A Night on the Town in Augusta

In need of a night out or simply in need of a cocktail (or two – we won’t tell!)? Less than two hours from Atlanta, Augusta, Georgia, quenches the thirst for a good time with these must-visit watering holes.

Craft and Vine

The house rules at Craft and Vine brings an old-school Southern vibe to one of Augusta’s hottest nighttime spots.
Credit: Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau

Craft and Vine offers an upscale vibe and is tucked away on Broad Street. It’s the newest addition to Augusta’s Frog Hollow Hospitality Group, which also founded the city’s popular Farmhaus Burger and Frog Hollow Tavern. Expect dinner and a show – albeit not the typical performance. Bartenders evoke a “wow” factor while stirring old-timey drinks and shaking cocktails. Dishes meet big-city expectations without the associated metropolitan hassles. Plus, it’s one of the only places in Augusta featuring enomatic machines, or wine on drip, making it possible to savor sips of finer wines by the glass for tastings. There are no reservations, and, preserving the sometimes overlooked art of etiquette, house rules apply here: no cell phone usage inside, but texting is fine; please be patient (craft drinks are an art and take time to create – but are totally worth it); and, proper attire is required.

Hive Growler Bar

A mind-boggling number of taps at Hive Growler Bar will quench thirst no matter what you crave.
Credit: Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau

Think outside the pub with the Hive Growler Bar, Augusta’s newest night spot and an authentic tap house. Featuring locally- and regionally-sourced food like the city’s beloved The Bee’s Knees (same owners), it’s the bar’s beer, wine and craft cocktail selection that set it apart. Take a gander and you might think you’re seeing double before the first sip: 73 taps featuring more than 50 beer taps, 10 wine taps, five craft soda taps and five custom-made cocktail taps adorn the walls. You won’t find bottled or canned beer here. It’s all fresh and flowing. Taps change so often and the owners are so into sustainability that you will not find a printed tap list. But do not fear, big screen TVs display the most current tap lists, as does the bar’s website.

Experience Augusta like a local. Surrey Tavern is the neighborhood bar. Located in Surrey Center, this haunt is Augusta’s best kept secret – where the locals go. They’re famous for their laid-back atmosphere; an outdoor patio and live music set the tone for a great night for you and your friends.

Le Chat Noir is an intimate 100-seat black box theatre and lounge that is host to a variety of shows and events. Performances include classics like Les Miserables or Sweeney Todd. Night owls might enjoy Schrodinger’s Cat, Augusta’s premiere comedy improv troupe, during their eXtreme Theatre Games every First Friday.  Watch comedy performed on the spot as two teams of crack improvisers battle it out in the continuing quest for comedic domination. If you love Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Improvaganza, or other improv comedy shows, this is your spot.

Augusta

From bachelorettes to bachelors, couples to singles, Augusta’s variety of night spots makes it easy for everyone to enjoy a night on the town.
Credit: Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau

Feel the beat at Sky City, Augusta’s 500-capacity live music venue located in downtown. With an eclectic line-up each month there’s something on the set to satisfy every musical taste. Sky City also features themed nights like 80s Night during the first Friday of each month. What’s better than pulling out the leggings, oversized shirts with shirt clips, teasing your hair and listening to a little Duran Duran or Journey?

The Soul Bar features live music and is named appropriately for The Godfather of Soul and Augusta native, Mr. James Brown. Hang out, have a drink, or stop by and see a local band bring down the house. The Soul Bar is also famous for its theme nights. Favorites include 80s Night, 90s Night, Pop Life or Disc Hell. The theme nights will take you back, way back – and have you coming back to Augusta.

 

katieMom-on-the-go and Laurie Rowe Communications PR pro Katie Reeder graduated at the top of her class from the Calhoun Honors College at Clemson University with a degree in Communication Studies. Katie resides in Cumming, Georgia – between the beautiful mountains of North Georgia and the lights and action of nearby Atlanta.

Fired Works Spotlights Folk Potters and Their Traditions

Fired Works Show-lr

Get your hands dirty with pottery classes at the event. Credit: Macon Arts Alliance

Featuring nine days of special events such as free Clay Workshops for Children & Teens, Corks & Clay workshops for adults, Pottery Roadshow appraisals, artist talks and demonstrations, the 10th Annual Fired Works Regional Ceramics Exhibition and Sale, April 11-19, 2015, in Macon’s Central City Park, about 90 miles south of Atlanta, is a celebration of the rich history of ceramics-making in Georgia and the Southeast. What began as a local pottery show and celebration of the area’s Ocmulgee River region heritage now features more than 6,000 pieces of pottery by 65 ceramic artists– the state’s largest annual show and sale of functional and sculptural pottery.

