17 Things to Do in Augusta, GA
By Janet Benoir – December 21, 2023
Nestled along the serene Savannah River and straddling the Georgia-South Carolina border, Augusta emerges as a vibrant gem worth exploring. While it may not be the first city that springs to mind when thinking of Georgia, this southern enclave welcomes visitors with a rich blend of arts, culture, and outdoor adventures—alongside a heaping portion of Southern culinary excellence.
As you amble through Augusta’s charming neighborhoods, the city reveals its proud connection to the arts, innovation, and sportsmanship. The prestigious Masters Tournament has graced its lush golf courses since 1934, attesting to the city’s athletic prestige. But it’s not just about tee times; Augusta’s array of top-tier attractions extends to those with a penchant for culinary arts or nature’s canvas.
On your stroll between 6th and 10th streets in downtown Augusta, the Augusta Riverwalk awaits as an idyllic brick-lined promenade. Here, beside the gentle Savannah River, you can indulge in the peaceful scenery, enjoy the whimsy of a children’s playground, and the visual charm of a fountain.
Saturday mornings bring life to the area with the Augusta Market at the River. As spring emerges and continues into fall, your senses will be greeted by freshly brewed coffee aromas and the vibrant hues of local produce.
Phinizy Swamp Nature Park
At Augusta’s Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, your adventure through the wetlands offers year-round access with no charge. Traverse the network of wooden boardwalks and observation decks to witness an array of wildlife. Spanning Butler Creek, a bridge provides a vantage point to occasionally glimpse turtles and playful river otters.
Venture further and encounter short nature trails where the park’s resident alligators may catch your eye in the winding waters. The Windshear Tower presents an opportunity to observe osprey within their natural nesting environment. On weekends, the Swamp Shop is a must-visit, showcasing natural history exhibits, a live bee colony, and a dedicated Kids’ Corner complete with coloring activities to acquaint them with the park’s mascots, Phin and Izzy.
Morris Museum of Art
Located on Augusta’s scenic Riverwalk, the Morris Museum of Art holds the distinction of being the first museum to exclusively present the art and artists from the Southern United States. You can explore over 5,000 pieces of art across ten galleries, showcasing work from the 18th century to the modern era. This museum frequently updates its offerings with special exhibitions that celebrate the diverse culture and history of the South.
On Sundays, take advantage of a unique opportunity to enjoy the main collection without an admission fee. Free guided tours are available, providing you with deeper insight into the artwork and stories of Southern creators. This museum, nestled at 1 10th St. in Augusta, GA, is highly regarded for its engaging and regional charm, making it an enriching experience for visitors.
Savannah River Brewing Co.
In Augusta’s 16,000-square-foot craft beer haven, you’ll discover a bustling scene where approximately 1.8 million cans of beer come to life each year. Explore an assortment of imaginative brews, with standouts like the creamy Swamp Shake milkshake sour or the vibrant Son of Kong pineapple IPA, served up in a convivial taproom environment.
Create memorable moments with the staff and regular patrons through an array of engaging activities including trivia nights, beer-centric yoga sessions, a spin at karaoke, and more. Touring opportunities are available, allowing you to take a peek behind the scenes. Should you bring along a four-legged companion, they’ll be warmly welcomed in this pet-friendly spot located at 813 Fifth St., Augusta, GA 30901.
Augusta Museum of History
Your exploration of Augusta’s rich 12 millennia will find a diverse trove at the Augusta Museum of History. Delve into a splendid array of rare books, photographs, and exhibits that reflect the city’s significant military past and recognize figures like Hulk Hogan, music icon James Brown, and the dual hero Aquilla James Dyess, noted for his exceptional civilian and military bravery.
A visit to the Ezekiel Harris House, an architectural relic from 1797 connected with the museum, offers a glimpse into the past. It welcomes guests on Saturdays and by appointment throughout the week. For a personal encounter with Augusta’s history, the museum at 560 Reynolds St. stands ready to enrich your understanding of the region’s past.
