I grew up going to Macon for Sunday dinner every week with my mom’s family — which included her parents and 10 (!!!) siblings. There was always so much to do at their house, and no shortage of aunts and uncles to play with, but over the years we definitely explored all the things to do in Macon, Ga.
This middle Georgia town is filled with history, beauty, and so many things to do! Now that I have my own kids, we frequently stop here for visits on our way to visit my parents. This town has beautiful parks, awesome museums, some really cool historical buildings, and some annual festivals that are not to be missed! Here is a list of my 25 most favorite things to see and do in Macon.
To get right to the point: Amerson River Park is the best. Amerson River Park used to be the Macon Water Authority’s water treatment plant, before it was destroyed in the flood of 1994 and relocated. The area was then reinvented as this amazing place.
Reopened in 2015 after some major upgrades, this place has it all. Paved walking paths, beautiful views of the Ocmulgee River, an awesome and handicap-usable playground, picnic areas scattered throughout, and canoe launches — I cannot get enough of this place.
There is so much to see and do, and it’s all so beautiful! How did they make park pavilions so pretty? No idea! But they did. My kids absolutely loved the playground here, and I loved all the shaded benches.
We walked down to the river to splash in the water and wave to the kayakers floating by — this place was just a huge hit. I highly recommend a visit here — you won’t be disappointed!
The Ocmulgee Heritage Trail — also sometimes called the River Walk — is an ever-expanding trail system that takes you along the Ocmulgee River. Popular with walkers, bikers, boaters, and bird-watchers, this trail has access points at many of the most popular Macon sites, including Amerson River Park, the Ocmulgee National Monument, and Rose Hill Cemetery.
It’s easily accessible from I-16 and I-75, and my kids and I have hunted many a geocache along this trail! It’s a beautiful and well-maintained, and walking along a river is just the best.
Macon’s International Cherry Blossom Fesitval is, in a word: PINK! This 10-day festival occurs every spring, and celebrates the city’s 300,000 cherry blossom trees. The festival has so much to offer — a fair at Central City Park, the Mulberry Street Arts and Crafts Festival, a parade, a street party with live music, a grand finale on Wesleyan College’s campus that includes hot air balloons, a gala, pageants, and riding tours — it’s a whole lot of fun!
There is so much to see and do, and there really is something for everyone at every age. Even with all of the events and offerings, I think my favorite thing about the festival is the people. The people who live in Macon — they truly MAKE this festival. Every front door and mailbox has a pink bow on it. Every car has cherry blossoms painted on the windows. Every person is wearing something pink for days. The spirit of this festival is absolutely contagious, and you can’t help but be happy. (Some events include cost.)
When I was growing up, I thought everyone’s church looked like this one. If this is not your church, you should definitely stop by and see how incredibly beautiful it is! My grandparents and parents were married here, so I may be biased, but I don’t think so.
This church is gorgeous, both inside and out. After 14 years of building, St. Joseph’s was dedicated in 1903 and includes 60 incredibly intricate stained glass windows, white marble carvings, massive columns, an organ, and bronze bells that chime three times a day.
In 1903, the Macon Telegraph wrote, “If architecture may be fittingly described as frozen music, St. Joseph’s church…is a symphony.” And I agree.
Confession: Washington Park is my favorite. To me, it’s the most peaceful little park in the world. My grandma and mom played here as children, and now my babies play here too. It’s like a teeny, tiny, quiet, Georgia version of Central Park.
It’s pretty, and has little streams throughout for the kids to splash in. There’s a tiny play area hidden in a corner. The little stone bridges make it feel like you’re in a fairy tale. This is the kind of place where you would see someone reading a book under a tree, or having a picnic with their family. It’s just a little slice of heaven. (Parent details: There are no bathrooms, and parking is on the street.)
UPDATE: We received information that The Grotto is located on private property. Even though a number of people trespass back here (including us- before we knew) we don’t want to encourage this.
Good news: They are beginning an historical renovation including graffiti removal, masonry work to sure up the structure and landscaping/garbage clean up, etc. They will also be giving Historic Macon and the Museum of Arts and Sciences the right to take the public on “tours” of the property on a set schedule. Follow us on Facebook for more information about this as we learn of it.
Shhhh! I’m going to let you in on a secret. The Grotto is one of those places that locals all know about, but don’t talk about too much — and I can see why. It is kind of secretive — to get to it you have to walk down a long, winding path through the woods. Apparently, this place was built by the Jesuits before their school was burned by fire in 1921. This grotto in Macon was built as a reproduction of the original one located in France. When we found it, we thought: 1. It was a really neat piece of history to find in the woods, and 2. Covered in not-pretty graffiti. But still really neat! Once we discovered the correct well-maintained path, it was a really pretty hike, and definitely one my 5-year-old could easily do. The Historic Macon Foundation named this one of the city’s “Fading Five” in 2016, in hopes of bringing attention to this historical place. (We entered the woods on the south end of Forest Hill Drive to get here. Now you’re in the know!)
