Augusta is a town on the upswing. With the Georgia Cyber Center opening, new restaurants and businesses popping up left and right, and the first university ever to have a Masters champion and NCAA national champion in the same year, Augusta has a lot to be excited about.
Now, the city can add one more thing to the list. Fodor’s Travel Guide recently ranked Augusta the 9th Cutest Main Street in a Small(er) City in the United States. The guide focuses on some of the best bars and restaurants on Broad Street, but there are plenty of other Augusta landmarks to enjoy. Here are five of our favorites.
The Partridge Inn
First built as a private home in 1838, the Partridge Inn is one of Augusta’s cultural cornerstones. The inn was converted into a hotel in 1892. Today it serves not only as a luxury getaway destination for tourists and visitors, but also as home to one of Augusta’s most popular hangouts—the P.I. Bar & Grill. Now part of Hilton’s “Curio – A Collection” brand, the Partridge Inn’s scenic interior (and awesome pool) received a facelift in 2015. Whether you’re coming for a campus visit, or just visiting for fun, staying at the Partridge Inn should definitely make your Augusta to-do list.
The James Brown Statue
For decades, the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, called Augusta his home, and we’re still “feeling good” because of it. Today, his spirit—and the vibrancy and soul of his music—lives on in the statue the city put up in his honor. On top of being one of the most gorgeous sculptures in a city full of them, the James Brown Statue has another perk: It’ll take your picture. Or, rather, the James Brown TXT cam will. Developed by programmer John Stewart in collaboration with the Clubhou.se, the cam will snap a quick shot of you with the Godfather of Soul, day or night. All you have to do is text the number near the statue, pose, and wait!
The Augusta Canal
No list of Augusta’s best features would be complete without mentioning the Augusta Canal. Designated as a National Heritage Area by Congress in 1996, the Augusta Canal is one of Augusta’s most beautiful and endearing landmarks, offering miles and miles of scenic cycling and walking trails. Stretching across two counties, the canal is a hotspot for exercise enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. Suggestion: Visit on a cool autumn morning. The smell of fresh river air and the sight of the Savannah Rapids roaring in the morning sun are an experience you won’t find anywhere else.
The Augusta Common
The only “seasonal” entry on this list, the Augusta Common is a beautiful spot in its own right—a large, sprawling plot of gorgeous greenspace (complete with free Wi-Fi) right in the heart of downtown. It really shines during events, though. Home to, among things, Augusta on Ice and the sprawling communal tents of Arts in the Heart, the Common is the heart and soul of Augusta at its best, a place to gather with friends and neighbors and just relax. Look for movies and music—chances are, most weekends, you’ll find one or the other in the Common.
A list of “must-see” attractions in Augusta wouldn’t be complete without a nod to Summerville. Home to local shopping, local eats and some of the most beautiful homes this side of the Mississippi (not to mention our own Summerville Campus), the Summerville neighborhood is a true Augusta treasure. Our recommendation: Be on the lookout for the Summerville Tour of Homes, an annual tour that explores the rich history and eye-candy architecture of Georgia’s second-oldest city.
Pendleton King Park
The King family, famed for (among other things) developing the Augusta Canal and King Mill in Augusta, leased their 64-acre property to the city of Augusta in the 1970s as a sanctuary for birds. Today that sanctuary, known as Pendleton King Park, is a sprawling public park sprinkled with azalea gardens, walking trails and one of the finest 18-hole disc golf courses in Georgia. Take a stroll on any of the park’s multiple trails to see the “Waterfalls Project” at work. Sponsored by a number of Augusta businesses and organizations, a series of engineered waterfalls oxygenates scenic Lake Elizabeth, improving the health of the park’s wetlands and providing a healthier habitat for local critters.
Phinizy Swamp Nature Park
We know what you’re thinking. “Swamp? Ew. No.” Well, here’s why you’re wrong. Located just a few minutes from downtown Augusta, Phinizy Swamp Nature Park is one of the few places in Georgia where you can see blue heron, river otters and, yes, alligators in their natural habitat. Still not sold? Well, answer this question: Have you ever watched clouds of fireflies flicker as the sun sets over natural wetlands, serenaded by a chorus of tree frogs? If not, we know just the place.
Lake Olmstead Park
If you couldn’t tell, we’re pretty big on parks in Augusta. That said, we’ve saved one of the best for last. Miles of walking track and an 18-hole disc golf course are just a few of the things that make Lake Olmstead Park a go-to Augusta destination. Boaters and kayaks get special days on the water, and believe us, the water is fine. So fine, in fact, that Lake Olmstead was used for the 1996 Summer Olympic rowing events (Take that, Atlanta). All in all, if you’re looking for a place 10 minutes from downtown to cool off and have fun, you can’t go wrong with Lake Olmstead.
Whether you’re here for a good time or here for a long time, Augusta truly has something for everyone. There’s more to the Garden City than we could ever hope to list here, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t come see all Augusta has to offer for yourself. No matter your tastes, we can guarantee: On Broad Street or off, if you’re coming to Augusta, you’re going to leave feeling good.