Whether you are looking for an authentic cultural, outdoors, history or (everyone’s favorite) culinary experience, look no further than Augusta, Georgia.
While the city is best known as being home to the Augusta National and the Masters Golf Tournament, the destination provides various adventures for every interest that’ll leave a lasting impression on even the most discerning traveler.
Get Your Art On
You can spend a half-day (or longer) gallery-hopping in Augusta. For starters, there’s the Morris Museum of Art, the first museum in the country dedicated to the art and artists of the American South, and the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art, which exhibits regional, national, and international artists. In addition, the Westabou Art Gallery introduces visitors to emerging and mid-career contemporary and experimental artists not from the area and region but also throughout the nation. Of course, everyone has a story, but the stories behind the artists and their artwork at the 523 Gallery will leave you inspired.
Want to take a few local pieces home? Check out places like Art on Broad or Tire City Pottery. If you want a hands-on experience, consider pouring a candle at Augusta Candle Company.
Public art surrounds you in downtown Augusta with a sculpture trail, whimsically painted pianos and traffic signal boxes, and plenty of colorful and funky murals begging to be the backdrop of selfies or group photos.
Also, downtown you’ll discover the James Brown Journey Walking Tour. The self-guided tour introduces you to places instrumental in his life, like the Bell Auditorium and the site of The Boss radio station. And, of course, take a selfie with his statue.
The city possesses a robust performing arts scene with the Miller Theater, home to the Augusta Symphony and the Imperial Theater, host to various concerts and acts.
Plan Ahead: Time out your visit to Augusta to enjoy one of the many festivals that include Arts in the Heart.
As the state’s second-oldest city, Augusta has its share of historical sites, such as Meadow Garden, the home of George Walton, one of the youngest signers of the Declaration of Independence, and the Boyhood Home of Woodrow Wilson, the country’s 28th President. In addition, the museums retell stories of the city’s past, like the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History, highlighting African Americans’ legacy in the region.
Perhaps the best place to delve into Augusta’s rich history is at the Augusta History Museum. Exhibits detail the various factors that played vital roles in crafting the city’s overall personality. There are even ones on golf and James Brown.
And then add in a visit to the Augusta Canal Discovery Center at Enterprise Mill. The former 19th-century textile mill houses an interpretive museum focusing on the Canal’s history, the industrial revolution in the South, and how Augusta reinvented its waterways to modern times. Finish up with a guided canal tour aboard a Petersburg Boat.
Don’t miss touring the Sacred Heart Cultural Center. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the former Catholic Church (ca.1897), active 1900- 1971, was purchased in the mid-1980s, renovated and reopened as a cultural center. The facility holds events for all ages throughout the year, and they also have an annual signature event - the Garden City Festival at Sacred Heart.
Trivia Time: Because of the Canal, the city was home to the second-largest cotton exchange in the world.
Into the Great Outdoors
It’s easy to get (and stay) moving while in Augusta. You can take a stroll or a jog on the Riverwalk or hike along Phinizy Swamp Nature Park’s trails. For activities with something a “little extra,” there’s horseback riding at Hilltop Riding Stable on Fort Gordon or kayaking the Augusta Canal.
Of course, being Augusta, golfers can find ample public and semi-private golf courses to conquer. There are also courses available for the type of golf that’s more throwing than swinging ~ disc golf.
Challenge Accepted: Swim, bike, run at the Ironman 70.3 Augusta. The city plays host to one of North America’s largest race of its kind.
It’s okay to admit that at least 80 percent, all right, 90 percent of the reason you travel is to try new restaurants and dishes. After all, it is part of the overall experience and an essential part for many travelers.
In Augusta, you can find everything from the typical southern-style meals at Cafe 209 to nachos at Nacho Mama to oysters and other Cajun and Creole fare at French Market Grille.
You get the idea.
The city also offers taprooms and has a growing craft cocktail scene. And for your daily caffeine jolt, make your way over to Buona Caffe Artisan Roasted Coffee for a hand-crafted coffee and other treats.
Make a Note: You can’t leave without having a drink or dinner (or both) at Partridge Inn.
Stay for the Night (or Weekend)
Whether it’s a room at a hotel, a bed-and-breakfast, or at the aforementioned Partridge Inn, you’ll discover the city has accommodations for every need and budget.
Room with Your Four-Legged Friend: Many of Augusta’s accommodations are pet-friendly. So, bring your bestest buddy to explore the city with you.
photos: personal collection