10+ Things to See in an Afternoon Exploring Augusta, GA
Augusta, Georgia is just over an hour from us, so we made an afternoon trip down there one day to check it out.
Have I mentioned I LOVE that everything and everywhere is SO close to each other here on the East Coast (especially in comparison to places in the West)! It’s wonderful, and makes for some great, easy, short day/road trips.
Most of our little day trips have been really quick, and we’ve only scratched the surface of things to do at each place, but it’s given us almost like a little preview of all the awesomeness we can come back to when we have more time! Plus, with kids sometimes it’s hard to do everything we would like all at once, so we find that little “Preview Trips” to new places is perfect to start out with. Then we get an idea of;
1. If we want to come back to that place,
2. What we would really like to do when we come back, and
3. If another day trip would suffice or we need a weekend+ for everything we want to do.
Our “Preview Trip” of Augusta turned out to be much to short of a time to spend there. We will definitely be going back! But for now, let me share with you some of the beautiful historic places we stopped to see in one afternoon.
The church was established in 1926, and the building now standing was majorly renovated in 2011. The stained glass was beautiful, and the details in the carvings across the facade added to the brick and wooden doors. The campus sprawls out with multiple buildings, all built in red brick, along with a bell tower. If you would like to learn more about the building and expansion of Trinity on the Hill, click here.
Once used as a Catholic church and multi-denominational school, Sacred Heart is now a cultural and social center in Augusta. Building of Sacred Heart began in 1897, and the first church service was held on December 2, 1900. Unfortunately, the church was closed on July 3, 1971, and it was left empty until 1987 after undergoing major renovations. It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and for good reason! It is beautiful!
We were able to go inside and walk around, even though they were setting up for a wedding reception later that evening. We started by the gift shop, and then ventured up stairs for a peek, but all of the doors were locked. Bummer! When we walked into the nave, all four of us stopped and looked up at the detailed ceiling. The kids were in awe!
The stained glass windows were amazing!! I spent most of my time looking at them! They told of Bible stories and moments throughout Jesus Christ’s life.
The one below was my favorite (but it was a close tie to all the others!). The colors are just stunning, especially when the light came through. It was an overcast day, so when the sun broke through the clouds for a split second it was truly spectacular.
When we left, we walked around the garden area for a few minutes before leaving. I told the Hubs, if we got married again and needed a place for another reception, I would come here! So beautiful!
We actually stumbled upon Mr. Oglethorpe, in the Augusta Commons, as we were walking around. He lived from 1696 to 1785 and has been given the title as Father of Georgia. He was descended from an aristocratic English family, served in Parliament, and came to America with the first boats of settlers. He ended up founding 5 towns, including Augusta, which he named after Princess Augusta, wife to the Prince of Wales.
Hats off to you, Mr. Oglethorpe! And, isn’t Oglethorpe just so fun to say!? We think so! Lol.
When we go back for our longer visit to Augusta, the first place I’m going is here! We were not able to go inside while on this trip because the church was closed, but the outside was just as fascinating as if we had gone inside! You can have receptions and things here, too! How cool is that!?
St. Paul’s church was founded in 1750 (That’s before we were even a country, people!! Blows my mind!) at the site of Fort Augusta. The original building was destroyed multiple times during the French and Indian War, and also the Revolutionary War. They later rebuilt in 1820, but that building burned down in Augusta’s Great Fire of 1916. This current building was built in 1919, and was designed as a larger copy of the original. It’s all very fascinating and for more history on the church, click here.
Throughout the grounds around the church are graves, marked and unmarked. This was remarkable to me! Some of the headstones read dates like the one above: 1808!! They were beautiful, and I could have spent a long time wandering through them, but little kids don’t find old grave markers as interesting as I do apparently.
Around the back of the grounds is a Celtic monument marking the area of the colonial Fort Augusta, on which the first St. Paul’s Church was built in 1750. The cannon at the bottom was brought to the fort by James Edward Oglethorpe in the 1730s to be used there. The history is amazing!
The kids were about done looking at “old boring stuff,” so we made our way from St. Paul’s Church down to the Riverwalk. We found a play set and let them run wild for a little while, as we sat and enjoyed views of the Savannah River. The riverwalk spans between 6th and 10th streets, and is the location of many of the city’s events and festivals. It was quiet and peaceful while we were there, and we had the place to ourselves most of the time.
We made a quick stop to see the Church of the Most Holy Trinity, which was established in 1810. The current building was built from 1857-1863. It is one of the oldest Catholic Church buildings in the state of Georgia. In it’s simplicity, it was stunning!
Interesting fact: The original building from 1814 was used as a hospital and orphanage during the Yellow Fever epidemics in 1839 and 1854, and then as a hospital during the Civil War. For more history on the church, click here.
Seriously though, give me all the old churches and buildings!! I love stuff like that and learning about their history.
The First Presbyterian Church was established in 1804, but first met in St. Paul’s Church actually. The cornerstone for this building was laid in 1809, and the building was completed in 1812. The spire was later added in 1818, with other additions in the late 1800s and mid 1900s. It was also used as a hospital and a prisoner of war detention camp during the Civil War. For more history, click here.
Fun Fact: President Woodrow Wilson’s father, Joseph R. Wilson, was the reverend here from 1858-1870.
Our 27th president, Woodrow Wilson, grew up here as a boy. We were unable to do a tour of the house, because we didn’t make it on time before closing. Tours run Thursday-Saturday, on the hour starting at 10am with the last one beginning at 4pm, for more info. click here.
It was a cute little house, and I would have loved to go inside, so we will have to go back and do that! If you get the opportunity to go through on the tour, comment below!!
The Medical College of Georgia is the third-oldest medical college in the Southeast. It was built in 1835 and is now a National Historic Landmark. It is now used as an event venue. We were unable to get into the grounds and had to settle for a picture outside the gate.
Founded in 1828, Augusta University is a research and medical based university. Their campus is beautiful and serene. We took a quick drive through, and admired the old brick buildings that all match.
We like driving around different college and university campuses. Usually we’ve heard about most of them, and it helps us envision and relate to them more when we watch college sports. But, we also like showing the kids different colleges and universities, because we want them to be able to choose where they would like to go to school someday, and want them to know they have so many options. Where ever they choose to go is fine with us!
As we were driving through the historic district of Augusta, we were passing all sorts of gorgeous old houses. I love to imagine these buildings in their prime and what it would be like to live back then. This one was one of my favorites, and it has now been converted into an art studio and showroom.
Although we only scratched the surface of what Augusta has to offer, we were able to get a feel for this charming, old city. I hope it enticed you to go check it out if you are ever in the area!
And, here are some Honorable Mentions we saw as we were driving around town (but didn’t have time or energy to stop at)!