Each year, Fired Works celebrates a special theme, artist or technique. The 10th Anniversary exhibition highlights the genuinely Southern tradition of Folk Pottery with works by five artists continuing the time-honored tradition of regional ceramics.

Shelia Chrzan bowl: Caption: Artists like Sheila Chrzan present their works for sale at the Fired Works Regional Ceramics Exhibition and Sale. Credit: Macon Arts Alliance

Shelia Chrzan bowl: Caption: Artists like Sheila Chrzan present their works for sale at the Fired Works Regional Ceramics Exhibition and Sale. Credit: Macon Arts Alliance

Bruce Bley, who lives in Monroe, describes himself as a “mountain person,” drawing inspiration from the North Georgia Mountains and their history of craftsmanship. Considered a rising star of the ceramic arts, Clint Alderman, from Habersham County, has been creating works of art by coil-building and pit-firing since 1995. His work is found in exhibits across the state, including the Folk Pottery Museum of Northeast Georgia and the Atlanta History Center.

Both Roger Corn, of Lula, and Steve Turpin, of Homer, are decades-long potters and their work is well known. Corn has been dubbed the best potter to use the technique of pulling up his clay, creating light-as-a-feather works of art out of only small bits of clay. Turpin, a potter for more than 30 years, considers each piece he makes a tangible aspect of his personality. He says establishing the personal link created when a person feels connected enough to his works to want to purchase one is what being an artist is all about.

pottery - Caption: Wood-fired clay bowls crafted by potter Tammy Beane are reminiscent of Mississippian stamped pottery discovered at Macon’s Ocmulgee National Monument. Credit: The Macon Arts Alliance

pottery – Caption: Wood-fired clay bowls crafted by potter Tammy Beane are reminiscent of Mississippian stamped pottery discovered at Macon’s Ocmulgee National Monument.
Credit: The Macon Arts Alliance

Wayne Hewell is a fifth generation potter, a recognizable descendant of a folk potter family. He continues his father’s and grandfather’s tradition by by hand-firing all of his pottery in an old-fashioned wood-burning kiln.

Each featured folk potter will contribute between one and five pieces to the central exhibit at Fired Works, including traditional-style creations such as face jugs, snake jars and ash glazes – quintessential styles that continue to be produced by folk potters in the South.

If you go: Complete 10th Anniversary Fired Works event details; biographies of featured folk potters and the other 60-plus potters exhibiting and selling; Earth, Wine, and Fire special opening weekend packaged getaway, and schedule of talks and workshops is available at www.FiredWorksMacon.com.

katieMom-on-the-go and Laurie Rowe Communications PR pro Katie Reeder graduated at the top of her class from the Calhoun Honors College at Clemson University with a degree in Communication Studies. Katie resides in Cumming, Georgia – between the beautiful mountains of North Georgia and the lights and action of nearby Atlanta.

Guide to Dining in Alpharetta

Pure Taqueria. Photo Credit: Alpharetta CVB

Pure Taqueria. Photo Credit: Alpharetta CVB

Shocking to my fellow friends – mostly the ones who are living up the singles scene in the city or maintaining their hipster vibe sans minivan, the suburbs are happening, too, when it comes to the foodie scene. Nearby, Alpharetta, easily accessible, just north of Atlanta and in the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains, along Georgia 400, the state’s “Hospitality Highway,” is undeniably suburban, but with 175 dining options, this locale makes for one mean menu.

Pared down, here are five picks for a palate pleasing meal, whether the suburbs scare you – or a Suburban is the only way to lug your crew around.

  1. For local flavor, South Main Kitchen, located in the heart of Alpharetta’s Historic Downtown District, offers a fresh and unique kitchen-inspired dining experience that is distinctly ingredient driven. The restaurant, housed in a historic building built in 1902, features an open kitchen, inviting dining room, communal seating and rooftop bar and, under the direction of executive chef Christy Stone, focuses on the social aspect of dining and the true artistry of food with farm-to-table flair and a frequently changing menu. An extensive beer menu complements taste bud ticklers like edamame with mint fleur de sel and unique twists on classic southern ingredients like boiled peanut hummus with blackberry jam, fig compote, brie and goat cheese. It’s even rumored the Brussels sprouts here are above all else.
  2. Smokejack BBQ. Photo Credit: Alpharetta CVB.

    Smokejack BBQ. Photo Credit: Alpharetta CVB.

    Another locally-owned and operated Alpharetta restaurant to add to the tasting menu: Smokejack Southern Grill and BBQ, serving smoked, hand-pulled pork, moist tender ribs, signature beef burnt ends…is your mouth watering yet?

