Located south of Atlanta, in the heart of the state, is Macon. The destination delights travelers with its outdoor activities, historical and cultural sites, music heritage and growing culinary scene. The city is also home to annual events like the International Cherry Blossom Festival, Bragg Jam and Tubman Pan African Festival.
As you can tell, with much to do and see year-round, anytime is a good time to visit.
To truly experience of Macon, you want to include certain places on your itinerary.
Begin your morning or take a mid-afternoon break at Amerson River Park, part of the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail. Enjoy viewing the Ocmulgee River from the bluffs or walking any of the seven miles of trails. If the weather permits (and you are in the mood), take to the water in a kayak or canoe.
Back in town, you can discover parks such as Coleman Hill Park, on the highest point in Macon and be a kid again as you go down the 64-foot long concrete slide.
Delve Into History and Culture
One aspect that sets Macon apart from other destinations is its historical and cultural sites. During your visit, you can explore Indian mounds, tour historic homes, and check out the largest museum in the nation highlighting African Americans’ art, history, and culture.
Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park reflects 17,000 years of human habitation. The site, where “the largest archeology dig in the nation’s history” took place in the 1930s, is home to the continent’s only reconstructed Earth Lodge and Early Mississippian temple. Be sure to check out the visitors’ center and museum. Don’t leave without climbing to the top of the Great Temple Mound for the sweeping views.
With its wide range of architectural styles found throughout the city, it’s not surprising Macon has 6,000 individual structures in 14 historic districts placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Peek inside two magnificent structures open to the public: the Hays House and the Cannonball House.
The five-level 18,000-square-foot Italian Renaissance Revival mansion, known as the Hays House, is regarded for its design and amenities, such as hot and cold running water and central heat, which were unusual in the 19th century.
The Cannonball House was the only home in Macon damaged by the Civil War, with one of the front columns hit by a shell from Fort Hawkins.
Moving on to museums, the Tubman Museum displays Georgia artist Wilfred Stroud’s mural, “Africa to America.” The nine-panel piece depicts the triumphs of African Americans through time. Among the other exhibits is a focus on African American inventors and the Macon’s role in the evolution of R&B and Soul and more.
Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, recognized as the largest state sports museum in the country, honors Georgians’ athletic achievements in prep, college, amateur and professional sports. View thousands of artifacts highlighting the people behind the accomplishments and the history of sports in Georgia.
Another aspect that makes Macon unique is the city’s role in establishing musical icons such as Otis Redding, Little Richard, Allman Brothers and many others.
Whether it's going through the Museum at Capricorn or the mini-museum at Otis Redding Foundation, there’s plenty for music enthusiasts (and even those who are just curious about the different genres that came out of Macon) to explore.
Of course, you can’t talk about music and Macon without mentioning The Big House, the second-most visited attraction in the city. Located on Highway 41 (see if you can say that instead of singing it), the dwelling is where the families and those connected to the Allman Brothers lived until 1973. Now it’s home to the Allman Brothers Band Museum.
The museum features an extensive collection of Allman Brothers’ memorabilia like Gregg Allman and Cher’s pool table from their marriage and an 18-string bass referred to as “Thor.” There are also items like Dicky Betts’ handwritten “Blue Sky” lyrics, and Dwayne Allman’s room includes his New Year’s resolutions.
Even though Rose Hill Cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the final resting place for many notables, including three Georgia governors, many music fans visit the gravesites of Duane Allman and bandmate Barry Oakley.
Interestingly, the cemetery is also home to the Allman Brothers’ inspirations for the songs “Little Martha” and “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” as well as the monument from one of their photos.
Douglass Theatre, the African-American movie theater and vaudeville hall, hosted such greats as “Ma” Rainey, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, and others in its heyday.
In 1958, Otis Redding won “The Teenage Party” talent show hosted by local DJ “Hamp Swain.” Redding would win it for 15 consecutive weeks.
For more music-related places, log on to Macon’s Music History Brochure (also available in print at the Welcome Center). Created by Historic Macon, Visit Macon and Rock Candy Tours, the brochure details 43 sites of points of interests.
From The Rookery’s “Jimmy Carter Milkshake” complete with banana ice cream, peanut butter and a strip of bacon to fried chicken at H&H Restaurant to sharing tastes at Lazy Susan Tapas Bar, there are no wrong choices for dining in Macon.
For a more upscale experience, consider either Dovetail, featuring farm-to-table dishes or Downtown Grill, with its menu of steak, pasta, fish and more.
So, wherever you choose to eat while in Macon, know you’ll eat well.
Oh, and there are plenty of places for a caffeine fix, too, So you won't have go without your favorite coffee drink or hot tea just because you are out of town.
photos personal collection