Explore and Experience
The Masters golf tournament brings patrons from all over the globe to our quiet corner of the Southeast. It is therefore extremely unfortunate that most people never venture past Washington Road, which we can all agree is not our best look. For many people, this is their only opportunity to enjoy the southern culture they’ve heard tales of, and they’re right to take advantage of the trip by staying an extra day or two to explore the area. Even those familiar with the South would do well to turn their radio to the tournament, and set their own course towards one of these amazing attractions. There are tons of options, and we’ve cultivated our favorite sights to suit every taste.
Georgia puts her prettiest face on for early April. And, as every gentleman knows, you better notice her effort and compliment her accordingly. Luckily Augusta offers ample opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, whether you want to work up a sweat or not so much.
Hopelands Gardens, Aiken
A serpentine brick wall encapsulates this spectacular 14-acre estate, which gives the Hopelands Gardens a “Secret Garden” atmosphere despite its size. The grounds are expertly kept so that the network of footpaths gives visitors a tranquil and pleasant view at every bend. Hopelands Gardens holds attractions for all ages, and while children run or feed the geese, the grown-ups can marvel at the 100-year-old oaks of Oak Alley or enjoy the breeze off the fountains.
While you’re in Aiken, stop by their Arboretum Trail to enjoy one of the most diverse collections of trees found in the Southeast. The trail starts at the gorgeous historic library, and you can opt for the full 4-mile walk or less. If you don’t have time for a trail, you’ve got to stop by South Boundary, which is a street sheltered with gorgeous oaks and named one of the “10 Prettiest Streets for a Stroll” by USA Today.
If you’re in Augusta, you simply can’t miss the Savannah Rapids. This park allows beautiful views and a cool breeze reprieve when the Georgia weather gets a bit too toasty. There are countless ways to enjoy the river. Rent a kayak from Augusta Rapids Kayak Rental and head down the river towards Lake Olmstead, where the staff will pick you up. They also offer paddleboards.
If you’re more an out-of-the-water kind of enjoyer, renting a bike with The Bike Peddler will be more your speed. The path along the river is a National Heritage Area, which means you can simultaneously enjoy the breathtaking beauty while appreciating historical sights. Pack a lunch if you want to enjoy a waterfall-side picnic. An added bonus: The 7.5-mile path ends downtown, where you can enjoy a break and even a beer before heading back. An alternative to biking is simply hiking the path. Turn your portable radio to the tournament, and enjoy the view.
Lastly, if you’d prefer someone else do the driving, sign up for one of the many different Augusta Canal boat tours. Whether it’s wildlife, civil war history, or even music, your interests will be met by their knowledge. You could also opt for the sunset cruise, where all that’s required is your favorite refreshment.
Art & Music
Augusta has a thriving artist community that reflects Southern art at large. Whether it’s studying favorites at our museums or purchasing a pie.
The Morris Museum of Art
This wonderful art museum is the first one ever to be dedicated to the art and artists of the American South. With pieces ranging from the late-eighteenth century to the present in photography, sculpture, and paintings, the museum will give you a deeper understanding of the diversity and beauty the south inspires.
Masters Week offers a stellar selection of concerts for those in town for the night. First up on Tuesday night is Rock for Dough, an amazing lineup of Grammy winners and multiplatinum entertainers. Lady Antebellum and Darius Rucker will co-headline the event, which also features Kip Moore and Augusta’s own Bethany & the Southside Boys. Advance tickets are $30, day of tickets are $40. Bring a blanket or your favorite beach chair and get ready for a good time.
The annual Partee on the Green is held on Wednesday night in the wonderful Augusta Common downtown. More of a dance party than a concert, the Partee features local Augusta performers of all different varieties. Besides music and dance, the Partee hosts food vendors, live art painting, and even circus performers for the kids. The $3 entry is an absolute steal, and the event starts at 5pm and continues until 9pm.
On Thursday night, head back to the Augusta Common for the annual Major Rager, where three time Grammy Award winners The Flaming Lips are headlining. You’re in for a very good time as Moon Taxi, Eric Krasno Band, and Stop Light Observations will also perform beforehand. Also don’t miss the after party, featuring Funk You. Tickets start at $40 and can be purchased at cityspintickets.com. An added bonus: this event benefits local charity Press On, so you can feel good while you rock out.
This section of historic downtown Augusta offers galleries, specialty shops and working art studios, with coffee shops and eateries peppered in to fuel you as you go! You’ll find almost every type of art represented here, and art lovers should beware that they may never want to leave.
This article appears in the April 2017 issue of Augusta Magazine.