A Guide to Elder Mill Covered Bridge




Breathtaking only minimally describes the view of Watkinsville’s Elder Mill Covered Bridge. The bridge, which was built in 1897, was originally positioned between Watkinsville and Athens. It now sits boldly above Rose Creek just five miles from downtown Watkinsville off of Hwy 15 on Elder Mill Rd. A Georgia Antebellum Trail attraction, the bridge is popular among visitors and residents of Oconee County who often stop by to capture amazing pictures. Here are a few tips to consider before your visit:

Tip 1: Drive an average-sized vehicle. The bridge is restrictive to oversized vehicles.

Tip 2: Bring a camera. Visiting the Bridge is a must-capture moment and great for family photos.

Tip 3: Wear tennis shoes. Wear hiking-appropriate shoes to get a closer view of Rose Creek.

Tip 4: Prepare for BBQ. Watkinsville’s popular restaurant, Hot Thomas BBQ, is less than 5 minutes away.

Tip 5: Take in the moment. The calming sounds of Rose Creek and the isolated scenic view are unmatched.

oconee county 078

Why Oconee County should be on your bucket list

While there are a million reasons to love and visit Oconee County-Watkinsville, I want to share the experiences you don’t get in too many counties. Oconee may be small, but it’s packed with a lot history and uniqueness. So sit back and let me tell you why you should be planning your trip to visit us . . . now!

Georgia’s Antebellum Trail


There are only seven cities on the famous Georgia Antebellum Trail, and yes, one of those cities is our very own Watkinsville. You can plan 3- or 4-day trips from Athens to Macon and visit some of the most historic communities and landmarks in the state! When you stop in Watkinsville, enjoy the history of the Eagle Tavern Museum and Elder Mill Covered Bridge, and the many art galleries and exhibits featuring local and national artists.

Largest Pottery Show in Georgia

gym overview

They don’t call us the Artland of Georgia for nothing! In addition to our numerous art galleries and shops, we are home to Perspectives, one of the largest pottery shows in the southeast. Yes, that’s 12 states and lots of cities! The event has even been listed in the Southeast Tourism Society’s Top 20 Events for the past two years. Stop by OCAF (Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation) in August and September to see the popular pottery showcase. With our talented local artists and beautiful exhibits and galleries, we make a huge scene in the South when it comes to art.

Elder Mill Covered Bridge


As I previously noted, we are also home to one of only 13 functional covered bridges left in Georgia. The Elder Mill Covered Bridge was built in 1897 and sits above the peaceful and beautiful Rose Creek. This bridge has been on many visitors’ bucket lists resulting in awesome pictures, so why isn’t it on yours?

Locally Grown Foods

Justin Strawberry

“Homemade” is a rarity nowadays. Take a break from the norm and choose from our fresh and locally grown produce. Stop by Washington Farms to pick your own fresh berries and other seasonal items. Thomas Orchards is sure to please with its delicious homemade peach ice cream. Also, our Farmer’s Market won’t disappoint with its array of locally grown foods available downtown each Saturday from April to November.

I’m sure I’ve convinced you so here’s a link to where you should stay during your visit in Oconee, http://bit.ly/1WBl1iv. Stop by the welcome center and say hi!

Helpful Links

Georgia Antebellum Trail

Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation (OCAF)

Oconee County: Then and Now

The historic community of Oconee County has undergone quite a few transformations while maintaining some of its historic beauty. Take a glimpse of what six historic sites in Oconee County looked like in the past:




Left photo courtesy of Oconee Historical Society on Facebook.

The Eagle Tavern Museum formerly served as a 16-room stagecoach stop for travelers in the mid-1800s. The building, which was built circa 1801, now serves as a house museum in its original Plain-style structure. The right picture shows the Eagle Tavern in the mid-1900s before the building’s restoration. Today, you can visit the Tavern and stand on its original flooring which is more than 200-years-old!




Left photo courtesy of Oconee Historical Society on Facebook.

The Oconee County Courthouse has always sat directly across from the Eagle Tavern in some form along Main Street in Downtown Watkinsville. The county has had four courthouses since its founding in 1875. The structure to the left was built in 1887; the current structure was built in 1939.




