Top Things To Do And See Around Athens, GA

Photo of Christina Graves
9 February 2017

A quaint town located in Northeast Georgia, Athens is a city of college pride, artsy venues, good beer, and some great music. Around 35,000 college students roam the city and sit studying in the campus buildings during the weekdays, and the city has been customized to the college student’s expectations and ideals. There’s local breweries, plenty of bars, good places to eat, and some great entertainment.

Creature Comforts Brewery Tour, Athens | © Chandler Thompson/Flickr

Take a brewery tour

Athens is known for its local vibe and independent scene, and their breweries are no exception. Creature Comforts is a brewery that just opened its doors around two years ago. Taking the place of Snow Tire Co., the atmosphere is very breathable and best enjoyed with good friends. Terrapin is another classic Athens favorite for college students and visiting tourists. A few minutes drive from downtown, they host live music and brewery tours throughout the week. Make sure to check the opening times beforehand. Both places are only open during select hours, but it is a great way to experience some quality beer during your visit.

Downtown Athens I | © RichardChambers/WikiCommons

Stroll around downtown Athens

An unavoidable attraction spot, downtown Athens hosts a variety of local shops and restaurants that will provide hours of entertainment and a superb meal, regardless of your taste preference. Toward the northern end near Prince Avenue, many places can be found that feature more of an ‘indie’ sort of atmosphere such as Little Kings Shuffle Club, a great bar for the hipster crowd and some live music every now and then, and The Grit, a delicious vegetarian restaurant with a local diner vibe. The south end of downtown features a variety of stores and boutiques, wonderful restaurants, and a beautiful part of the college campus where you can bring a blanket and spend a sunny day outside. Regardless of the area, college students can be found throughout and certainly downtown is one of the best social spots to hang with friends or catch up on some studying. During Friday and Saturday nights, the bars along Clayton and Washington always tend to be filled with an enthusiastic crowd.

Clayton Street to North Avenue, Athens, GA

Get tickets to a UGA football game

Around Athens, it’s impossible to avoid the football spirit. This is a true college town with red and black implanted in every corner. If you’ve ever wanted to experience a true tailgate, this is the place to do it. During game days, the town is crowded with visitors from all around the area who stock up on beer and burgers to cheer their team on and arrive hours before to enjoy the day and anticipate the game. If you’d really like to see the campus life, take a ride down Milledge Avenue where all the fraternities and sororities are sure to be in high spirits and boasting the colors of red, white, and black.

Sanford Stadium, The University of Georgia, 100 Sanford Dr, Athens, GA 30602, United States
+1 706-542-9036

Stroll through the State Botanical Garden of Georgia

Botanical Garden
A little sanctuary outside of all the hustle and bustle, the State Botanical Garden of Georgia features a variety of trails that wind around the Oconee River, a peaceful river that is also fantastic for a day of kayaking. The gardens themselves are great to walk through, and have a café on the grounds where visitors can grab a delicious iced chai or a snack for the way. Make sure to grab a pair of good shoes for their Tropical Conservatory, Native Flora, International, Heritage, and Flower gardens. It should also be mentioned that there is no entrance cost to the gardens, but donations are always welcomed.

Visit the Georgia Museum of Art

The Georgia Museum of Art is an often overlooked jewel in the town. Featuring rotational exhibitions and beautiful galleries, visitors can stroll through the museum with minimal pedestrian traffic around them. This is a great idea for a calm Sunday morning, and would be perfectly accompanied by a local brunch and a trip around the corner to the Lamar Dodd School of Art for some original student artwork.

90 Carlton St, Athens, GA 30602, United States +1 706-542-4662

Visit the Tree that Owns Itself

Where else do you know that offers a tree with its own rights? Unbeknownst to many unassuming passers by, this magnificent white oak – named Jackson Oak – is actually a descendant of the former Tree that Owns Itself. First recorded in 1890 in the Athens Weekly Banner, it was told that Colonel William Jackson held the original tree to such high regards that he designated in his will that it shall be the sole owner of itself as well as all land within eight feet of where it stands. When that grand tree sadly fell in 1942, a new one was planted from one of its acorns, marking the age of The Son of the Tree That Owns Itself. The tree is surrounded by a heavy iron chain fence and an old stone plaque, marking it as special. One of Athens’s more unusual local landmarks, the tree has even appeared in a number of national publications.

S Finley St, Athens, GA 30605, United States

Catch a music performance

Athens is a popular destination for touring music groups as well as a local hub for many talented artists. Just looking through the calendar for artists coming to Athens will surely provide some great dates to visit the town. Some of the bigger music venues are the Georgia Theatre, 40 Watt, and The Classic Center, but don’t let these hold the limit of musical outings. The local music joints definitely have the low key vibes and artsy atmosphere that would please any music enthusiast.

Cine in Athens, GA | © David Noah/Flickr

See a movie at Ciné

Located around West Hancock Avenue, Ciné is a small art theater that shows a variety of films for movie lovers with an alternative vibe. Converted from an old Snow Tire Recap Plant, the building has kept many of the original features (after renovation) including the historic tin roof. Not only does it show a variety of foreign, independent, and local films, but it also offers a full bar and some pretty nice snacks to curb the hunger. Popcorn is reasonably priced and not smothered in butter, and tickets offer student and matinee pricing to cut down on the cost. This is a great local venue to be around some good people with a passion for films and local vibes.
234 W Hancock Ave, Athens, GA 30601 +1 706 353 3343

Watch a performance at the UGA Performing Arts Center

The UGA Performing Arts Center is an incredible resource to the campus. Located right around the Lamar Dodd School of Art and Hugh Hodgson School of Music, many great performers come to play here. Generally a classical group performance, students are granted discounted tickets to many shows, but they are also reasonably priced to the public as well. Performers come from all over the world, always with exceptional talent and a wonderful repertoire.

230 River Road, Athens, GA 30605 +1 706 542 4400

Visit an historic cemetery

Perhaps this is an odd trip to make if you’re visiting a college town, but the city has some beautiful, historic cemeteries. One in particular is the Oconee Hill Cemetery which is located just across from campus if you fancy exploring the college area as well. The plots are designed in a very Victorian fashion with iron fencing and beautiful stonework. The Cemetery dates back to the mid-1800’s, and is best accessed by car, although you may have to walk through some parts. So for a sunny day or a spooky evening, take a stroll around this beautiful spot in Athens.

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