Blake Walsh

20 Free Things to Do in Macon, GA

  • Published 2023/02/03

The city of Macon is a historic and lively destination in Bibb County, central Georgia.

Situated on the banks of the Ocmulgee River, the area was once home to various Native American tribes.

The city’s origin and development can be traced to Fort Hawkins, an early 19th-century frontier trading post.

Rich in culture, heritage, and natural charm, it offers plenty of leisure activities and places for relaxation throughout the year.

It is home to over 6,000 historical structures and famous names in music history, such as the Allman Brothers, Little Richard, and Ottis Redding.

The city has a strong public art program, stunning architecture, and an energetic, creative community.

Located at the heart of the state, the city’s moderate climate allows one to enjoy beautiful outdoor attractions and nature spots year-round.

Here are some free things to do in Macon, Georgia, to help you make your itinerary.

Visit the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park

Earth lodge entrance at Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park

EWY Media /

Take a glimpse of the past when you visit the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park.

This expansive park spans 700 acres of sites that prehistoric American Indian cultures have occupied for thousands of years.

Take a hike to visit the historical mounds believed to have significantly influenced these prehistoric cultures.

See the Great Temple Mound Complex—the park’s tallest mounds—which served as residences of the village leaders.

The grounds of Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park

EWY Media /

Learn more about Native American culture and history.

You can also explore the trails to enjoy the forest landscape and serene atmosphere.

If you’re visiting in September, check out the annual celebration of Native American culture at the park, featuring traditional crafts, music, and art.

The Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park is located along Emery Highway.

Earthworks at Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park

Joseph Creamer /

Take a Tour of Macon’s Historic Industrial District

Learn about one of the city’s storied districts when you tour its Industrial District.

This self-guided tour will let you take a glimpse back in time as you explore the area once home to Macon’s thriving 19th-century industrial scene.

Among the historic spots on tour are the Macon Grocery Company and the Central City Park Gates.

You can also see the Old City Cemetery, one of the remaining landmarks dating back to the city’s establishment in the 1820s.

You can tour the Industrial District by car or hop on your bike for a more leisurely pace.

Take the Kids to Filmore Thomas Park

Head to Filmore Thomas Park for a fun summer day out with your kids.

This city park has lovely play areas, sports courts, and open spaces for unwinding.

Let the kids enjoy the playground and the splash pad.

Take your spot on a bench and catch up on your book.

There are also trails that you can explore for a relaxing walk.

You can find Filmore Thomas Park along Log Cabin Road.

Join the Mulberry Street Arts & Crafts Festival

Come and experience the festive art celebration at the Mulberry Street Arts & Crafts Festival.

This annual festival is one of the state’s oldest arts and crafts events.

Head to Mulberry St. and check out the artisan booths showcasing locally handcrafted items such as wood pieces, jewelry, and other accessories.

Wander around and see many original artworks, from drawings, sketches, and paintings to photography and ceramic art.

The Mulberry Street Arts & Crafts Festival is a family-friendly event and a great way to experience the liveliness of the city’s creative community.

Enjoy the Beauty of Spring at the International Cherry Blossom Festival

Cherry blossom trees at the International Cherry Blossom Festival

Sean Pavone /

If you’re planning to visit Macon in spring, you’re in for a treat as the International Cherry Blossom Festival showcases the beauty of the season in the city.

This annual springtime celebration started in 1982 and is now one of the longest-running festivals in the city.

Marvel at the magical sight of over 350,000 blooming cherry trees, painting the city in pretty shades of pink.

Marching band at the International Cherry Blossom Festival

Wendy Moore Photography /

Enjoy the festivities as you watch marching bands and floats parade downtown.

The International Cherry Blossom Festival also features various fun events across the city, such as music concerts.

Visit the Little Richard House Resource Center

If you’re a music fan, stop by The Little Richard House Resource Center in Pleasant Hill and learn about one of American rock & roll music’s pioneers.

This historical landmark is the childhood home of influential musician Little Richard, born in Macon in 1932.

Take a tour of the renovated house and learn about the life of one of Macon’s celebrated artists.

See photographs from his career on the walls, telling the story of a musician’s life.

As a resource center, the house also hosts an organization that serves that local community.

The Little Richard House Resource Center is located along Craft St.

See Local Art at the Middle Georgia Art Association Gallery

Spend a day of art appreciation at the Middle Georgia Art Association Gallery.

Established in 1967, this art association promotes the area’s visual arts scene through various exhibits at its gallery.

Visit their gallery and check out their exhibits on photography, painting, and other visual works.

The association also holds and sponsors art events such as festivals, classes, and workshops.

You can find the Middle Georgia Art Association Gallery along Ingleside Avenue.

Enjoy the Holiday Festivities at the Macon Christmas Light Extravaganza

Get a glimpse of the city’s holiday celebrations at the Macon Christmas Light Extravaganza.

Let over 500,000 bright twinkling lights cheer you up and jumpstart your holiday.

Wander with your family across the streets of downtown and watch the mesmerizing illuminations synchronized to awesome music.

You can also catch a concert featuring local talents and enjoy the festive downtown atmosphere.

Apart from nightly light shows, the Macon Christmas Light Extravaganza also features other holiday events, such as carriage rides and appearances of Santa and his reindeer!

Explore the Amerson River Park

Ocmulgee river at Amerson River Park

Adam Colick /

Spend a day outdoors at Amerson River Park.

