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When I think of travel, certain images come to mind — a carefully packed suitcase (carry-on preferred), my passport, and the long lines of security before any flight. But when my heart says “Italy” or “Scotland” and my wallet says “backyard” or “living room”, I have to learn to be a little more flexible with my definition of travel.
Sometimes, it’s not packed luggage and airline tickets. Sometimes, it’s a car packed with water, snacks, and an epic playlist. It’s an open road and a never-before-seen destination — or maybe one we’ve only ever seen in passing and never taken the time to explore. In my case, this week it has been Augusta, GA.
22 Unique Things to Do in Augusta, GA
I have a confession to make: I had only ever been to a medical center in Augusta when my daughter had surgery. While I was impressed with the medical facility, the surrounding area didn’t exactly wow me. I never wanted to go back. But then I asked myself if I really gave the city a fair chance or if I’d allowed the particular stress of the experience to spoil it for me.
I have another confession: Sometimes, I’m wrong. About people. About places. I’m human. So, I did a little research and prepared for my trip. Some of these destinations you’ll see on your average travel blog.
Others, you’ll read about for the first time. When it comes to travel, I like to have a fully packed itinerary to choose from and then play it by ear to see what most appeals to me. Along the way, I leave room to be surprised and delighted by detours.
Augusta, Georgia, is just over a two-hour drive from downtown Atlanta. While there’s not much to see on the drive other than pine trees, don’t overlook Augusta as a day, weekend, or vacation destination. If you haven’t yet given it a fair chance to impress you, let’s explore 22 things you can see and do in this riverside southern city.
1. Have Ubora Coffee at Springfield Village Park
If you look up Google reviews, there are about five coffee shops and some review has called all of them “the best coffee in Augusta”. It made it challenging to choose. As a coffee enthusiast, I wanted to try at least one of them and give an honest assessment.
To be clear, I did not try every single coffee shop in Augusta. Maybe there are others better than the one I tried, but what I can tell you is that Ubora Coffee is conveniently located downtown with its own small parking lot. And did I mention that the coffee is divine?
A chorus of angels didn’t serenade me while I sipped my latte, but I did enter a blissful state where I didn’t care that I had a long drive home ahead of me.
I’m going to suggest that you get your Ubora coffee and then take it to nearby Springfield Village Park. It’s within walking distance and adjacent to the coffee shop. This park is like an outdoor history museum. It pays tribute to the Springfield Community, a village that was primarily populated by freed African Americans.
Springfield was also home to the Springfield Baptist Church and the Augusta Baptist Institute, which eventually moved to Atlanta to become Morehouse College. Sip your coffee and explore the historic markers and sculptures that celebrate Black history in Augusta.
Address: 1128 Jones St. Augusta
2. Hike Phinizy Swamp and Nature Park
I’ve never in my life wanted to visit a swamp. It automatically calls to mind the Florin/Guilder Fire Swamp from Princess Bride … and alligators. I really don’t like alligators. But I’m so glad I visited Phinizy Swamp Nature Center.
Prepare yourself for the many pictures I’ll share because the landscape of the park is simply phenomenal. Along the way, you can learn about the ecosystems of the wetlands, but you’re also welcome to simply walk the trails and soak in the natural beauty. In the interest of full disclosure, there are alligators living in the swamp.
I saw three that day, but at least all three were babies and had no interest in approaching me — to my eternal gratitude. While I bravely said I would photograph an adult alligator should I see one, I thanked my lucky stars that I didn’t since even seeing the baby alligators increased my heart rate and had me hoofing it to the next part of the trail in short order.
This nature park is perfect for individuals, couples, and families who enjoy easy hikes and nature. While there are tons of trails, I took the loop from the parking lot to the visitor’s center and back around to the parking lot. It was a lot of ground to cover, but I got to see vastly different landscapes.
I could easily have spent an entire day hiking the trails and stopping to picnic by the visitor’s center. There’s also a playground and restrooms located there, which can be convenient for families traveling with smaller children.
Address: 1858 Lock and Dam Road
3. Visit the Augusta Museum of History
I am disappointed to say that the Augusta Museum of History happened to be closed on the day I visited. First of all, the property is enormous. It’s a beautiful building, and I know it has a wonderful James Brown exhibit. You might not realize that Augusta was home to the Godfather of Soul.
