What to do beyond Augusta National during the Masters

So you're making the trip to Augusta to see the Masters. Maybe it's your first time, maybe not. But if you're like most people, your days are pretty much dominated by the magic inside the gates of Augusta National Golf Club. Located on Washington Road, many adjacent pop-up events, like John Daly's annual setup in the Hooter's parking lot, cater to golf fans.

But patrons should still be sure to venture away from Magnolia Lane and into the city of Augusta. Also known as the "Garden City," Augusta offers more than you might realize with plenty of places to eat, the Riverwalk, a golf course you can play, boat tours and even a few museums, one of which has a tribute to one of Augusta's most famous sons – James Brown, the Godfather of Soul.

Here, then, is a look, at the other things to do in Augusta – the second oldest city in Georgia -- whether you're there for the Masters or any other time of the year.

Tribute to the Godfather of Soul

James Brown immortalized in Augusta, Ga. (Courtesy of Augusta CVB)


Considering Augusta played such a huge role in James Brown’s life, it is only fitting that the artist is remembered throughout the city. At the Augusta Museum of History, the one-of-a-kind James Brown Exhibit features rare memorable and personal artifacts that vividly tell the story of The Godfather of Soul’s life. In downtown Augusta, a life-size bronze statue of James Brown serves as a reminder of his legacy to fans and visitors of the city.

A public golf option near the Masters

Originally designed by Donald Ross, Forest Hills Golf Club is open to the public and just minutes from Augusta National.

Best public golf option in Augusta: Forest Hills.(Courtesy of Augusta CVB)


There are several golf options (some just across the state lines in South Carolina) for folks who bring their clubs to Augusta. A couple of private courses – Club at Jones Creek and Champions Retreat – even offer some public access during Masters week. But for public golf in Augusta, check out Forest Hills Golf Club . Home of the two-time men's national champion Augusta State University golf team, it was originally designed by Donald Ross (1926) and renovated by Arnold Palmer in 2004. It's also less than than five miles from Augusta National.

Plenty for the foodies

Dining on Broad Street in Augusta, Georgia.

Broad Street offers dining in Augusta. (Courtesy of Augusta CVB)


After golf, there are plenty of options in Augusta. You could start out at Finch & 5th with a charcuterie plate and crafted cocktails to recap the day or head over to Abel Brown for oysters of every design. For some late-night mingling the Bee's Knees offers some light bites made using local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients. Its also known for its carefully designed cocktails alongside its tapas treats. Or for a more intimate setting, head to Craft & Vine, tucked away in downtown Augusta, featuring signature cocktails, an extensive wine selection and low lights bouncing off art deco and leather.

If you're craving authentic Southern cooking, check out Cafe 209 in downtown Augusta. The locally owned restaurant offers down-South staples alongside delectable desserts, which change frequently. Or for a scenic view, eat at the Boll Weevil Café on the Riverwalk. And finally, if barbecue is on your wish list, check out Southbound Smokehouse. This BBQ joint boasts live music from acoustic to southern rock.

Local brews and spirits

Like many cities, Augusta has its own craft brews and spirits. The River Watch Brewery -- situated in a restored warehouse on the Farmer's Market and owned and operated by the only mother-daughter brew team in the nation -- River Watch Brewery is the first brewery to return to the Garden City since Prohibition. The brewery has four core brews and often offers experimental and seasonal brews for guests to try.

Or if moonshine is more your speed, check out the Carolina Moon Distillery. Steeped in the South’s moonshine tradition, Carolina Moon Distillery offers an array of small batch spirits. Each spirit is distilled, bottled and package, by hand and onsite using local ingredients, and each product retains a personal touch. Guests can visit the artisan distillery's taste room and sample batches such as Ole Tom Whiskey or moonshine.

Riverwalk

Visitors looking for some extra exercise can stroll along Augusta’s Riverwalk that winds along the Savannah River. The Riverwalk is lined with greenery and historical monuments with views of architectural masterpieces across the way. The Riverwalk is close to several culinary retreats.

A presidential home

Woodrow Wilson grew up in Augusta, Ge. Here's his boyhood home, which is open to the public.

Woodrow Wilson's boyghood home. (Courtesy of Augusta CVB)


Most people probably don't know that President Woodrow Wilson lived in Augusta as a boy, and his boyhood home is available to tourists. The home is a National Historic Landmark and serves as a house museum depicting the life Wilson as a boy growing up in Georgia during the Civil War and Reconstruction. As the oldest Presidential residence in the state, it serves as an educational facility and a historic attraction for the city of Augusta, the state of Georgia and the nation.

Historic Summerville District

Walk back in time and tour Summerville, one of Augusta's seven historic districts, which began as a summer resort for wealthy Augustans who sought refuge from the heat and mosquitoes near the Savannah River. Summerville, now known as the "crown jewel" of Augusta's neighborhoods, boasts impressive examples of revival styles of architecture-Greek, Gothic, Italianate, Spanish and Colonial to name a few.

Augusta's art museums

There are two significant art museums in Augusta. The Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art remains the only non-profit contemporary gallery and visual arts school in the region, offering nearly 30 exhibitions by regional and national artists. The Institute also encourages visitors to try out their artistic hand and offers on-site art classes ranging from paint to stained glass lessons. Meanwhile, the Morris Museum of Art, located on the Riverwalk, is the first museum dedicated to the art and artists of the American South.

Happy trails

There are multiple trails with various difficulty levels located throughout the city for hikers and bikers to discover. For those who want a relaxing experience, the wide, level towpath of the Augusta Canal Heritage Area, once used by mules to pull canal boats to the head gates, is a popular recreational trail for hikers, cyclists and runners. For those who want to experience nature and catch glimpses of wildlife, the Phinizy Swamp Nature Park boasts boardwalks and trails for guests to spot blue herons, otters and alligators in their natural setting. For the more advanced riders, The Forks Area Trail System (FATS) is a fantastic 20-plus mile system. FATS consists of six trails: Deep Step, Great Wall, Skinny, Brown Wave, Big Rock and Tower and even offers trail riding at night.

Petersburg boat tours

Visitors to Augusta can cruise along the Savannah River, courtesy of Petersburg Boat Tours.

Cruise the Savannah River with Petersburg Boat Tours. (Courtesy Augusta CVB)


With a variety of tour options, the Petersburg boat tours on the Augusta canal highlight historical sites and stories. The tours also offer live music performances occasionally, as well as sunset cruises where guests are encouraged to bring their own picnics and libations while they float through time.

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.
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What to do beyond Augusta National during the Masters
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