Our family recently spent a weekend exploring the myriad things to do in Augusta, Ga and we had a BALL!
If you enjoy many of the same things we do – great food, outdoor adventure, and a hint of history and arts – then this is a city you need to add to your bucket list! Here’s how to do it!
Check Into Partridge Inn
After work on Friday, head to the Partridge Inn. This beautiful Summerville landmark dates from the early 1800s but was recently renovated. If you need room to spread out, opt for the corner suite like we did. You may even find a great discount through our partner Hotels.com.
Partridge Inn is an Historic Hotel of America, yet the contemporary renovations and sleek styling make it an elegant and modern hotel selection. The suite in which we stayed was ideal for our family, with kid-friendly touches throughout the room and hotel. I highly recommend a stay here whether or not you are visiting with kids. Our entire crew gives it two thumbs up, without hesitation.
Our spacious two-room suite was situated in the corner of the building, with a great view of the courtyard. Huge windows allowed natural light to flood the space in both the living area and the bedroom.
The door opened up to a large living area. To the left we found a spacious walk-in closet with extra linens and drawer space. In the main living area was a lounge chair and fold-out sofa. The large desk included a cabinet with a mini fridge, coffee maker and a mounted TV.
The bedroom included two comfortable queen-sized beds – each with a foot bench, a large mounted flat-panel TV and night table. Because of the corner space, windows dressed two walls in the room, which I adored. No worries – the blackout shades work like a charm.
The bedroom was open to a large closet and dressing area, and a full bath. The bath included a gorgeous, modern sink and tub/shower combo.
A pool! Yes! There was a pool. We risked going for a dip before Memorial Day so it was a little chilly, but a ton of fun, regardless! There were even a few beach balls and such for the kids to enjoy. Cooper thought it was most awesome that the pool went to 8 feet deep!
Complimentary Wi-Fi was available in the hotel, including our room. Huge plus!
P.I. Bar and Grill is located on the main floor. We visited here for drinks (a la Styrofoam cups) during our pool visit. I even had Champagne! We also enjoyed a wonderful breakfast buffet (kids 5 and under eat free.) We loved sitting on the wrap-around porch for breakfast. It felt like a classic southern meal!
Service and Location
The entire staff was wonderful, from the Valet to the Front Desk. The hotel is almost fully renovated; they are still working on the Lobby area. We didn’t encounter a noise issue at all, and even the few construction workers we encountered were very kind and accommodating.
Partridge Inn is in the neighborhood of Summerville, a very posh and upstanding neighborhood. We were only about 5-10 minutes from the main street of downtown Augusta. This is where you’ll find great eats, the museum, river walk, and more!
Partridge Inn is everything I love in a hotel. It is historic and modern. It has spacious rooms with family-friendly amenities, a pool for play, great access to all the attractions, and a sweet southern staff.
Dinner At The Bees Knees
Now that you’re settled, make your way to Broad Street – the “main street” in downtown Augusta and only about a 10 minute ride. Grab dinner at The Bees Knees. If there is one place you must eat at in Augusta, it is here. Delicious tapas, a creative drink menu, an eclectic vibe, exposed brick walls and wooden benches, plus they have a heart for local and sustainable food.
Let’s talk philosophy first. The Bee’s Knees uses local, seasonable, and sustainable ingredients whenever they can. Their chicken is all natural and Georgia-farmed. With a heavy array of dishes for vegetarians and vegans, they’ve even taken the time and effort to offer organic, Georgia-made tofu. Everything is made fresh to order, so your dishes come out as they are ready. No worries, just order several tapas, and share!
I opted for something new to me… Avocado Chop Chop. It was amazing! Imagine half an avocado, baked with shrimp and drizzled with aioli. YUM! The Blue Crabcake was on the money, and super delish covered in jalapeño cream sauce. Hubby skipped the small plates and went right for the Pad Thai, which it seemed the staff was delivering to every table. A popular choice, for sure (pictured below, with shrimp.) A monstrous bowl of rice noodles were covered with egg, cilantro, garlic, bean sprouts, carrots, jalapeños and peanuts. Hubby picked chicken, but shrimp and tofu are also available.
The “Little Bees” menu included a fruit and bread plate, grilled cheese, hummus and veggies, yaki stir-fry and grilled veggies and chicken. Prices ranged from $2-3. Wow! My boys shared a grilled cheese with sweet potato fries, and both yielded two sets of thumbs up.
Let’s talk drinks! The boys had juice…I needed something stronger. The drink menu was several pages, and it listed craft brews including some rare and unique selections. The wine menu was nice and included a variety of blends. I was impressed with the “wine on tap” selections. But you know me, I’m a cocktail girl. Our wonderful Augusta guide talked me into the Bee’s Classic Sangria, saying it was a local’s favorite. Red wine, rum, juices and fresh fruit. It was a party in my mouth. (She had one, too!)
