(Note: This story was updated April 8, 2019)
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
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
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.
Or if you're looking for great coffee, check out Ubora Coffee Roasters (1128 Jones Street). Opened in late 2018 and located in the central business district of downtown Augusta, the coffee shop caters to students, veterans, business folks and, of course, patrons to the Masters.
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 (actualluy located in Edgefield, S.C., right across the River -- 116 Court House Square). 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.
And now Carolina Moon Distillery has another distillery as well in Augusta (opened the week of the 2019 Masters) called the Second City Distillery (4 Eighth Street). Located near the Riverwalk in downtown Augusta, Second City is a micro-distillery that produces vodka, whiskey, moonshine and bourbon.
Also opening in the spring of 2019 is Vance's Bakery Bar (123 James Brown Blvd.), a mid-century modern bakery and cocktail lounge featuring local craft beers and spirits, paired to create signature cocktails, coffee drinks, and dessert drinks. The menu includes a variety of alcohol-infused desserts prepared in-house as well.
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'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.
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.
And new in 2019 is Pexcho's American Dime Museum (216 6th Street), a faithful recreation of late 19th Century and early 20th Century Dime Museums, and inspired by Scudder's, and then P.T. Barnum's 5-story American Museum in New York City (which Burned to the ground in 1865). Pexcho's American Dime Museum will bring Wonderment, Disbelief, Amazement and Laughter to Children and Adults alike.
New Hyatt hotel
A brand new Hyatt House opened in the spring of 2019 just in time for the Maasters. Located in downtown Augusta, Hyatt House offers residential style rooms with complimentary daily breakfast, rooftop patio and bar, and 4,050 square feet of meeting space.
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
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.