Breaking News
More () »

'Quite an honor': Macon, Ocmulgee Mounds earn national recognition on 'Best Places to Visit' list

It comes as Macon-Bibb County continues the process of buying the site of the old Bibb Mill, just outside the park.

MACON, Ga. — After appearances on "Jeopardy!" and CBS Mornings this year, Macon is once again in the national spotlight.

Popular travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler called it one of the best places to travel in 2023. Gary Wheat with Visit Macon expects it'll have a big impact on tourism.

"Those travel guides are things that people by the millions view," Wheat said.

That's why this year, it was Visit Macon's goal to get travel writers to town.

"To be online and featured with a lot of wonderful destinations around the world; not just in America but around the world, is quite an honor, and one that we do not take lightly," Wheat said.

He says a revitalized downtown and growing music culture help Macon stand out. The nightlife and Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park help too. The park is the subject of the latest national headline from Conde Nast Traveler. The spotlight comes just months after Macon-Bibb commissioners decided to buy the site of the old Bibb Mill to develop the area near the park.

"I think it's critical, because that's a gateway into our community and a major gateway into our tourism assets, whether that's in east Macon at Ocmulgee, or the downtown corridor where a lot of our attractions reside," Wheat said.

He says it'll prepare Macon for an influx of travelers if the park becomes an official national park.

"By the year 2030, if we go to a national park and preserve, we can expect over a million visitors a year to the park," Wheat said.

Now, about 200,000 visit the park each year. Wheat says the increase is why there are plans for a new hotel in the development. They plan to add RV lots, too.

"You need nice RV attractions to bring them in and give them a place because they are RVers," Wheat said.

That's not all. He says they may also include a tribute to Macon's history.

"As we enter the bicentennial year, we're working with the bicentennial committee on that, what that looks like," he said.

Wheat says they may have to get creative with hotel space and look at other areas of Macon to account for the increase in travelers. He says they may even consider re-purposing old downtown buildings.

County spokesman Chris Floore says they're still planning to buy the Bibb Mill property, but they're in the 'due diligence' process now. Once they finish that, they'll complete the purchase and meet with developers to get started on a more concrete plan.

Before You Leave, Check This Out