Written by Bre Humphries
Golfer or not, chances are good you’re familiar with the
renown of Augusta National Golf Club, and coveted tickets to the Masters Tournament each April are a rite of passage for anyone with even the slightest appreciation for the game. But the immaculate course is not the only attraction in Georgia’s second-oldest city. Whether you’re in town for the Masters or any other time of year, take the chance to explore Augusta’s great cultural offerings, dining and Southern charm.
What to Do
Play golf, of course! In addition to Augusta National, the area boasts multiple courses, including Forest Hills Golf Course, an original Donald Ross design, which features a marker commemorating Bobby Jones’ Grand Slam victory from the 1930 Southeastern Open, and Goshen Plantation Golf Club, designed by Ellis Maples and touted as the best public course in Augusta. Golfers in training should pay a visit to First Tee, a challenging 6-hole course designed to teach kids the game, and also the site of a celebrity concert during Masters Week. Visit The First Tee of Augusta for more information.
The Augusta Canal is the nation’s oldest industrial power canal
still in use for its original purpose, but its appeal to visitors is recreational. Stroll or bike the trails alongside the water, bring your canoe or kayak, fish from the banks, or take a tour with Petersburg Boat Tours. The company offers heritage tours, during which guides point out historical sites, points of interest and various plants and animals; sunset cruises, which include a half-hour stop at Savannah Rapids Park; and Moonlight Music Cruises, featuring performances from blues to bluegrass. The latter two are geared toward adults, and guests are encouraged to bring refreshments. Visit Augusta Canal for more information.
The Augusta Museum of History walks visitors through time with exhibitions like “Augusta’s Story,” highlighting Civil War history and featuring a reconstructed, 56-foot Petersburg Boat; a tribute to world-renowned artist and Augusta native James Brown; and “Celebrating a Grand Tradition: The Sport of Golf.” Visit Augusta Museum of History for more information.
Sacred Heart Cultural Center, formerly a Catholic church circa 1897, beckons lovers of art, culture and architecture with a variety of art hall exhibits and educational programs. The annual Sacred Heart Garden Festival (April 27– 29) features exquisite landscape and floral design, as well as exhibits, lectures, entertainment, vendors and private garden tours throughout the city. Visit Sacred Heart Cultural Center or Sacred Heart Garden Festival for more information.
Where to Dine
Roosters Beak Bar & Kitchen, a trendy taqueria-style eatery serving up tacos and “Itali-mex fused entrees” such as Rooster Pizza with carmelized onions, scallions, tomatoes, roasted poblanos, cilantro and cotija cheese on a fried tortilla crust. And be sure to save room for dessert — housemade ice cream flavors include peppermint chocolate cake, blueberry bacon, fruity pebbles and basil-citrus chocolate chip. Visit Roosters Beak Bar & Kitchen for more information.
The Bees Knees, a tapas restaurant and lounge featuring a menu that fuses Thai, Spanish, Cajun, Mediterranean, Japanese and French cuisines in a variety of tapas, entrees, salads and desserts, plus plenty of vegan and vegetarian options. Visit The Bees Knees for more information.
Boll Weevil Cafe & Sweetery, housed in an old cotton warehouse from the 1800s, specializes in homemade breads and desserts (think cakes, cheesecakes and pies) alongside sandwiches, soups, salads and Southern specialties like fried green tomatoes. Visit Boll Weevil Cafe & Sweetery for more information.
Manuel’s Bread Cafe offers a casual dining experience in a
traditional French bakery atmosphere and serves re-invented French dishes using local produce from the restaurant’s own Blue Clay Farms. Drop by on Music Wednesdays to catch performances by regional musicians. Visit Manuel’s Bread Cafe for more information.
Where to Stay
If you don’t already have digs for this year’s tournament, it may be a little late to secure lodging the first week in April, but next time you visit, consider resting your head at the historic Partridge Inn. “The Grand Hotel of the Classic South” recently celebrated its centennial anniversary of welcoming guests, though its history dates all the way back to 1836 as the private residence of northern “snowbird” Morris Partridge. Despite recent extensive renovations, the inn still maintains the charm that characterized it in the early 1900s. Visit Partridge Inn for more information.
Tips for First-Time Masters Attendees
- Leave your cell phone in the car; they are prohibited on the grounds at all times. No cameras are allowed during the actual tournament, either, but they are allowed during practice rounds — take full advantage. The azaleas should be in full bloom, making for many picture-perfect moments, and you’ll definitely want a shot of the famed Amen Corner. Who knows, you may capture Phil Mickelson on the driving range.
- If you do attend the practice rounds, plan to spend some time at Hole 16. Here, golfers often attempt to skip their golf balls across the pond at the fans’ request.
- Wear layers. Highs typically reach the upper 70s, but can still be unpredictable, and mornings are often chilly. And don’t forget your comfortable shoes.
- You simply must try the pimento cheese sandwiches. To be so simple, they really are as good as all the hype, and they only cost $1.50. That’s right, unlike the championship equivalents for other sports, Augusta National keeps its concession prices low. You’ll also find $3 beers, $2 ice cream bars and $2.50 barbecue sandwiches. Be sure to bring cash.