Carefree time with a child is one of life’s great joys. McKenzie and I have been spending afternoons together for the past 10 years. Our criteria are simple enough: we have to both enjoy ourselves, it has to be convenient and it has to be free or cheap. Here are some reviews of our favorite places to go.
Parks and Play:
“Ed Rice” Park aka Creighton Park
North Augusta, SC
Adjacent to the Living History Park. www.colonialtimes.us
Ed Rice, prominent painter, has his studio on Lucerne, overlooking the park, and my kids and I would stop to say “Hi” to him, so the kids began calling the park in his honor. It seems apt.
MA: I love this park. There is a big playground there with lots of different things to do, and swings. And a tire swing. And picnic tables. When we were there alone, I used to imagine that the gym was a house. Sometimes I go there with my Dad and our dogs, too. I also love the Living History Park. There isall kinds of stuff to do there. The festivals are lots of fun.
Between Broad and Reynolds Streets, west of 8th Street
A wide-open green space, with lots of benches. An attractive and informational monument to city founder, James Oglethorpe sits in the middle. James Brown’s statue stands at the head of the park.
MA: A Running Park. I play soccer and Frisbee there with my Uncle Isaac. And, afterword, we go to the Sprint Market for a drink! Also, I like to sit and read there sometimes.
Riverfront Play Area
At the river, next to the Marina, behind St. Paul’s Church, 6th Street
MA: You can enjoy the river while you play on lots of playground equipment. And there are big stairs there to run up and down.
RB: I sit and watch the river run. (“And we have just begun, watching the river run . . .”)
North Augusta Riverfront Park
West of Georgia Avenue, south of Municipal Bldg.
A great unspoiled area, with assorted ponds. Good for running, playing with pets, or a contemplative time.
823 Telfair Street
The library is very kid-friendly, with half of the first floor devoted to the Children’s Department. There are additional rooms for movies and other presentations, and the library keeps a full schedule.
MA: It’s huge! Books and DVDs. Almost everything you could want to check out. But, my favorite thing is the bookstore at the front. They sell used books cheap.
RB: The store is run on a volunteer basis by Friends of the Library. It is well-organized and has a full array of topics, including a glass case of books by local authors.
Appleby Branch Library
2260 Walton Way
The Appleby is a smaller scale, extremely humane place. They have story hours, too. The building is a Greek Revival sample, built in 1830, and one can’t help but feel at home in this place.
MA: I love the Appleby. There’s a room just for kids, and you can even play in there.
RB: I used to take my kids every week, so there is a bittersweetness to every visit.
Educational and Cultural:
Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art
506 Telfair Street
Art classes for all ages. Fresh shows of regional artists in main gallery.
Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History
1116 Phillips St.
A small museum, with poignant displays of a pioneer educator and the noble perseverance of an oppressed people.
Morris Museum of Art
1 Tenth Street
A nice collection, focused on artists with a connection to the South. Free admission on Sundays.
Richmond County Historical Museum
560 Reynolds Street
A long-standing institution, with a growing professionalism concerning content and display.
Woodrow Wilson Boyhood Home
419 Seventh Street
One can get a lot of bang for thirty minutes of time. Not only Wilson’s home – but the offices of Historic Augusta are located next door, in the boyhood home of Joseph Lamar, a former justice of the Supreme Court. As children Wilson and Lamar played together
Spending quality time with your child will yield fruit for generations. When choosing what to do, that is a decision for each individual. Our experience is that in staying “close to home”, and thinking locally, we begin to weave the future of our community’s quilt. That we choose affordable, non-ceremonial, and individualistic options makes the whole experience more personal and more intimate. In the end, it is not what one chooses, so much as it is choosing to do it with mindfulness.