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84 miles SE of Atlanta

Only Savannah tops Macon for its striking old buildings. What comes as a huge surprise to visitors, though, is that Macon has 170,000 cherry trees -- and they're a remarkable sight in late March when in bloom. Compare Washington, D.C.'s famous Cherry Blossom Festival (with a mere 3,000 trees), and you'll understand how perfumed that time of year is in Macon.

The original city planners designed Macon in 1823 as a "city in a park." Today that heritage has been preserved. Wide avenues are lined with grand, stately mansions, many built before the Civil War during the cotton boom. It's more than just a river town, with its many cultural offerings -- such as the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, and Grand Opera House -- and educational institutions, such as Macon College, Mercer University, and Wesleyan College, the world's first college for women. Also, a $36-million revitalization project was launched in 1999. Through this expenditure, much of the original charm of Macon was restored.

Macon has a wealth of historic sites, a handful of delightful places to stay, and the hospitality for which the South is known.