Left photo courtesy of Ashford Manor Bed & Breakfast.

Also located along Main Street in Watkinsville is the Ashford Manor. The manor was the home of William and Louisa Booth Ashford and their family in the mid-1800s. However, the original home is no longer standing. The now standing Ashford Manor was built in 1893 by the couple’s son, A.W. Ashford. The picture to the left was taken in the 1920s. The Victorian-style manor now serves as a bed and breakfast surrounded by beautiful gardens.




The history of Downtown Watkinsville continues to live on along Main Street. Pictured to the left is the Ashford Store. Built before 1900, this building is one of the oldest buildings still standing in Watkinsville. The building now houses Orchard Street Boutique and neighbors MR Comic Shop and Main Street Barbershop.




To the left is Main Street in Bishop, GA circa 1918. Downtown Bishop is located along Highway 441, connecting Watkinsville and Madison. Once a post office, the building shown is now home to one of the many antique stores in Bishop, Tracks of Time Antiques.




To the left is Main Street in Bogart at the turn of the 20th century. The street runs parallel to the railroad, where a few structures in the shown area still stand today occupied by small businesses.


Be sure to visit these sites during your trip to Oconee County. For more information or assistance with planning your trip, contact us.

3 things to look forward to this spring in Oconee

There are only two weeks before it’s officially spring! With hints of warm weather this winter building our anticipation for sunny days and budding flowers, here are three things to look forward to this spring in Oconee County.

Locally-grown foods

Spring means strawberry season! Washington Farms will open for strawberry season in April. At the farm, pick your own strawberries and enjoy creamy, homemade strawberry ice cream from April to May. The U-Pick farm will also host Super Spring Saturdays April 22, April 29, May 6, and May 13. Bring your family to enjoy a petting zoo, wagon rides, and other fun activities on the farm.

Photo courtesy of onlineathens.com.

Hosted in Downtown Watkinsville, also visit the Oconee Farmers Market for Georgia grown items like green beans, nuts, free range eggs, grass-fed beef, berries, and more. The farmers market will host a soft opening April 1, and officially kickoff the season April 22. You can browse the market for a variety of produce each Saturday until November.

Art shows

Photo courtesy of Farmington Depot Gallery.

During the first weekend of April, witness the spontaneous creativity of local artists at theFarmington Depot Gallery. Once a train depot, the gallery will host its annual spring festival,Festifool, featuring an artist market, art cars, and raku demonstrations.

This spring, the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation will present its 22nd annual art exhibition,SOUTHWORKS. SOUTHWORKS is a premier art exhibit showcasing the talent and work of artists from across the country. Browse the galleries of OCAF between April 7 and May 5. A reception will be held April 7 from 6 to 9 p.m. to celebrate the opening of the show and the artists and pieces accepted into the juried exhibition.

New restaurant opening

Spring is also the season for the official and anticipated opening of Pour Restaurant & Bar. Located in Downtown Watkinsville next to the Eagle Tavern Museum, the upscale restaurant will offer beer, wine, and distilled spirits, as well as food, and will initially serve only dinner. Experience a new taste in Watkinsville-Oconee County with dinner indoors, or enjoy the spring weather and gourmet eats on the patio of Pour.


Take a trip to Oconee County this spring, and enjoy all the wonderful experiences in art, culinary, and outdoor fun the area has to offer. For more upcoming events, click here. For a full dining guide, click here.

Watkinsville’s 12 Days of Christmas: Winter Weather Eats

Watkinsville’s 12 Days of Christmas: Winter Weather Eats

Photo courtesy of Online Athens

The holidays are upon us and cold weather has officially set in, which means it’s the perfect time for winter treats, meals and beverages. Thankfully, in Watkinsville you don’t have to go very far to find delicious, perfectly wintery eats.

Kiki’s Bakeshop

What’s a holiday dinner without a warm, freshly baked dessert to finish off family meal? Luckily, Kiki’s Bakeshop has all the sweets you’ll need this winter. The local bakery is offering an exclusive holiday menu, featuring rum bundt cake, Christmas cookies and a yule log cake. All holiday orders need to be placed by 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 21, however Kiki’s will be offering holiday bread, scones and muffins as pickup items for those who miss the order deadline.