  3. Whipping up winning eateries, the Sedgwick Restaurant Group has several players on the Alpharetta scene including the escape-from-the-normal Vinny’s on Windward where menu highlights include risotto, gnocchi and tiramisu, transporting guests straight to Italy.
  4. Another Sedgwick spawn, Pure taqueria, offers authentic Mexican cuisine – think corn, seafood and slaw – as well as killer margaritas. Chris Sedgwick, long time Alpharetta resident and successful Atlanta restaurateur, was looking for a new way to express his style and his love of food when he opened the original PURE taqueria at the site of an abandoned 1920’s era Pure Fuel Oil station. The small stone building on the corner (now used for storage) was part of the original gas station, but the main restaurant was built from scratch, with Chris designing, decorating and doing much of the construction himself. Since 2005, PURE taqueria has grown into a local institution, and a successful franchise company with five locations in the ATL.
  5. New to the culinary scene, Oak Steakhouse at Avalon is reserved for occasions as special as the food. From grilled swordfish to cornmeal crusted grouper to melt-in-your-mouth filet mignon, along with sides like bone marrow bread pudding and truffle frites, coupled with exceptional service and a sophisticated ambiance, this is the place where memories are made.

Can’t get enough? Add these foodie events to your calendar and fill up on good times:

Concerts at Matilda's. Photo Credit: Alpharetta CVB

Concerts at Matilda’s. Photo Credit: Alpharetta CVB

Taste of Alpharetta – May 7; Join the Southeast’s premier dining festival attracting over 50,000 festival-goers each year. Satisfy taste buds with specialties from more than 60 restaurants. Expect cooking demonstrations, chef competitions, three entertainment stages, art exhibits and a Kids Korner. A Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 Event for 2015.

Alpharetta Summer Brew Moon Fest – June 6; Gather your friends and celebrate summer with beer, wine and delicious food from some of Alpharetta’s best restaurants.

Craft Beer Festival & 5k Road Race – June 20; Run the 5K and then stick around for the party. Over 100 beer vendors from around the U.S. will set up in Downtown Alpharetta for an awesome street party filled with live music and awesome food.

Farmers Market – Seasonal, April through October; Shop local at the Alpharetta Farmers Market featuring food vendors including produce, grass-fed meats, cheese baked goods and more.

Food Truck Alley – Seasonal, April through October; Feast on the street every Thursday evening at Alpharetta Food Truck Alley. This weekly gathering will have a variety of 6-8 rotating food trucks and music each week. Stroll the streets, eat delicious food, listen to some great music and kick off the weekend a little early.

katieMom-on-the-go and Laurie Rowe Communications PR pro Katie Reeder graduated at the top of her class from the Calhoun Honors College at Clemson University with a degree in Communication Studies. Katie resides in Cumming, Georgia – between the beautiful mountains of North Georgia and the lights and action of nearby Atlanta.

7 Ways to Experience James Brown’s Georgia

James Brown Statue2A hotbed for arts and culture, the colonial city of Augusta, Georgia, has been welcoming guests since 1736 and continues to do so with artistic and historic points of interest and easy accessibility along Interstate 20, just 150 miles southeast of Atlanta. With the release of ‘Get On Up,’ the new major motion picture about the life of world famous soul singer James Brown, now is the perfect time to visit his hometown and delve into the unique cultural climate Augusta has to offer.

Brown was born in South Carolina near the beginning of the Great Depression, but spent most of his youth in Augusta after his parents left him in the care of his Aunt Honey. Although Brown grew up in poverty – performing an array of menial and even back-breaking tasks as a child and young teen picking cotton, shining shoes, dancing for spare change, and washing cars – these struggles did not keep the young, talented performer from reaching stardom. At thirteen, Brown and two friends formed the Cremona Trio and sang for those passing by, and thus began his long musical career setting him up to be known as “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business.”

Walk in James Brown’s footsteps when you visit these Augusta points of interest:

