Tourists are coming in droves to Covington, Georgia, a small town 30 minutes east of Atlanta. The Vampire Diaries, a popular drama on the CW Network, has been filming in this antebellum town since 2009. The setting for the fictional town of Mystic Falls is not in Virginia after all, but in Covington, Georgia. Series fans come to Covington to follow in the footsteps of two vampire brothers, Stefan and Damon, and Elena, the woman they both obsess over.
Last year visitors came from 44 states and 33 foreign countries to discover the favorite haunts of the series characters. What they find is an old Southern town with a downtown square, stately homes, and lots of charm. The Covington area abounds in history. During the Civil War Union forces burned bridges over the nearby Alcovy and Yellow rivers and destroyed the railroad, cutting off communications and supplies between Atlanta and Augusta. A number of beautiful homes escaped the war undamaged, and their exteriors are regularly used in filming.
Tourists come to Covington to see the Mystic Falls Courthouse, which is actually the Newton County Courthouse, the Gilbert House, the Lockwood Mansion, and the Mystic Falls Cemetery. The fictional Mystic Grill is currently being made into a real restaurant. Many of the shops in town carry vampire related merchandise.
A private tour company in town operates The Vampire Stalkers Mystic Falls Tours. Visitors taking their tour will see a number of sites from the first four seasons, with season five sites to be added soon. All of the homes used in the filming are privately owned and are not open to the public. However the tour has special permission to take visitors on their grounds to look around. The tour involves a lot of walking, with a shuttle bus transport from site to site. Estimated tour time is 2-4 hours, depending on group size. Tour price is $55, and tours start from the Covington/Newton Visitor Information Center at 2101 Clark Street.
Covington’s downtown is thriving, with lots of small shops and restaurants. Festivals, concerts, and other events regularly bring visitors to town. Covington is becoming known as the “Hollywood of the South.” The Covington Walk of Stars is a self-guided tour that takes visitors to 36 locations in town where more than 60 movies and TV series have filmed. The Vampire Diaries is just the latest in a long list of shows that have filmed in town. Covington sites have been used in The Dukes of Hazzard, In the Heat of the Night, American Reunion, My Cousin Vinny, Halloween II, A Man Called Peter, and many others. A star icon indicates a location site. Walk of Stars maps are available at the Visitor Center.