Guest Road Tripper Kathy Witt takes us to charming Augusta, Georgia in her latest travel piece. Always glad to have you, Kathy!
Mention Augusta, GA and thoughts immediately leap to the Masters Tournament. After all, this small town charmer on the banks of the Savannah River has been home to the famous golf tournament for nearly 90 years. But Augusta is also a vibrant artists community, culinary hotspot and urban playground with adventures aplenty for foodies, history buffs, arts aficionados, nature and outdoor lovers, music fans and more.
In Augusta’s walkable downtown, browse the boutiques and vintage stores along Artists Row. Catch a show at the Imperial Theatre, a former vaudeville hall that James Brown once used as rehearsal space. Speaking of the Godfather of Soul, follow the story of the world-famous soul singer who called Augusta home on the new James Brown Journey. The walking tour takes visitors to locations that played a key role in Brown’s life, each marked by vinyl artwork and a QR code that opens into an audio tour narrated by his family and friends.
A Walk Along the Savannah River
The Riverwalk serves as the front porch of Augusta and one of this Georgia city’s most popular parks. Destination Augusta
Wander along Augusta’s Riverwalk, a multilevel brick trail meandering along the banks of the Savannah River to ornamental gardens, children’s playgrounds, historical monuments, museums including the Morris Museum of Art and Augusta Museum of History, the Jessye Norman Amphitheater where live concerts are performed, and several restaurants.
The Augusta Canal National Heritage Area (www.augustacanal.com) is an outdoor enthusiast’s mecca, with hiking and biking on the historic canal’s towpath, fishing from the canal banks and paddling and kayaking in its lazy waters. Cruises aboard a replica open-air canal cargo boat glide visitors into the past, floating by Georgia’s only remaining 18th century houses and 19th century textile mills; on wildlife expeditions, spotting otters, heron and even the occasional alligator; and into dreamy nights on moonlight music cruises.
Boat tour tickets include free admission to the Augusta Canal Discovery Center. Located in a former textile mill, the center features exhibits, orientation film and gift shop.
The historic 112-year-old Partridge Inn (www.partridgeinn.com), part of the world-class Curio Collection by Hilton, recently underwent a multimillion dollar renovation. The result? A luxurious escape with all the amenities, but one that keeps the hotel’s historical charm and character intact. The hillside oasis offers 140 rooms and suites, each beautifully appointed and some with balconies, top-tier dining with its 8595 restaurant and Six South rooftop bar, lounge and bar areas and outdoor swimming pool and courtyard.
Augusta is developing a reputation for fun and funky downtown culinary hotspots serving everything from vegan/vegetarian comfort food like Ube (sweet purple yam) pancakes topped with maple icing and toasted walnuts and paired with a mimosa at the Bee’s Knees to gourmet small plate fine dining accompanied by a sublime wine list at Craft & Vine.
The new and already popular Edgar’s Above Broad brings rooftop dining to Augusta’s dynamic downtown foodscape, with a seasonal tapas menu and tantalizing craft cocktails – like the Imaginary Friend (the house mule with strawberry-infused vodka and a ginger beer topper) – served in a fun setting with putting green, bocce ball and sweeping downtown views.
For wildlife lovers, there’s nothing better than an outing to Phinizy Swamp Nature Park (www.phinizycenter.org), located just minutes from downtown: great blue herons, red-shouldered hawks, river otters and the elusive alligator go about their business in natural woodland and wetland settings sheltered by Bald Cypress, Water Oak, Sweetgum trees and spread out over thousands of acres. Scenic and serene, it has a steel and wooden bridge crossing over Butler Creek and providing occasional glimpses of turtle and river otters – the place where dragonflies, damselflies and even the rare Mayfly are known to buzz about.
A wooden boardwalk with covered observation deck is the perfect spot to catch busy woodpeckers, warblers and hawks and the Pond Trail peeks into the pine forest for glimpses of waterfowl and wading birds. The Phinizy Swamp Shop and Visitor Center is open Saturdays and Sundays and has natural history exhibits, observation hive with active bee colony, Kids’ Corner, park info, souvenirs and snacks.
To learn more about Georgia’s second oldest city, pick up a copy of Tom Mack’s book, 100 Things To Do in Augusta, GA Before You Die (Reedy Press). Mack personally ate at every restaurant, shopped at each venue and visited all the cultural attractions included in the book. Readers will find detailed descriptions of each venue as well as Mack’s insider tips to help them get the most out of a visit to Augusta.
Augusta, GA has enticing experiences to tempt every member of the family. Use Destination Augusta’s Trip Builder (www.visitaugusta.com/tripbuilder) to create a personalized itinerary. Find more information at www.visitaugusta.com.
A visit to Augusta, GA simply would not be complete without sampling a true Southern pimento cheese dish. From The Partridge Inn’s restaurant, 8595, here is Executive Chef Thomas Jacobs’ Fried Green Tomatoes and Pimento Cheese recipe.
Green Tomato Recipe
- 1 C all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp blacken seasoning
- 1/4 tsp fine-ground black pepper
- 1/4 C buttermilk
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 C panko breadcrumbs
- 1 C yellow cornmeal
- 2 large green tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
Line a baking sheet with paper towels and top with a cooling rack. Set up a dredging station with 3 shallow bowls. In the first bowl, add the flour, salt and pepper, and whisk to combine. In the second bowl, beat the buttermilk, eggs and blacken season together. In the third bowl, stir together the cornmeal and panko.
Working in batches, dredge both sides of the tomato slices in the seasoned flour, shaking each piece to remove any excess.
Dip the tomato slices into the egg and buttermilk mixture. Then coat the tomato slices in the breadcrumb/panko mixture evenly on both sides. Place the prepared tomatoes in the basket of an air fryer and spritz the top with olive oil. Air fry at 400°F for 5 minutes, flip and spritz with olive oil, and continue to air fry for 3 additional minutes, or until golden brown. Serve immediately.
- 1 C shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 C white cheddar
- 1/2 C smoked Gouda cheese
- 1 C Tomme Cheese
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 2 1/2 C mayonnaise (Dukes preferably)
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
- 4 oz diced pimento, drained
- salt and black pepper to taste
Place the cheddar, white cheddar, Gouda, Tomme and cream cheeses, mayonnaise, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, onion powder, minced jalapeno and pimento into the large bowl of a mixer. Beat at medium speed, with paddle, if possible, until thoroughly combined. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
Add pimento cheese on top of fried green tomatoes.
About Guest Blogger Kathy Witt
Writer and author Kathy Witt is a member of SATW Society of American Travel Writers and the Authors Guild
She is the author of Secret Cincinnati; The Secret of the Belles; Atlanta, GA: A Photographic Portrait
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