I know that I’ll return at some point to wander the galleries and see this famed exhibit. The cost is affordable, the location is convenient, and it’s sure to have points of interest for anyone who loves history, art, or even architecture.
Address: 560 Reynolds Street
Cost: $5 adults, $4 seniors, $3 children 6–18, FREE for children 6 and under
4. Explore the Morris Museum of Art
While the Morris Museum of Art was open on my visit, I didn’t get a chance to stop and explore the galleries. When you only plan for a day trip, you have to make some concessions to time. You could easily spend a full weekend or a week and not see everything Augusta has to offer.
I’d love to return and spend some time seeing the exhibits at the Morris Museum of Art. I particularly want to check out Mystery at the Morris, a twice-monthly museum experience where you will learn about art and uncover a mystery. You may want to combine your visit with the Augusta Riverwalk, which is conveniently located next to the museum.
Address: 1 Tenth Street
Cost: $5 adults, $3 youth 13–17, $3 students/military/seniors, FREE for ages 12 and younger
5. Stop by the James Brown Statue on Broad Street
If you’re going to visit Augusta, you’ll likely pass the James Brown statue if you go anywhere near the historic downtown area. Stop and pay your respects to the Godfather of Soul. If you have the time, you can even take the James Brown Journey, a self-guided tour of the points of interest involving this musical legend and icon.
Address: 850 Broad Street
6. Visit the Boyhood Home of President Woodrow Wilson
History buffs are going to absolutely love Augusta. You can visit the boyhood home of President Woodrow Wilson, which also includes a tour of the home of his neighbor, Associate Supreme Court Justice Joseph R. Lamar.
It’s registered as a National Historic Landmark, and it’ll give you a glimpse into the Civil War and Reconstruction eras of American life. It’s located in downtown Augusta in close proximity to the Augusta Museum of History.
Address: 419 Seventh Street
Cost: $10 adults, $8 seniors/military, $5 K-12 students
7. Pay Your Respects at the Wylly Barron Mausoleum in Magnolia Cemetery
For a quick and unique historic stop, visit the Magnolia Cemetery and find the mausoleum of Wylly Barron, a famed gambler who lived a life of great superstition. According to Augusta legend, the dying words of a gambler cursed Barron.
“You have taken everything I have. When you die, may you not have even a grave to shelter you!” Barron’s response was to have a mausoleum constructed many years before his death and a will made up instructing the grave to be sealed and the key thrown into the Savannah River.
You can visit the grave and read the following inscription: “Farewell vain work, I know enough of thee, And now am careless what thou sayest of me, Thy smiles I could not, nor thy frowns I fear, My cares are past, my head lies quiet here. What faults you knew of me, take care to shun, And look at home — enough there’s to be done.”
Address: 702 Third Street
8. See a Show at the Imperial Theatre
The Imperial Theatre in Augusta was established in 1918 and was named after the famed theater in New York. When it was first established, it was known as The Wells, and it featured vaudeville performances.
After the Spanish flu forced businesses to close to prevent further outbreaks, Jake Wells sold the theater to Lynch Enterprises, and the theater was renamed. These days, it still operates as a theater in Augusta. While you won’t find the 10-cent tickets of 1918 Augusta, you’ll likely still be delighted by the experience of a show at the Imperial.
Address: 749 Broad Street
9. See a Show at The Miller Theater
You can also make plans to see a show at the Miller Theater. It opened in 1940 to sold-out shows for A Night at the Moulin Rouge, and it closed in 1984. In 2005, it was bought, and attempts were made to repair it.
In 2016, it raised the funds to fully renovate and restore this classic theater. If you’re going to visit Augusta, be sure to check both local downtown historic theaters to see what shows are available. If you’re staying for longer than a day, a trip to the theatre is a must for a true picture of what Augusta has to offer.
Address: 708 Broad Street
10. Explore the Augusta Sculpture Trail
Another fun adventure on my visit was to follow part of the Augusta Sculpture Trail. There are 15 sculptures placed around downtown Augusta, and there’s even a digital tour you can take around town to learn about each artist and sculpture. Here are the current sculptures and where you can find them through December 2024.
