional live theater, both contemporary and classical, is offered by the award-winning 225-seat Theatre In the Square opened in 1982 at its renovated home on Marietta Square. Classical music concerts are offered by the Cobb Symphony, established in 1951, and the Jubilee Concert Series at the Galleria Centre. The Georgia Ballet performs regularly at the Cobb County Civic Center.
The Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art is located just off the Square. The museum's permanent exhibit is complemented by workshops, lectures, poetry readings, special art showings and children's activities. Art lovers can also visit the Mable House Cultural Center in the southern portion of Cobb County. Smyrna's Lillie Glassblowers allows spectators to watch as liquid crystal is transformed into exquisite designs for artistic and scientific purposes.
Annual events in Marietta involve a wide variety of activities. The last weekend in April brings the Taste of Marietta food festival. In spring, Cobb Landmarks and Historical Society sponsors "Through The Garden Gate," a spring tour of gardens in the city. In May and October, arts, crafts, and food concessions fill Glover Park at Historic Marietta Arts & Crafts Festival, and performances, exhibits, and an artists' market are presented at The Art Place-Mountain View's Arts Fest and have been dubbed "May-Retta Daze" and "Harvest Square." Summer brings the Glover Park Concert Series, a variety of musical presentations that extend through June, July, and August. The Fourth of July celebration starts the day with a parade and is filled with food and completed by fireworks at dusk. Labor Day Weekend's Art in the Park at Marietta Square showcases local artists' paintings, photography and pottery in Glover Park. September ushers in the Historic Marietta Antique Street Festival that was established in 1992 and draws over 125 antiques dealers from across the state. Late September's North Georgia State Fair at Miller Park features carnival rides, top name entertainment, contests, and special attractions. Theatre In The Square Presents "the 1940's Radio Hour," a song and dance extravaganza performed at Marietta Square during November, December, and January. December brings The Marietta Pilgrimage: A Christmas Home Tour featuring six private historic homes decorated for the holidays. Audiences enjoy the holiday excitement of the Georgia Ballet's performances of "The Nutcracker" at Cobb County Civic Center. Each spring the city celebrates Founder's Day, when the City Square is decked out for a weekend festival, the highlight of which is an antique show.
Al Bishop Softball Complex is the site of numerous national/regional softball tournaments on its five lighted playing fields. Marietta's professional sports fans have an exciting series of events to choose from by making the fifteen-mile trip to nearby Atlanta, home to five professional franchises. Atlanta also hosts many collegiate competitions.
The Cobb County Parks, Recreation, & Cultural Affairs Department, one of the largest in the Southeast, consists of 35 parks covering more than 2,000 acres. Tennis, swimming, softball, gymnastics, and soccer are offered, as are arts and crafts classes and informational programs. Marietta has an impressive network of municipal parks, most fully equipped with playground facilities, athletic fields and tennis courts. Wildwood Park, a beautiful 28-acre site, is equipped with a unique "Adventure Challenge Course," one of the largest in the state, plus a one-third mile self-guided Sensory Trail for the Blind. At the site of the former Marietta County Club, the Marietta City Club opened as Cobb County's first public Professional Golfer's Association standard golf course on 126 acres and a professional shop. Visitors to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park enjoy five marked hiking trails, the longest of which extends for sixteen miles. Laurel Park has a jogging trail, basketball court, picnic facilities, thirteen tennis courts, and two volleyball courts on 25 acres. The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area consists of more than 1,700 acres in four parks along the waterway. Concessionaires rent canoes, rafts, or kayaks at various points along the river so that water buffs can experience the river's whitewater thrills firsthand. The Lake Allatoona Reservoir, which boasts a 330-acre lake and 124 land-acres, is ideal for fishing, boating, swimming, camping, hiking, and picnicking. At the town of Acworth, Acworth Beach and Lake Acworth offer swimming, fishing, picnicking, and sunbathing.
Cobb County offers shoppers a variety of options from the corner store to huge regional shopping malls like Cumberland Mall and Town Center at Cobb, each with more than one million square feet. Opened in 1973 as the area's first enclosed mall, Cumberland Mall has a projected $65 million in improvements scheduled to conclude in 2006. Marietta is the home of Providence Square, which is anchored by Home Depot, Upton's, and Parkaire Landing. Quaint shops surrounding Marietta Square offer antiques, art, fine china, jewelry, clothing, and novelty items. Other shopping areas include Marietta Trade Center, Town and Country Shopping Center, Merchants Walk, Cobb Place, Belmont Hills Shopping Center, and Akers Mill Shopping Center. The Church Street Market provides foods native to the area along with quaint home and garden products.
Southern cuisine, featuring such treats as baked squash casserole or turnip greens, or palate-tempting fare served in classic plantation style, makes for memorable dining experiences. A variety of ethnic cuisines, including Japanese, Mexican, Italian, Chinese, and standard American and continental fare are available at the more than 200 dining rooms, outdoor cafes, and casual eateries which proliferate throughout the area.
Visitor Information: Cobb County Convention & Visitors Bureau, One Galleria Pkwy., Atlanta, GA 30339; telephone (800)451-3480; fax (678)303-2625; email firstname.lastname@example.org. Marietta Welcome Center, 4 Depot St. NE, Marietta, GA 30060; telephone (770)429-1115