Bring Home the Macon: A Weekend in Georgia Posted by: Dan | 0 Comments
If you’re looking for a weekend of gourmet grub, quality nightlife and sightseeing in an historic, walkable downtown, look no further than Macon, Georgia. Here’s everything to see and do during a weekend in town.
4 p.m.: It’s been a long day of traveling, but you arrive at the 1842 Inn exhausted and ready for rest. Luckily you booked the Mercer Room — it’s not the secluded one in the separate Victorian Cottage on the rear of the property that Oprah chose to stay in — but this one does have a large whirlpool tub and king-sized bed. It’s cocktail hour and you choose to relax with one of the 1842’s signature cocktails: the Mint Julep.
It’s not long before you decide to grab an early dinner, and while the staff of the 1842 Inn have offered to call a taxi, you decide to walk. After all it’s a nice day and an easy path downtown.
You decide to stroll down College Street and cross over to Georgia Avenue, passing many antebellum estates on the downhill walk towards downtown Macon. Georgia Avenue merges in to Mulberry Street, and after walking a few minutes you cross over an empty parking lot where the building that held the restaurant of Anjette Lyles once stood.
Anjette Lyles is Georgia’s most famous murderess. Read more about her in the book “Whisper To The Black Candle” — she murdered two husbands, a mother-in-law and one of her daughters before being sentenced to death. However the restaurant she once owned suffered from fire damage and was worn down afterwards. Now you can walk across that parking lot to the restaurant downtown grill. Here you partake of grit fritters and steaks while enjoying Macon’s only cigar friendly location. This restaurant, which is still a favorite of Greg Allman when he comes to town, was also once the location of Le Bistro, a restaurant opened in 1974 by Frank Fenter. Fenter was the co-founder of Capricorn Records (more about that later) and wanted a restaurant to cater to the musicians they would be working with. This would also result in bringing chef Paul Harpin to Macon, who up until then had been the personal chef to Mick Jagger. Harpin is still a restaurateur in Macon.
You make your way to The Rookery to join the Free Birds and Night Owls version of Rock Candy Tours. Rock Candy is owned and operated by Jessica Walden and her husband Jamie Weatherford. It is appropriately named for both of their family businesses: he a third generation candy maker and she the daughter of Alan Walden- one of the founders of Capricorn Records. One gets to hear first hand stories on this tour of Macon’s unbelievable music history which includes legends such as Otis Redding, Etta James, and Little Richard. The tour winds itself around downtown before ending at Grant’s Lounge. Another bonus? Friday nights allow for open containers downtown, so you can bring an adult beverage with you if you are of age.
Catch one of the many bands that is emerging in the area in places like The Hummingbird Stage and Taproom, Roasted Cafe or The Crazy Bull. Local acts include the band JuBee and the Morning After, Floco Torres, and some repeat visitors include Drive By Truckers, The Whiskey Gentry, Megan Jean and the KFB and Thomas Wynn and the Believers. Alabama Shakes even opened for Drive By Truckers in Macon prior to their Grammy fame.
Go ahead and get to bed early, cause Saturday is going to be a long day.
Start your day early with H&H opening at 6:30 a.m. — H&H is famous for its owners Mama Louise Hudson and Mama Inez Hill having fed starving artists: The Allman Brothers. Here you will find good ol’ soul food creations. Or if soul food and good ole fashioned breakfast isn’t your fare, pop in to Lemongrass for their French styled brunch.
Be sure to visit the historic architecture of Macon with stops at the Sidney Lanier Cottage, home to Historic Macon and the birthplace of Macon’s own famous poet and musician Sidney Lanier, as well as The Hay House- also known as Macon’s “Palace of the South” with it’s Italian Renaissance style architecture. This 18,000 square foot mansion boasted technological advances which placed it ahead of many other structures built in the 18th century such as hot and cold running water, intercom systems and an elaborate ventilation system. Original owner William Butler Johnston was obsessed with symmetry and it is reflected in many parts of this home.
For lunch, find your way over to the campus of Mercer University, which is celebrating 50 years of desegregation. Mercer is a private Christian college, and so was not mandated to desegregate at that time but chose to do so. Mercer is also home to Georgia’ oldest law school, on a separate campus, as well as the Center for Collaborative Journalism, which was heralded by the New York Times as “ one of the nations boldest journalism experiments.” Next to Mercer’s campus is Mercer Village, be sure to grab an early lunch at Fountain of Juice — which quickly fills up during the lunch rush. FOJ , as locals call it, serves only organic and natural foods and is known for being fresh, tasty and friendly.
If it’s still football season be sure to catch a game at Mercer’s campus, heralding its first football season in 70 years.
After the game, be sure head back to downtown Macon for a little shopping. You can find used books at Golden Bough Bookstore and fashions at any of the boutiques such as Love Jones Couture, The Pink Chief and more. Pop in for a quick pick me up at one of two coffee shops: Roasted or Taste and See Coffee Shop.
At this juncture you will want to head back to your room at the 1842 Inn, which also lies next door to The Massee, an apartment building designed by Neel Reid. Take a quick cat nap then get gussied up for a night on the town, stopping off first at Tic Toc Room for one of their signature cocktails and an appetizer. Their list of martinis will leave you dazzled but understanding why The New York Times referred to Tic Toc as “Manhattan Meets Macon.” Tic Toc Room was once Anne’s Tic Toc and was where Little Richard would get his musical start.
Then catch a show at Theatre Macon, which has a stunning Youth Actors Company having once performed Les Miserables. Two of the actors in that show were the brothers J.P. and F. Michael Haynie. If you look up the brothers now they are each working actors in New York City, J.P. having a role in Men In Black III and F. Michael having roles in Broadway shows such as Wicked. Another Y.A.C. alum in Grey Henson, currently touring with The Book of Mormon.
Afterwards, grab dinner at Macon’s own farm to table restaurant Dovetail. The menu changes seasonally and will keep your taste buds entertained. Bartender Laney can make any creation you can think of – just tell her what you are in the mood for and she can create it. After dinner, hang out at Dovetail for their late night movie or even check out more music, there is always something going on just around the corner.
Or if dancing and nightclubs are your scene walk back down the alley way to Cherry Street where you will find an array of nightlife with The Wall, Bottoms Up, Envy and The Hummingbird, where again you can many times catch up and coming bands before they hit it big. Or check out Grant’s Lounge on Poplar, just another short walk away. Grant’s Lounge features their Wall of Fame with pictures of many Southern Rock acts like The Allman Brothers, Wet Willie and more.
Be sure to sink in to your pillows at 1842, and then next day – if you are feeling up to it — check out one of the many churches available for service in downtown.
Whether you make it to church or not, head back over to Cherry street for brunch. The Rookery features their 100 Biscuit Brunch, with only 100 biscuits made with creations like a catfish biscuit. Or stop off at Dovetail again. Laney has created a signature horseradish vodka AND BACON vodka for their custom Bloody Marys.
You are sure to leave Macon with your stomach full, your mind dazzled and your heart yearning to return. The legend states that anyone born here was cursed by the Indians who once lived by the Ocmulgee River to always be destined to return. However, we like to think everyone who visits is blessed to return.
Molly McWilliams Wilkins has years of experience in the Macon, Georgia area as a sales and marketing professional, as well as more than 10 years of experience in freelance editorials and copywriting. Find her at Make It Work Molly or follow her on twitter @MakeItWorkMolly.
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