Depending on your favorite pastime and perhaps your taste in music, you might know Athens, Georgia, as the home of the top-ranked University of Georgia Bulldogs, or as the birthplace of incredibly popular bands the B-52s, REM, and The Black Crowes. Even if a a football game or concert may have brought you to this charming Southern town, you’ll discover so many surprising, interesting, and fun things to do in Athens, GA, that you may end up extending your stay. So pack your game day red and black short dresses and jerseys and get ready to explore.
Find cultural treasures at the UGA Campus
If you’re attending a home game to cheer on the ’Dawgs (or even if you’re a fan of one of those “other” teams), make a point to broaden your campus exploration beyond the football stadium. UGA is host to several attractions, including the Georgia Museum of Art and the incredible 313-acre State Botanical Garden of Georgia. Also on campus, the massive Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Library is a great resource for history and genealogy buffs, and the public is welcome to visit. Before you leave, be sure to snap some selfies under the iconic 1800s-era arch between the north campus and downtown and sitting on the bench next to the Bernard B. Ramsey statue in front of Moore College.
Dine with the ’Dawgs in downtown Athens
Although walking just a few steps transitions you from the UGA campus to historic downtown Athens, you never quite leave the UGA spirit behind. As you stroll around, you’ll inevitably discover representations of Uga, the school’s English bulldog mascot, around nearly every corner. A 2003 public art project placed 36 creatively customized 4-feet-high Uga statues across the downtown area; they’re kid- and fan-friendly and fun to find and photograph.
Athens is also home to amazing restaurants, bars, and local craft beer breweries. For casual dining, try the hearty Southern dishes such as grits, biscuits, or fried green tomatoes at The Last Resort Grill or Mama’s Boy, or enjoy a fancy date night at The National. No matter where you dine, you’ll find friendly folks, filling food, and authentic Athens ambiance.
Roam if you want to
Even more activities await you beyond the downtown limits. Athens is nestled in the foothills of the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains and offers tons of outdoor adventure for families, groups, couples, or solo visitors. Visit Georgia’s native wildlife up-close at Memorial Park and Bear Hollow Zoo, or kayak down the Middle Oconee with Big Dogs on the River. You can also cool off from a traditionally muggy day down South at the splash pad at 113-acre Trail Creek Park or dip your toe into Lake Chapman at Sandy Creek Park.
Athens boasts an active music scene, especially with the 60+ bands the town has produced over the years, including the Drive-By Truckers and Widespread Panic. Check out that Athens sound at intriguing venues such as The Foundry or the 40 Watt Club. If your musical tastes are more refined, attend a symphony at the Classic Center Theatre. Because Athens was established in 1806, 21 years after the university was chartered, the area is rich in historic house museums and attractions. Be sure to drop by the Athens Welcome Center to see what tours are available — you might even find a few of the “haunted” variety.
So you thought you were only coming to Athens for game day? Think about extending your stay at least a day to take in as much of the fascinating Athens culture as possible. Athens may be a college town, but you’ll find so much more to enjoy within and beyond the UGA campus. You won’t be disappointed.
Feature photo by the Georgiaclub.com
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