A Local's Guide to Augusta, Georgia

Land of Thee Vintage Garden City Augusta GA tee

My hometown of Augusta, Georgia has gotten a bad rap over the years which has resulted in an unfortunate little nickname... Disgusta. The folks over at Land of Thee created a t-shirt that I adore that reads “Don’t Dis Gusta”. I'm really proud of our town and all the ways we've been growing over the years! This is home for me and I wouldn't have it any other way. Lately I’ve been living in Land of Thee's Vintage Garden City tee! It’s probably the softest t-shirt I’ve ever owned and the slim cut sleeves make it easy to layer under another shirt or jacket!

While in many ways our time here feels transient, and there are days when it’s hard not to compare it to the time we’ve spent in other cities we love like Charleston, Asheville, or Charlotte, there are plenty of reasons to love Augusta! Aside from our first home together, our jobs, close friends, and the daily routine, there are so many little things we enjoy about being able to explore the CSRA.

I wanted to put together this local's guide to Augusta, Georgia (and my current place of residence-- neighboring North Augusta, South Carolina) to highlight just a few of the many sites, restaurants, and shops we frequent in this city! If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll recognize a lot of these spots from more detailed posts.

If you're headed to Augusta for The Masters, we hope to see you out on the course! While you're here, I hope you'll take the time to support some of the local businesses I've mentioned in this post. And if you're not headed here on Spring Break, make sure you plan a little road trip for the future. My favorite thing about Augusta is that we're 3 hours or less from anywhere you'd want to be in the South: Atlanta, Charlotte, Asheville, Greenville, Charleston, Columbia, Savannah, and more.

Without further ado... let's get started!

The Outdoors

Augusta Canal Rae's Creek Aqueduct

Augusta Canal National Heritage Area

There are tons of ways to get out and explore the Augusta Canal between the trails, towpaths, and waterways. It's a great place to take a walk, kayak, or paddleboard. Our favorite places to get on the path are at the Savannah Rapids Pavillion where you'll see the headgates and a pump station or the Mill Village Trail which gives views of the old textile mills and the Rae's Creek aqueduct. 

Discovery Center
1450 Greene Street


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Riverwalk

The Riverwalk should be the gateway to the city but with Interstate travel, it's often one of the hardest spots to find. You could spend a week in Augusta and not realize that the city is located on the Savannah River! The Riverwalk is a great spot for a quick stroll while you're downtown checking out some of Augusta's great local restaurants. 

8th at Reynolds


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Hammond's Ferry

Hammond's Ferry is a new urbanist neighborhood in North Augusta. Basically, it's a new development with a town center, community garden, and farm with architectural styles meant to look like it's been here for ages. You could spend countless hours walking around adoring beautiful houses. Don't be shy about saying "hi" to the neighbors sitting out on their front porches with a cup of coffee and reading the news with a little puppy in tow. It's one of our favorite places to walk the dogs, hang out by the river in our hammock, or grab a bite to eat. It also offers incredible views of the Savannah River and easy access to the Greeneway trail system.

89 Crystal Lake Dr
North Augusta, SC


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Brick Pond Park

The Brick Pond Park in North Augusta is a 40+ acre restored wetland that was developed to treat stormwater. It's one of our favorite places to go birdwatching. Anhingas, Green Heron, Red-winged Blackbirds, Purple Gallinule, and Cooper's Hawks are no strangers to the park. You'll also see a few fish, turtles, and maybe even the resident alligator. 

88 Georgia Ave
North Augusta, SC


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Savannah River Bluffs Heritage Preserve

Savannah River Bluffs Heritage Preserve is hidden in a residential neighborhood but once you find it, it's a place you'll keep going back. The trail is a short loop and a moderate hike through the woods down to the Savannah River. Try sunrise or sunset for the best views of the fog over the water. 

1129 Old Plantation Road
North Augusta, SC


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Living History Park
 

Yet another place we're lucky enough to be able to walk to from our house is the Living History Park in North Augusta. The park is open to the public and scattered with various structures like a barn, meeting house, and tavern meant to teach about this history of the area during re-enactments throughout the year. Our favorite time to visit is during Colonial Times: Under the Crown in the Spring.

299 W Spring Grove Ave
North Augusta, SC


Food + Drink

Tacos at Nacho Mamas Augusta GA

Nacho Mama's

With a slogan like "We roll them fat", you know it's going to be a pretty hip spot. Nacho Mama's is best known for their burritos. My favorites are the Baja and Havana. Make sure to grab a side of chips, guac, and traditional salsa to share and grab a seat in the window where you can watch people walk by and get great views of artwork by local artists hanging on the walls.

976 Broad St


Beer at Hive Growler Bar in Downtown Augusta GA
Poutine at Hive Growler Bar in Augusta

Hive Growler Bar
 

Hive was one of the first bars in Augusta to really break into the craft beer scene. They have 70+ beers on tap that rotate weekly so you can always find something new to try. If you're like us and prefer to split a few apps with friends over a beer, be sure to check out their version of poutine, crawfish boudin balls, and a pretzel with beer cheese. If you're craving something a bit more hearty, their vegan bean burger is the best I've ever had! I usually sub a brioche bun for the toast. I almost forgot to mention the growlers! Have the staff bottle up your favorite beer for later.