- 1. Endeavour by Chris Plaisted — at Augusta Common & Broad Street
- 2. Duet’s Dance: Herons in Conversation by Lee Bell — at Augusta Common & Broad Street
- 3. Soccer Dude by Gonz Jove — at Augusta Common & Reynolds Street
- 4. Popsicles by Craig Gray — at Augusta Common & Reynolds Street
- 5. Without Limits by Gus & Lina Ocamposilva — at Eighth St. & Riverwalk
- 6. Unstoppable by Gus & Lina Ocamposilva — at Eighth St. & Riverwalk
- 7. Maestro and Forever Young — at Founder’s Overlook on upper level of Riverwalk
- 8. Hurrying Home by Charles Brouwer — on upper level of Riverwalk
- 9. Book Bench — A Novel Idea by Craig Gray- at Sixth St. & Riverwalk
- 10. Sun Lion — at 5th Street Pedestrian Bridge entrance to the Marina
- 11. Tropical Dream by Roger Finch — at 5th Street Pedestrian Bridge entrance
- 12. What’s in the Queue? by Gregory Johnson — on 5th Street Pedestrian Bridge
- 13. Ruthless by Flaminio Antonio — on 5th Street Pedestrian Bridge
- 14. Rise by James E. Weitzel — on lower level of Riverwalk
- 15. Oraiste agus Liath by Aisling McDonald — on lower level of Riverwalk
Address: throughout downtown Augusta
11. Wander the Savannah Rapids Trail
Although I was not able to stop and walk the Savannah Rapids Trail, I did see it several times on my drive out of the city. The Savannah Rapids Park covers 33 acres of the city and is located along the Augusta Canal.
It includes the Reed Creek Waterfall, a walking or cycling trail (Augusta Canal Trail), and water sports along the canal to Lake Olmstead. If you go to the Augusta Canal Headgates, you’ll see the locks of love secured to the bridge.
There are many waterfalls along the route as the Savannah River meets the Augusta Canal. It’s a truly extraordinary and unique way to see the city of Augusta.
Address: Savannah Rapids Trail
12. Visit the Augusta National Golf Course
Even though I don’t personally have an interest in golf, I know that Augusta is home to the Masters Golf Tournament. While you have to be invited by a member to play golf at the Augusta National Golf Course, but golf enthusiasts have a few other options.
You can try to volunteer to work the Masters event, but there is a waitlist. You can also apply to be a caddie on the course and enjoy a free game day each year. Since most visitors aren’t going to do any of those things, you might just have to be satisfied stopping for a photo and continuing on to a public golf course, like Forest Hills Golf Course.
Address: 2604 Washington Road
Cost: priceless (and nearly impossible)
13. Stroll the Augusta Riverwalk
One of my favorite activities on my day trip was exploring the Augusta Riverwalk. I was lucky to visit on a relatively warm autumn day with clear skies, but I’m sure this scenery is set to impress any time of year. Marvel at the homes lining the opposite side of the river, enjoy the sculptures you’ll find along the way, and do it all while getting your steps in for the day.
You’ll find beautiful views all along the trail, and it’s a wonderful way to see the city of Augusta. You can even opt to take a tour of the river itself for a whole new perspective.
Address: 5th to 10th Streets
14. Explore the Augusta Canal Historic Trail
The Augusta Canal Trail will take you over 7.5 miles around the city, and you can even rent a bike or kayak to explore either the trail or river. The trail is beautiful, and it is definitely worth a visit. In fact, I can easily see spending an entire trip to Augusta simply hiking and cycling the area’s many parks and trails.
No horses or motorized vehicles are allowed on the trail, and visitors are reminded to keep to the right and pass on the left. You might even see alligators along the trail, but you’ll want to avoid them and refrain from feeding the area’s natural predators.
Address: Headgates at Savannah Rapids Park; Water Pump Station, end of Riverlook Drive; Lake Olmstead, end of Milledge Road (access to River Levee, Towpath, Mill Village trails); Mill Village Trailhead, Grace Street near Kroc Center; Discovery Center at Enterprise Mill; Old Turning Basin at 13th Street, near Walton Rehab Hospital
15. Explore Meadow Garden
I have to admit that I’m a little disappointed there wasn’t enough time to visit Meadow Gardens. It has even more history than the boyhood home of former President Woodrow Wilson. Meadow Garden is the historic home of George Walton and was built in 1791. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, it’s because it’s not exactly well-known unless you’re a history buff.