As soon as we walked up, I fell in love. Several people were dining outside, a la Paris. The tables, hand-painted sign, and chocolate awning won my heart. Inside, walls of exposed brick, cement floors, and curtains in the doorways make you feel immediately comfortable and relaxed. It wasn’t too loud for table conversation, but an elevated hum made me feel relaxed about having the kids with us. It seemed to me that people come here for good food and good times – and we had both!
Visiting without the kids? Don’t miss Hive Growler Bar, next door. Owned by the same people, someone explained it to me this way: The Bee’s Knees happens to serve drinks with their delicious food. Hive happens to serve food with their amazing drinks.
Breakfast at the River
There’s a delicious breakfast buffet at the hotel, and the patio is a lovely place to enjoy it…but save that for Sunday! It’s Saturday, so hit the Saturday Market at the River. You’ll find coffee, cinnamon buns and so much more.
Whether in Georgia, neighboring states or across the world, our favorite way to explore a new place is at their outdoor markets. We jumped on the chance to visit the Augusta Market while there. It’s held on the River Walk every Saturday from mid-March through the end of November. I recommend heading there in the early morning to start your day; they open at 8am.
Parking is easy and free. Pull in then walk to the strip of vendors. Up first, a mug if joe from Buona Caffe for locally roasted coffee to get the morning going. Once you’re awake, don’t forget the cinnamon roll at the neighboring tent. It smells just as good as it looks! Mmmmm.
As we walked closer to the river, the boys picked out a lemonade…not fresh squeezed, but fresh PRESSED. It was squished with a hydraulic press…imPRESSive! We also found a vendor selling neat portable Disc Golf cages, and picked up a putter.
After that, we walked down the river for a while, enjoying the quiet. At the amphitheater, the boys climbed up and down and up and down the giant stairs. I could not have asked for a better place for them to expel some energy.
Float Down The Augusta Canal
Once you’re filled on Augusta’s local yummies, drive to the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area for a tour of the museum and a boat cruise down the Augusta Canal. There are sometimes large groups from camps or schools, so making a reservation is a great idea.
The Augusta Canal, built in 1845 as a source of power, water and transportation, is the only intact industrial canal in the American South in continuous use. There are two amazing things you need to know about the Augusta Canal: It was dug by hand. TWICE! How?? Why?? Well, don’t look at me; I’m not giving it away! Plus, the story is too incredible, and I wouldn’t do it justice. The Augusta Canal National Heritage Area is where you need to go!
Head into the Canal Discovery Center to purchase your tickets for the Boat Tour first. You can also call ahead to reserve tickets for the tour, which I recommend. More on the boat tours further down. Once you purchase your ticket, access to the Discovery Center is FREE.
While we waited for our boat tour, we explored the museum within the Discovery Center. There are hands-on exhibits, videos and models. The boys cranked a wheel to generate electricity much like the canal…Augusta Canal is the oldest continuously operating hydropower canal in the United States. We explored exhibits about the textile manufacturing that the canal brought to Augusta.
We took the Heritage Boat Tour along the canal. Most interesting to me was the vessel, a Petersburg Boat. It’s a flat bottom boat that is so safe that the Coast Guard has declared that not even children have to wear life vests (though if this weirds you out, there are vests on board for everyone and you can put one on the kiddos!)
We rode down the canal, seeing heron and turtles, and keeping an eye out for otters and alligator. Our guide pointed out the 19th century textile mills, the Confederate Powder Works and two of Georgia’s only remaining 18th Century houses. Don’t forget to get your National Park Passport stamped while here. Don’t have one? No worries – you can pick one up at the gift shop!
I would love to go back to experience the Music Cruise on Fridays (BYOB, BTW) and the three-hour Sunset Cruise which runs to headsgates of the Savannah Rapids and then back toward Enterprise Mill at sunset. It’s also BYOB.
More in the Heritage Area
Don’t miss hiking, biking, running along the canal’s wide, level towpath, once used by mules to pull canal boats to the Canal headgates. Additionally there are several put-in points for canoes and kayaks. No swimming is allowed in the canal, though. This water is filtered and becomes drinking water for the city.
Lunch at New Moon Cafe
You’ve walked through time and floated down the canal, now it’s time for lunch! Back on Broad Street, take a break at New Moon Café.
When you’re exploring on vacation, you need a place with quick food – but not fast food. You want healthy choices with a kid-friendly atmosphere, and not too far from all the attractions. New Moon Cafe fits the bill!