215 10th Street


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Farmhaus

Want a burger that looks so good it'll make you instantly start salivating? You've got to try Farmhaus. I usually go for one of their menu items or the burger of the month, but you can always build your own. You won't want to miss out on their hand-cut fries with feta sauce! They've also got killer boozy shakes and veggie options. Something for everyone to enjoy.

1204 Broad St


Lox Bagel at Hammonds Ferry Larder in North Augusta
Bloody mary bar at Hammond's Ferry Larder in North Augusta

Hammond's Ferry Larder

This hip little neighborhood bar offers a bit of French flare with a wall full of imported goodies you can use to stock a picnic basket for a day at the park. Or if you'd like, you can dine in and try one of their delicious breakfast, lunch, or dinner entrees al fresco. For breakfast try the grit bowl or breakfast crack sandwich. Anything with their signature jalapeno bacon is my go-to, whether it's in a Bloody Mary from their build-your-own bar on the weekends or on their fried green tomato BLT for lunch. 

89 Crystal Lake Dr
North Augusta, SC


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Chicken piccata at Manuels in hammonds ferry
Manuels Bread Cafe in North Augusta

Manuel's Bread Cafe

Manuel's is our go-to place for date night when we want to splurge and treat ourselves, specifically on our anniversary each year. Manuel perfectly pairs his French background with farm-fresh ingredients straight from the Blue Clay Farms in Hammond's Ferry. Their chicken piccata and beef bourguignon are to die for! It's the kind of meal where you'll let out an audible sigh of satisfaction from the explosion of flavors. Don't skip out on any of the specials or dessert. Alex had the chocolate chip cheesecake at our rehearsal dinner for his birthday and we served the chocolate peanut butter cake at our wedding reception. 

505 Railroad Ave
North Augusta, SC


Latte at Bodega Ultima in Surrey Center, Augusta GA
Breakfast sandwich at Bodega Ultima in Augusta GA

Bodega Ultima

Bodega is probably the closest thing to a hip coffee/brunch spot we've got in Augusta. It's my favorite place to meet up with friends for brunch out on the patio. I love a good latte and Bodega's pairs perfectly with the Basque or Ultima breakfast sandwiches. If you like something a bit lighter for breakfast, they have fresh croissants, fruit, and lox.

353 Highland Ave
Surrey Center


Breakfast at New Moon in downtown Augusta GA
BLT at New Moon in Downtown Augusta GA

New Moon Cafe

When there's always a line, you know it's good. Expect to wait a bit to order, but the preparation is quick at New Moon and everything is always fresh! Whether you're in the mood for breakfast, lunch, a smoothie or just a coffee drink on the run, they've got you covered. This colorful downtown cafe is known for their Green Monster smoothie, bagels, and deli sandwiches. I can't resist a good bagel sandwich or The Colbert (pimento cheese, bacon, and tomato grilled on sourdough bread). 

936 Broad St


Other restaurants of note that I couldn't find photos from on my current hard drive:

French Market Grille

This is one of my favorite spots in Augusta to grab a bite of Cajun food. If you're in the mood for seafood with a bit of a kick, this casual spot is for you! I'm partial to the honey-pecan fried chicken with their house salad and avocado dressing, but I've tried just about everything on the menu over the years. My top picks from their menu: seafood crepes, seafood-stuffed trout, and crab chop a la Charles. Oh, and don't even bother going if you're not going to save room for a slice of peanut butter pie aka heaven!

425 Highland Ave
Surrey Center


Southbound Smokehouse

Southbound Smokehouse came onto the restaurant scene in 2015 and it is hands down my favorite place to get barbecue. It's not your typical Southern BBQ joint because they've got a little southwest twist thrown in. Grab your friends and head out for some live music, pop open a beer, and stay a while. They're great at accomodating groups with their outdoor patio (complete with cornhole) and a room indoors that can be closed off from everyone else. Try the taboo tots, soul rolls, almost famous wings, and the big boss man with a few veggie sides! Added bonus? It's all super affordable. We can get in and out with an app, two entrees, and a couple of beers for around $30!

1855 Central Ave


Indian Queen

If I could pick one word to describe the Indian Queen it would be quirky. I can't think of any other neighborhood bar where you'll find college kids mingling with their 50+ year old parent's friends that walked down from up the hill. They've got a pretty standard drink menu but can mix up pretty much anything you like. The inside looks like a log cabin with a fireplace and lots of comfy sofas upstairs and down. Outside you can sit on the patio and drink or take it a step further and warm up by one of their outdoor heaters in the wintertime! Who really needs a heater when you're drinking, though... right?