Forest Hills Golf Club
At the heart of Augusta city, Forest Hills Golf Club offers you a chance to play where the legends have shaped history. The 18-hole course, managed by Augusta University, extends an invitation to book a tee time where the pros of the Masters Tournament have left their mark. Open for instruction, you have the opportunity to enhance your skills with lessons tailored for enthusiastic players of all ages starting from age six.
Constructed in 1926 and revamped in 2003 by the Arnold Palmer Company, this renowned golf course has earned acclaim for its exceptional upkeep and historical significance. As you plan your visit, anticipate a few hours of gameplay immersed in the sport’s legacy. Following your round, the Pro Shop awaits with exclusive golf merchandise for a memorable keepsake. Cap off your day with a refreshing meal at The Grille, featuring the classic club sandwich paired with a cooling beverage.
Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art
In 1818, Nicholas Ware, a prominent figure in Georgia’s history, constructed a notable mansion known for its unique Federal-style architecture. Over time, it gained the nickname “Ware’s Folly” because its lavish design was seen as overly extravagant at the time. Jump forward to 1937, and thanks to the efforts of Olivia Herbert, this fascinating piece of architecture was saved from destruction. To honor her late daughter Gertrude, she established an art institute within this storied edifice.
Visitors to the institute, located at 506 Telfair St. in Augusta, GA, are treated to a variety of contemporary works showcased across numerous galleries and visiting exhibitions, featuring artists both nationwide and international. In addition to the rotating exhibits, the institute is known for hosting special events. The Walker Mackenzie Studio, an extension of the institute, provides art enthusiasts with an array of educational opportunities through workshops and classes in a space designed to be accessible to all.
In the heart of Augusta, Sconyers Bar-B-Que offers a true taste of Southern culinary tradition. Open since the mid-1950s, this family-operated barbecue pit boasts a legacy of turning simple meals into celebrated feasts. Their barbecued dishes are renowned, particularly the hash, which is often praised for its unique and irresistible flavors.
The Plantation Platter – a savory assortment with your choice of a chicken quarter or sliced turkey, accompanied by two mouthwatering ribs, succulent chopped brisket, and tender chipped pork. While here, embrace the warm, nostalgic atmosphere that only a seasoned Georgia barbecue joint can provide.
Your exploration of Augusta’s historical entertainment will lead you to the Imperial Theatre at 745 Broad St., originally known as The Wells. Debuting with vaudeville in February 1918, its early days saw legendary performances, including one by the iconic Charlie Chaplin. However, by October, the Spanish flu necessitated a temporary halt in operations, affecting all public spaces in the area.
After a two-month intermission, the venue emerged transformed, with new proprietors christening it the Imperial Theatre. Today, you can immerse yourself in its rich history through various productions and film screenings. As you step inside, the elegance and energy of the restored space envelop you. The theater boasts a unique treasure, the Mighty Wurlitzer organ, which has been serenading audiences since 1925, enhancing the silent film era with its melodious charm.
Georgia’s premier National Heritage Area, the Augusta Canal, offers a unique experience for outdoor enthusiasts. If you’re seeking an active way to enjoy this historical waterway, consider paddling through. At Savannah Rapids Park, embark on boat or kayak tours, or take advantage of kayak rentals available at the canal’s origin. The interaction with water is not just recreational but also a passage through time, tracing the flow that powers the local industry since the 19th century.
Further along the canal, you’ll find the Augusta Canal Discovery Center situated within the Enterprise Mill. This venue sheds light on how this waterway serves as the nation’s only power canal still fulfilling its initial industrial role after more than 170 years. When you visit, you’ll encounter antique machinery that once animated the operation of locks. Plan a visit during the fall to witness a stunning display of seasonal foliage along the canal’s banks.
Pendleton King Park
In the bustling city of Augusta, a 64-acre haven awaits you at Pendleton King Park. This sanctuary is a delight for bird enthusiasts and casual visitors alike, featuring an impressive array of feathered friends thanks to the diverse range of trees and wetland habitats. As you meander through the nature trails, the elevation varies significantly, offering different perspectives and bird-watching spots. Keep your binoculars handy for sightings of local and migratory birds amidst the undulating terrain.
