The second largest city in Georgia, Augusta, hosts more than a half million tourists each year. Sure, most of these tourists are in town for April’s Master’s Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club, but Augusta has much more to offer than golf. Visitors to the city will find a great mix of history and hipster. There is much to do and see including a lot of outdoor activity, touring museums and galleries, and great shops and restaurants.
A two level walkway runs along the Savannah River between 6th and 10th Streets in downtown Augusta. It’s a great place to start getting a feel for the city for a first time visitor. The walkway meanders offering great views of the city. Every Saturday from mid-March through November, the 8th Street Bulkhead hosts a Farmer’s Market featuring local produce and baked goods as well as art and jewelry by local artists. Live music plays at the Jessye Norman Amphitheater near the 9th Street Plaza including The Candlelight Jazz Series. At the 10th Street brick paved plaza, you can look through a levee at Heroes Overlook. The lower level of the Riverwalk features a beautiful Japanese Garden. There are local businesses that run along the walk and activities including a playground and group runs.
2. Augusta Canal National Heritage Area
Another great spot to enjoy the outdoors in Augusta, Georgia is the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area. The canal was created in 1845 as a source for the city’s fresh water, power and transportation. By the 1870’s textile and other industrial mills sprouted up along the canal helping to grow the city’s population. In the 1890’s a new water pump was installed mid-canal that still pumps today. Visitors to the canal can walk, run, hike or bike along its wooded paths or take boat tours. There is also a Discovery Center to learn more about the history of the canal and its importance to the city. The huge Enterprise Mill has been turned into an office and residential complex.
3. Augusta Museum of History
As with any city, a visitor can explore the history of the city and region at the Museum of History. The Augusta Museum of History was founded in 1937 and serves as a resource and research center. The museum stretches 10,000 square feet. It’s most famous permanent exhibit is “Augusta’s Story” which explores the area’s history. The exhibit explores the city from ancient times through the present. There are exhibits on health care and banking as well as exhibits on the railroad and transportation history. This includes a 1914 locomotive, a 1920’s trolley car and a 1930’s gas station.
4. Sconyers Barbecue
A visit to Augusta is not complete without stopping at Sconyers Barbecue. The traditional southern BBQ restaurant has been in business since 1956 when it was started by Claude and Adeline Sconyers. The Sconyers were farmers who decided to expand their hobby of barbecuing when their children were grown. They opened up a small restaurant that was instantly popular with locals. When their youngest son, Larry, took over the family restaurant he expanded it and it became a sensation. The meet is cooked over live mesquite coals and smoked for more than 24 hours. Sconyers Barbecue is served at local and state events and even on the White House Lawn for President Jimmy Carter.
5. Imperial Theatre
The historic Imperial Theatre was opened in the 1918 and was named for the famed theater in New York City. It first hosted vaudeville performances and as a photoplay theater Today the theater continues to host live performances of plays, musicals, instrumental concerts, and comedy. The 853 seat theater was designed after the Victorian Renaissance. Stars who’ve performed at the Augusta Imperial include Charlie Chaplin and Henry Fonda. The museum offers tours of its beautiful architecture.
6. Riverwatch Brewery
The Riverwatch Brewery is a must for beer enthusiasts. The brewery was founded in 2016 by Brey and Anne Sloan. They completely remodeled the interior of an old warehouse at the Farmer’s Market to create a place to create and sell their brew. There they make and serve blonde ale, pale ale, red ale, double IPA, wheat, lager, brown ale and Belgian ale. Visitors can enjoy a pint while they play board games. Tours are offered. Guests can bring in their own food and even dogs are welcome at Riverwatch Brewery.
7. Magnolia Cemetery
Back in 1818 the site of Magnolia Cemetery was a large plantation. Resting on 60 beautiful acres of land Magnolia Cemetery is a nice place to stroll and observe history. The cemetery 5 Jewish areas and 1 Greek area. There are several beautiful churches next to the the land as well as a Masonic Lodge. Visitors can view the graves of many Civil and Revolutionary War veterans. Also the famous Crape Maple tree is planted in the cemetery and is considered one of the oldest trees in the state of Georgia.
8. Phinizy Swamp Nature Park
For nature lovers, Phinizy Swamp Nature Park is a great place to visit in Augusta. Just a few minutes from downtown Augusta, the park spreads over 1100 acres of swampland and features trails for biking and hiking. There you’ll find all kinds of bird species, fish, turtles, rabbits, alligators, otters, hawks and blue heron. There is a Rain Garden Deck and Boardwalk, a Flood Plain Boardwalk and the Beaver Dam Trail. The Phinizy Swamp Nature Park also has the Center for Water Sciences which acts as a habitat research campus.
9. The Boll Weevil Cafe and Sweetery
If you have a sweet tooth, you won’t want to miss The Boll Weevil Cafe and Sweetery located just steps from Augusta’s Riverwalk on James Brown Blvd. Located in an 1870’s cotton warehouse, The Boll Weevil Cafe has served southern cooking and desserts for nearly 20 years. The menu features southern specialties like Shrimp and Grits and Gumbo. The cafe serves 30 types of homemade desserts daily and also offers wine.
10. The Comedy Zone
After a day of exploring Augusta you can relax at The Comedy Zone. Augusta is known as a city that mixes the old with the new. Mixed in with its history is a hip and young nightlife. You can enjoy a nightclub or a comedy club. Located in the Augusta Bar and Grille is The Comedy Zone, an international comedy club that hosts some of the world’s best comedians. It’s a great way to end a day in Augusta.