Select from an array of sandwiches, salads and smoothies. I picked the chicken salad, which was melt-in-your-mouth awesome. I love a salad with nuts and grapes; the touch mayo was delish and the homestyle croutons made this a perfect 10. The other two adults with me opted for sandwiches…a pimento cheese and bacon panini, and a cheesesteak-style sammy. The servings were larger than I expected. On a normal day, I would probably have had to pack a to-go box, but after our round of sight seeing we gobbled it all down.
The boys opted for PB&J, grilled cheese and chips. Great sizes, easy and fun!
I loved the smoothie bar. If we lived in Augusta, this would be my go-to place. They are made to order from real fruit – up to three selections. Since I don’t drink milk, I loved how I could choose to used juice or almond milk for the liquifying agent. I had one packed with berries and OJ. My mouth is watering as I think about it now. I also felt like it was a great treat for the kids….something different than juice but more healthy (and as appealing) as soda.
It is casual and comfortable, and great for kids. You can pick a seat in the outside patio (bonus, the patio is dog friendly.)Inside, we ordered at the counter and then found a seat. The staff brought our food which made it very easy to manage two crazy kiddos. We sat at a booth, but also noticed that tables in the downstairs area also included a section for kids, with a coloring table…complete with paper and crayons. Woot!
There is breakfast and brunch, and pastries, too. This is EXACTLY the type of place every traveling family dreams of!
Museum and Trolley Tour After Lunch
The boys loved the golf cart at the entrance, a hat tip of course to The Masters. By the way, this cart sits directly in front of the Augusta Visitor’s Center (sharing the same building as the museum) so be sure to step in!
Inside the museum we saw more about the Masters, including a green jacket! We jammed to music from The Godfather of Soul, James Brown. The boys enjoyed seeing the film about his life, and exploring the memorabilia of a time past. We learned about other local legends and about Augusta’s history from 12,000 years before.
There were exhibits with clothing and gear from WWI and Vietnam. We found several hands-on pieces for the kids, including the ability to don a pack like soldiers wore…taking in how heavy and painful that journey must have been. That’s Elliot trying it on –>
I think a favorite of my kiddos was the Transportation Corridor. They saw a 1917 steam locomotive. Be sure to watch for the train tracks outside the museum…this is where they drove the train to its current position, building the museum around it! We also saw a reconstructed 1930s gas station, a 1952 Dodge Power Wagon, and more.
When it was time, we met the trolley in front of the museum and hopped aboard. On our adventure we passed dozens of historic homes with terrific tales, learned about the secrets of the Medical College of Georgia, and saw Woodrow Wilson’s boyhood home. There’s more; there’s more! I won’t give it all away!
I will admit that our little one fell asleep about half way through the trolley tour – but that is usually the case with him during that time of day. Cooper enjoyed it greatly. I am often asked about taking tours such as this with kids…we’ve done it in several cities and always with great success. Augusta was no exception. I highly recommend it!
Early Dinner at The Pizza Joint
Ready for a break? Find your way back to Partridge Inn to freshen up, grab a drink, and take a dip in the pool. Once it’s time for dinner, chow down on pizza and a brew at The Pizza Joint.
The pizza, salad and beer selections at The Pizza Joint make this a fun place for dinner, but the outside patio really brings it home for the family! We sat outside enjoying the evening breeze. The boys played cornhole and danced with the live band. It’s located on Broad Street, which is the “main” street in Augusta, and easily reachable from most of the city’s attractions.
An Evening With The Augusta GreenJackets
If you’re lucky enough to visit during baseball season, plan to watch the Augusta GreenJackets game.
We did it!! Our boys went to their very first baseball game – an Augusta GreenJackets game. This was an ideal way for the kids to experience their first live sports event…we couldn’t have asked for anything better.
Every seat in the house provides a superb view of the field. We were able to get sooo close to the Bull Pen and really see and feel the power of the professional pitchers. Our oldest was captivated, looking on with awe.
It was easy to run down to the concession stands (popcorn, M&Ms, hamburgers, hotdogs and tons of other “baseball food” options.) Visit on a Sunday Jr. Jackets home game and get a photo with Auggie the mascot!
Kid’s Zone is an area near left field with a large playground area for kids to run off extra energy while mom and dad keep an eye on the game. It’s an extra $4 per kiddo, but if you head there after the 7th inning like we did, you can get in for free.
Visiting in mid summer? Cintas Cool Zone and six huge industrial fans in the rafters provides a little help from the heat.
