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A 3-day travel itinerary for visiting Macon, Georgia

by Staff

MORNING ➞ Fuel up for a day of exploring at Macon Bagels (get it?), a celebrated purveyor of made-from-scratch morning delights on Third Street with soaring ceilings, creaky wood floors, and kitschy cartoon Hotel Forty Five decor. Go with the Champ—a bagel with bacon, avocado, tomato, and caramelized onion spread—for hearty, sloppy goodness. Those with a sweet tooth may opt for the delectable, crumbly, and approximately two- pound oatmeal cream pie.

Next, take a 10-minute drive to Amerson River Park. Situated just north of downtown, the 180-acre greenspace includes pretty meadows and wetlands along an Ocmulgee River oxbow. There’s a one-mile unpaved path around the park, but stroll the slightly shorter paved route instead for a soothing immersion in nature along the river, around picturesque stacked-stone pavilions, and through a mature forest.

Amerson River Park

Photo courtesy of Visit Macon

AFTERNOON ➞ It’s back to Third Street for lunch at Piedmont Brewery & Kitchen, a hip, airy space with a killer arcade in the basement. Keep it light with the signature Satisfied lager, as Piedmont specializes in big portions; the smoked-sirloin French dip is among the juiciest you’ll find.

Piedmont Brewing & Kitchen

Photo courtesy of Visit Macon

Ward off a food coma with a bubble tea (add coffee jelly for extra kick) at pink-painted, anime-adoring Hello Boba Cafe down the street. From there, it’s a two-mile drive to Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park, a prehistoric site dating to the Paleo-Indian period.The park’s renowned earthen structures reveal the culture and uses of a millennium, from Mississippian burial ground to British trading post to Civil War battlefield. A walk to the top of the Great Temple Mound affords a 360-degree view of the park’s variety of preserved mounds and its eight-mile network of public trails, with downtown Macon in the distance. Budget an hour for exploring the Art Moderne–style visitors center and museum, a wonderland of artifacts.

Ocmulgee Mounds National Park & Preserve

Photo courtesy of Visit Macon

EVENING ➞ Heed locals’ recommendations and book a reservation at Dovetail, a rustic-cozy upstairs space on Cherry Street that’s been dishing regionally sourced Southern cuisine for a decade. The staff is impeccably attentive, the drapes and rugs plush, the glow of Edison bulbs romantic. With its bacon marmalade and crab-and-cracker salad, the Put-Ups plate is a fine place to start, especially alongside a perfectly layered old fashioned they’ll smoke at the table. The blackened Scottish salmon, laid on a bed of saffron rice, is remarkably tender, and each veggie selection tastes like it was plucked straight from the ground only moments before cooking.

For a post-dinner stroll and nightcap, mosey a few blocks over to Fall Line Brewing Co. on Plum Street, a renovated, circa-1918 horse and mule shop where the huge courtyard’s firepit is fit for a dozen revelers.


MORNING ➞ Explore the leafy residential streets of the Vineville and College Hill neighborhoods near Mercer University before an early brunch at Yollah Social Kitchen + Garden. The lively Latin American–inspired concept, drenched in pastels, features a spacious backyard full of shaded seating and, often, live music. The Cuban sandwich—light with a hint of woodsmoke—alongside a robust French press provides fuel for your Macon weekend grand finale.

Fittingly coined the “Palace of the South,” the Italian Renaissance Revival–style Hay House encompasses 18,000 square feet, 24 principal rooms, and enough jaw-dropping opulence to make the Kardashians seem miserly. Completed in 1859, it’s considered one of Georgia’s grandest residences and a window into bygone ways of life. Tip: Pay the extra $5 to tour the upper floors, where the two-story cupola functions as an observation tower. From there, survey the historic districts of Macon you’ve come to know—and love—over the past two days before hitting the road home.

Hay House interior

Photo courtesy of Visit Macon

Whether you’re hunting for cocktail kits, vintage tees, or hand-poured candles, downtown Macon has you covered.

This trippy but welcoming metaphysical gift shop showcases local artists and deals in everything from kantha quilts and smudging wands to fair-trade jewelry. Don’t miss the dirt-cheap books of matches that become coconut-scented incense as they burn.

A circa-1910 warehouse turned beautiful, two-story corner store, 7th Street Salvage is a maker’s paradise of handmade candles, custom doors, quirky puzzles, and old books.

This inclusive, local women’s clothing store oozes style for all seasons and can accessorize you from head to toe, including requisite college-town “game day” buttons and tees.


This article appears in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of Southbound.

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