The Magic Mushroom on the sidewalk
If you found yourself walking along College Street with me on our way to Washington Park, I would point out a drawing of a magic mushroom in the sidewalk. The magic mushroom became the unofficial logo of the Allman Brothers Band, and this drawing can be found in front of 309 College Street — where the band first lived when they arrived in Macon in 1969. Did they put it there? Maaayyyybeee. (I say yes.)
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the historic Rose Hill Cemetery is a beautiful place located along the Ocmulgee River. Founded in 1840, it serves as the final resting place for thousands of people, including Confederate soldiers, three Georgia governors, and Duane Allman of the Allman Brothers Band.
The graveside statue of Little Martha can also be found here, and was said to be the inspiration behind the Allman Brothers Band’s song, “Little Martha.” To me, this is just a beautifully peaceful place where I could spend an entire day, and my kids found it endlessly fascinating.
Bragg Jam is a 2-day music crawl event that is held the last weekend of July, and it is an absolute blast! Those are the facts. But this is also an event that is full of heart.
In 1999, two local musician brothers — Brax and Tate Bragg — were killed in a car accident. This event began as a way for their friends and family to heal and honor their lives, and it has continued to grow into what it is today: a major musical event.
Money raised from Bragg Jam is donated to community causes — like the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail and Amerson River Park. This event is a must-do every year — with great bands, local restaurants, and lots of people — this event is a music lovers dream.
When I was a kid, I thought this was the coolest place ever! The Cannonball House was built in 1853 and is so named because of the cannonball damage it received during the Civil War — which you can still see!
Now a museum and gardens, it’s furnished with authentic items from 1853, and is just an all-around neat place. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places. And if you ever wanted to brag to your friends about seeing a wreath made entirely of human hair — this place is for you! Tickets and times HERE.
The Hay House is right next to the Cannonball House, so you can make a day out of touring beautiful, historical homes! The Hay House was finished in 1859 and has 24 stunning rooms. It’s often used for weddings and receptions, because it is just such a gorgeous space!
This is a huge place, with so much to see and learn about. I pretty much just spend the whole time with my jaw on the floor. Tickets and times HERE.
The Grand is to Macon what The Fox is to Atlanta — a place where you can see amazing shows, but the place itself is equally thrilling. The Grand is so beautiful, Architectural Digest featured it as one of 14 Historic American Theaters.
It was opened in 1884, and was almost torn down in the 1960s to make way for a parking lot! Thank goodness supporters were able to save it, because it truly is a special space. I mean, Charlie Chaplin performed here!
Since I was a girl, I’ve seen many musicals here and have never, ever been disappointed. It’s the best. Upcoming schedule HERE.
You know how some community theaters are just beyond awesome? This is one of them. The Macon Little Theatre knows how to put on a show. Their costumes, their music, their actors are all just so, so good.
I feel like every time I go, I leave impressed. If you can catch a show here, I’d highly recommend it. Such a fun place! Current season HERE.
This was one of my favorite places as a kid, and as an adult, I’ve loved taking my kids here. The Museum of Arts and Sciences is an absolute blast for kids. This place has it all: art, an interactive discovery center, animals to visit and learn about, a planetarium, and something called “Science on a Sphere” which is basically a room-sized, video-projected animated globe. (So…it’s cool.)
I also love how this museum has little places with paper and coloring sheets, so it gives kids a break. My kids totally LOVE the animal exhibits area — it’s designed like a treehouse and is really neat. It’s a totally fun place, and we can’t wait to visit again this year. (It’s not open on Mondays or major holidays, $10 adults, $5 kids, children under 3 FREE.)
Wesleyan College was founded in 1836 and was the first college in the WORLD chartered to grant degrees to women, and it’s still doing it! Filled with amazing history, the campus itself is totally beautiful. I stayed here for an overnight camp as a teenager, and pretty much thought I was living in a movie set.
It is listed on the National Register of Historic places for its Georgian-style buildings surrounded by amazing 150-year-old trees. Its campus frequently hosts community events, and it’s an amazing place with a cool history.
Tattnall Square Park is a popular area for young families located across from Mercer University. Located in the heart of Macon’s College Hill Corridor, it has a playground, picnic areas, tennis courts, and beautiful trees.
The park is often the spot for festivals and movie nights, and there is pretty much always some outdoor-loving people here. This cool place also hosts a farmers market on Wednesdays!
