Georgia: Marvelous Macon
Where Soul Lives
Macon offers so many things to do for visitors! Just a 90-minute drive south on I-75 from Atlanta is the city of Macon. Originally a railroad hub, today Macon is a community experiencing a renaissance. A downtown once vacant is now thriving, alive with restaurants, shops, and attractions.
Although there is a well-equipped KOA on I-75 near Macon, we prefer the State Park campgrounds. Indian Springs State Park is the oldest in Georgia having been constructed by the Conservation Corps. Its sites are large and wooded with glimpses of its small lake. Only one hiking trail, but they also offer mini golf, a beach for swimming and a boat launch. The sites are well groomed and the park is well maintained.
High Falls State Park is just a short drive away with the soothing sound of the falls just upriver from the campground. The sites are set along the river in the woods and are spacious and well groomed.
You can make reservations for both state park campgrounds through the Georgia State Parks website, http://www.gastateparks.org
A little closer to Macon is the Lake Tobesofkee County Park with two campgrounds at Arrowhead and Claystone parks. Both offer access to the boat launch, full hook-ups and shower facilities. Make your reservations at, http://laketobo.maconbibb.us/camping
Things To Do:
Music is one of Macon's historic amenities with the likes of Otis Redding, Little Richard, the Allman Brothers Band and Jason Aldean claiming Macon as a starting point in their musical journeys. Visit the Allman Brothers Band Museum for a walk through this southern rock band's life and times. The music tradition carries on today with fresh sounds of up and coming musicians. Make sure to visit on the First Friday of the month to hear a number of bands playing at the local restaurants and clubs. Or come to the free, Second Sunday concerts from April through October at Coleman Hill. Bring your picnic and lawn chairs (or purchase food and drinks at the concert). And, check the monthly performance calendar for the McDuffie School of Strings for a classical treat during the school year.
The arts have always flourished in Macon with plenty of galleries, museums and performance venues. You'll find celebrity portraits by artist Steve Penley at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in its impressive rotunda gallery. Visit the Tubman Museum to see a world-class collection of works by African American artists, or enjoy a variety of exhibits at the Museum of Arts and Sciences featuring fascinating assets like a planetarium, a zoo, and a weather sphere along with permanent and traveling exhibitions. For theater buffs, Theatre Macon offers excellent performances throughout the year or, catch a concert, movie, or Broadway production at the Grand Opera House, the historic Douglas Theatre or Macon Little Theatre.
The most noteworthy of Macon's many parks is Ocmulgee National Monument. The 700-acre site includes ancient Indian Mounds, a museum, and miles of nature trails to enjoy.
Amerson River Park provides access to the Ocmulgee River for kayaking, canoeing, and tubing. There are bike paths along the River Heritage Trail, and a bike share rental station at the trailhead near Spring Street or at Washington Library.
The Lake Tobesofkee Recreation Area offers a beach, disc golf course, and water park just fifteen minutes outside of downtown.
Always a fun past time, shopping in Macon can take many guises. The charming Ingleside neighborhood offers an eclectic selection of local shops and the Middle Georgia Art Association Gallery. Stop for lunch at the iconic Ingleside Pizza with its fun, eclectic atmosphere. A bit more traditional, the Shoppes at River Crossing and Macon Mall offer standard chain stores and restaurants. Downtown provides boutiques like Travis Jean Emporium featuring Georgia-themed gifts and, my favorite, the Macon Arts Alliance Gallery with works by local artists and craftsmen.
Almost too many to name, Macon restaurants offer a variety of cuisines, and most are locally owned and operated. From the iconic H & H Restaurant where the Allman Brothers hung out to the burger-meister Rookery where burgers are named for iconic musicians. And then there is the cozy and upscale Downtown Grill that features a cigar humidor, a bourbon and whiskey collection as well as an extensive wine list. The Tic Toc Room with its rustic brick walls and martini bar traces its history to Little Richard's first performances. For the craft beer crowd, Macon hosts its own brewery- The Macon Beer Company- and several brewpubs like Ocmulgee Brew Pub, Just Tap'd Growler Tavern, the Piedmont Brewery and Kitchen, and the Bearfoot Tavern. We have had the pleasure of dining in all of these restaurants over the past few trips and it is always a good experience.
Hit the Reset Button:
Central Georgia is actually a good place for a "weekend sabbatical". With Ocmulgee National Monument, Indian Springs and High Falls State Parks in close proximity, taking a hike is easy and convenient. Or, drop a kayak into Lake Juliette, the Ocmulgee River or Lake Tobesofkee. Being outdoors can refresh your spirit. Let go of your worries and observe nature for a day or two.
If you need a distraction from the noise in your head, browse through one of Macon's museums taking time to thoughtfully consider the exhibits. Of course, just sitting at the campfire is a great time for reconnecting with your soul - just mute the electronics!
The Visitors Center has a large parking lot which can accommodate RVs and it is convenient to the Tubman Museum, Georgia Sports Hall of Fame and downtown shops and restaurants. The Ocmulgee National Monument, the Museum of Arts and Sciences, and Amerson River Park all have parking to accommodate RVs. The Hay House Mansion has bus parking on the street in front of the house, which is just up the street from the historic Cannonball House.