Over Christmas break, I traveled to Covington, Georgia. Now, why would I choose to spend the remainder of my holiday break in some small town in Georgia? Well, this town is far from random. Among many other films and series, the iconic series,The Vampire Diaries (TVD), was filmed here. The show’s two spin-off series both used Covington as a filming spot as well.
I dragged my mother to this Newton County city with purpose, ladies and gentlemen. I had long been researching the filming locations of the show, and discovered a TVD tour somewhere along the way. The “Vampire Diaries Tour” is put on by the Vampire Stalkers. More specifically, this tour company was founded by a woman named Jessica. Jessica conducted our tour, along with the help of her associate, Angie.
I booked our tickets on the Vampire Stalkers website. Tickets were $55 each and they give you the option of either choosing the “In-Van” or the “Follow” option. To me, the in-van option seemed like the way to go so that I wouldn’t miss out on any of the action, but sadly the site listed that there was only space in the van for one person. We had two people, so I booked a follow tour for January 9th. For future patrons, the in-van option turned out to be a golf cart, not an actual van.
After spending some time in Atlanta, my mom and I ditched our hotel and made way for Covington. Let me just tell you, my mom’s a saint. She’d never seen the show in her life, had no desire to watch it in the future, and yet she still took this detour with me.
We arrived at the Covington Visitor Center, which is home to the original “Mystic Falls, Virginia” sign that we see in TVD. The sign was everyone’s go-to move upon arrival, including mine, obviously. After snapping some photos, we entered the cramped room. I will admit, this place had some pretty cool TVD memorabilia. It had a TVD director’s chair, a Mystic Falls 150th Celebration banner, signed photos, cast clothing used on screen… and of course, blood!
While that kept us occupied, there was little direction as to where our tour guides were. We inquired about the tour with the woman sitting at the welcome desk, but she had no information nor any affiliation with the Vampire Stalkers. Eventually, two scarlet-haired women, both in Mystic Falls Timberwolves hoodies and jeans, entered the room. This is where we meet Jessica and Angie. We were instructed to sign-in, sign a form, and grab a flag to attach to our car windows. The flag read “Covington, Georgia. The Hollywood of the South.”
First stop, Isobel’s house. If you need a refresher, we meet Isobel in the first season of the show. She’s both Alaric’s first wife and Elena’s biological mother. The house was beautiful and painted completely white. Our tour guides told a silly story involving Ian Somerhalder (Damon Salvatore) interacting with a fan while filming.
Next, each car was instructed to park on the street of a nearby neighborhood. This was where we exited our vehicles and walked to a couple of homes. First up was the Forbes house, as in Caroline Forbes and Sheriff Elizabeth Forbes. Oh Sheriff Forbes, may God rest her sweet soul. This spot was really cool because I felt as if I were transported into the show and really standing on Caroline’s doorstep. The only differences between the current home and the one we see in the show, are the swing (which was moved to the side of the home due to crazy fans), the door color, and a couple of yard signs.
We then walked to the iconic Gilbert home. I’ve always dreamed of swinging on that porch with Damon by my side. I got my photo taken right in front of the spot where Damon and Elena kissed on the front step, so I was as happy as can be.
There was one part of the tour that was a little extra to me. The spot where Elena was attacked while running was right nearby, which the tour guides alerted us about. Then, they proceeded to tell us to go get a photo in a mid-run sort of stance and act like Elena. I don’t know, I just thought that was kind of cheesy. I don’t know about everyone else, but I was fine with the simple, smiley photo in front of the house. Also, fun fact, Elena and Caroline’s homes sit right across the street from one another. They basically should have been next-door neighbors. I sure didn’t expect that, as the show doesn’t depict the location of the homes to be so close in proximity.
After the Gilbert home, came Worthington Manor, otherwise known as the Lockwood Mansion. Our tour guides had the owner’s permission and gate access to this property. The front of the home welcomed us with a beautiful fountain and large white columns. We went around back for some TVD history, where events such as Miss Mystic Falls, Caroline and Stefan’s wedding, and others occurred. The homeowner (no, not Tyler Lockwood) graciously welcomed us and was open to answer any questions he could. He also had a beautiful shed out back, which was full of signed TV memorabilia and photos of him with the cast.
Next stop was Downtown Covington. The clock tower on the Newton County Courthouse is a staple in the TVD series, along with Mystic Grill, which is located right next door. Yes, Mystic Grill is real, and it’s a 10/10. The inside isn’t the same as in the show, due to that portion being filmed at a sound stage, but the food is great. After the tour, my mom and I split pork skins, fried green tomatoes, and the Mystic Salad. Fun fact, the infamous alley where many saw their demise outside of the Grill in the show, is real too. It’s right between the clock tower and the grill. Spooky.
After dining at Mystic Grill, I purchased a shirt from the Vampire Stalkers’ store. Just a word to the wise, if you eat at Mystic Grill, you get a 10% off coupon to their store, The Alley. The Vampire Stalkers’ store offered no discount, I just wanted a specific shirt they had. Both stores had quality merchandise and mini TVD museums inside them.
We finished off our time in town by walking past Elena and Grayson Gilbert’s medical office decals, followed by a quick drive-by of a couple other spots that the tour guides did not show us. These included Bonnie’s Grams’ house, the cemetery, and Twelve Oaks Inn. When in doubt, make your own tour.
Rumor has it that the TVD spinoff series, Legacies, was just picked up for a third season, so it’s safe to say this won’t be the last we’ve seen of Covington, GA.