By Naimah Shaw
Get a taste of the flavor and diversity of the CSRA by visiting some of the unique places.

  1. SRP Park is here! Enjoy dynamic sports on the beautiful Savannah River! Baseball enthusiasts can cheer on the AUGUSTA GREENJACKETS, a minor league baseball team and a Class-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. SRP Park can hold up to 5,000 guests for GreenJackets games and anywhere from 9,000-10,000 for concerts and events. Visit, www.milb.com.

2. Clark’s Hill Lake (as it is known in Georgia, but officially it’s J. Strom Thurmond Dam and Lake) is one of the most visited U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lakes in the country and is the largest man-made lake this side of the Mississippi River. The lake is home to many parks, campgrounds and marina and is known for championship fishing and excellent boating.

3. It was too long ago that downtown Augusta was mostly a sea of abandoned, boarded up buildings. Not any longer. Thanks to several enterprising young entrepreneurs, the downtown food and beverage scene is alive and kicking. From the acclaimed Frog Hollow Tavern to the music scene at The Soul Bar to the plethora of ethnic and sandwich shops, there’s plenty to feed the soul. Stroll through the many studios and galleries of Artists Row, then relax on the Riverwalk on the bank of the Savannah River.

4. Discover the universe at the DuPont Planetarium and Observatory at the University of South Carolina at Aiken. Programs for ages 4 and older are held on Saturdays and focus on astronomy and exploring the skies. Weather permitting, visitors can view the skies through the Bechtel Telescope in the observatory. www.rpsec.usca.edu/planetarium.

5. Step back in time in one of the country’s largest urban forests, Hitchcock Woods in Aiken. Walk, run or ride a horse through the 70 miles of sandy pathways in this 2,100-acre habitat that has been preserved to maintain its natural character and historical legacy. While there, make your way to South Boundary, a street USA Today named one of the 10 Prettiest Streets for a Stroll. It is known as the “Avenue of Oaks” because of the canopy created by the live oaks planted along both sides. www.hitchcockwoods.org.

6. Tucked away behind a serpentine brick wall under a canopy of ancient trees along Whiskey Road and Dupree Place is one of the jewels of Aiken: Hopelands Gardens. The 14-acre gardens were once an estate in the Winter Colony area of Aiken now open to the public. With its towering 100 year old oaks, meandering pathways, pond and fountains, Hopelands Garden for relaxing, enjoying nature and play. www.visitaikensc.com.

7. Black History has been an integral part of Augusta’s past and future. Among the famous African-Americans born or raised in Augusta are: James Brown, singer; Jessye Norman, opera star; Laurence Fishburne, actor, and many others. Much of this rich history is preserved at the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History. Laney started the first school for black children in Augusta in 1883. The museum is in her former home and promotes her legacy through arts and history. On Fridays, the museum sponsors a trolley tour to more than 25 significant historic sites related to Augusta’s black history. www.lucycraftlaneymuseum.com.

8. Phinizy Swamp & Nature Park in South Augusta, was founded in 1996 when there was a critical need for independent water quality research to find solutions to balancing sustainable watersheds and economic interests. Over the years a hands-on educational program has developed where the community can enjoy nature and learn more about wetlands and water systems. There are trails for walking and bike riding, and even fishing from the banks of the Mayor’s Fishin’ Hole. www.phinizycenter.org.

9. Reed Creek Nature Park in Martinez is a recreational park with a raised boardwalk that allows visits to go through an active wetland environment. See frogs, snakes and other wetlands wildlife. It’s also the perfect place for a peaceful stroll. www.columbiacountyga.gov.

10. Savannah Rapids Park is located at the headgates of the Savannah River in Columbia County. Walk, jog or bike along the Augusta Canal towpath. Kayak or canoe along the canal or take a leisurely Petersburg Boat Tour to the Augusta Canal Discovery Center in downtown Augusta. Visit the visitor’s center housed in the renovated Lockkeepers Cottage, dance in the restored pavilion and learn about the lock and dam system built in the 19th century to let boat navigate the falls. Bikes and boats are available for rent. www.columbiacountyga.gov.