Kayaking at George L. Smith State Park in Twin City, Georgia. Photo by Ben Galland
Best Things to Do in East Georgia
Get out on the water, play golf, and much more in Augusta and Georgia's Lake Country.
From moss-draped cypress trees to laid-back lake escapes, this region offers all the picturesque beauty its name implies. Relax in a kayak or enjoy an epic game of golf, and get to know the culture-rich communities that make up east Georgia.
You may get lost playing disc golf or exploring historic sites and natural wonders. When you resurface, you'll be charmed by this region's small towns, which offer countless culinary delights and cultural hotspots.
Things to see & do
Lake Oconee and Lake Sinclair
Middle Georgia earned the nickname Lake Country thanks to sister reservoirs Oconee and Sinclair, whose broad blue expanses and quiet coves unroll through forest-dotted countryside. As the home of upscale neighborhoods and a Ritz-Carlton, Lake Oconee is the better-known destination, while Lake Sinclair offers a serene, kick-back break. Both are fed by the Oconee River and are beloved destinations for boating and bass fishing.
More: Can't-Miss Water Activities at Lake Oconee
Off the water, golf is a major draw in Lake Country, especially at Reynolds Plantation, a luxury gated community on Lake Oconee. Reynolds boasts six championship courses designed by some of the sport’s biggest names (including Jack Nicklaus, Tom Fazio, and Rees Jones), along with a state-of-the-art practice facility. Near the town of Rutledge, the Creek Golf Course at Hard Labor Creek State Park is one of the state's best golfing values.
More: 10 Courses to Golf in Georgia's Lake Country
The communities that make up this region, including Harlem, Greensboro, and Augusta, share some common traits: charming downtowns, stately Southern architecture, and rich culture. Visit Harlem’s Laurel & Hardy Museum, a tribute to Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy; drop into Greensboro’s cafes and antique shops; and discover Augusta's many historic sites, including the Miller Theater, which was the second-largest theater in Georgia when it opened in 1940.
Downtown Washington has been the center of commerce for Wilkes County, established 1777, since farmers in horse-drawn wagons hawked their wares here. Today, you can stroll the picturesque square, presided over by the Victorian-era Fitzpatrick Hotel, stopping for a craft beer at Maddy’s Public House or a frozen treat at Jamie’s Homemade Ice Cream. Architecture lovers will find plenty to admire, from beautiful homes in the Historic District to the iconic Mary Willis Library, one of Georgia’s loveliest book repositories.
Oconee Brewing Co.
The confines are as pretty as the beers are quaffable at Greensboro's Oconee Brewing Co., housed in a historic former cotton warehouse. (Try the Hey Man Blonde Ale.)
More: The 21 Essential Breweries in Georgia
Colorful walls abound in downtown Augusta. Share your feelings in front of the “Happy” mural (Tire City Potters), or raise a glass high above the city at the rooftop mural at Edgar's Above Broad.
More: Cool Murals and More Curious Public Art in Georgia
The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee
You may need to lean down to capture a shot of the infinity pool blending seamlessly into the lake at the Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee. The view is especially pretty in the morning.
More: 16 Relaxing Spas Perfect for Weekend Getaways in Georgia
Augusta & Co.
Housed in a historic downtown building, Augusta's recently revamped welcome center, Augusta & Co., does more than share information on regional attractions. The experience center is also an art gallery, a tasting room offering local sips and bites (try 2nd City Distilling. Co. spirits or Watanut gourmet nuts), and a gift shop celebrating Southern makers.
More: Guide to Augusta
Evans Towne Center Park
Big-name music acts and vibrant festivals visit Evans Towne Center Park, which boasts two outdoor venues: the Lady Antebellum Pavilion (aka “Lady A”), named for two bandmates who grew up in the area, and the more intimate Columbia County Amphitheater. There's also a splash pad and a dog park.
More: 14 of Georgia's Best Outdoor Music Venues
Magnolia Springs State Park
This Millen park is known for its crystal-clear water and abundant wildlife. Look for turtles and alligators as you walk the boardwalk at Magnolia Springs State Park. Hit up the splash pad and bike trails, and don't skip the museum, which showcases relics and artifacts from when the site served as a prison during the Civil War.
More: Remembering Georgia's Role in the Civil War
White Hills Farm
Every Friday during growing season, this family-run farm in Dearing invites the public to tour its organic lavender and herb gardens and shop handmade herbal teas, bath salts, and more. It's also a bucolic gathering place for yoga retreats, cooking classes, and other special events.
More: 5 Things You Didn't Know about Lavender
Ask a local
Denise and Baruti Tucker, @humanitreehouse, own Humanitree House, an organic juice bar and art gallery in downtown Augusta.
What’s one thing all visitors to your region should do?
Augusta Museum of History. Augusta has a rich history that answers many questions about the greatness of this region.
What's your favorite restaurant?
The Bee’s Knees. In addition to the food, the service and spirit of this place is unmatched.
Where would you recommend someone go with kids?
We have several beautiful parks. Savannah Rapids has a huge bike trail, which is great for kids.
What's something surprising about your region?
People are often surprised at how diverse the area is, in addition to the massive arts culture.
What do you love most about living here?
Time and space. You have enough time to develop creatively, professionally, and even spiritually here — and you also have the space to do it.