Honestly, I cannot recommend more highly a trip to a GreenJackets game while in Augusta. Parking was easy, the game was the perfect length of time for kids – not too long, not too short. It offers a great viewing position (3rd smallest stadium in the league, which equals a much more intimate experience.) The playground, Jr Jackets Kids Club (i.e. FREE admission for kids,) and a visit with Auggie make this an experience they will always remember.
NOTE: The Augusta GreenJackets played their last game at Lake Olmstead Stadium in Sept of 2017. They now play at SRP Park in North Augusta, SC. It’s not too far…they still have a free kids club…you’ll have a great time even if you experience a different park than we did.
Explore Phinizy Swamp Nature Park
It’s your last day! After breakfast at Partridge Inn, take an easy and relaxing hike at Phinizy Swamp Nature Park. The bridges, trees and lakes make a picture-perfect Sunday stroll.
I learned about Phinizy before we visited Augusta. Honestly, it was the impetus to planning a trip there, and it lived up to myexpectations. We only visited for an hour or so, but you could easily spend an entire day here.
We hiked a few short trails, crossing boardwalks and bridges. We saw beautiful ponds and water channels and spent time on the observation decks searching for alligator, herons and turtles.
If you’re visiting on a weekend then be sure to register for their Saturday activities…the 1st Sat is a guided swamp hike, 2nd Sat is yoga in the park, 3rd Sat is Bike Saturday, and 4th Sat is stream exploration. They also offer fun programs like a Blue Moon Hike at the end of July, Family Camping Nights and Summer Camp.
Learn Something New At Morris Museum
Back downtown, you will be shocked and amazed with the beautiful works of art hanging in the unassuming building of Morris Museum. Morris is the first museum dedicated to the art and artists of the American South. Their collection includes over 5,000 pieces including paintings, artifacts, sculptures and more. Yes, it is right next to the Saturday Market, but I put it on our Sunday itinerary because Sundays are FREE!
Full disclosure here: My kiddos were in mid-afternoon meltdown mode when I wanted to visit, so I left them in the car with Dad and a Disney movie. Dad relished a chance to close his eyes; he knew there was no way I was going to miss this experience. I love art museums, and this one surpassed my expectations!
- Prices are very affordable, but you can visit on Sundays for FREE.
- Guided tours are available on Sunday afternoons.
- Be sure to check out the family events; there are some fun things on the calendar including a monthly Mommy and Me Series.
- There are several restaurants within walking distance of the museum along Broad, Reynolds, 10th, and 11th Streets.
I took several photos of my favorite paintings. Of course they cannot do justice to these amazing works of art, but I hope they whet your appetite for a visit to this marvelous museum.
Lunch (and Dessert) at Boll Weevil
Time for lunch at Boll Weevil Cafe and Sweetery. The Boll Weevil’s main building was constructed before 1850 and was used for cotton storage for some time. In the late 1919 Fredrick Harrison purchased the place and ran it as a railroad freight building until a fire destroyed the rear…a few years later a tornado destroyed the front. Finally, in 1990, Harrison’s son decided to use the property as a restaurant. Surrounded by two other restaurants, Cotton Row and Cotton Patch, he named his eatery after the cotton-eating insect. What a story of perseverance.
Boll Weevil creates indescribable sweets, tall cakes, scrumptious pies and fresh bread. You can get them to go, or enjoy the casual dining area – leaving room to savor the desserts onsite.
Our group noshed on The Jerk sandwich, with grilled jerk chicken, provolone and all the fixings, the Chicken Salad Salad – an exorbitant amount of yummy chicken salad served on a bed of lettuce with tons of veggies, and Seared Tuna Salad which boasted seared Ahi tuna served with mandarin oranges, cucumbers and wasabi dressing. Every bite was delicious and affordable.
I saved the very best for last, though. CAKE!!! What a difficult decision…Canary Lemon with cream cheese icing…carrot cake or red velvet…or a slice of cheesecake….turtle crunch, chocolate mint Grasshopper…or maybe blueberries and cream?? Don’t skip the pies…Key Lime…Peanut Butter…Bourbon Pecan or Cappuccino Tiramisu??
These slices are HUGE and they come with whipped cream, chocolate sauce, you name it! In the end, we went for the Strawberry Cake with homemade strawberry buttercream icing and Perfect Chocolate Cake – layers of chocolate cake with brownies baked in, covered in chocolate buttercream and dark chocolate ganache. Oh my. I can still taste the goodness. It was amazing.
Two pieces of cake for three adults and two children, and we didn’t finish it all. Wishing I had a piece now!
Savannah River Rapids Before You Go
Full belly now? Time to work it off. You’re last stop before heading home is Savannah River Rapids. Click through for five exceptional ways to play here!!
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Disclosure: Thanks to Augusta for hosting our family. We love love love this city and wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t 100% true!