There is a good reason that folks have been making a home in Macon, Georgia for a long time – in the neighborhood of 17,000 years - but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

            Located south of Atlanta in quite literally the center of the Peach State, Macon is, as the locals will tell you “Where the soul is.” Whether that means Otis Redding getting us to “Try a Little Tenderness”, or the famous H&H Café serving up the best soul food you are likely to find anywhere, soul is just where Macon is getting started.

Often called a city within a park, Macon is a surrounded by, and crisscrossed with, greenspaces and getaways to outdoor activities from water sports and hiking trails. Then again, it’s always been this way: The Ocmulgee National Park has been inhabited by humans for some 17,000 years. At the park’s Earth Lodge, check out the original flooring dating back to 1015 AD.

            If you are interested in Macon’s newer neighborhoods, drop in on Hay House. Built in the 1850’s by the keeper of the Confederate treasury William Butler Johnston, this 18,000-square foot Italian Renaissance masterpiece was featured in A&E’s American Palaces. Hay House is considered to be one of the most advanced antebellum houses in the country for its style and technical innovation. Other period attraction include the beautifully restored Cannonball House and Museum, aptly named after being the one house in Macon to get hit during Stoneman’s raid on the town.

            That, however, is ancient history. In the 1970’s, Capricorn Records put Macon on the map with a different sound – and became the epicenter of the Southern Rock scene for a decade, producing records for The Allman Brothers Band, The Marshall Tucker Band, Delbert McClinton and Wet Willie, to name a few. Now those iconic offices are being repurposed into lofts as part of the revitalized downtown scene – along with partnering with local Mercer University to create a music incubator.

With a booming downtown, you can find brewpubs, restaurants and hotels. Southern Comfort soul food – have a plate of fried chicken at The Bear’s Den. The Rookery is a local landmark that serves up burgers and milkshakes. Above it, you’ll find Dovetail – a farm to table Southern dining concept. Like the food, Dovetail’s gorgeous bar, feels both refined and carved out of the local environment at the same time, and serves a beautiful selection of fine whiskies, and wines. If you want to take your spirits, and appetite, further afield, try the Continental and French influences at Brasserie Circa.

That’s a lot to sing about – and with a festival for every season, that’s a lot of people to sing with.