Beyond its famous golf course, Augusta is a fishing of a town to visit | Business

0

Tribune press service

The first week of April, Augusta, Georgia’s second largest city, will be on every golf fan’s mind.

It’s almost that time of year for the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club, the little tournament that made Augusta headlines.

If you’re traveling to Augusta for the big event, or any other time of the year, you need to know some basics about the city. Augusta, founded in 1736, is also Georgia’s second-oldest city, after Savannah, which was founded just three years before its historic sister city.

If you look at a map of the state of Peach, Augusta borders the Savannah River and is about halfway between Savannah and the point where North Carolina and South Carolina intersect with northern Georgia. Directly across from Augusta on the South Carolina side is North Augusta, accessible on foot via the 5th Street Pedestrian Bridge.

Summer and fall are hot, sometimes too hot like southern summers tend to be.

While winter is mild, it is spring that dazzles with near-perfect weather of low humidity and daytime temperatures ranging from 60 to 80 degrees.

From late March to mid-April, Augusta’s famous azaleas and dogwoods are at their most showy with a riot of pinks, purples and reds. I’m sure it’s not just the golf course that draws the fans, but also the parade of azaleas that light up the city in such vivid color.

Surrounded by the low green hills of the fertile Savannah River Valley, wooded with oak and pine and dotted with countless acres of pecan and peach orchards and cotton fields, Augusta sits at the end – or at the start – from the Georgia Fall Line, the geographic boundary that stretches from Augusta to Columbus and separates Piedmont to the north before it slopes gently to the coastal plains and the Atlantic south of it. this.

Some of us here in Georgia call it the Gnat Line because the little buggers usually don’t like the cooler, higher weather, which is a good thing for Masters guests.

Augusta is a far cry from the 1932 Augusta of Erskine Caldwell’s novel “Tobacco Road” and the movie of the same name based on the book but goofy.

Today’s Augusta is pretty awesome, and there’s a whole destination outside the gates of Augusta National, a former cow pasture that’s now hallowed ground for golfers.

Whether you’re visiting for the Masters or just curious about this city with its pre-war architecture and Southern charm and hospitality, here are some suggestions.

Getting to Augusta

Augusta has a relatively small airport served only by Delta Airlines with several daily nonstop flights to and from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and by American Airlines and its nonstop flights to and from Charlotte, Dallas-Fort Worth and Washington Reagan. From April 5-11, American is adding limited service to Augusta from LaGuardia, Miami, Chicago O’Hare, Philadelphia, Boston and Austin. Macon, Savannah, Columbia, Greenville and Charlotte are each about two hours away. US Highway 1, the legendary and historic highway that connects Key West to Maine, runs through Augusta, as does Interstate 20.

If you are unfamiliar with Augusta, first visit Augusta and Co., a visitor center, history museum, art gallery and market all rolled into one. It sits on Broad Street downtown, within walking distance of some of Augusta’s trendiest restaurants and shops.

Pick up a visitor’s guide, shop for Georgia-grown or artisan goods including candles, cookies, candy, honey, and t-shirts, and learn all about Augusta, from soul godfather James Brown to golf.

What to do

There’s history in Augusta, and there are museums, botanical gardens, and cultural centers, and while I love those things, I also love the outdoors. As a birder, I always go to the Phinizy Swamp Nature Center to see what I can see.

When I last visited in mid-spring, I wandered slowly along its walks, spotting a red-shouldered hawk, several egrets, and not one but two trees filled with dozens of white ibises, at least one on each limb, their tops looking at each piece like a stalk of pure cotton.

Another great place for birdwatching, however, is the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area, one of only three National Historic Sites in Georgia.

The canal, built in 1845, parallels the Savannah River and rises several miles in three levels around the downtown area.

Once the site of the Confederate States of America Powder Works, the canal is now a calm and beautiful aquatic ecosystem where you can hike, bike, fish, canoe or kayak. If you don’t want too much exercise, take a guided tour of the canal aboard a replica of the St. Petersburg boat. Keep an eye out for avian residents, as birds, including the majestic blue heron, are usually plentiful.

Augusta knows how to pay homage to her own James Brown, the one and only Mr. Dynamite, Soul Brother Number One and the hardest working man in show business. The Soul Starts Here James Brown Walking Tour takes you all around this town he called his home, places that include but are not limited to his childhood home, a life-size statue of Mr. Please Please Please himself in the heart of downtown, the Augusta Museum of History with its exciting exhibits of the singer’s artifacts, and Mother Trinity CME Church, where he practiced his music on the church piano.

Augusta also pays homage to the arts. One of the city’s newest experiences is the Sculpture Trail which features works by nationally acclaimed artists and are strategically placed in the downtown core for maximum visual effect.

This is another self-guided tour, so wear your walking shoes. I particularly enjoyed Craig Gray’s ‘Popsicles’, a deliciously colorful display on Reynolds Street that looks so real and delicious enough to eat.

The Self-Guided Murals Tour is also new, with vibrant and entirely fabulous works of art depicting Augusta’s culture and history appearing throughout the Historic District. Although you can’t see them all in one day, probably the most compatible with Instagram, Facebook and Twitter is Cole Phail’s “The Spirit of Funk”. The James Brown tribute mural is on the corner of Broad Street and James Brown Boulevard. It’s huge so you couldn’t miss it if you tried.

After that legendary green jacket is draped over the Masters champion’s shoulders, after reporters, photographers and TV crews slack off on the road to the next tournament, and after the ruckus of golf’s biggest tournament s Finally fades until next spring, outside the gates of Augusta National, a wonderful world awaits.

Where to eat and drink

Augusta is packed with restaurants, an eclectic and diverse collection ranging from southern soulful cuisine to sumptuous fine dining. On my last trip, I dined at Laziza Mediterranean Grill, one of the new downtown restaurants across from “The Spirit of Funk”. The international menu of Mediterranean-inspired and very tasty items includes gyros, kababs and baklava.

Also try the all-new Pho-Ramen’l for an Asian-inspired menu with a southern twist, rooftop dining at Edgar’s Above Broad downtown, Brunch House of Augusta which was a Top 100 Restaurant from Yelp in 2022, Noble Jones for al fresco dining, SolFood Kitchen for farm-fresh soul food, and Bodega Ultima inspired by tapas restaurants in Spain’s Basque region.

Augusta loves a craft cocktail, and as such there are plenty of 19th holes to choose from. The drink menu is extensive at Edgar’s Above Broad for sipping with a view, or at Craft & Vine for craft cocktails, draft beer or wine by the glass with wood-fired pizza. Fresh seasonal ingredients, like strawberries in the spring and peaches in the summer, are on the libation menu at Indian Queen. Fancy an infusion? Try Augusta Draft Society, Savannah River Brewing Co., Arsenal Tap Room and Kitchen, or Riverwatch Brewery. There’s never a beer too far in Augusta.

Or sleep

Hotel rooms are in short supply during Masters week, if you can find one, that is. Hotels sell out early, up to a year in advance, so demand is always high for new hotels to complement historic inns like the newly renovated Partridge Inn, Georgia’s first hotel to become part of the Hotels America’s Historic Landmarks, and Old Town. Inn and Queen Anne Inn, both located in historic Old Town and close to downtown restaurants and shopping. Also look for hotel chains, including Hyatt, Marriott, Holiday Inn, Red Roof and Sheraton.

After that legendary green jacket is draped over the Masters champion’s shoulders, after reporters, photographers and TV crews slack off on the road to the next tournament, and after the ruckus of golf’s biggest tournament s Finally fades until next spring, outside the gates of Augusta National, a wonderful world awaits.

Share.

Comments are closed.