  1. grant_exhibitfront_57611Begin your journey of Brown’s Augusta with the Augusta Museum of History, founded in 1937 and home to the largest historical collection in the Central Savannah River Area, detailing Georgia’s second-oldest and second-largest city’s nearly 300 years of history. The museum houses the first and most comprehensive major exhibition dedicated to The Godfather of Soul. See some of his classic dance moves as you watch his concerts on DVD. Listen to some of his all time hits, and learn about his life, legacy and contribution to music. Highlights of the exhibit include ever-changing costumes and other personal artifacts owned and worn by Brown, family photos, original vinyl albums, and other unique memorabilia.
  2. Before leaving the Museum, step into the Augusta Visitor Center, located inside the lobby of the Augusta Museum of History, and pick up a self-guided walking tour to determine additional points of interest located throughout the city of Augusta.
  3. As you stroll downtown, make sure to stop and have your photo taken with Augusta’s life-sized James Brown Statue using the mounted camera. Your photo will be sent directly to your phone or email! The statue is located between 8th Street and James Brown Boulevard (9th). What a great free souvenir!
  4. imperialBefore leaving Augusta on world tours, Mr. Brown and his band, the Soul Generals, would rehearse at the Imperial Theatre. It is also where he held his toy giveaways to needy children at Christmas. A tradition that still continues today. The Imperial is one of Augusta’s most beautiful theatres and still continues to host music performances along with plays, ballets, comedies and more.
  5. While in town, check the schedule of events at Augusta’s James Brown Arena, where more than 8,000 mourners gathered for a memorial service after Brown’s passing in 2006, including such notable characters as M.C. Hammer, Michael Jackson, and the Reverend Al Sharpton.
  6. Looking for a place to “Get on the Good Foot”? Stop in for a drink and dancing at the Soul Bar. This bar is dedicated to the rhythm and soul of music and its biggest talents. A plethora of James Brown mementos and memorabilia adorn these walls.
  7. All this walking, exploring and dancing may make you tired, so why not eat at one of Mr. Brown’s favorite places? T-Bonz Restaurant, located minutes from the Augusta National Golf Club, offers a James Brown Corner. Ask the owner to whip you up one of the entertainer’s favorite dishes. Mr. Brown loved a good steak and T Bonz’s has one of the best in Augusta.  Or maybe you’re in the mood for seafood? Deshawn’s Seafood, located right over the Savannah River in North Augusta is run by Mr. Brown’s son-in-law and former bodyguard. Sometimes if guests ask the family may share a personal story of two.

Augusta is proud to have played such an important role in the life of a world-renowned musical artist and is thankful Mr. Brown called Augusta his home. There are many spots in Augusta that were special to Mr. Brown, as you visit these spots in Augusta you can walk where he walked and stand where he once stood. Come on Over to August and get a little closer to Augusta’s son.

‘Get On Up: The James Brown Story’ starring Chadwick Boseman, was released to theaters August 1 and is rated PG-13. Check your local theaters for show times, and the movie’s official website for more information.

 

 

12 Budget-Friendly Attractions in Helen, Georgia

Chattahoochee River flowing behind Nora Mill-lr

Chattahoochee River flowing behind Nora Mill [Photo Credit: Alpine Helen-White County CVB]

No matter the age, everyone is a kid at heart when it comes to Helen, White County and the Sautee and Nacoochee areas in North Georgia, about 90 minutes north of Atlanta. And fun here is affordable for any budget.

  1. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride through Helen’s downtown.
  2. Seek out the perfect souvenirs and gifts in the hustle and bustle of Helen’s shopping street while German music adds oom pah pah from outdoor speakers.
  3. Pastries at Hofers German Bakery in downtown Helen

    Pastries at Hofers German Bakery in downtown Helen [Photo Credit: Alpine Helen-White County CVB]

    Pick up sweet treats at the authentic German bakery or candy shop.
  4. Tour the world’s largest Alpine model railroad museum at Charlemagne’s Kingdom.
  5. Watch glass blowing at The Glassblowing Shop.
  6. Paint your own “green theme” child-safe toy at Elfmade Toys.
  7. Follow a round of adventure golf with a scoop or two of ice cream at an old-fashioned parlor.
  8. Continue family time during your mountain getaway in the foothills of the Appalachians by teaching kids about the great outdoors at Unicoi State Park with seasonal programs.
  9. Smithgall Woods State Park  [Photo Credit: 365 Atlanta Family]

    Smithgall Woods State Park
    [Photo Credit: 365 Atlanta Family]

    At Smithgall Woods Conservation Area, where there are more than 5,500 acres of land, learning is fun for the whole family with special events like Kids Day at the Park and Junior Ranger Camp.
  10. Another can’t-miss bonding opportunity? Children and their “big person” can fish in a stocked lake during Youth Fishing Days at Buck Shoals.
  11. Make your way to BabyLand General Hospital and be there when a baby arrives at this Southern-style mansion in Cleveland that sits majestically on a 100-acre spread in the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains. Be sure to check the calendar for a full list of their spectacular seasonal events.
  12. Following a day of kid-friendly fun, share a meal and memories at multi-generation-pleasing Mully’s Nacoochee Grill, Nacoochee Village Tavern & Pizzeria, Old Bavarian Inn Restaurant or Unicoi Restaurant.

When you are ready to hit the hay, Helen has hotels with swimming pools and lodge rooms at Unicoi State Park.

Learn more about Helen, Georgia here.

katieMom-on-the-go and Laurie Rowe Communications PR pro Katie Reeder graduated at the top of her class from the Calhoun Honors College at Clemson University with a degree in Communication Studies. Katie resides in Cumming, Georgia – between the beautiful mountains of North Georgia and the lights and action of nearby Atlanta.