Albany, Georgia will surprise you. It’s a four-way intersection of southern antebellum charm, outdoor adventure, the civil rights movement, and multiple museum-style attractions.
1. The Blue Hole
One of Georgia’s Seven Natural Wonders, Radium Springs Gardens pumps 70,000 gallons per minute of crystal blue water from an underground cave, known as “the Blue Hole.”
There are ruins of a courtyard where the former Radium Springs Casino once stood, surrounded by indigenous flora. Recent restorations include a new terrace, boardwalks, and gazebos.
Riverfront Greenway Trail is a 2.4-mile path that hugs the bank of the Flint River from Riverfront Park to Cox Landing and includes scenic overlooks along the riverfront. The paved trail is popular for walking, jogging, and biking. Tourists can rent a bike at the Albany Welcome Center near the trail. The trail system is also part of their Snickers Marathon that takes place every March.
3. Ray Charles Memorial
Honoring the legendary blues singer who was born in Albany, the city constructed an artistic plaza that you won’t want to miss. At the center is a fountain and sculpture of Charles playing the piano, with his music wafting out into the surrounding park. The park benches and paths are also coordinated to look like piano keys.
4. Kayak the Flint
Kayaking is a great way to enjoy the beautiful Georgia weather as well as explore the mighty Flint River. The paddle route can take from one to three hours, depending on current, and whether or not your friends leave you for dead (sort of).
5. Pretoria Field Brewery
As part of the efforts to revitalize downtown Albany, the brewery has a newly renovated, prime location. Visitors can take a tour to see the process, as well as sample Pretoria Field’s craft beers. Pretoria Field Brewery takes pride in their collective of brewers and farmers working together to produce slow beer on the Georgia soil.
6. Flint RiverQuarium
The Flint RiverQuarium is fun for all ages. Do you know those adults who’ll do childish things to get a photo op? Like crawl on all fours into the children’s tubes because that’s where the cool stuff is? Yeah, I’m THAT girl. Kids (the real kind) will love the interactive exhibits and face-to-face encounters with the creatures and fish native to South Georgia.
7. Museum of Art
The museum houses a growing collection, including an impressive collection of 19th and 20th Century American, European, and traditional African art. The Albany Museum of Art supports the theory that art is vital to the human experience and has a passion to nurture curiosity for the many forms of artistic expression.
8. Tift Park Market
Located in the Albany’s oldest park of the same name, the Tift Park Market – named after Nelson Tift, the founder of Albany – is open every Saturday, with vendors offering fresh locally-grown produce, handicrafts, and live entertainment. The park is relaxing, family-oriented, and pet-friendly.
I’m not a fan of animals in captivity, but Chehaw is no zoo. Covering an expanse of over 700 acres, the park was designed by naturalist Jim Fowler of television’s Wild Kingdom. Chehaw’s mission is education, conservation, and preservation of animals in the wild, especially vanishing species. The property also encompasses a BMX track, mountain bike trails, 18-hole disc golf course, camping, and hiking.
10. Civil Rights Institute
Most people don’t realize that the Civil Rights Movement actually started in Albany. The Civil Rights Institute is a museum dedicated to telling the personal, tragic stories of residents who gave so much to effect much-needed change. Be prepared….the curated stories, photos, and exhibits will make your soul hurt.
11. Freedom Singers
No doubt, the Civil Rights Institute is a heavy, heart-breaking experience. So directly following a visit through the exhibits, walk next door to Old Mount Zion church where the Freedom Singers (on certain days) will lift your spirits with their hopeful, inspiring message and beautiful voices.
Albany is a foodie’s paradise! For breakfast, head to retro Pearley’s and try the biscuits smothered with bacon gravy or other traditional southern favorites. For lunch, Harvest Moon is known for the pizza, which is very good, but the chicken nachos are to-die-for. For lunch with an abundance of atmosphere, go to The Bread House. Casual dinner at Blackbeard’s will get you either BBQ or fried seafood. The Catch is Albany’s upscale seafood restaurant – try the savory oyster appetizers.
13. Thronateeska Heritage Center
Thronateeska‘s campus includes a history museum, science museum, rail car display, and a planetarium. The goal is to inspire wonder and stimulate exploration of science and history by providing a dynamic learning experience through an interactive science center and museum. As for me, I had a blast becoming a meteorologist. I know, I know, don’t quit my day job!
14. Merry Acres
The front porch of the boutique, retro hotel is the place to go for a relaxing cocktail before dinner with friends.
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Disclosure: The author was honored to be the guest of Visit Albany GA during her stay in Albany, but as always, the opinions, reviews, and experiences are her own.