Every spring, the world's sports spotlight falls on Augusta during the Masters tournament. But even if you don't know a putt from a par, you can still enjoy the town's charms

Rooster's Beak
Brothers Jonathan (left) and Philip Marks of Rooster's Beak
| Credit: Art Meripol

April brings extra energy to Augusta, Georgia, as golfers and fans from all over the world flock here for the storied Masters Tournament. But the charming city on the banks of the Savannah River is pretty lively anytime of year, thanks to a downtown scene filled with unique shops, attractions, and restaurants. Here's how to make the most of your visit.

Where to Eat in Augusta
Rooster's Beak: Eclectic is the name of the game at this downtown gourmet taqueria. House-made enchiladas ($14) change on a weekly basis, depending on which ingredients chef Jonathan Marks, his brother and general manager Philip, and their crew choose to stuff between two corn tortillas. It just might be braised short ribs with fried shallots, mushrooms, and a white bean enchilada sauce. 215 10th Street; feedyourbeak.com or 706/364-2260

La Maison on Telfair and Veritas: When owner Heinz Sowinski bought the business in 1992, he transformed the menu to reflect his love for French-based cuisine and game such as kangaroo and ostrich. The ostrich is prepared both as a steak and a carpaccio (smoked, sliced thin, and adorned with truffle oil, lemon, and arugula; $12.50). 404 Telfair Street; lamaisontelfair.com or 706/722-4805

What to Do in Augusta
Shop by the Decade: Vintage Ooollee owner Caren "Ooollee" Dorn Bricker's selection of jewelry, clothing, and accessories spans from the 1880s through the 1980s. Each piece is labeled by decade on the tag, and Caren likes to pass along the stories of the items to their buyers. 1121 Broad Street; facebook.com/vintageooollee or 706/724-2591

Learn About the Legends: Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, the Augusta Museum of history features exhibits of the city's medical, military, and business pasts. Its most popular exhibits highlight two Augusta originals—the Masters tournament and singer James Brown. "Celebrating a Grand tradition, the Sport of Golf" traces history on the links as well as Augusta's contributions to the game. (Who knew that 80% of the world's golf carts are made here?) "The Godfather of Soul, Mr. James Brown" features many of the entertainer's personal belongings. 560 Reynolds Street; augustamuseum.org or 706/722-8454

Go Dancing: Named for the Godfather of Soul, the Soul Bar is an intimate venue frequented by local musicians. A few blocks down, the larger Sky City music hall can accommodate up to 500. The Soul Bar, 984 Broad Street; soulbar.com or 706/724-8880, and Sky City, 1157 Broad Street; skycityaugusta.com

Where to Stay in Augusta
The Partridge Inn: This century-old hotel (from $119/night) serves the best Sunday brunch in town. 2110 Walton Way; partridgeinn.com