There’s a little-known gem just outside of Atlanta on I-20 going East. Mostly synonymous with the Masters® Golf Tournament, Augusta is revitalizing it’s downtown area and ramping up its food scene. One of my favorite excuses for stopping in Augusta had always been to dine at The New Moon Cafe in downtown, but ever since one of my best friends moved there it was just the excuse I needed to make a weekend getaway out of Augusta to visit her. To my enjoyment, I discovered much more charm than I had anticipated and had the privilege to see a more hip and historical side of Augusta.
Places to Eat:
Appealing to a variety of diets, Augusta has a great wealth of restaurant options from farm-to-table, vegan, and fusions of every variety. These are some of my tried and true favorites.
An eclectic healthy food stop that I’m absolutely enamored with. Their variety of healthy food ranges from avocado toasts to smoothies packed with kale and beets. Everything on their menu is whipped up on site and bursting with flavor. It’s hard to narrow down their menu selections to just one thing to order but I definitely recommend you to order a Matcha Green Tea Latte, a Green Monster Smoothie and their Avocado Toast. The Matcha Green Tea Latte is subtly sweet while still filled with the Matcha flavor and finished with almond milk for a protein filled drink that’s lighter for the waistline. The best thing to order is the Green Monster smoothie made with loads of kale, banana, peanut butter, Greek yogurt, local honey and vanilla bean. It’s the entire reason I stop in Augusta every time I get the opportunity.
This chic bistro is a great combination between Mediterranean and southern fare set in a fun marketplace setting. There is a beautiful patio and a large open bar and dining area inside. I had a delicious grouper sandwich while my friends had a bahn mi sandwich. If the weather is nice, I highly recommend indulging in a sweet tea and some lunch on their patio.
A chic spot downtown, The Bees Knees is unpretentious and bursting with flavor. Their signature cocktail, a traditional Bees Knees, is well balanced and lovely to sip on whether you’re at the bar or the quaint outdoor patio. They source as much of their ingredients from local farmers utilizing sustainable ingredients. We split the Smoked Gouda Nachos, the Sweet Potato Hummus, and the Tuna Tartare before diving into our main dishes. Although I could have made the main course out of the sweet potato hummus, it was decadent but light and was served with fresh pita bread as well as a unique selection of veggies, like purple carrots and radishes.
Across the river in Hammond’s Ferry, there’s a little town square that plays host to the chicest outdoor restaurant in town, Manuel’s Bread Café. On a sunny day the patio is overflowing with people and the sweet tea is being poured in every glass. I had a burger and my friend had a salad. Both were delicious, I just wish I had received more French Fries because they were the perfect hand-cut fries salted to perfection.
While we were in Hammond’s Ferry we went ahead and placed a to-go order at The Larder for dinner that night. We went with a classic chicken salad pita and some spicy red pepper hummus as a starter. The brownies wrapped up on the counter found their way into our to go bag as well.
Things To Do:
Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or a shopaholic, Augusta has something that appeals to all tastes.
Explore the Summerville historic district:
If you’re an old house lover (like myself) then the neighborhood of Summerville is where you’re going to want to spend your time walking around. The houses are all brimming with antebellum charm with tall columns and wide porches.
Explore Final Cut (the unofficial Anthropologie Outlet):
I have to say,Final Cut is amazing and you should definitely come prepared to spend half of your day and bring a trailer. It’s a holding area for slightly damaged floor model furniture, chandeliers, mirrors, and clothing. While not everything is in perfect condition, you will find some amazing discounts on some nearly perfect pieces of furniture. If you have some DIY up your sleeve, then you’ll find loads of treasures here. If you want to walk out of there with ready to sit in furniture, you may get lucky and find a couple of great pieces, but you’re more than likely going to find something that needs a little elbow grease.
Enjoy some Watersports at Savannah Rapids Park:
Augusta is right on the Savannah River which means you’ll more than likely find some locals participating in water sporting activities. We had the chance to kayak down the Savannah River via Savannah Rapids Park. There is a husband and wife team who operate a Kayak rental place at the perfect drop off right past the dam and you can cruise down the river at your own pace and enjoy the sights and sounds of the quiet river scene.
Visit the Sacred Heart Cultural Center:
This beautiful Cathedral you pass on the highway as you come into town has been converted into a cultural center that is open for tours and hosts a multitude of events throughout the year. I was in town for the Sacred Heart Garden Tour (where I met Very Vera who’s coconut cake I made here), and got to experience a unique to Augusta festival. The center is converted in a gardening haven with a butterfly house out back and a bevy of potted plants for you to bring home. There’s also a home tour portion you can go visit to sneak a peek at some local gardens around the area.
Explore Broad Street by Foot:
Broad Street is the “main street” of Downtown Augusta. It has a multitude of charming businesses and storefronts to pop into like Flowers on Broad and The New Moon Café (for you Matcha Green Tea Latte fix.)
The highlight of my trip was getting to experience the river in a unique way by doing a BYOD&B river cruise listening to a local musician play while we dined on our to-go order from the Larder and sipped on some beers without worrying about which way the current was running. The sun was slowly dipping behind us and it was the best way to experience Augusta.
Where to Stay:
Sitting on the hill of Summerville, this historic hotel just went through a massive renovation but still pays homage to the original 1836 home. It boasts extensive patio space to linger with a book or head up to the rooftop bar for impressive views of the city.
For the three whirlwind days I spent in Augusta I saw more of the city then I had originally thought possible. The historic district was so beautiful and in full bloom with roses cascading over all of the wrought iron fences. The river district was surprisingly beautiful and tranquil and the restaurant scene (outside of my beloved New Moon Café) was impressive as it was creative. It was a great way to catch up with one of my best friends and to see her town with a new perspective.
Special thanks to the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau who put together such a thoughtful and inspiring itinerary for me! It was such a treat to explore this city for an extended period of time.