The 180-acre park spans lovely meadows, pristine forests, and wetlands, offering plenty of outdoor recreation.

Reconnect with nature as you explore the park’s seven miles of trails by foot or bike.

Enjoy scenic views of the Ocmulgee Riverup on the bluffs.

Entrance arch of Amerson River Park

Kehli.west, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re visiting with kids, the park has a modern playground that they can enjoy for hours of play.

The park also provides access to launching your canoe or kayak on the Ocmulgee River.

You can find Amerson River Park along North Pierce Drive.

Relax at Carolyn Crayton Park

Spend a relaxing day with family at Carolyn Crayton Park.

This lovely park features open spaces, play areas, a dedicated skatepark, and picnic spots.

Stroll around, enjoy the paved trails, and savor the pleasant atmosphere.

In spring, you can enjoy the mesmerizing sight of cherry blossoms.

It is also a venue for various city events throughout the year.

You can find Carolyn Crayton Park along Willie Smokie Glover Drive.

Explore the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail

Appreciate the city’s history and natural charm when exploring the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail.

Running along the Ocmulgee River, this excellent trail system features over 13 miles of trails that will take you across various recreational and historical spots.

Go on a hike, enjoy the riverfront, and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the surroundings.

You can also explore the trails on a bike and stop by exciting sites.

You can access the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail via several access points on both sides of the Ocmulgee River.

Hike at the Wesleyan Arboretum

Go on a hike at the beautiful Wesleyan Arboretum.

Established in 1996, the 100-acre preserve is both an ecological study area and a recreation spot.

The area is home to diverse plant life and around 150 bird species.

Take a hike along the trails and enjoy the serene hardwood forest and mixed pines.

Spot some interesting and lovely birds on the trees, including migratory species.

The Wesleyan College’s Biology Department manages this nature preserve.

The Wesleyan Arboretum is located along Forsyth Road on campus.

Have a Picnic at Tattnall Square Park

Night view of the beautiful Tattnall Square Park fountain

Stephen Rahn, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Enjoy the green spaces at Tattnall Square Park.

This picturesque park is one of the oldest in the state and country.

Take a morning stroll and breathe some fresh air.

Go for a relaxing picnic brunch with your family.

If you’re coming with your kids, there’s a children’s playground to keep them entertained.

The park also hosts various city events such as movie screenings, farmers’ markets, and festivals.

You can find Tatnall Square Park along Coleman Avenue.

Ride a Bike along the Pig Trail

Go on an exciting biking adventure at Pig Trail.

This 8.4-mile trail has a difficulty level fit for beginner and intermediate riders.

Hop on your bike and enjoy a ride through the ridges.

The trail offers serene views of the creek and tall trees.

The varying features of the trail are also great for practicing biking skills.

You can access the Pig Trail via the trailhead along North Mumford Road.

Visit the McEachern Art Center

If you’re into contemporary art, check out the McEachern Art Center.

Also known as the Mac, this art center under Mercer University is housed in a historic site downtown.

It was opened in 2019 and featured a gallery space showcasing contemporary artworks from various artists.

You can stop by and view their exciting exhibits.

The center also hosts arts and cultural activities such as poetry reading.

The McEachern Art Center is located along 2nd St.

Check Out the Amazing Pottery at Fired Works

If you’re a pottery enthusiast, don’t miss out on Fired Works.

Originally a small local pottery show, this annual event has since become one of the state’s largest pottery events.

This exhibition showcases central Georgia’s rich pottery-making history, which can be traced back to the Native American artisans.

Wander into the exhibit and see beautiful but functional earthenware, porcelain, and stoneware from participating local artists who continue the craft.

The Macon Arts Alliance hosts Fired Works at Carolyn Clayton Park on Willie Smokie Glover Drive.

Explore Downtown Macon

Aerial view of Downtown Macon

Sean Pavone /

Put on some comfortable shoes and head out to explore beautiful downtown Macon.

Take a stroll around while immersing yourself in downtown’s sights and sounds.

Check out the sculptures along sidewalks and get a glimpse of the city’s creative vibe.

Terminal station at Downtown Macon

Doug Nurnberger /

Admire the vibrant murals setting the perfect backdrop for a souvenir photo of your visit.

It is also home to many of the city’s signature events throughout the year, offering plenty of opportunities to enjoy the area.

The road of Downtown Macon

Infrogmation, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Tour the Cotton Avenue District

Step back in time as you explore the historic Cotton Avenue District.

This downward-sloping area served as a channel transporting cotton bales from farms to Macon.

Take a self-guided tour of this once-thriving district and see architecturally essential buildings.

Among the structures you’d encounter on tour are the City Hall, landmark dining spot H&H Restaurant, and the Capricorn Records Office Building.

You can tour the Cotton Avenue District on foot.

Get a Glimpse into History at Griswoldville Battlefield

Take a drive to Griswoldville Battlefield to glimpse an important yet lesser-known battleground in Civil War history.

This 17-acre historic site marks part of the setting of the Battle of Griswoldville that happened in 1864.

The battleground is now a wooded area with a monument.

Check out the historical marker at the site and learn more about its history.

You can reach Griswoldville Battlefield via U.S. 80.

Final Thoughts

If you’re planning to spend your vacation in Georgia, don’t miss out on exploring what Macon has in store.

This destination city has lovely parks, and nature spots rich in arts, heritage, and culture and offers some of the state’s best leisure and recreation activities.

Check out some of these free things to do in Macon, Georgia!

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