Every year, come early April, the golf world’s elite descend on Augusta, Georgia. The population nearly doubles. The airstrip at Daniel Field is choked with private jets. More pimento cheese sandwiches are consumed at Augusta National during the Masters than on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July combined—or so it seems. And thousands of instagramable moments go undocumented (lest you make the unforgivable mistake of bringing your cell phone onto the venerable course). But whether you’ve managed to score Masters tickets or not, there’s plenty of entertainment to be found in the tournament’s host city. In a town this size, you don’t need a perch at Amen Corner to see your favorite pro up close; you’re just as likely to run into him at dinner or the local dive.
Where to Eat
Frog Hollow Tavern
The menu at chef Sean Wight’s Broad Street restaurant changes seasonally but expect dishes like housemade duck sausage with Sea Island red peas, preserved peach mustard, and sorghum gastrique. After dinner, hop down to the Hollow’s new sister cocktail bar, Craft and Vine, open from 5pm until late night during Masters Week.
Finch and Fifth
Located at Surrey Center, off Berckman’s Road, F&F is open all day. Stop in for a hearty breakfast if you’re headed to Augusta National for the day (think: biscuits and gravy and egg sandwiches). Or arrive later for savory shared plates of catfish en croute, shrimp and grits, and beef carpaccio, plus a la carte charcuterie and cheese boards.
Honey from the Rock Café
Fried chicken, sweet potato casserole, okra and tomatoes, corn bread, and collards—the spread at Honey from the Rock is good old-fashioned Southern comfort food. Operated by the ladies of Whole Life Ministries, the café makes everything fresh daily, including hand-churned ice cream.
Where to Drink
Housed in an old gun store in the Summerville neighborhood, this whiskey bar has a warm, cozy log cabin interior, plenty of bar stools, and a solid lineup of craft cocktails such as the Blackberry Mule made with vodka, fresh blackberries, simple syrup, lime juice, and ginger beer.
Helga’s Pub and Grill
A classic dive, this local favorite has an impressive beer list that ranges from your basic Bud Light to regional brews such as Terrapin and Sweetwater. There are pool tables and a fully loaded jukebox, too.
This downtown drinking establishment on Broad Street boasts one of Augusta’s best beer lists and eighteen brews on tap, plus, a regular lineup of live music.
What to See & Do
If you’re in town early snag a ticket to the annual Rock Fore! Dough concert featuring Darius Rucker—proceeds benefit First Tee Augusta. And hit Augusta’s historic downtown during First Friday for free live music on the Commons, street performers, and late night shopping.
Morris Museum of Art
Dedicated to the art and artists of the American South, the museum’s holdings include more than 5,000 paintings, works on paper, photographs, and sculptures. Current exhibits include the realist paintings of Georgia native Bo Bartlett and a collection of works by Confederate Army artist, Conrad Wise Chapman. A visit to the museum is also a good excuse to visit Augusta’s revamped Riverwalk. If the azaleas are blooming you won’t need access to the grounds of the National to get your fill of the famous flower.
Hit the Links
And if you’re itching to get out onto the greens yourself, try the River Golf Club in North Augusta. Located on the banks of the Savannah River, the semi-private course was designed by acclaimed course architect, Jim Fazio. Or book a round at the Palmetto Golf Club in nearby Aiken, South Carolina. It’s one of the oldest golf courses in the country and is typically members only but opens to the public during Masters Week. You really can’t go wrong with the local muni either—nicknamed the Patch after the vegetable garden planted along the 10th hole by the longtime course manager, the late Red Douglas.
Some of the best shopping in town is conveniently clustered at Surrey. Head to the Estate Jewelry Center for vintage and antique baubles and Shoes at Surrey for stylish kicks. The outdoorsmen in the group will want to browse the inventory at Rivers and Glen, which stocks everything from brush pants and shell bags to flies and waders.