2502 Wrightsboro Road


Baldino's

If you're from Augusta you may be reading this recommendation like... uh, really? Yes! You know a place is good when it's full of medical doctors. Baldino's is my favorite local spot to grab a sub. It's technically a franchise restaurant but it's got that hole-in-the-wall feel. Their subs are served Jersey style and their cold cut Italian Battalion sub is my #1 jam. 

3336 Wrightsboro Rd


Village Deli  

Every town has got that one deli that you can't resist. You know the one... with the local sports memorabilia plastered all over the walls and the menu that's 100 items long. The Village Deli is our local treasure. This is another restaurant I've been going to for 20+ years and it never disappoints. Go for the chicken Philly, buffalo chicken tenders, a classic Reuben, or the bleu cheese burger. Let's get real, though. The true reason I love this place is they've got six or seven types of fries to choose from (plus other sides). It makes my french fry-loving heart sing.

2803 Wrightsboro Rd


Rae’s Coastal Cafe

Rae's is one of those places that I still sometimes make the wrong turn trying to find! It's tucked into a neighborhood and behind a tennis club. It's my favorite place to get seafood plus they serve a house salad that's basically the Green Jacket salad recipe! Fresh greens, tomatoes, and pita chips tossed in a light oil and vinegar-based dressing that will forever be an Augusta classic. My favorite menu item is the coconut shrimp! It's served with a spicy yet sweet sauce and a side of yellow rice with black beans. Pop open a Red Stripe and you're all set! This restaurant will definitely have you feeling like you're on island time!

3208 W Wimbledon Dr


Arsenal Tap Room + Kitchen

Arsenal Tap Room is a small yet cozy neighborhood bar with a great outdoor patio that's perfect for fall or spring evenings. They've got a huge beer list with a mix of bottle and draught options. If you're looking for a snack while you sip, try out some of their fancy adult grilled cheese options!

1419 Monte Sano Ave


Villa Europa

Villa Europa is the place in Augusta for authentic German Food. It's something I missed while we lived in Charleston. I've celebrated many a birthday in one of their over-the-top German themed rooms filled with steins and Neuschwanstein Castle murals. It's a bit old-fashioned but it screams Deutschland. You have to try their mozzarella sticks just for the picante sauce! For a hearty dinner, I'd suggest the sauerbraten with potato dumplings or the rahmschnitzel with spaetzle. Lately their mixed German salad has been a combination of green beans, beets, and cucumber salad soaked in vinegary goodness. You're always at home at the Villa.

3044 Deans Bridge Rd


Local Shops

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The Book Tavern

If you're looking for a cozy local bookstore with a great selection of new and used books, check out the Book Tavern! They've always got a book signing, story time (for the kids), or chess club game going on, so be sure to check out their calendar to see what's coming up. The current Book Tavern location is their largest. It's been incredible to see their growth and support of the downtown community.

936 Broad Street


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Bedford Greenhouses

If you haven't caught on yet, the best things in Augusta are locally-owned and tucked away in neighborhoods. It's my favorite place to shop for house plants and succulents but they've got shrubs, trees, herbs, and seasonal items for any backyard or gardening needs. I've also bought quite a few of their pots to hold our beloved plant collection. Even if you don't pick up any plants, it's a super relaxing to wander around the greenhouses and explore what's in bloom.

1023 Oleander Dr


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Swank

Swank is a super trendy and affordable boutique that's every millennial Augustan's go-to for the latest in fashion. It's the one place I shop for clothes that makes me feel good about my body type and aligns with my needs for my age! It's so hard to find clothes that are work appropriate but not too old and frumpy looking when you're in your late 20's but I always seem to find tops that fit the bill here. In addition to clothes, they have a great selection of shoes, jewelry, purses, and home items. Be sure to stop by and pick out a few cute Augusta souvenirs, whether it's a mug, AUG hat, tea towel, or print. 

403 Furys Ferry Rd


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Half-Moon Outfitters

So I may be a little partial to Half-Moon Outfitters because my husband is the current store manager but we went there all the time even when we lived in Charleston and worked for The College. They're a regional outdoor retailer with locations in South Carolina and Eastern Georgia. As an added bonus, they're not far from the Augusta National so if you've forgotten a hat, sunglasses, or comfortable pair of shoes, you won't be too far from the course essentials. Half-Moon Outfitters stays involved with the community by hosting local events like yoga night, the Banff Mountain Film Festival, and in-store music performances. And did I mention they're pet friendly?! 

2907 Washington Rd


If you stuck with me, congratulations! While this list is by no means extensive, it's already entirely too long for one post. I've focused on things to do outdoors, places to eat and drink, and stores to do a bit of shopping. There are plethora of other museums, galleries, historic sites, architectural gems and walking tours I'll have to save for future posts. It's my goal to get back to my college blogging roots and start taking more photos of what we do when we go out on the weekends to really highlight all that Augusta has to offer.

As always, if you're looking for a specific recommendation, feel free to drop a note in the comments about what you like and what you're looking to do and I'll get back to you!