Opened in 1981, and named after Harriet Tubman, the Tubman Museum is the largest museum in the southeast dedicated to African American art and history. The museum is centrally located on Cherry Street in downtown Macon, and I think has one of the coolest pieces of art: a 55-foot long mural that travels through time showing the feats of African Americans.
They also feature an inventors gallery that’s a hit with kids, a local history section, and a great collection of folk art. Definitely a must-see. Ticket info and times HERE.
Are you catching a theme here? Macon LOVES the Allman Brothers Band! The Big House is where members of the band, their families, and their roadies began living in 1970.
Now a museum, you can see where the original band rehearsed, instruments they used, handwritten lyrics, and some of their bedrooms and children’s bedrooms that still feature their actual furniture. Tickets and times HERE.
The Georgia Sports Hall of Fame is a huge facility located in the heart of downtown Macon. It is the largest state sports museum in the United States. I think the neatest thing about this space, is that the outside was designed to look like an old ballpark!
The museum features the 400 Georgia Sports Hall of Fame inductees, and exhibits all about Georgia sports. Ticket prices and times HERE.
I’ve written an in-depth article about visiting this awesome monument already here, but let me just go ahead and beg you to visit. It’s really, really, REALLY neat. And you can walk inside one of the mounds and see the original 1,000-year-old floor, complete with a ceremonial eagle carving.
You can join the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail here, go on a hike, stand on top of the Great Temple Mound, watch a train go under your feet from the bridge, become a Junior Ranger, get a stamp for your National Parks Passport, and take part in interactive exhibits inside the visitor center. GO!
Built in 1840, Sidney Lanier Cottage was the home of famous poet and musician, Sidney Lanier. Well-known for his famous poems, “The Marshes of Glynn” and “Song of the Chattahoochee,” Lanier was also an accomplished musician.
The cottage is now a museum where you can see Lanier’s flutes, his wife’s wedding dress, and several first editions. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Ticket prices and times HERE.
In response to the Georgia Music Hall of Fame being closed, a local couple started Rock Candy Tours — which offers weekly walking tours to some of Macon’s most awesome historic musical places.
Macon was once home to Little Richard, James Brown, and Otis Redding — and let’s not forget the Allman Brothers Band! — so there is plenty to see and learn about. But they don’t just offer walking tours! They have trolley tours, shuttle tours, bus tours, a Rock n’ Roll Stroll, and a Taste of Macon Music tour, among others. Sounds like a complete blast. Tours and ticket info here.
Lake Tobesofkee is THE lake in Macon. It offers 35-miles of shoreline, sandy beaches, parks, camping, fishing, picnic areas, tennis courts, softball fields, and every water sport you can imagine. If you grew up in Macon, you grew up going to Lake Tobesofkee. And you must try out their newest addition: Sandy Beach Water Park!
Fort Hawkins was established in 1806 by President Thomas Jefferson and Indian Agent Col. Benjamin Hawkins as an army fort for trading and meeting with Native Americans. The visitor center and replica blockhouse are open on Saturday and Sundays only from 12-4, but you can stop by to see the outside of the fort anytime.
It’s located just down the way from the Ocmulgee National Monument, so is an easy and quick stop to or from there. My kids thought the view from the top was really neat!
Second Sunday is a musical concert series that is held the second Sunday of each month from April to October. It’s owned by Bragg Jam, and is pretty much the coolest community event I’ve ever heard of. My mom and aunts go to as many as possible, and it’s basically a FREE evening concert held on Coleman Hill.
The community comes out with their blankets, coolers, kids, and food, and set up to listen to an evening of music. Isn’t that awesome? The concerts are from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m., and they post a schedule of performers HERE.
Not only does Macon have all this cool stuff, but there are also some really awesome things to do just outside of town!
Located about 30 minutes south of Macon, the Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins is a FREE museum that is totally worth the trip. There is so much to see and do, and your whole family will love it! I wrote all about it HERE.
The Jarrell Plantation Historic Site is located about 30 minutes northwest of Macon in Juliette. It’s a cotton plantation that was owned by the same family for 140 years, and visitors can see the simple pine house and furnishings built by John Jarrell. It has a museum, plantation buildings, and a picnic area, and there is a fee. Click HERE for more info and prices.
Lane Orchards is a great stop just south of Macon in Fort Valley, about 5 minutes off I-75. It’s a real working farm that caters to fun for the whole family. Depending on when you’re there, you can pick strawberries, watch peaches get picked and packed, buy some fresh pecans, celebrate Independence Day, try to make it through a 7-acre corn maze, and indulge in some fresh peach ice cream! It’s great fun for everyone.
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