If your only experience of Macon, Georgia, is seeing its name on the mileage signs while whizzing down I-75, you’re missing out. Aboout 80 miles southeast of Atlanta, Macon is Georgia’s 4th largest city and has a rich Native American, Civil War and music heritage. With so many top things to do in Macon, Georgia, we decided to make it our destination instead of a blur from the car window.
Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Park
With free admission and plenty of space to roam Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Site is one of the top things to do in Macon, Georgia. This National Park site is dedicated to preserving a prehistoric American Indian site used in several different times and different groups.
Best of all, you can keep your kids active on vacation as your kids learn about 12,000 years of American Indian culture at the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Park. The Indian mounds are fascinating and you can peek inside one and climb to the top of another.
Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Park Visitor Center
In the visitor’s center you’ll want to check out the museum. In the largest archaeology dig in American history more than 2,000 artifacts in the museum were excavated on site. Each of the items dates back to 10,000 BCE to the 1800s.
There’s also a 17-minute interpretive film shown at the visitor center. It covers the history of the Ocmulgee Mounds, a great overview for most visitors.
The Ocmulgee Mounds Visitor Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Find restrooms, a water fountain and a picnic table at the visitor center as well.
Hiking at Ocmulgee Mounds
With over 8 miles of hiking trails, hiking is one of the top things to do at the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Park. There are seven mounds within the park and the walking trails are the best way to see them.
- Main Path–A .5-mile trail to the Great Temple Mound. See the Earth Lodge, the Trading Post site, the Great and Lesser Temple Mound Sites
- Dunlap Trail–A .25-mile trail to see the Dunlap Mound and a Civil War Earthworks.
- McDougal Trail–A .5-mile trail to see the original entrance of the park from the 1930s.
- Opelofa Trail–A 1-mile trail past the wetlands in the park.
- Bartram Trail–A .75-mile to see the railroad bridge located in the park.
Note: Leashed dogs are welcome at Ocmulgee Mounds.
Biking in Ocmulgee Mounds
If you have a bike, then the Heritage Trail is for you. It’s a 1.75-mile trail passes the Ocmulgee River and part of it is accessible.
What to do with Kids
The Junior Ranger Program is the go-to program for families to learn more about National Park site. It’s free and takes about two hours to complete. You just can’t beat a free program that gives your kid a souvenir badge and swears them in as an official Junior Ranger.
Located at 1207 Emery Highway (off of Interstate 16) in Macon, Georgia. The Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Park are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is free to enter. Nominal entrance fee for special events.
Formally the Johnston-Felton-Hay-House, this 1855 home is owned by the fabulous Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. If you’ve got an eye for historic homes, this one is worth the stop.
With 18,000 square feet and 24 main rooms, it is one of Georgia’s most distinquished homes and one of the top things to do in Macon, Georgia. Declared a National Historic Landmark in 1974, it offers a one-hour tour that explores the first three floors of the home.
The home itself is gorgeous and I enjoyed the home tour. The boys most enjoyed the grounds. They could run around, pop in and out of the low-hanging magnolia branches and spy frogs and other insects in the fountain.
Located at 934 Georgia Ave. Open from Wednesday to Sunday and tours are offered at 10 a.m.,11 a.m., noon, 1 p.m. 2 p.m. an 3 p.m. (no noon tour on Wednesday and Thursday). Adult admission is $18, students (6 – 18) are $10. Parking is in the rear.
Coleman Hill Park
Within walking distance of the Hay House is Coleman Hill Park and an amazing concrete slide. This is low-tech, old-fashioned fun at its best.
My kids spent ages sliding down in any physical condition they could imagine – on bottoms, bellies and backs, forward and backward, with cardboard and without. It’s a great picnic stop to burn off some energy after you’ve toured Hay House.
Located at 285 Spring St. in Macon. Open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Free to enter.
Amerson River Park
Georgia in August is HOT, y’all. When my oldest suggested we head to the Ocmulgee River, I was all in. We parked at the Amerson River Park and headed down the river steps. There, we found some shallows to lay back in and rocky “islands” to explore. The temperature was just right and we relaxed there until well past dinner time. You can go tubing along the river, too.
Amerson River Park offers 180 acres of land to explore with forest, wetlands and the oxbow of the river. Along with the river, there’s a playground and 7 miles of trails. There’s also picnic tables in the Amerson River Park.
Tubing and Canoeing at Amerson River Park
The Amerson River Park offers the Jay Hall Memorial Canoe Launch for a 2-mile float, perfect for kayaks, canoes or a tube. Floaters can exit at the Bragg Jamm Canoe and Tube Takeout.
Located at 2551 N. Pierce Dr. in Macon, Georgia. Open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and it is free to enter.
The Allman Brothers Band Museum at the Big House
The original members of the The Allman Brothers lived in Grand Tutor three-story house along with members of their family from 1970 to 1973. When the band was on tour, it was just the wives and girlfriends living in the house, rich with original details. The band along with the roadies would return to liven up the house and create music.
Now the home has been transformed to a museum dedicated to the Allman Brothers from the music room to the roadies room. See original memorablia along with original instruments.
Located at 2321 Vineville Ave. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Adult admission is $20 and kids (10 and younger) are $10.
Catch at Macon Bacon Baseball Game
The Macon Bacon and the Savannah Bananas belong to the Coastal Plain League, a collegiate wood-bat summer league. As a serial visitor to Savannah who has passed by the Bananas stadium multiple times, I was giddy to discover that they played the Macon Bacon and I wanted in on that experience.
