Welcome to Visit Augusta GA blog

More than Golf!

When I was a little kid I hated being cooped inside the house. I always wanted to be outside playing, and the same applies today. Luckily I live in Augusta, Ga. where outdoor recreation is just around the river bend…literally!

In the south, we are fortunate enough to have warmer temperatures during most of the year, which means we get to spend a lot of time outside! Here are some of the outdoor recreational opportunities Augusta offers. Be prepared to be surprised, and many places are free!



The Augusta Canal and Towpath

Built in 1845 to harness the water of the Savannah River and produce hydroelectricity to power mills, the Augusta Canal is still in use today. Its smooth waters make it an excellent place for a canoe or kayak adventure. Don’t have a kayak or canoe? There are retailers close by! And its 8.5 miles long towpath is ideal for walking or riding bikes. Pets are welcome.

J. Strom Thurmond LakeIt’s the largest man-made lake east of the Mississippi River. There are several parks and swimming beaches, hiking trails and camping areas. You can also rent boats and jet skis for the day. It is also home to the International Disc Golf Hall of Fame.

Lake Olmstead/Julian Smith ParkIt’s a lake front park which makes it perfect for boating, fishing and picnics. The Augusta GreenJackets, Augusta’s minor league baseball team play at Lake Olmstead Stadium during the season (April through September). Try your hand at one of several disc golf courses. One is located in the park. Disc golf is similar to ball golf, but you use discs/Frisbees and try to throw them into a basket to make par. Pretty simple concept. Fun and free if you own discs!

Phinizy Swamp Nature ParkLocated on 1100 acres and just minutes from downtown Augusta, Phinizy Swamp Nature Park offers visitors the chance to see blue heron, red-shouldered hawk, otter, alligator and the elusive bobcat in their natural settings. Participate in guided tours or venture out on your own. This park is also free.

Savannah River and Augusta Riverwalk

Personal  watercraft vehicles are available to rent. Also a great place for canoeing, kayaking and fishing. The Augusta Riverwalk runs parallel to the Savannah River. Its two-tiered paved trail runs for three blocks downtown. It features a children’s playground, picnic tables and various gardens.

Augusata Canal Boat Tour and Picnic

Need something unique to do while in town? Take a tour of the Augusta Canal on a Petersburg boat. You can learn about some of Augusta’s history along the canal while observing birds and wildlife. My favorite thing about this tour is that you can bring along your own picnic basket and beverages to enjoy on the boat. This is an attraction you do not want to miss while you are in Augusta.  Call the Canal Interpretive Center at (706)823-0440 to make your reservations today!

Weekend Whirl

“Whirl (N): a rapid round of events, affairs, etc”

We all need a little mini-vacation sometimes and a weekend whirl to freshen things up is always fun. So whether your planning a weekend trip to visit Augusta or looking to show visiting friends and family a good time, this is a fun itinerary that has a few of my favorite things to do.

Friday Night

Get a taste of Augusta’s downtown dining scene. There’s something to please everyone’s taste buds. Feeling adventurous? Try Bees Knees – this tapas style restaurant adds Southern flair to international dishes.

Get a shot of Augusta’s downtown nightlife. While you’re out and about, enjoy live Indie bands, bar bands, and drink specials downtown. A few of my favorite hot spots are Sky City, Soul Bar, Metro Pub and Stillwater Taproom.

   If you’re in town the first Friday of the month, go and enjoy the First Friday festival in the Augusta Commons area. It’s one of my favorite things to do on a Friday night. You’ll find live performances, music, art, vintage cars, fair food and more. Many of the downtown businesses host special First Friday events as well.

Saturday

Get a look at the local market. Take advantage of the cool morning weather and stroll down to the Saturday Market on the River. Grab a freshly roasted and brewed cup of coffee and some locally grown fruit to snack on for a light breakfast while you peruse the work of local artists and are serenaded by local jazz musicians.

Get some grub. Since you had a light breakfast, grab a good lunch—there are lots of cafes and restaurants to choose from. One of my favorite lunch spots is New Moon Café. They offer a good variety of soups, sandwiches and Panini’s that are made with fresh, and mostly local, ingredients.

Get on a trolley. Hop on the Lady Liberty trolley for the Saturday Historic Trolley Tour. Hear the legend of the Haunted Pillar and Civil War stories. Learn about the bones in the Old Medical College basement and a rambunctious boy who grew up in Augusta and became a U.S. President. Tour historic downtown and get a feel for all the unique shops and restaurants that you want to visit and more! Sound like fun? Make sure you call ahead  (706-724-4067) and make reservations at least 24 hours in advance.

