The early fortunes of this appealing small town in the Tallahassee Red Hills paralleled the rise and fall of the antebellum cotton plantations that lined the region's famed "Plantation Trace." Following the Civil War, thousands of Union prisoners who had been evacuated from the nearby Andersonville prison to Thomasville brought home stories of the curative effects of the balsam breezes of the pine-scented air. These stories fueled the second boom in the region's fortunes, during which Northerners fleeing the cold wintered here. The wealthier among them built elegant estates in and around the town.
Although Thomasville's golden era has long since ended and there's little left of the old-growth forests that brought winter vacationers south, the distinct pine-scented air remains, as does the Victorian elegance of the town's heyday. Thomasville retains the stately vestiges of a once-posh resort, but without the crowds. Known as the "City of Roses," it draws thousands of visitors each spring to its annual Rose Festival (the fourth weekend in April). And during the Victorian Christmas, locals turn out in period costumes to enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides, caroling, and street theater.