JB’s Smokin’ Pig

Photo courtesy of JB’s Smoking’ Pig

Whatever the time of year, barbecue is always a good choice for dinner. As the JB’s Smokin Pig is a new addition to downtown, this is the BBQ spot’s first holiday season in Watkinsville. Although the order period for holiday smoked hams and roasted turkeys has passed, the restaurant is celebrating it’s first Christmas by offering take-out meals until 2 p.m. on Dec. 24, posting on Facebook that, “Whether it’s sides, BBQ or both, we’d love to make your day less stressful.”

Krimson Kafe

Photo courtesy of Yelp

Although the Krimson Kafe’s official menu isn’t offering any holiday-specific options, the restaurant already caters perfectly to cold-weather dining. On a sub 40-degree day, almost nothing sounds better than a warm cup of homemade soup, or a “Wildabeast” sandwich, made with smoked turkey and gouda cheese.

Jittery Joe’s










Jittery Joe’s is short on food items, but on a cold winter morning coffee is almost always a must. Not only can the customers at the downtown Watkinsville location try new, special blends to fit their holiday cravings, but the coffee roaster’s online store is also offering a special holiday deal, including a 25 percent off sale on select items.

Around Town

Photo courtesy of Foodbidden.wordpress.com

Outside of downtown, there are tons of other places to eat your way into the holiday spirit. Located on the Oconee Connector, Gigi’s Cupcakes offers special holiday boxes, and even serves up a perfectly-Christmas red velvet cupcake. Lastly, those looking to eat out for the holidays but still get a home-cooked experience can head over to Rachel’s Southern Style Restaurant for delicious southern cooking and an ever-changing daily menu.

Watkinsville’s 12 Days of Christmas: Holiday Happenings

‘Tis the season for holiday lights, shopping and events! Get in the spirit in Watkinsville and celebrate the holiday season with events, sales, and holiday displays.




Watkinsville’s annual Holiday Tree Lighting is a prime event for the season. On the first Friday in December, spectators gather along Main Street for holiday carols, hot chocolate, cookies, and the lighting of the holiday tree in Downtown Watkinsville.

The next day, December 3, the city and the Oconee Enterprise will host its annual Watkinsville Christmas Parade at 11 a.m. The parade travels throughout Downtown Watkinsville and features extravagant floats, bands, and local organizations.

Next up is Mingle with Kringle, a popular Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation (OCAF) tradition for children. The event will take place on December 10, and includes storytelling, photos with Kringle, arts and crafts, and a puppet show. This year’s event will also feature a theatrical performance by Doug Berkey.

What’s December without a holiday musical? Brightstone Productions will present Christmas at the Five and Dime at the Oconee County Civic Center December 15-18. The performance is set in the 1940s in a large department store.




In addition to the the many events in town are also holiday displays. The rare and historic Elder Mill Covered Bridge, which sits above Rose Creek, will be decorated in colorful holiday lights throughout the season.

Also, the Eagle Tavern Museum, once a stagecoach stop, will be decorated in period-themed holiday décor and live greenery as visitors explore the life of travelers in the 1800s. The Eagle Tavern Museum will have a special opening after the Christmas Parade and a Holiday Open House in December.

The Oconee County Welcome Center is also a popular stop during the holidays with a grand window display of a Dickens Village.




Photo courtesy of Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation (OCAF).

Happy Valley Pottery will host its Holiday Open House & Sale November 25-27 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The holiday open house and sale will include art demonstrations in raku and glassblowing, and will feature pottery, paintings, jewelry, candles, and bath products for sale.

At the OCAF Holiday Market, shop for more unique gifts for friends and family. The three-day event will showcase and sell paintings, jewelry, sculptures, folk art, photography, clay, food, soaps, and more! The market will also feature OCAF’s Artists’ Shoppe, which will be available from December 2 – 23. The Artist Shoppe sells the handcrafted work of OCAF members.

Take on these events and more with a stay at the Ashford Manor Bed & Breakfast, a Victorian-style manor built in the 1930s. For more on holiday shopping and happenings in Watkinsville, follow Watkinsville’s 12 Days of Christmas holiday series on Facebook.