Get a glimpse of nature. Rent a canoe, pontoon boat, or jetski from the Riverwalk Marina before setting off for a self-guided nature cruise down the beautiful Savannah River. If you prefer to hand over the captain’s hat, try an Augusta Canal Cruise so you can just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

Get some seafood. Before you head out for a night on the town, stop by Rinehart’s Oyster Bar for a “beyond casual” experience and enjoy fresh, simple seafood. My favorite thing on the menu is their fresh oysters, of course!

Get your groove on. A short drive down the road from Rinehart’s, you’ll find the Country Club Dance Hall and Saloon. Grab a friend and hit the dance floor. If you’re feelin’ lucky, go try and grab a balloon during the balloon drop and see if you’ve won a prize!

Sunday

Get to sleep late. After a late night, if you’re like me, you’ll want to sleep in a little. But don’t worry, you can still make it in time to enjoy “Augusta’s Best Sunday Brunch” at the Partridge Inn. Cheesy grits, bacon, biscuits and gravy, omelets, muffins, fresh fruit…you name it, they’ve got it!

Get a piece of Southern art. Take some time to explore the Morris Museum of Art. It’s the first museum that is dedicated to Southern art and works of Southern artists. Admission into the Morris is free on Sundays.

Get something to take home with you. I never leave someplace without doing a little shopping first. Augusta has tons of cool shops for you to check out. Downtown you can hit Artists Row—a group of galleries and studios that sell local art and hand-made jewelry, The Book Tavern—a little bookstore packed full of new, used and rare books, Vintage Ooollee—a vintage clothing and accessories boutique, and any of the quirky antique shops—my favorite thing about antique shops is you never know what you’ll find!  

Looking for someplace to stay? Check out our hotel listings to see which Augusta hotel best fits your style and budget.

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

A few days ago, I met some friends for a leisurely paddle up the Savannah River.  Our route took us up river, then up Rae’s Creek to Aqueduct Park, back to the river, up around a few islands and back to a boat ramp in North Augusta where we began.  Starting just a few hundred yards up river from downtown Augusta, it looked like this:

The weather was beautiful and there’s nothing quite as nice as getting on the river on a warm summer evening.  We looked for fish, turtles, ducks and other wildlife while we paddled up Rae’s Creek towards Aqueduct Park and met a man Stand-Up Paddling.  It looks like something fun I’ll have to try!

 

Aqueduct Park is a great spot to cool off and a lot of folks were taking advantage of the cool water!

 

Coming back to the river, we paddled upstream passing small islands and beautiful Spanish-moss covered cypress trees. 

We struggled against the current a little ways up the shoals and were rewarded with a fun ride down some very small rapids.

  

If you’d like to kayak or canoe on the Savannah River, you can rent both from Broadway Bait & Tackle or rent canoes from the Riverwalk Marina.

 

Broadway Bait & Tackle

1730 Broad Street (at the canal)

Augusta, GA 30904

(706) 738-8848

http://www.broadwaytackle.com/servlet/the-697/CANOE-RENTAL-KAYAK-RENTAL/Detail

Riverwalk Marina

1 5th Street
Augusta, Georgia 30901
(706) 722-1388

Kayaking in Downtown Augusta


I know it might seem a little weird to kayak in downtown, but along the Augusta Canal it is possible. The journey for me began at the Augusta Canal Headgates where the Canal begins – this is the spot where it branches off from the Savannah River. The canal was originally built by hand in 1845 to harness the water power to operate textile mills. It continues to do that job today more than 100 years later.

For more than seven miles that the canal takes, it leisurely turns. It starts out very quiet and calm with plenty of wildlife and ends with beautiful 100 year-old factories still drawing in water and then right into downtown Augusta – just three blocks from Augusta’s main street.


The canal is all calm water and can be navigated by even the most novice of water travelers – as my friend and co-worker Katrina demonstrated in her canoe. Anna did her best to steer them straight. The entire trip took just under three hours, but that did include stops for snacks. There are many places to put in if you want a shorter trip, but there is also Lake Olmstead to visit if you want to take a longer trip. There is also a path along the canal for cyclists, walkers and fishermen. But today’s journey for me was in a kayak and I loved it!


Today we rented from AWOL. They will drop you off and with a cell phone call, pick you up once you’re done.

American Wilderness Outfitters Limited (AWOL)
2328 Washington Road
Augusta GA 30904
706-738-8500
www.getawol.com


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