George Walton was one of the original signers of the Declaration of Independence. It’s a National Historic Landmark and on the Register of National Historic Places. Walton was one of the youngest signers of the Declaration of Independence, and you’ll want to learn all about his unique history on your visit to Augusta.
Address: 1320 Independence Drive
Cost: $10 adults, $8 seniors/military/teachers, $5 children ages 6–18, FREE for children under 5
16. Play at the Imagination Station
Although I didn’t get a chance to visit the Imagination Station, I have a good reason for including it as a unique thing to do on your trip to Augusta. Many travel writers seem to forget that some of us have children, and for single parents like me, most of my trips are taken with those children.
I love to find points of interest that we’ll all enjoy, but I also make time for child-specific locations where they can play and I can rest.
The Imagination Station is very unique. There are sensory stations, hands-on activities, and plenty of room for young children to dream and imagine. There’s room for art and play at this impressive museum, and the best part for families is that it’s affordable, too. While they have limited operating hours, you can enjoy a trip to the museum for only $12 per family (up to 4 members).
Address: 965 Hickman Rd
Cost: $12 per family (up to 4 people)
17. Have Fun at Stars and Strikes Augusta
Another family-friendly point of interest in Augusta is the Stars and Strikes entertainment center. If your kids are whining about long walks and historical destinations, consider taking a break at Stars and Strikes. You’ll find bowling, arcade games, virtual reality, laser tag, and more.
There are many Stars and Strikes locations across the state, but if you find yourself in need of some quick and easy entertainment that’s fun for the whole family, you can always make some time to let everyone run out a little energy before returning to your planned itinerary.
While you won’t get the history, art, or culture in the entertainment facility, you can still make some great memories with your family or friends.
Address: 3238 Wrightsboro Rd
18. Wander the Stacks at The Book Tavern
If you are a person who walks into a bookstore and immediately inhales that particular fragrance of paper and ink, you are my people. I love a good bookstore, and I never fail to include one on my list if I can help it. But not just any bookstore will do. I recently went into one in another city that smelled like cats, and it did not make the list because of the overwhelming odor.
But Book Tavern? Book Tavern is a must-see destination for any and all bibliophiles. If you can read, this is the bookstore for you in downtown Augusta.
Honestly, this store is so wonderful that it’s worth making a special trip to see. There are wall-to-wall books, and there’s even a second floor that overlooks the first. Books in every direction! Books for days! New books and used books. Adult books and children’s books.
I nearly spun through the aisles like Julie Andrews — but I refrained. Instead, I ran my hand over the spines and browsed some titles I desperately wanted to add to my collection. Ah, books! And the good news is that once you satisfy your need for a good story, you can go next door and fill up on some good burritos.
Address: 978 Broad Street
19. Go on an Adventure with Two Dudes and a Boat Kayak Rentals
One of these days, I’m going to get the chance to see Augusta by kayak or paddleboard, but I didn’t have the time on my most recent visit. When I do, I’ll either bring my own board or rent a kayak from Two Dudes and a Boat.
There are even sunset tours and guided moonlight paddles for the adventuring traveler. I once had the opportunity to see the city of Dublin, Ireland, by kayak, and I highly recommend that experience for any trip to a city on the water. It’s a perspective you won’t find anywhere else.
Address: 1 Fifth Street
20. Indulge Your Tastebuds at Nacho Mama’s
Located right next door to Book Tavern is Nacho Mama’s. The prices are affordable, and the serving sizes are generous. I had an enormous chicken burrito that soon defeated me with its impressive portions. You’ll order at the counter and take a seat until your name is called.
It’s a great place to stop for lunch in Augusta, and it caters to a variety of dietary needs. The friend who traveled with me is vegan and was able to easily find a burrito to accommodate that diet.
Address: 976 Broad St
21. Explore the Augusta Murals
You can’t walk around downtown Augusta and not notice the many murals. They are everywhere! Best of all, it’s completely free to take a self-guided tour of the murals downtown. My favorite was Spirit of Funk: James Brown Mural (pictured above).