Nominate Your Favorite Dish for “100 Plates Locals Love”



With more than 50 restaurants occupying the county, Oconee County has become quite the place to enjoy diverse culinary options. In Downtown Watkinsville alone, there will be ten places to grab a bite to eat by the end of the year. Notably, locally-owned dining establishments make their mark adding to Oconee County’s uniqueness with their rich and flavorful dishes.


Georgia Tourism is currently requesting nominations for its 2017 100 Plates Locals Love list, which is featured each year in Georgia Eats: The Official State Culinary GuideNominate your favorite Oconee dishes this month through Georgia Tourism’s online form, and be sure to include a photo with your entry. Nominated dishes will be judged and selected by a panel to appear on Georgia’s list of 100 Plates Locals Love.  The list will be published on exploregeorgia.org and in the 2017 edition of the official state culinary guide.


To view the 2016 list, click here. For a list of dining options in Oconee County, click here. Share your dining experiences on social media with the hashtags #GeorgiaEats and #OconeeEats.

3 things to do on your way to the Iron Horse


Photo by Molly Schneck

Photo courtesy of Molly Schenck

Iron Horse

Photo by Laura Huff


On every UGA bucket list, you will find visiting the Iron Horse at the top of the list. The Iron Horse, which sits along the county line of Oconee and Greene on Hwy 15, was moved in the 1950s from the University of Georgia’s campus to its current location on an open farm field. With a long history with the university, the iron sculpture makes for an awesome photo spot for students crossing one more thing off their bucket list before graduation. During your 18-mile trek from Athens to the Iron Horse, stop by these three iconic places to add even more memories to your UGA experience:


1. Tour the Eagle Tavern Museum

Eagle Tavern Museum

Did you know Watkinsville was considered as a location for the University of Georgia to be built? Allegedly, the controversy concerning alcohol during the 1800s threw away those chances as Athens became the home of the Dawgs. Explore the ins and outs of the tavern and learn more about its influence and history that dates back to more than 200 years ago. Located in Downtown Watkinsville, tours begin across the street at the Welcome Center.


2. Take a photo at the Elder Mill Covered Bridge


Just off of Hwy 15 (Greensboro Hwy), take Elder Mill Road less than a half-mile to the historic Elder Mill Covered Bridge. The bridge is one of ONLY 13 functional covered bridges in the state of Georgia. Drive across the 1897 bridge that once connected Watkinsville and Athens above Calls Creek. The historic beauty built by Nathaniel Richardson now sits above Rose Creek, and also makes for a great photo spot.


3. Grab a bite to eat at Hot Thomas Barbeque

Hot Thomas BBQ

Photo from Redclaysoul.com

Getting hungry? Hot Thomas Barbeque has you covered with classic BBQ sandwiches and satisfying sides. The barbeque place is a popular restaurant among residents, and was the winner of the 2016 Georgia Barbeque Bracket! The restaurant is located on Hwy 15 a little over 5 minutes from your destination.


Tackle the UGA bucket list and a little bit of Watkinsville with this itinerary. Click here for a map marking these spots in Watkinsville-Oconee County.


Photo courtesy of Davis Lackey

Iron Horse

Photo by Laura Huff


Top 5 for a UGA Game Day Weekend


The UGA Bulldogs kicked off the 2016 football season with a win over the University of North Carolina on Saturday. Now with the Dawgs’ first home game of the season approaching, the excitement for Game Day between the hedges is near. In between cheering on the Dawgs and tailgating in Athens, find time to unwind in Watkinsville-Oconee County with our Top 5 List Georgia Fans must experience:


1. Dinner at Chops & Hops: A hometown favorite, the locally-owned fine dining establishment has been occupied by Georgia Dawgs quite often. Experience the great food and nice atmosphere that UGA students and athletes travel just 8 short miles for.

2. Downtown Shopping: Pick out your game day outfit at Orchard Street Boutique and Empire South, or find unique treasures for your home at Hudson Butler Design and Attic Treasures.


