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Checker table and chairs in Madison Town Park.

Favorite Things: Springtime in Madison's Parks and Gardens

As we continue highlighting our favorite things, springtime in Madison is always a breath-taking experience. In fact, Southern Living magazine notes our “quaint Georgia town dons her showiest attire in the spring.”

While the private gardens of Madison’s beautiful historic homes and white columned mansions host spectacular landscapes, below are some, perhaps, lesser-known public parks and gardens around town that blossom with beautiful new life in spring. We hope you enjoy!

Round Bowl Spring Park

Orange flowers in bloom at Round Bowl Spring Park.

Tucked behind the elegant James Madison Inn, visitors can discover one of Madison’s hidden gems. As a source of fresh water for early settlers, Round Bowl Spring has been the center of Madison life since the town’s incorporation in 1809. Now this idyllic setting is where many newlyweds begin their lives as a married couple, with outdoor weddings and first photos happening here with the adjacent Variety Works wedding venue.

Around the turn of the new millennium, the current park was constructed as the city’s first linear greenspace. Accessible by walking through a modest pergola just off Academy Street, the meandering trail features native plants and bridges crossing the renowned springs. The trail continues past the springs and connects to Madison’s historic cemeteries.

Historic Cemeteries

Headstones in Madison, Georgia, Historic Cemeteries.

While the thought of walking a cemetery may seem macabre for some, it is actually a wonderful way to not only learn about Madison’s history but to also see some amazing monument art from world-renowned sculptors.

Considered by some to be Madison’s oldest outdoor art museum, The Old Cemetery serves as the final resting place for many of Madison’s founding residents. One famous resident is former U.S. Senator and Madison Mayor, Joshua Hill, who is credited with saving the city from being burned during Sherman’s infamous March to the Sea.

A local physician who built Heritage Hall, Dr. William Johnston, and family are also buried in the Old Cemetery. Though a later addition to the grounds, the lower section is comprised primarily of the burials of formerly enslaved persons.

Located across the railroad tracks, the New Cemetery isn’t quite so new, dating back to 1880. These grounds feature the gravesites of unknown soldiers who perished in local Confederate hospitals. In fact, Madison’s historic cemeteries are honored to be the final resting place of 454 known Military Veterans including two soldiers dating back to the American Revolution.

Town Park

Pavilion in Madison Town Park.

Though Round Bowl Springs may have originally been the center of life in Madison, many would consider that now to be Town Park. Dedicated on December 12, 2009 – the city of Madison’s 200th birthday – Town Park hosts a variety of the town’s favorite festivals, concerts, and private events. But visitors don’t need a formal reason to go. With its large, grassy lawn, gazebo and picnic areas, Town Park is fun for the whole family year-round.

While enjoying the park, be sure to take note of Cooke fountain. Originally standing in front of the Morgan County Courthouse, the statue was bequeathed to the City in 1908 in memory of the well-respected Madisonian Sarah Benham Judd Cooke as a “First Class Watering Hole” for horses. Though the original fountain was moved and eventually lost in the early 1900s, research led to the discovery of the original molds. The fountain was recreated and is now a magnificent centerpiece to Madison’s beloved Town Park.

Lambert Park

Lambert Park Mule | Madison GA Park and Garden | Official Tourism Site For Madison GA | Visit Madison GA

Venture into Madison’s newest park at the northern end of the Madison Historic District. In Lambert Park, discover a sanctuary where history and art converge. Here visitors can enjoy public artworks including a granite map detailing Morgan County’s local communities, main roads, rivers and rail lines, as well as a mule sculpture that harkens back to one of Morgan County’s hardest working animals through history. And stay tuned for what’s next – an exciting bark park awaits, promising fun times for both two-legged and four-legged visitors alike.

Instead of a walk in a park, why don’t you take a walk to the park? Follow the Collegiate Walk, a two-mile loop connecting the Welcome Center, downtown Madison and Lambert Park. This walk is just one of several trails in the citys growing Madison Greenway, featuring path signage that highlights unique areas of the City.  

Laughin’ Place Garden

Springtime foliage on arbor at the Laughin Place Garden.

Unless you are a local, you may not know about Laughin’ Place Garden. This quaint sanctuary is located on the grounds of the Morgan County Public Library and was a project of the local Magnolia Garden Club.

In the garden, you’ll find an array of gorgeous plantings, a bench for enjoying a good book or simply taking in the serenity of your surroundings. In the center stands the Traveling Musicians statue featuring the donkey, the dog, the cat, and the rooster of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, The Town Musicians of Bremen. Designed by sculptor Elbert Weinberg in 1958, the statue was moved from Lenox Square Mall in Atlanta to its current location in 2012.

William “Bill” Wood Park

Picnic shelter at Bill Wood Park.

While best known for its recreation fields, William “Bill” Wood Park is a 41-acre park located just 5 minutes from downtown Madison. This park is perfect for every member of the family, with playgrounds, including a toddler-friendly section, pavilions for picnics, as well as a dog park for the furry members of the family.

However, visitors may not be aware of its nature trails tucked away in the back of the park.  Under a canopy of hardwood trees, the trails zig-zag around streams and include several places to stop and enjoy Madison’s natural beauty.

Pollinator Garden at Hard Labor Creek State Park

Pollinator Garden at Hard Labor Creek State Park.

Within the vast acreage of Hard Labor Creek State Park, visitors may experience a scenic retreat from the busy world and enjoy the butterflies at the pollinator garden. With specific host plants grown to attract these beautiful, winged creatures, the garden is a special place to visit when in bloom.

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