A Visit to Albany, Georgia

Tucked into the southwest corner of Georgia, Albany has long been connected with the Civil Rights legacy, Southern history encompassing plantations, African-Americans and Native Americans, and outdoor adventure -- but these treasures have been treated like best kept secrets. Lately, with many Albany attractions getting a spit shine, the city is getting downright noisy about sharing its unique story.

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Ray Charles Tribute in Albany Georgia http://www.offbeattravel.com/tji-albany-georgia.html

Ray Charles Tribute

Albany recently unveiled a tribute to its most famous native son, Ray Charles. Located on the banks of the Flint River, the new Ray Charles Plaza commemorates the life and legacy of Ray Charles Robinson with a splash. Holding court in the center of the Plaza is a life-size sculpture of the pioneering soul musician seated at a baby Grand piano which rests on a rotating pedestal. While Charles' beloved melodies play at timed intervals, water flows over the pedestal and spills into a reflecting pool at its base.

With its covered seating, paved piano key walkway and musical note accents, the Plaza is a harmonious extension of Albany's beautiful RiverFront Park that includes an animated water fountain, Turtle Grove Play Park, a three-mile Greenways Trail System and peaceful Riverwalk.

Albany Civil Right Institute and Mt. Zion Baptist Church

 Civil Rights remembrance in Albany Georgia http://www.offbeattravel.com/tji-albany-georgia.html
After a multimillion dollar expansion, the Albany Civil Rights Institute, the repository for Albany's African American civil and human rights legacy, is a beautiful glass-enclosed, state-of-the-art museum adjacent to the 1906 Mt. Zion Baptist Church -- one of Dr. Martin Luther King's main speaking locations. Presenting Albany's role in the Civil Rights Movement in a local, regional and national context, the museum features many locals -- everyday citizens who changed history with their deeds, courage and strength and who lived through the era -- on the wall. Their images are on the walls and in the halls and their stories are told through exhibits, recordings of their oral histories and in-person appearances. Permanent exhibits will be supplemented by traveling exhibits, including a planned exhibition on black cowboys.

Historic Bridge House: A Lovely Welcome

The Historic Bridge House is home to the Albany Welcome Center. In 1858, Albany founder Nelson Tift hired African American bridge builder Horace King to build a covered bridge and bridge house to span the Flint River. King's 150-year-old brick bridge house still stands today and is the place for visitors to stop for brochures and information, as well as Albany souvenirs.

And More

At Thronateeska Heritage Center, visitors may explore the Wetherbee Planetarium with its 40-foot dome and digital projection. Also at the Center is Heritage Plaza with its historic buildings and the only brick street remaining in Albany. A Science Discovery Center (also opening December) offers archeology, paleontology, geology and water science sections, along with an interactive weather center. The History Museum is housed in the Union Depot, built in 1912, and focuses on South Georgia history. Inside the restored railroad baggage car is a model railroad exhibit.

The Flint RiverQuarium tells the story of the Flint River and the blue hole springs that helped create it. Visitors experience the unique ecosystems of the Flint River watershed through a variety of interactive exhibits featuring more than 100 species of native aquatic life. A recent aviary addition gives visitors an up-close look at a wide variety of birds found in the surrounding wetland habitat. Several shows, including "Whales: An Unforgettable Journey," bring adventure right to your seat in the new three-story screened Imagination Theater. Ongoing programming like dive shows, alligator feedings and animal presentations keep things lively.

The Albany Museum of Art, Southwest Georgia's only fully accredited art museum, has six galleries presenting more than 200 works at any given time from a 2,400-piece permanent collection that comprises African, European and American art. One of its most famous collections is found in the Miller Gallery: The Stella Davis Collection, AFRIcultures, features art and artifacts from the museum's Sub-Saharan African collection -- one of the largest of its kind in the Southeastern United States -- and includes an impressive array of masks, sculpture, pottery, baskets, textiles, jewelry and gold weights.

Theatre Albany, celebrating its 75th anniversary, is a top-notch company performing in a beautiful, historic theatre that is the largest playhouse outside of Atlanta's Fox Theatre. The theatre presents five shows each season, including a holiday production.

A quiet town tucked in the southwest corner of Georgia, Albany has a lot to shout about, from its favorite native children, Ray Charles and Paula Deen, to a rich blend of unique southern heritage to a thriving cultural community to natural beauty that holds a number of recreational possibilities. It may not be one of Georgia's best kept secrets much longer. Come visit to see what all the noise is about.

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Based on information provided by Albany Convention & Visitors Bureau AlbanyGA.com
Photos by Photo by Todd Stone ande Liz Grey

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Updated: January 22, 2017

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