Orchard Street Boutique

3. Antique Shopping: If Attic Treasures inspires you, drive down to Bishop where you can find a cluster of antique stores all within 1 mile of each other along Highway 441.

4. Elder Mill Covered Bridge: If you’re traveling south, stop by this rare Georgia beauty. The bridge is one of only 13 functioning covered bridges in the state. Click here for a guide to visiting the 1890s bridge.


The scenic Elder Mill bridge is one of the oldest remaining covered bridges in the state.

5. Washington Farms: The popular farm won’t open for the fall season until Sept. 24, but it’s the perfect way to enjoy a Georgia fall weekend. The farm will feature a corn maze, petting zoo, pumpkin patch, and much more.



11 fall festivals along the Georgia Antebellum Trail

Filled with food, fun and history, the cities along the Georgia Antebellum Trail are gearing up for a trail of festivals. Highlighting the historic communities and attractions of Athens, Watkinsville, Madison, Eatonton, Milledgeville, Gray and Macon, the Antebellum Trail is a popular historic adventure among national and international visitors. Engage in fall fun while exploring a piece of Georgia history in October and November.


Fall Wine Fest (October 9, 2016) – Hosted by the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation, food and wine vendors from across Georgia line the gardens of the Ashford Manor Bed & Breakfast to share its rich flavors with guests. The event also features art demonstrations and an online auction that will include travel packages, wine baskets, and more!

Oconee Chamber of Commerce Fall Festival (October 15, 2016) – The Artland of Georgia’s premier arts and crafts festival features food and local art vendors anchored throughout downtown Watkinsville. View and shop the works of arts of local artists, participate in family-friendly activities, and savor the best kettle corn in the area.



32nd Annual North Georgia Folk Festival (October 8, 2016) – Hosted in the classic city at Sandy Creek Park, the annual festival includes musicians, artists, storytellers, food, kid’s activities, and crafts demonstrations and sales in celebration of traditional arts.

Lickskillet Artist Market and Festival (October 22, 2016) – The Lyndon House Arts Center host its Lickskillet Artist Market and Festival each year. The event features diverse art, live music, children’s art activities, food trucks, and tours of the historic Ware-Lyndon Historic House.



Chili Cook-off & Fall Festival (October 8, 2016) – Madison’s annual fall festival will feature live music, kids’ activities, a marketplace, and a beer garden! Spend the day shopping and browsing vendor tents, eating delicious food, and sampling excellent chili while in Madison’s downtown Town Park.

Bostwick Cotton Gin Festival (November 5, 2016) – Enjoy the largest tractor parade in the Southeast right outside of Madison. The event celebrates the city of Bostwick’s agricultural heritage with specialty craft vendors, cotton ginning demonstrations, and kid-friendly activities.



Pumpkin Festival (October 1-2, 2016) – At the heart of the Antebellum Trail, join in on Crooked Pines Farm’s annual Pumpkin Festival. The farm will host fall activities including hay rides, corn-cob derby, apple-bobbing, pony rides and more.

The Briar Patch Arts Festival (October 29, 2016) – Eatonton’s annual arts festival showcases handmade soaps, photography, paintings, jewelry, pottery, and woodwork, as well as live musical performances in downtown Eatonton.



Deep Roots Festival (October 22, 2016) – In Georgia’s Antebellum Capital, be ready to rock out and pig out at its Deep Roots Festival. The festival is a hometown favorite and a Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 Event that features live music, art displays, and a BBQ cook-off in downtown Milledgeville.

Andalusia’s 12th Annual Bluegrass Festival (November 5, 2016) – Enjoy a picnic and the sounds of Bluegrass music with your family at the Andalusia – Home of Flannery O’Connor farm. The event will also include Porch Pickin’ and a Nature Trail Walk.



Macon Octoberfest (October 21-23, 2016) – Hosted at Tattnall Square Park, enjoy authentic Bavarian food, a beer garden featuring Georgia-made craft brews, live music, shopping and more! The three-day event will also include activities and entertainment for children, a wiener dog race and dog costume competition, and a Brewers Brunch. All proceeds will benefit charities.

For more information on Georgia’s Antebellum Trail, visit www.antebellumtrail.org.