Augusta, Georgia, site of the Masters Golf Tournament, is not an easy destination to reach by Amtrak train service. Located 75 miles southwest of Columbia, South Carolina, 145 miles southeast of Atlanta via Interstate 20 and 130 miles northwest of Savannah via state highways, Augusta embodies the expression “southern charm” without succumbing to nostalgia for the past. The railroad first came to Augusta in the 1830s, when a line was completed along the Savannah River from Charleston, South Carolina. It left in 1983, when the Georgia Railroad ceased operations. Train tickets can be bought from varying locations including Philadelphia, Washington D.C., New York City, or Tampa, Florida with travel times varying based off route and line.

Trains to Columbia, South Carolina

Silver Star trains connecting Boston and Miami serve Columbia, South Carolina’s train station 80 miles northeast of Augusta. While it’s the closest station to Augusta, southbound trains arrive a little after 1 a.m., and northbound trains arrive around 4 a.m., inconvenient times to rent a car or get a hotel room. The railway station, within walking distance of the University of South Carolina campus about three miles from downtown, was built in 1991. Car rental agencies and hotels are nearby.

The first Greyhound/Southeastern Stages bus that train travelers can catch to Augusta leaves at 8 a.m. and arrives at 9:25 a.m. You’ll need to catch a cab or do some ride-hailing for the 6-mile trip to the bus station.

Trains to Atlanta

Amtrak’s Crescent line stops in Toccoa, Gainesville and Atlanta daily as it makes its way from New York to New Orleans. Trains traveling to Atlanta from the north arrive around 8 a.m., giving you time to rent a car and get to Augusta before noon. Northbound trains arrive at about 7:30 p.m., making an overnight stay in Atlanta a reasonable option. The long-distance trains have Viewliner sleeping cars, coach and business accommodations, dining cars and Wi-Fi.

The station is located on Peachtree Street in Atlanta’s Brookwood Hills neighborhood, not far from Buckhead and Midtown. City buses stop at the station and connect with rapid transit. If you plan to rent a car for the drive to Augusta, grab a taxi, Uber or Lyft to one of the car rental agencies south and west of the station. Greyhound and Southeastern Stages operate bus service between Atlanta and Augusta, but you’ll need to get from the Amtrak station to the bus station by taxi or public transportation.

If you’re traveling to ATL for the Masters, consider reserving a limousine and arriving in style.

Amtrak to Savannah

Amtrak routes for Silver Service trains, the Silver Meteor and Star, as well as Palmetto trains, stop in Savannah daily. Silver Service trains operate between Boston and Miami, and southbound trains arrive early in the morning. Northbound trains arrive around 7:30 p.m. and again very early in the morning. Palmetto trains arrive in the evening.

No matter which rail service you take, you’ll find yourself at the train station about 4 miles from downtown Savannah. Public transportation is limited, so if you’ve decided to spend the night in Savannah before heading to Augusta, you’ll need to hail a cab or call a ride-hailing service like Lyft or Uber.

While the bus ride from Atlanta to Augusta is only a few hours long, the ride from Savannah to Augusta by Greyhound takes almost eight hours, and you have few schedule options. Your best bet is to rent a car at one of the agencies downtown or at the airport. Fewer limousine companies operate in Savannah than in Atlanta, but they may be willing to negotiate a price for the ride to Augusta.

Attractions in Augusta

The Masters Golf Tournament, arguably Augusta’s most significant attraction, draws thousands to the city during the first full week in April. Tickets to the main event are difficult to come by, but there are plenty of golf-related things to do that don’t require months of advance planning. Visit a museum exhibit on the history of golf, grab a pimiento cheese sandwich, or belly up to a bar with locals to watch the tournament on big-screen TV. Make your hotel reservations early.

Stroll the banks of Augusta’s Savannah River on the Riverwalk, site of live concerts, kids play areas and a summertime market with local produce and craftsmen wares. The Morris Museum of Art celebration of Southern culture anchors one end of the Riverwalk. At the other end, the Augusta Museum of History has an eclectic collection that includes a restored locomotive and golf-related exhibitions.

Head outdoors to kayak or canoe the river, hike the Augusta Canal Heritage Area or mountain bike the Forks Area Trail System. The Augusta Green Jackets, a San Francisco Giants affiliate, play baseball from April to September.