When you’re tired of the rush of the city, pack up the car, and visit the hip and historic town of Macon, Georgia. Just south of the hustle and bustle of Atlanta, Macon has a slower pace that soothes the soul. Home to music legends, a revitalized downtown, and welcoming Southern hospitality, it’s the perfect spot for a weekend getaway with friends or a solo adventure. If you’re ready to explore what Middle Georgia has to offer, here are ten reasons to visit Macon.
1. Festivals galore
Known as the festival capital of Georgia, Macon hosts more than 20 festivals and events each year. There’s something for everyone—and every interest—all year long, including the International Cherry Blossom Festival March 16-25 featuring Street Party headliners Chaka Khan and Eli Young Band, Tubman Pan African Festival, Macon Film Festival, and Bragg Jam, just to name a few.
2. Foodie heaven
When you visit Macon, be sure to bring your appetite. You’ll want to savor delectable cuisine that spans genres from fine steakhouses to Thai and Mexican. Favorites include the Rookery, Oliver’s Corner Bistro, H&H (for some Southern soul food), and fine-dining delight Dovetail. For some romantic nostalgia and great steaks, check out Downtown Grill, an upscale steakhouse where Gregg Allman proposed to Cher.
3. Craft beer
A trip to Macon isn’t complete without visiting one of the many craft brewpubs in town. There’s no shortage of them since the local craft-beer scene has exploded in the last few years. If you’re the ultimate beer aficionado, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the booming selection. Favorites: Ocmulgee Brewpub, Just Tap’d Macon, Piedmont Brewery & Kitchen, Macon Beer Company, Bearfoot Tavern, and the Society Garden.
4. Legendary music
The Allman Brothers, Otis Redding, and Jason Aldean all hail from Macon. Its music heritage spans genres and decades, making it a music lover’s paradise. Stop in at the Douglass Theatre, or peek into the Tic-Toc Room, which is now a restaurant but saw Little Richard tickling the ivories back in the day. If you’re a fan of the Allman Brothers Band, you can’t leave without going to the namesake museum at the Big House, home to some of the band’s original members in the early 1970s. Today, it holds the most-extensive collection of band memorabilia in the world.
5. Vibrant nightlife
In search of the perfect handcrafted cocktail? Want to let your hair down and dance the night away? Or maybe you want to take in a rockin’ concert? Downtown Macon has a hopping nightlife scene, complete with friendly bars, mouth-watering eateries, and historic live-music venues. Watch music acts big and small grace the stages of the Rookery or Hargray Capitol Theatre. Go old school with retro games at Reboot Retrocade & Bar, or play hooky (of sorts) at Cherry Street Hookah. Other highlights: Historic Grants Lounge, the Hummingbird Stage and Taproom, and the Thirsty Turtle.
6. Memorable attractions
Founded in 1823, Macon has a diverse cultural history. Discover its hidden gems by visiting its numerous museums. Cannonball House, a historic home built in 1853 as a planter’s townhouse, got its name because of damage from—you guessed it—a cannon ball during the Civil War. Another must-see: Hay House. The seven-level Italian Renaissance Revival mansion is known as the “palace of the South.” Also, there’s the Ocmulgee National Monument, the Tubman Museum featuring African-American history and art, the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, and the kid-friendly Museum of Arts & Science. Take advantage of the bike-share program (available with a Zagster account), or book a Visit Macon guided van tour to get around town.
7. Art galleries
Nothing caps off a visit to a small town better than strolling through local art galleries. Visit the Macon Arts Alliance, Gallery West, 567 Center for Renewal, Middle Georgia Art Association, and Ocmulgee Arts, among others. Discover the area’s bountiful American Indian and African-American history through art. Visiting art galleries is a great way to mingle with locals and make new friends, too.
8. Action-packed sports
You don’t need to stay in the big city to see heart-pumping sports. You won’t find pro sports superstars (or the high ticket prices that go along with them), but the team names get kudos for creativity. Case in point: single-A baseball club Macon Bacon‘s first season in the Coastal Plain League begins June 1. The Macon Mayhem hockey and Georgia Doom arena football teams are well worth checking out, too. And don’t forget collegiate sports at Mercer University, Wesleyan College, and Middle Georgia State University.
9. Eclectic shopping
Whether you’re indulging in retail therapy or on the hunt for the perfect gift for a loved one, the downtown boutiques don’t disappoint. For local flair, stop in Travis Jean, Wear Macon, or Daphne’s 525. You’ll find plenty of vintage and kitschy antiques at the Payne Mill Village Antique Mall. Looking for name brands? Hit The Shoppes at River Crossing, home to popular retailers like DSW, Dillard’s, H&M, White House Black Market, and more.
10. Serene lodging
You won’t need to stress about finding a relaxing place to lay your head down when it’s time to unwind after a long day of exploring Macon. The city offers the usual selection of trusted, brand-name hotels like Macon Marriott, Mercer University Hilton Garden Inn, and Townplace Suites, among others. For a more intimate experience, stay at the picturesque 1842 Inn or Burke Mansion, both featuring lovely historic architecture and charming environs that will transport you back in time.
For more tips and to plan your trip, go to VisitMacon.org.