Kennesaw Ga battlefield with cannon

From trains to shopping to a sought-after university, Kennesaw has plenty to offer its residents and visitors. Its history dates back to the 1830s when the Georgia Legislature constructed a railroad through Cobb County. Known as the Western and Atlantic Railroad, the track ran from Atlanta to Cartersville. Kennesaw grew in the 1850s and became home to a depot, eating house and workers’ shanties.

Then, in the 1860s, the Civil War affected the area. Kennesaw became a training camp for soldiers, with most living in tents. Notoriety came when the locomotive, The General, was stolen by Yankee spies led by James J. Andrews. The group stole The General in order to head north and destroy the Western and Atlantic Railroad, which served as a vital part in communication and transportation in the South. However, William A. Fuller, the conductor, and his men chased The General on foot and then on another locomotive, Texas. Learn more about The General in this Radio Podcast.

Though this southern feat is still celebrated today as the Great Locomotive Chase, Kennesaw fell to Sherman’s troops in June of 1864. During his famous March to the Sea, the Union commander ordered that the Western and Atlantic Railroad be destroyed from Kennesaw to the Chattahoochee River.

Since then, Kennesaw was incorporated, rebuilt the railroad, grew cotton, suffered from the boll weevil and has grown into a prosperous city.

Demographics

Kennesaw is home to 33,077. Most own their homes, with a median home sale price of $311.122. Amongst the population, about 40 percent are family households. Because Kennesaw is listed as on the nation’s “10 best towns for families” by Family Circle magazine, this percentage comes to no surprise.

Schools in the area include Kennesaw Elementary, Bullard Elementary, Awtrey Middle, Palmer Middle, Harrison High, North Cobb High, Kennesaw Mountain High and Kennesaw Charter Science and Math Academy. Additionally, Kennesaw State University provides an excellent education for college students. As one of the fastest-growing schools in the university system, Kennesaw State University is Northwest Georgia’s major university. Cheering on the school’s soccer, basketball, baseball and football teams is a popular activity in the area.

Other activities include:

Shopping and Dining

  • Trackside Grill: Family-owned and a Kennesaw favorite, Trackside Grill features classic comfort and southern American cuisine. Menu items include stuffed French toast, blueberry pancakes, eggs benedict, crab hash, fried green tomatoes, fried pickles, shrimp and grits, chicken pot pie, catfish, pimento cheese, buttermilk friend chicken and so much more.
  • Town Center Mall: With over 175 stores, Town Center at Cobb is northwest Atlanta’s main shopping destination. The mall directory includes Macy’s, Sephora, H&M, Pandora, Haagen Dazs, Kay, Milan, Sunglass Hut, Champs Sports and Build-a-Bear Workshop.
  • Capers: Blending flavorful American food with a Mediterranean atmosphere, the restaurant serves tons of enticing dishes. Menu items include chicken and waffles, catfish over grits, fire-roasted mushrooms, catfish, spinach artichoke rolls, crispy brick duck, stuffed chicken, baby back ribs, sautéed trout, brie salad, homemade bruschetta, Butterfinger cheesecake, toasted strawberry pound cake.
  • Big Shanty Smokehouse BBQ: This shanty is home to one of Georgia’s best barbecue restaurants. They offer the same daily specials including smoked pork, salmon, sausage, ribs, brisket, chicken, sandwiches and award-winning banana pudding. Customers who visit quickly become regulars and the small-town feel makes the smokehouse a friendly and unique place to eat.
  • Elevator Chophouse & Skybar: This unique steak house restaurant overlooks the Cobb County International Airport in Kennesaw, Georgia.  Known for its vibrant atmosphere and unique location, Elevation Chophouse aims to capture the traditional chophouse style, but with a twist. Whether you’re looking for brunch or dinner, they offer a robust menu of quality food, stiff drinks, and palate-pleasing cocktails. Watch planes take off and land while you eat!
  • BurgerFi: Committed to providing the best burger experience, BurgerFi serves chef-created, fresh food in an eco-friendly environment. Using 100% natural American Angus beef with no steroids, antibiotics, or growth hormones, they also serve premium Wagyu beef, cage-free chicken, award-winning VegeFi Burger, Beyond Meat Burger and more. Don’t forget to try the made-to-order sides — fresh-cut fries, double beer-battered onion rings — and the delicious frozen custard desserts.
  • The Nest Kennesaw: The perfect place for beer, BBQ and brews or a craft cocktail, The Nest Kennesaw is located in historic downtown Kennesaw. The Nest combines southern BBQ with a traditional beer garden. Its legendary beer list includes 59 on tap! Located in the union of two 18802 homes, the bar is the centerpiece of the home on the left. The chef cooks up a unique menu loaded with southern influences.
  • Honeysuckle Biscuits & Bakery: Located in Revival on Main Apartment Homes, Honeysuckle Biscuits & Bakery offers biscuits, breakfast plates, coffee, lunch and more. Order a custom cake for a special occasion, or enjoy a cupcake, mini pie large cookie and a scoop of ice cream.
  • Bernie’s: Located at 2825 Sound Main Street, Bernie’s mission is to convey the stories behind its cuisine and beverages. They support a rich culinary history with creative spins on great drinks and dishes. From gulf oysters on the half shell to yellowfin tuna poke and crispy brussel sprouts, there are lots of options to choose from. Steak, pad thai, pasta, burgers and more, Bernie’s will delight.

Entertainment and Recreation

  • Swift-Cantrell Park: Serving as a premier location for recreation and relaxation, the park features 42 acres, two playgrounds, a dog park, skate spot, three picnic pavilions, two restroom buildings, trails, drinking fountains and acres of turf for sports.
  • Farmer’s Market: Operating from May through August, the market is held at the Kennesaw First Baptist Church. It features locally grown produce, fresh baked breads and desserts, homemade jams, jellies, salsa, house plants and specialty goods. The market is opened every Wednesday from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Historical Attractions

  • The Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History: An affiliate of the Smithsonian, the Southern Museum features three impressive permanent collections and a wide range of exhibits. Visitors learn about the daily lives of soldiers during the Civil War, see a reproduction of a turn-of-the-century locomotive factory and watch an exciting depiction of the Civil War’s Great Locomotive Chase.
  • Smith-Gilbert Gardens: These gardens of exotic and unusual plants surround the Hiram Butler House. Built in 1882, the house is on the National Register of Historic Homes. The gardens also include koi ponds, shaded picnic area and Tea House.
  • Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park: The park preserves a Civil War battleground of the Atlanta campaign and also contains Kennesaw Mountain. Visitors can see three battlefield areas, tour a farmhouse and learn more about the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain. The mountain also has over 15 miles of trails for running, hiking and biking.

Though you won’t have to ride a train into town these days, visit Kennesaw to discover all that it has to offer.

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