It’s always exciting to visit new places and learn about the history and cultures. Adventure is a natural part of life’s journey, and that is why exploring Augusta and Aiken is something my family did together when we moved here nearly five years ago. I remember during preliminary visits that these two cities felt like sleepy Southern towns with corner alleys full of good finds. Bustling cities like Atlanta and DC with electric nightlife and daytime offerings have some advantages but moving to Augusta felt like a welcomed landing for my family of four whose children were in middle school at the time.

One of the first places we visited was the Saturday morning Open Market downtown. The bread tent was a favorite find as were the tomato quiches from the quiche lady. We planned rides to Aiken to take in the painted horses and locally owned boutiques. We had the privilege of seeing Jason Mraz play acoustic style at the riverside amphitheater on a stage with a living room carpet and understated furniture—he played for 3 hours while we overlooked the beautiful water dotted with boats! Each fall, we experienced festivals like Arts in the Hearts, Westobou and Columbia County’s fairgrounds. Our competitive nature as a family would peak in early summer with trips down the canal, seeing if we could beat our best kayaking times for the distance. There were numerous trips to the Miller Theater and Imperial Theatre for performances, SRP Park and biking the Greeneway Trail in North Augusta on weekends. I’ve picked fresh blueberries with friends in Thomson, heard spoken word poetry at the Book Tavern downtown, sat in the botanical garden at Magnolia Cemetery and seen the “Tom” etched by a young Woodrow Wilson in his childhood home on 7th Street. One of my favorite dining locales is La Parisienne in Aiken—a euro-centric vibe café with authentic culinary treats like croque madame and café l’opéra. Vive la France !

I guess what I am trying to say is that Augusta and the surrounding area are chock full of enjoyable interests for family outings. And that is why we have dedicated the May issue of Augusta Family magazine to these great cities and the many adventures within their boundaries—we’ve got our eye on all the hidden gems in our “Be a Tourist in Your Hometown” issue, so let us be your guide for things to do and places to go around town this summer.

Aimee Serafin