It’s impressive in both size, artistry, and scope. It’s a great place to stop and take a photo with the legendary Godfather of Soul.
The other murals in downtown Augusta are as follows:
- Black Lives Matter • 307 11th St., Augusta, GA • Artist: Aort Reed
- Robot and the Moon • 215 12th St., Augusta, GA • Artist: Leonard “Porkchop” Zimmerman
- Girl with Butterflies • 739 Green St., Augusta, GA • Artist: Jay Jacobs
- SoSal Augusta Mural • 1008 Broad St., Augusta, GA • Artist: April Henry King
- Innovation Mural of Augusta • 100 Grace Hopper Lane, Augusta, GA • Artist: Aort Reed
- Sugar Magnolia’s Mural • 1020 Reynolds St., Augusta, GA • Artist: Brian Stewart
- Get Up Augusta • 1002 Broad St., Augusta, GA • Artist: Jason Craig
- Happy • 210 10th St., Augusta, GA • Artist: Leonard “Porkchop” Zimmerman
- Augusta, I Love You • 943 Ellis St., Augusta, GA • Artists: Leonard “Porkchop” Zimmerman, Troy Campbell and Brian Stewart
- Nothing Without A Woman or A Girl • 800 block of Ellis St. Augusta, GA • Artists: Leonard Zimmerman, Jay Jacobs & Brian Stewart
- Yes You Can • 800 block of Ellis St. Augusta, GA • Artists: Leonard Zimmerman, Jay Jacobs & Brian Stewart
- Please, Please, Please • 800 block of Ellis St. Augusta, GA • Artists: Leonard Zimmerman, Jay Jacobs & Brian Stewart
- Keep Downtown Augusta Funky • 802 Broad Street • Augusta, GA • Artists: Jason Craig, Leonard Zimmerman , April Henry King + Brad King
- RESPECT • 601 7th St. Augusta, GA • Artist: Jason Craig
- Untitled (Indigenous Man & Birds) • 1051 11th St. Augusta, GA • Artist: Lee Ann Culver
- The Garden City Project • 1051 11th St. Augusta, GA • Artist: Autumn Von Plinsky
- Boy in Chair • 1051 11th St. Augusta, GA • Artist: Jay Jacobs
- Untitled (Vibrant Colors) • 1051 11th St. Augusta, GA • Artist: Sydney Taylor Ewerth
- Pirate Boy • 200 block of 12th St., Augusta, GA • Artist: Jay Jacobs
- Golden Blocks Mural • 1143 Laney Walker Blvd. Augusta, GA • Artist: Audrey “SalaAdenike” Jeter-Allen
- Love Where You Live Augusta • 527 13th St. Augusta, GA • Artist: Brian Stewart
Address: For the full list, see Visit Augusta
22. Shop Broad Street
While you’re in Augusta, one of the more unique things you can do is to shop local and take home an unusual souvenir. I usually carry a book home from my adventures, or I’ll stop in at a local art gallery (pictured above) to support local artists with my purchase.
While there were several smoke shops seemingly every few feet of Broad Street, there was also a visitor’s center with Augusta-themed merchandise, art galleries, and many other shops and restaurants. You could spend a whole day just exploring the impressive downtown area.
Address: Broad Street
Cost: FREE to window-shop, the rest depends on you
What Is Augusta Known For?
Augusta is known for two things: The Masters Golf Tournament and being the home of James Brown. Those are both two impressive accomplishments, and Augusta clearly has bragging rights for music and golf.
But from this point forward, when I think of Augusta, I’m going to think of the marvelous ecosystem of the wetlands and the spectacular views of the river on one of the city’s many trails. I’ll think of the leafy avenues of Broad Street and the bold murals and fascinating sculptures found around the historic downtown area. I’ll think of a welcoming bookshop and coffee served just how I like it.
Augusta might have given us the Godfather of Soul, one of the world’s best golf courses, and some pretty impressive historical figures, but it’s also just another city you might not have given a chance — yet. If you do, you just might find that there’s plenty of art, history, architecture, music, and culture throughout Augusta. It deserves at least a day trip — and more if you have the time.
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