The city set on the Savannah River is known mainly for being the hometown of James Brown and ground zero for the Masters golf tournament every spring, but there’s much more to Augusta than meets the eye. Established in 1735, it’s one of Georgia’s older cities and was even the capital for a time. Today it has a thriving medical community, home to one of the state’s top teaching hospitals. It also plays host to major events like triathlons and arts festivals like Arts in the Heart and Westobou Festival. Its location on the river and the Augusta Canal provides visitors and locals with ample opportunities to connect with nature and take advantage of the miles of paths that run from suburban parks to downtown. The historic downtown also has a number of shops as well as restaurants and attractions. Summerville is one of the older neighborhoods in Augusta and midtown is also worth a wander.
What to Do
Augusta Museum of History– Located next to the visitor’s center, the Augusta Museum of History is where all visits to the city should start. Here you’ll find out about how it became what it is today, as well as exhibits on famous Augustans, James Brown and The Masters. 560 Reynolds Street
Augusta Canal National Heritage Area– The canal is part of a large system covered by the National Parks System, including a Discovery Center at a historic mill. It features displays on the history of the mill and what it was used for and is also the launching point for boat tours and music cruises. You can also take advantage of the miles of paths that run alongside the canal or rent a kayak to experience it on the water. 1450 Greene Street
Phinizy Swamp Nature Park– Set in the outskirts of town, Phinizy has miles of boardwalks and trails where visitors can get up close with nature and learn more about the wildlife that inhabits the area. The park offers guided walks and bike rides and, best of all is completely free to visit! 1858 Lock and Dam Road
Morris Museum of Art– Founded by a publishing company executive, the Morris Museum was the first in the country to focus on art specific to the southern United States. Here you’ll find four changing exhibits as well as a permanent collection from the 1800s to the present. It includes paintings, photographs, sculptures, prints and drawings. 1 10th Street (2nd Floor)
Augusta Riverwalk Marina– This riverfront park runs four blocks and includes walking paths, an amphitheater and Japanese gardens. Between 6th and 10th Streets
Woodrow Wilson Boyhood Home– Visit the residence where a young Tommy Wilson grew up during the Civil War with his minister father. The home has been restored and contains a few pieces of original furnishings as well as those appropriate for the time period. 419 7th Street
Historic Trolley of Augusta– Hop aboard the green trolley for a driving tour of historic downtown. Your guides will share offbeat stories about the city’s history and point out important landmarks like the Haunted Pillar and the “Toaster Building.” They run every Saturday from the Augusta Museum of History.
Augusta also has plenty of activities apart from the traditional landmarks. You can rent kayaks and stand-up paddleboards to navigate the canals and watch a baseball game with the Augusta Greenjackets. Tire City Potters also offers open pottery classes. Sacred Heart Cultural Center offers live music and events as well as tours of their historic property.
Where to Eat
The Bee’s Knees– This hip downtown eatery is a great place to share a few dishes with friends, especially the chicken and waffles and pad thai. They also have vegan options and a diverse menu of craft cocktails, beer and wine. Sunday brunch is also offered and reservations are recommended on weekends. 211 10th Street, (706) 828-3600
The Hive Growler Bar– Owned by the same group as The Bee’s Knees, The Hive is a growler bar and restaurant where you can take jugs of draft beer and wine to go or stay and enjoy. The tap list is live online and on the big screen above the bar, so you’ll always know what’s available. They have salads, sandwiches and their poutine as well as vegan options. 215 10th Street, (706) 836-3661
Craft & Vine– The newest to Augusta’s trend of beer and wine-focused restaurants is Craft & Vine. They offer small plates, charcuterie and wood-fired pizzas. I recommend the hummus, sirloin, rainbow trout and their seasonally inspired cocktails. 1204-B Broad Street, (706) 496-8442
The New Moon Cafe– Start your day off with a breakfast burrito and smoothie from New Moon or stop by for lunch and a coffee. Open since 1995, this beloved hangout serves up breakfast, pastries, paninis, soups and salads. 936 Broad Street, (706) 823-2008
Nacho Mama’s Augusta– Don’t let the long lines at lunch keep you from eating at this Mexican spot as they work quickly and efficiently. Choose from salads, burritos, tacos and, of course, tacos. Pair your meal with one of their margaritas. 976 Broad Street, (706) 724-0501
Buona Caffe Artisan Roasted Coffee– This coffee roaster opened a coffee shop where they serve pour overs, lattes and teas with hot sandwiches and pastries. They also sell the gear you need to make your favorite drink at home like Aeropress and Chemex products. 1858 Central Avenue, (706) 869-4074
Where to Stay
You’ll find all of the standard chains both downtown and in the greater Augusta area, including the Augusta Marriott at the Convention Center, which is modern with access to the Riverwalk and within walking distance of most of the attractions. For a unique local stay in historic Summerville, I recommend The Partridge Inn, which has a rooftop bar and restaurant as well as convenient access to Augusta National.
Research for this guide was made possible by the Augusta Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, who hosted me on my last two stays.