Founded in 1736, Augusta is a thriving resort community and a mecca for golfers the world over. It's the site of the Master's Tournament, played at the Augusta National Golf Club each April.
The city seems to be constantly redefining itself: One of its more recent undertakings is the parklike Riverwalk on the banks of the Savannah River. The riverfront, which had been cut off from the city by a massive levy, was neglected for many years. But in the mid-1980s the levy was breached, and the Riverwalk created a flood of restaurants, pubs and specialty shops. It's also where you'll find a number of the city's festivals, concerts, sporting events and holiday celebrations. During the Civil War, the historic Augusta Canal was lined by mills that made gunpowder for the Confederacy.
Don't miss some of the city's historic architecture, including the late-1700s Harris-Pearson-Walker House and the early-1800s Ware Mansion (which houses the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art). One of the more striking sights in town is the twin-spired Sacred Heart Cultural Center. It used to be a Catholic Church, having been opened by Jesuits in 1900, but it held its last mass in 1971. It was restored in 1987 to its former beauty. Inside, you'll find intricately carved Italian marble, imported stained glass and a barrel-vaulted ceiling whose dome is filled with angels. There's an art gallery in the center, too.
Other suggested stops: Meadow Garden (home of George Walton, one of three Georgians who signed the Declaration of Independence), Ezekiel Harris House (the finest 18th-century house in Georgia) and President Woodrow Wilson's boyhood home, which is open to the public for tours.
The restored Cotton Exchange Building is another Augusta landmark. It has been returned to its original glory, with the cost of the restoration running 80 times that of the original construction. If you have a few minutes, see the museum dedicated to King Cotton housed there, and stop by the welcome center to pick up brochures on the area. Augusta is 150 mi/240 km east of Atlanta.
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