Nature’s melody guides you along trails that lead to the serene Lake Elizabeth waterfall. While birds are the stars here, stay alert for other wildlife sightings—from industrious beavers to sun-basking turtles—adding to the park’s natural charm. Balanced with recreational amenities like playgrounds for the young ones, a dog park for your furry companions, and an 18-hole disc golf course, your visit promises diverse experiences surrounded by Augusta’s unique wildlife tapestry.
French Market Grille
For over three decades, Augusta’s culinary landscape has been enriched by French Market Grille’s dedication to Cajun and Creole cooking. When you visit 425 Highland Ave., you’re in for an authentic taste of New Orleans, with standout dishes that include robust gumbos and the savory crawfish etouffee.
Your dining excursion wouldn’t be complete without trying the signature seafood crepes or following local advice by indulging in the creamy peanut butter pie. A meal at French Market Grille is embraced as quintessential Augusta cuisine, offering flavors that promise to linger as delightful memories.
Boyhood Home of President Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson, the United States’ 28th President, spent his early years in Georgia amidst the turbulence of the Civil War and Reconstruction era. The house in Augusta where he lived is recognized as a National Historic Landmark and is Georgia’s oldest house formerly inhabited by a president. As president, Wilson’s tenure was largely defined by global conflict, with his leadership pivotal during World War I.
Located at 419 7th Street, Augusta, GA, this historic residence offers you a glimpse into Wilson’s formative years through guided tours by arrangement. A visit typically lasts around 30 minutes and provides a vivid peek into the past. The experienced guides are well-acquainted with Wilson’s youth and familial anecdotes, enriching your understanding of his early environment and influences.
At La Bonbonnière, nestled in Augusta, your palate can savor the revered richness of Belgian chocolate creations without ever leaving the American South. Bébette Smith, with formal training from the esteemed Chocolate Academy in Belgium, presents an array of sumptuous truffles that blend top-tier cocoa with a variety of gourmet flavors.
Her signature chocolates, including bourbon, orange peel, and Irish cream, are all crafted to deliver a complex yet velvety experience. Definitely worth visiting in Augusta!
You can embark on a journey back to the 18th century at Meadow Garden. This historic house museum was once the home of George Walton, a significant figure in American history as the youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence. Walton’s remarkable life saw him overcome the loss of his parents at a tender age, rise to influence after moving from Virginia to Georgia, and hold multiple high offices, including governor and senator.
During your visit, anticipate a roughly 45-minute guided tour conducted by an expert docent donned in authentic period attire. The extensive upkeep of Meadow Garden, one of Georgia’s most venerable dwellings, receives consistent praise for its pristine state. Moreover, the knowledgeable guides are recognized for their exceptional hospitality, ensuring an immersive and informative experience.
With a variety of historical architectural designs displayed through its buildings, the area known as Pinched Gut offers a window into a rich past dating back to the early 19th century. Despite a fire that ravaged the area in 1916 prompting reconstruction, several homes showcase design elements from different eras, such as Federal and Craftsman styles.
Your exploration of this historic neighborhood can extend beyond admiring the architectural feats; the vicinity boasts notable dining establishments for a fulfilling experience. Should your journey through time arouse an appetite, the Whiskey Bar Kitchen presents itself as a hospitable retreat and is conveniently located on Broad Street.
Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History
Famed as an educator and advocate for civil rights, Lucy Craft Laney’s legacy is immortalized at the museum in Augusta that bears her name. Your understanding of African American history in Georgia is enriched through the museum’s permanent exhibits, which shine a light on the pivotal roles of Black citizens of Augusta. Special exhibits may vary, ranging from influential local figures like James Brown to cultural themes like golf.
Should you wish to explore beyond the museum walls, the Golden Blocks walking tour is a noteworthy extension offered by the museum. This tour leads you through a historic district once bustling with Black-owned businesses during segregation. Utilizing a digital guide, you’ll encounter murals and artworks by talented Black artists, enriching your stroll through this significant part of the city.