by Carrie Cochran
Hello friends, fellow travelers, and tv show fanatics!
Welcome to a special edition of The Mandala Traveler! As you regular readers know, I usually focus on fun activities and beautiful destinations instead of film tours. However, I wanted to mix things up this week based on the popularity of one of my previous posts: Tour the Real Town Behind Mystic Falls, VA. As you may already know, Mystic Falls is the fictional home to the popular TVD series, and much of the filming was done in the beautiful southern town of Covington, GA. What you may not know is that the popular spin-off series, The Originals, was also largely filmed in Georgia–in a town less than 20 minutes away!
That’s right! Despite being based in New Orleans, many of those beautiful balconied buildings in The Originals are actually from the quaint town of Conyers, Georgia.
With a busy schedule like this, there’s no knowing what will be going on when you visit! However, if you manage to catch it on a slow, warm Southern day, you’ll have the place mostly to yourself. And if you get lost, the residents are more than happy to point you in the right direction and share a few fun facts, too.
The Historic Train Depot
While the Historic Train Depot wasn’t technically a shooting location (as far as I know), you’ll definitely want to start your tour here. Besides doubling as the town’s welcome center, the train depot also offers some fun photo ops for fans of both series.
Back by the bathrooms, you can pose with cutouts of Elena, Damon, and Stefan. You can also sit down with The Original family and Marcel beneath the Season 3 poster in the front room!
Plus, several of the show’s iconic signs are hanging up here, including Gillespie’s Pub, Second Life Vinyl, and Jardin Gris Voodoo Shop.
I also highly recommend parking in this area because it’s free and easy to get in and out of, whereas the main street tends to get busy.
Perhaps the most recognizable place you’ll see, Center Street served as the central boulevard for many of the series’ festivals, funerals, and random street scenes.
This street was often featured in The Originals series for festival and shopping scenes
While many of the shop signs were replaced with neon ones advertising jazz clubs or antique stores, and the storefronts were fitted with fake awnings and columns for filming, you can still recognize some of the individual buildings.
For example, Phil’s Pawn Shop (911 Center Street, Conyers, GA) is an often-featured white building with enormous columns and a very impressive façade. It’s shown throughout the series without the pawn sign, including in the series final Mardis Gras scene (S5:E13, 05:38).
Phil’s Pawn Bank on Center Street in Conyers, GA
In Season 1, Episode 20 during Father Kieran’s Wake, you can see the end of this street with a trolley passing by on the train tracks and all the buildings decked out with fake balconies and columns. You may recognize the pink building pictured below, which is just a couple doors down from the Jardin Gris Voodoo Shop.
This scene is pictured at Father Kieran’s funeral
Another main-street favorite is Simply Naked Candles (906 Center Street, Conyers, GA), which doubles as the Jardin Gris Voodoo Shop throughout the series. This cute white building is given a makeover with distress red brick, green trim, and some columns for an eerie appearance in the show. You can take a closer look in Season 1, Episode 2, about 16 minutes in.
Simply Naked Candles doubles as the Jardin Gris Voodoo Shop in Seasons 1, 3, and 4
I think the best example of Center Street seen in the show is actually in Season 3, Episode 11. Almost 15 minutes in, Davina walks down the street, and you can clearly see several of Conyer’s buildings, including The Sandwich Factory, part of the pawnshop, and several of the storefronts across the street, including the New Depot Players and The Soapary. You can also see the circular bird decal pictured below in one of the shop windows and recognize the striped awnings and colored brick cutouts on the storefronts. You can even duck into the little alleyway that Kol pulls Davina into!
The first four buildings on the right and last two on the left are clearly scene at 15 minutes in S3:E11!
In fact, I actually recommend you duck down that alley, because it’s the quickest way to check out the Witches Cauldron. Turn right and head back to the small parking area behind 922 Center Street. This little area is shown time to time in Seasons 1, 3, & 4, and it’s usually set up with bistro tables and string lights. It looks much different in its usual role as a parking lot, but you can definitely see the resemblance. I recommend comparing it to Season 1, Episode 3, 17:32.
Parking lot used as The Witches Cauldron
The Sandwich Shop
You may have recognized the ornately balconied building sitting on the corner across from the pawnshop. That’s because it’s the outside of Rousseau’s! The Originals cast heads to Rousseau’s almost every episode, it seems, so you’ve probably seen quite a few glimpses of this cool building with the sign swinging in the New Orleans’ breeze.
The Sandwich Factory doubles as Rousseau’s exterior
The inside is not actually a bar, but a delicious sandwich shop called The Sandwich Factory. We ate lunch there, and the staff was so friendly and was happy to talk about life in a movie town. I highly recommend it for a mid-tour snack stop! The address is 903 Commercial Street, Conyers, GA.
If you head down Commercial Street, you’ll see a few more recognizable landmarks, including the restaurant used as Gillespie’s Pub in Season 3, Episode 7, 37:15. This scene shows Davina sitting alone at the bar while Marcel and Vincent stand outside.
The Celtic Tavern is where the Gillespie’s Pub scene was filmed
Behind Marcel’s shoulder, you can make out some of the ornate balconies down this street.
The final stop on your tour is a location you might not have thought twice about during the scene, but it probably was an awesome scene to watch in person! Behind The Pointe restaurant, there is an empty lot by the railroad tracks (939 Railroad Street NW, Conyers, GA).
This lot is where Cortez compels the limousine driver to blow up the limo when he first arrives in New Orleans to confront Klaus! You can see the house across the tracks peeking over the hill, and that’s how you’ll recognize this scene from Season 3, Episode 15.
Location of the limo explosion in Season 3
We had such a great time exploring Conyers, GA! My husband has never seen the series, but the town was so charming on its own, it made a great adventure for both of us. We ended our tour with a stop by the old-fashioned soda fountain at the Beasley Drug Store and a quick loop around the Lewis Vaughn Gardens. These aren’t part of the show (to my knowledge) but are definitely worth a quick visit.
If you do the tour, you may even want to revisit some of these places at night, just to really embrace the full Originals aesthetic! It is such an amazing feeling to stand somewhere your favorite characters have stood and imagine yourself right in the scene. I hope you get the chance to do so!