The world’s eye turns to Georgia each spring when the prestigious Masters golf tournament is held at Augusta National Golf Club. But even if you didn’t manage to score Masters tickets, April is a beautiful month to visit Augusta, when the dogwoods and azaleas are in bloom and fun activities for the whole family await.
History, golf and the Godfather of Soul
The Augusta History Museum, located with the Augusta Visitors Center at 560 Reynolds St., includes two large galleries celebrating the sport of golf, the evolution of golf equipment and Augusta’s legacy as the “Golf Capital of the Nation.”
Although its name may be synonymous with golf, Augusta does have a few more stories to tell. Georgia’s second oldest and second largest city was founded along the banks of the Savannah River in 1736 by James Oglethorpe, who named the city after Augusta, Princess of Wales, mother of England’s King George III.
Stroll through a variety of interesting exhibits, spanning 12,000 years of local history. Climb aboard a 1914 steam locomotive, discover how Augusta escaped Sherman’s March to the Sea during the Civil War and learn the names of many famous people who have called the city home – from President Woodrow Wilson and Butterfly McQueen (Gone with the Wind’s “Prissy”) to members of the band Lady Antebellum.
An entertaining, interactive exhibit is devoted to Augusta’s most famous son, the “Godfather of Soul,” James Brown, who overcame poverty and segregation to become an international music icon, bringing Southern gospel, R&B and soul into the mainstream.
Board a trolley in front of the Augusta History Museum on certain days of the week for an entertaining glimpse of Augusta’s beautiful homes and historic sites on the Historic Augusta Trolley Tours. Reservations required: 706-724-4067. (www.augustamuseum.org)
April Highlight: Augusta Golf Heritage Trolley Tours
On Mondays at 10:30 a.m., a special trolley tour explores grand hotels, golf courses and other historic sites that played key roles in Augusta’s transformation into a golf destination. Call SouthStar Trolley to make reservations, 706-432-8883.
Cruise the Augusta Canal
Take a peaceful guided tour down the Augusta Canal in an electric boat, learning about the area’s industrial and natural history and catching glimpses of several Augusta landmarks. Spot turtles, hawks, herons, perhaps even a beaver or river otter as you glide along the oldest continuously operating hydropower canal in the United States, built in 1845. Make time to visit the Augusta Canal Discovery Center, housed inside the former Enterprise Mill building, which tells the story of the Industrial Revolution in the American South. (www.augustacanal.com)
April Highlight: Augusta Canal Moonlight Music Cruise
April 10, 6:30 p.m. Enjoy live music aboard a replica Petersburg Boat. Bring refreshments of your choice and be delighted by the sounds of live jazz. Reservations are required. $25.
Discover Southern artists
The Morris Museum of Art, located at 1 10th St. on the Riverwalk in downtown Augusta, is the first museum dedicated to the art and artists of the American South. Beautiful, spacious galleries encourage close inspection of antebellum portraits, landscapes, Southern impressionists and self-taught artists, and evocative contemporary images. This is a lovely place to linger late in the afternoon before an evening meal. (www.themorris.org)
April Highlight: Exhibit and print-signing
Golf landscape artist Linda Hartough Tuesday, April 7 – Sunday, April 12. Perhaps golf’s leading artist, Linda Hartough was commissioned to paint the famed 13th hole at Augusta National Golf Club and is the only artist ever commissioned to do the annual, official paintings and prints for the U.S. Open and British Open Championships. Hartough will sign a variety of prints of her work in the museum store on Friday of Masters week, April 10, from 2-4 p.m.
Snap a selfie with James Brown
In 2005, a statue of local music legend James Brown was placed on Broad Street in downtown Augusta, and has since become a popular photo spot for anyone visiting the city.
Take a river stroll and grab a bite
Enjoy a pleasant waterside stroll at Riverwalk Augusta, a downtown city park along the Savannah River. From there, it’s an easy walk to several unique eateries. For elegant farm-to-table fare the locals rave about, make a reservation at Frog Hollow Tavern, 1282 Broad St. (froghollowtavern.com). Or enjoy a craft cocktail and upscale tapas at The Bees Knees, 211 10th St. (beeskneestapas.com). Save room for dessert at Boll Weevil Café and Sweetery, 10 9th St., known for their unbelievably large, to-die-for cakes (thebollweevil.com).
April festivals and concerts
The Mayor’s Masters Reception, an annual event, will be held on Monday, April 6, 6:30 p.m. at Augusta Common, 836 Reynolds St., with family festivities, food samples from local restaurants, music from country rapper Colt Ford and recognition of those who have contributed to the game of golf.
Rock Fore! Dough Concert, Tuesday, April 7, Evans Towne Center Park (in the Augusta suburbs). Darius Rucker will headline this annual concert also featuring Sam Hunt, A Thousand Horses and Phillip Lee Jr. All proceeds support The First Tee of Augusta, which introduces young people to the game of golf. www.rockfordough.com.
Sacred Heart Garden Festival, held April 24-26, will feature garden advice and displays, plant sales, entertainment, food and tours of extraordinary private gardens. Plus you get to explore the Sacred Heart Cultural Center itself, 1301 Greene St., a former Catholic church with soaring vaulted ceilings and 94 stained glass windows. www.sacredheartaugusta.org. ■