I’ll be honest. Augusta, Georgia was never a destination on my radar, but here I am, still here nine months later!
Some of Augusta’s claims to fame are hosting the Masters golf tournament, being the second-oldest and second-largest city in Georgia, home to the Army intelligence base Fort Gordon, and hometown to James Brown.
It’s located on the Savannah River, right next to South Carolina. The general area is known as the CSRA (or Central Savannah River Area) and encompasses several counties in both GA and SC. It’s also chock-full of hospitals hiring travelers.
Food and Drink to Try
Pineapple Ink Tavern: Cool cocktails and upscale southern food. One of the newer spots in town, so it hasn’t gotten too busy… yet.
Phô Bac: They have absolutely the best Vietnamese food in the area, and believe me, I’ve tried them all. Get their namesake: the phô!
Frog Hollow: For a fancier spot but still at a good price point, try Frog Hollow Tavern. It’s heavy, but I recommend their pork shoulder. The smoked Gouda Mac ‘n Cheese it comes with is heavenly.
Salt & Marrow: I love the rooftop dining. Even on hot days, there’s a cool breeze, and I love everything I have ever eaten there.
Hello Poke: Sushi is great and all, but sometimes you just want an entire bowl of it. You can build your own bowl or choose from their menu.
The Bee’s Knees: I love small plates because that just means I can try everything. Bring your friends and share some tapas or a bigger plate or two. They do some fun twists on Asian cuisine. I love the coconut curry, and it can be done vegan as well.
Seoul Korean Kitchen: If you love Korean food, you need to come here. It’s spot on for flavors and quality. There are multiple Korean spots around (Happy House, Emashiya, etc.), and to be honest, they’re all pretty good, but this one is my favorite.
Goolsby’s: Unpretentious and well-priced soul food. For about $10 you can get a hearty portion of meat and two sides (be stuffed to the brim). I always get the fried pork loin, macaroni and cheese, cornbread, and peach cobbler, but you really can’t go wrong. All the sides are awesome. Everyone seems to love the chicken, but I just love the pork too much, so I’ve never strayed.
Alexander’s Great BBQ: Although Georgia BBQ isn't known for a distinctive style like some regions, this place does a solid rib and pulled pork. All their sauces and rubs are killer, and they sell them as fun local souvenirs. You can get meat by the pound or a combo plate. I recommend the combos though because you want to try those sides!
Boll Weevil Cafe: Half-off cake on Sundays! The flavors are creative and delicious.
Whipped Creamery: Banana pudding ice cream. Need I say more? Ok fine, if you’re not on the banana pudding bandwagon, there’s plenty of other tasty ice cream flavors like cheesecake, juicy fruit, and Oreo... in addition to all the normal options. They also do Belgian waffle sundaes, brownie sundaes, banana splits, ice cream sandwiches, soft serve, milkshakes, and all the toppings. Located in the Augusta Mall, but watch their Facebook to check out their pop ups out of their pink truck.
Heroes Donuts: Yes, we have Krispy Kreme, which is great, but THESE donuts are the ones we instantly devour when families bring them for us and make us treat their kids extra special. Support your local veterans!
River Watch Brewery: Girl power! Local and mother-daughter owned. I like the Three Under Par, a crisp Belgian Tripel, but there’s plenty of styles for everyone’s palate. You can bring your own food, dogs, and kids. Brewery tours are on Saturdays, but they have games every evening they’re open.
Savannah River Brewing Company: Probably my favorite Augusta brewery. Try the Blanc-y Kong if you like hazy juicy IPAs. They also have a huge projector screen, games to play, are dog friendly, and have a great outdoor patio. You can bring your own food, or enjoy some cake from Boll Weevil.
Activities To Do
Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History: Learn about local Black Augustans that contributed to American history.
Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art: Take a class, attend a workshop, or just enjoy the collection of contemporary art located in a beautiful old mansion on well-manicured grounds.
Masters Tournament: If you’re lucky enough to nab a ticket, get dressed up and go! Not only will you see golf legends but also old timey prices. Who doesn’t want a drink for a few cents?
Topgolf: Can’t afford the masters? Me either. Here you’ll find a state of the art, brand spanking new electronic driving range. Bring your own clubs or use theirs. You can make reservations or just show up. If there’s a wait, there’s never a line for mini golf. It’s also showing all the sports events, and through October 2020 they’re doing 10% off for healthcare workers and teachers.
Catch a concert: There are a few larger venues like the Bell Auditorium, Lady A Pavilion, Imperial Theater, and Miller Theater to catch some big name acts (Jake Owen, please reschedule!). And don’t forget about the local scene! You can catch live music any night of the week in Augusta at local restaurants and bars.
Rodeos: OK, it’s not like a Texas rodeo but it’ll do. They have several events throughout the year, so you’ll likely be able to catch one no matter when your assignment is!
Shooting ranges: there’s about a million here! BYO or rent an array of options from staff.
Hot Air Balloon Festival: if you happen to be here in the fall, make sure you check this out. Beautifully colored balloons floating in the sky, and even opportunities to go up in one, too!
Artists Row: Downtown Augusta has a great creative community on Broad Street with venues, galleries, and shopping!
Outdoorsy Things to See
Phinizy Swamp Nature Park: Watch out for gators! It’s a pretty place to walk around for a few hours. They have educational programs geared toward kiddos and a nice covered area with picnic benches and some playground equipment just around the corner from the parking area.
Pendleton King Park: It’s primarily a bird sanctuary, but there’s also much more, including disc golf, tennis courts, nature trails, a playground, and a workout course.
Forks Area Trail System: Miles upon miles of trails. It’s perfect for hiking or mountain biking, if you’re more adventurous.
Bettys Branch: Great river to kayak, SUP, or whatever is your favorite water activity.
Augusta Riverwalk: For an easy stroll along the river, with playgrounds and paths along the way.
Savannah Rapids: Great scenic spot to have a picnic or take a jog. There are a lot of hidden gems to explore along the river trails. Venture into the Augusta Canal Historic Trail. You can also rent kayaks here!
Congaree National Park: The park is actually located just outside of Columbia, SC, but I’m a sucker for a national park (and it’s still nearby!).
If you get bored of it here (which is pretty hard to do)... Augusta is in close proximity to many other cities! Atlanta, Savannah, Charlotte, and Charleston are all just two-three hours away. If you’re willing to drive four hours, you’ve also got Jacksonville, Daytona, Raleigh, and Chattanooga. All in all, with a good variety of food and activities, Augusta is not a bad spot to be!
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