A spring road trip brought my daughter, Taylor, and I to Macon, Georgia just in time to enjoy the city’s 35th International Cherry Blossom Festival. We enjoyed the sites and tastes of Georgia’s 7th largest city while imagining the grandiose lifestyles from days gone by. This is what the ladies of Wherever I May Roam Blog think that you should see and do when exploring Macon, “where soul lives”.
What To See In Macon
The Hay House
The Johnston-Felton-Hay House, one of Macon’s most distinguished and historic homes, has been a National Historic Landmark since 1974. The first floor is elegantly displayed for visitors to admire, with fine works of art, an 80 foot cupola, and early luxuries that were unheard of in the 1850’s (when the mansion was built). The home’s arched doorways are reason enough to visit! Restoration is taking place throughout the rest of the home.
Georgia Sports Hall of Fame
Sports enthusiasts will appreciate this well-thought 14,000 square feet museum featuring sports legends from the Peach State, Georgia. Some of the sports represented are Golf, Baseball, Boxing, Gymnastics, and Baseball. Be sure to take a picture on the Olympics stand and test your sports ability with the Hall of Fame’s interactive exhibits.
Macon’s Visitor Center
Enjoy a warm Macon welcome at the Visitor’s Center. There are two locations: off of I-75 and in the middle of town and parking is free. Colorful displays and exhibits show travelers parts of Macon’s past and present. Brochures, catalogs, maps, and magazines can help guide your trip while staff members will answer any questions you may have.
This fascinating and sprawling cemetery, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is the final resting place for Macon locals and Civil War soldiers. The headstones, dating back to 1887, and scenery are beautiful. More than 18,000 bodies are buried at the Riverside Cemetery.
What to Do in Macon
Rock Candy Tours
Macon’s “Where Soul Lives” slogan comes from the number of talented and soulful musicians that are from here or chose to make Macon their home. Otis Redding, Little Richard, The Allman Brothers, and James Brown are among these musicians. Rock Candy’s Rock ‘n’ Roll stroll is a 2.5 hour walking tour of Downtown Macon, showing off famous hotspots and places of interest from the music world. Shuttle, bus, and trolley tours are also available. Some of the sites you will see include where Greg Allman proposed to Cher, Jason Aldean filmed his “Gonna Know We Were Here” music video, and Otis Redding’s downtown Foundation location.
The Big House Museum
Experience all things Allman Brothers at their one time home, converted to a museum. Classic rock memorabilia (clothing, pictures, band instruments, gold records) decorates the house. Enjoy walking through the house, set up as it would have been when the Allman Brothers lived there. Lots of souvenirs are available in the museum store.
Tubman African American Museum
The Tubman Museum is the largest in the country dedicated to African American art, culture, and history. Exhibits include a room of moving photography, Otis Redding tribute complete with footage of his family, and inventions from African Americans. Photography is prohibited.
Where To Eat In Macon
This energetic restaurant has fun menu items, such as celebrity burgers, pub-style Fish & Chips, and Spicy Pimento Cheese Dip. Locals insist on the Gram Parson’s Cosmic Club and MoonPie shakes. Foodies should add the Jimmy Carter Burger, with applewood bacon and peanut butter, to their culinary bucket list. The Rookery offers a large selection of craft beers and Mexican Coke. In 2014, Garden and Gun magazine voted The Rookery home of one of the best burgers of the South.
The Bearfoot Tavern Gastro Pub and Beer Garden is a sports establishment with quick food service, lively crowds, and noteworthy happy hour specials. Some of the Bearfoot Tavern’s interesting eats include Pimento Bacon Fritters, Luigi’s Spring Rolls, and Loaded Tots. Presidential Burgers adorn the menu with selections featuring fearless food combinations that will delight your taste buds. Opt to visit the Bearfoot Tavern for brunch and have the Open-Faced Fried Chicken Biscuits with sausage gravy.
Parish on Cherry Street
Parish on Cherry Street is a cajun/creole eatery in the heart of downtown with live music, a festive vibe, and famous dishes you will recognize from The Big Easy, including Gumbo and Jambalaya. Popular Appetizers are Gator Bites, Miss Susan’s Fried Green Tomatoes, and Parish Pickles (deep fried with chipotle aioli). Bacon lovers must try the Macon’s Bacon, candied with sweet spices and caramelized just right. Yum!
H&H Soul Food
This Southern soul food spot is home to classic comfort dishes. Try all things Southern, such as fried chicken, meatloaf, biscuits, black eyed peas, collard greens, and brisket. This Macon institution has been serving “stick-to-ya-ribs” food for locals since 1959. Their menu plays homage to the unique friendship between the Allman Brothers band and Mama Hill, founder of H&H. The restaurant caters and is open for breakfast and lunch.
Visit During The Annual International Cherry Blossom Festival
Created from the basic principles of love, beauty, and international friendship, the International Cherry Bossom Festival has been taking place in Macon for 35 years. With the help of 300,000 Japanese Yoshino trees, Macon is covered in pink cherry blossoms, creating the Pinkest Party on Earth. The festival takes place 10 days around the typical blooming time. Activities include a Gala, parade, street party, fashion show, and plenty more.
At Macon’s Central City Park, a large carnival unfolds with rides, games, and concessions. A butterfly encounter captivated the interest of the old and young while the Atlanta Puppet Show brought smiles to children’s faces. The Cherry Blossom Festival kicks off with a Pink Pancake Breakfast, served by the Macon-Bibb Fire Department. Even the water fountains turn pink for this event!
Discover the Charms of this Classic Southern City
The years of the downtown appeal moving to suburban malls has left its mark on Macon. However, the spirit and strength of community have kept the city relevant. Chances are that the people you encounter will be thrilled for your business and interest in their beautiful city.
Macon is a city worth exploring, whether you choose to see the majestic mansions on College Street or dine with friends at a local restaurant. Macon has something for everyone.