After one game was rained out, we saw the Bacon-Bananas game and had so much fun! How can you not love a team where the mascot is Bacon and his name is…Kevin? Be sure to check their schedule and go on one of their fun themed nights!
The Macon Bacon plays at the Luther Williams Field on Willie Smoker Glover Dr. in Macon. The field was built in 1929 and offers covered seating. Games start in late May and continues until the first week of August.
The Tubman Museum
The Tubman Museum offers a well-rounded collection that includes many individuals local to the Macon area that have contributed to advancing rights and equlity for African Americans. It’s part art gallery, part museum.
Exhibits include an gallery on the creativity of African Americans including inventions. Another gallery tells the untold stories of those from the Macon area. The exhibit, Macon’s Musical Heritage, shares the influences in R&B, Soul and Southern Rock.
I loved introducing my youngest son to musicians with local ties like James Brown, Little Richard and Otis Redding. The former Georgia Music Hall of Fame closed and many of their artifacts and memorabilia came here.
Note: The Tubman Museum and the Sports Hall of Fame both rely on private funding. Each don’t receive assistance from the State of Georgia. They raise money through private donations, renting event space, admission tickets and gift shop purchases. Even if it’s something small, your gift shop purchase goes towards helping keep these museums open for many to enjoy.
Located at 310 Cherry St. in Macon. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult admission is $10 and kids (3- 17) are $6. For Georgia residents, a Macon Museum Pass is available at the Macon Library and grants four general admissions to The Tubman Museum, the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame and the Museum Arts and Science. For more information, check out its website.
Georgia Sports Hall of Fame
As the largest museum dedicated to state sports, this is one of the top things to do in Macon. Visitors can explore the 43,000-square-feet facilty that resembles a turn-of-the-century ball field, including a theater.
We are college ball loving people in my house, and SEC all the way. A stop at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame was definitely a hit for my crew. It was fun for the boys to see memorabilia and learn facts about athletes from a variety of sports.
Even if your family doesn’t “follow ball”, kids will still have a blast. Upstairs there is an interactive sporting area where kids can shoot hoops, throw footballs, kick soccer balls and sit inside a race car for a video simulation.
A scavenger hunt makes everything more engaging for the kids. I learned a lot, too! The Sports Hall of Fame includes college, professional, Olympic and Paralympic sporting figures.
Located at 301 Cherry St. Open Tuesday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Adult admission is $8, kids (16 and younger) are $3.50. For Georgia residents, a Macon Museum Pass is available at the Macon Library and grants fourgeneral admissions to The Tubman Museum, the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame and the Museum Arts and Science. For more information, check out its website.
Macon Museum of Arts & Sciences
With a planetarium, live animals along with rotating art exhibits, the Macon Museum of Arts and Sciences is a favorite with families. If you’ve got younger kids, I think a day trip from Atlanta is totally worth it just for this stop alone.
Our most recent visit marked our third time at the Macon Museum of Arts and Sciences. We keep coming back because it’s just that fun. There are tons of low-tech, high fun activities for the kids and even a mini-zoo inside! By far, this tops my list of family friendly things to do in Macon.
Upstairs is the artist’s garret where kids have a multitude of opportunities to explore and create. The main level is full of hands-on exhibits and the mini-zoo as well as a planetarium. Downstairs is the science exploration area – this is where my big kids had the most fun.
Make sure you get outside and take the Sweetgum Trail. The pond there is full of frogs and turtles to spot!
Located at 4182 Forsyth Rd. in Macon. Open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult admission is $10 and kids (3 – 17) are $5.
Of course I had to sneak in a stop at a used bookstore. Gottwals Books is a small chain with four locations in the middle of Georgia.
This location had a great variety of reasonably priced used books along with a selection of new titles. The staff was friendly and my kid honed in on the graphic novel section like it was a beacon.
Located at 2834 Riverside Dr. in Macon. Open Monday to Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (5 p.m. on Wednesday).
Reboot Retrocade and Bar
Don’t shut down at the word “bar”. This is a family-friendly place from 1-7 p.m. My 15-year-old-gamer was beside himself with the classic video games, pinball games and two large screen TVs with gaming consoles. This is a teen’s virtual playground.
I sat in a window seat with an adult beverage and watched my children happily scampering between all the games. If you were a kid in the 80’s you can get some serious street cred with your kids. My husband and I were playing games like Donkey Kong and Galaga, much to the amazement of our children. If your family is more into board games, there is a shelf full of those, too.
Located at 566 Cherry St. Open Monday from 5 p.m. – 10 p.m., Tuesday to Thursday from 5 p.m. to midnight, Friday 4 p.m. – 1 a.m., Saturday 1p.m. – 1 a.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. – 10p.m. Once 7:00 pm rolls around, they are serious about the 18+ only rule.
Comics Plus of Macon
In the heart of downtown Macon on Cherry Street, I found a specialty store with comics, graphic novels, manga, gaming hardware and accessories, collectible toys and more. It’s a fun stop for my youngest teenager who is just now getting interested in comics and graphic novels.
Located at 448 W. 2nd St. Open Wednesday to Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. (9 p.m. on Friday).
Pro Tip: The Tubman Museum, the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, Reboot Retrocade and Comics Plus are all in the downtown Macon area and walkable to each other.
Just Under Two Hours From Atlanta
The fact that I can throw the kids in the car and find the top things to do in Macon Georgia within two hours from home is a huge draw for me. I could absolutely see us making a day trip down for an afternoon Macon Bacon baseball game next summer. It’s a destination just a few hours from home and still has the right Road Trip spirit without the non-stop are we there yet? that kicks in on longer trips.
Instead of Macon being a blur on the highway, why don’t you make it the destination.