Making music and memories in Macon.
Located in the heart of Georgia, Macon has often been a stopover for me when traveling south to Florida. But until recently, I never actually experienced the city, which feels more like a small town. Despite the hour and a half drive from Buckhead, the pace is considerably slower in this charming place.
In the spring when I visited cherry blossoms brightened the city and its many historic homes. With an idyllic setting, it’s no surprise that Macon has been a source of inspiration for poet laureate Sidney Lanier and musicians such as Otis Redding and Little Richard.
My parents grew up listening to the Southern rock bands that launched their careers from this town, so I booked a spot on Rock Candy Tours and brought them with me. The music-themed walking and bus tours are run by husband-and-wife team Jessica Walden and Jamie Weatherford. Walden is the daughter of Alan Walden, co-founder of Capricorn Records in Macon, where rock artists such as The Allman Brothers recorded their albums, while Weatherford’s family has a candy manufacturing business.
Rock Candy drove us to the cemetery where members of The Allman Brothers Band are buried and the Macon City Auditorium, one of the many music venues and where Redding’s funeral was held.
Another essential stop is Capricorn Records’ headquarters. Long boarded up since the business closed in 2002, it reopened in 2019 and again welcomes musicians to perform and record there thanks to a partnership with Mercer University. Check out its small museum with artifacts such as a fundraising poster for Jimmy Carter’s presidential run, hosted by Capricorn, and photos of its roster of artists.
For more music fun, visitors can see musicians perform every weekend at venues such as Grant’s Lounge, which hosted Lynyrd Skynyrd and the like back in the day, and Society Garden, an outdoor bar and music venue in the Ingleside neighborhood.
The Allman Brothers Band’s legacy also can be found at Macon’s eateries. Head to H&H Restaurant for soul food, which at one time fed starving artists and now is decorated with posters and pictures from Southern rock groups. The fried chicken biscuit is the ideal fuel for a day of exploring.
Continue your musical food tour at Downtown Grill, an intimate steakhouse formerly known as Le Bistro. It was here that Cher and Gregg Allman were engaged in one of its cozy booths. The restaurant is known for its steaks, pasta dishes and fried green tomatoes.
If you’d prefer a casual meal, Ocmulgee Brewpub serves juicy burgers and beer made in-house. Get your burger as I did, topped with a fried green tomato and with a side of hand-cut fries. After a full day of touring, I spent my night in Macon at the 1842 Inn, a historic bed and breakfast. The Greek Revival home was a private residence before becoming an inn.
After a breakfast of grits and eggs, I took a look at the “wall of fame” of past celebrity guests such as actors Barbara Eden and Jack Mc- Brayer, as well as Oprah Winfrey.
Before heading home, I woke up early to take a walk around the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park. Recently redesignated, the park traces the Native American tribes of Georgia back 17,000 years and hosts seasonal lantern tours, the Ocmulgee Indian Celebration and archaeology digs centered around the ceremonial earthen mounds made of Georgia red clay.
Navigating the miles of trails and climbing the stairs to the top of the mounds, I had the place nearly to myself. The only reminder that I wasn’t alone was the sound of a train’s horn as it cut through the park, signaling that it was time for me to go.
IF YOU GO
Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park
Rock Candy Tours
2389 Ingleside Avenue
STORY: Caroline Eubanks
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