An Alum’s Guide to Athens, Georgia
Posted 2.1.2021 in Travel Guides
Nestled in the foothills of Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, you will find the bustling college town of Athens GA. Home to the University of Georgia, the country’s first land charter university, Athens is bursting at the seams with history, culture, and good times. Located just a little over an hour outside of Altana, Athens offers a full list of attractions for those looking to get out of the city and experience the true Southern charm of a small college town.
The University of Georgia
Located in the heart of Athens, UGA offers many of Athens’ most notable attractions. UGA is one of the top-ranked universities in the Southeast and is home to the Georgia Bulldogs! UGA competes in all Division 1 sports in the SEC and Athens is never more alive than when the Bulldogs are playing in Sanford Stadium.
Below is a list of some must-see places on campus, many of which you can visit for free!
Georgia Museum of Art
Located in UGA’s east campus, the Georgia Museum of Art has served the Athens community as an academic art museum since it opened in 1948. It now serves a dual purpose as the official art museum of the state of Georgia, an honor that it was bestowed in 1982. The museum’s temporary exhibit schedule is a reflection of the academic study of the history of art and a broader array of popular exhibitions that appeal to all audiences. The museum’s permanent collection includes American paintings; American, European and Asian works on paper; the Samuel H. Kress Study Collection of Italian Renaissance paintings; and growing collections of southern decorative arts and Asian art.
State Botanical Garden of Georgia
Located just off UGA’s main campus, you will find a beautiful paradise waiting to be explored! Another one of Georgia’s official sites, the State botanical garden of Georgia covers 313 acres and includes over 5 miles of walking trails and cultural facilities. If you are looking for somewhere to spend time outside on a beautiful day, the botanical gardens have something for everyone!
For all those Georgia Bulldogs fans out there, Sanford Stadium is a “can’t miss” spot on UGA’s campus! During football season you can meet up with your closest 92,000 friends to cheer on the Dawgs as they play between the hedges, but even outside of football season the stadium makes a great photo op. You can walk down Sandford Drive and use the iconic Dooley Field as your backdrop.
The Chapel Bell
Just left Sanford Stadium after a Bulldog win!? Head on over to the Chapel on North Campus and ring the iconic Chapel Bell! Students and Athens locals have been ringing the Chapel Bell after UGA victories and personal victories for decades! After a big Bulldog win, the bell can often be heard ringing well into the early hours of the morning as students and fans celebrate.
A Walk Around the Arch
Easily the most well recognized landmark of UGA, the Arch is a great place to stop for a quick picture to commemorate your visit to Athens. When you stop by though don’t forget to walk around the Arch! It is one of UGA’s most widely held superstitions that to walk under the Arch before you graduate, is to doom yourself to never graduate at all! When you visit you will even be able to see where the stone steps are obviously more worn around the sides of the Arch than through the middle. Twice a year you can find a line a mile long as newly graduated Bulldogs wait their turn for their first time walking through the pillars of the Arch!
Food and Drinks
Athens is not only known for UGA. It has a rich history of good music and even better food! If you are looking for some places to eat, drink, and make merry than Athens have got you covered!
If you are looking for a local breakfast/ brunch stop, then Mama’s boy is the place to be in Athens! They serve a collection of “Southern Fun” menu items, and their giant homemade biscuits are to die for! If you are looking to eat without having to wait, we suggest you arrive early as they are known to have a line wrapped around the building! They open at 7:00am and close at 2:30pm every day.
This little taco shack in Athens has got all Latin American vibes you could want from a Cuban restaurant. Serving a wide variety of dishes, the restaurant boasts great outdoor seating space and often offers live music for guests to enjoy while the chow down. Cali-n-Tito’s is sure to please everyone in your travel party!
If you are looking for a fun twist on American cuisine, Clocked is the place to visit for come “out of this world” burgers and fries. With brightly colored walls and menus, the diner style restaurant has got a lot of flash and the pi-zazz carries over into their menu!
The Grit is a great dinning option for those seeking a vegetarian meal. The restaurant’s decor throws back to the days of walk-in delis and soda fountains with large chalk board menus, a bar top counter, and detailed floor tiling. Their menu may be lacking in meat, but is makes up for it in taste!
Terrapin Beer Co.
If you are looking for a local watering hole where you can lounge outdoors, listen to some good music, and enjoy a cold drink the Terrapin has something to offer. Locally owned and operated Terrapin is everyone’s favorite story of two friends chasing a dream and making it big. Stop by to grab a pint and take a look around the brewery!
Creature Comforts Brewing Co.
Another brewery local to Athens is Creature Comforts. Its taproom located in Downtown Athens is a great place for gathering and hanging out with friends. They have year-round and seasonal beers so whether it is your first visit or your 50th each visit is sure to be a new experience.
“We Let the Dawgs Out” Sculptures
As you make your way around Athens, you may notice some large painted bulldog statues. There are dozens of them scattered all over the city, so have fun by challenging you and your family to see how many of them you can find during your trip.
The Iron Horse
This 2-ton, iron sculpture was created by a UGA student in 1954 and originally resided on campus. It is now located just outside Athens in Watkinsville, GA where it is very hard to miss standing 12-feet-tall alongside Athens Highway. It is not unusual to spot a UGA student or tourist taking a picture standing on top of the Iron Horse!
Bear Hollow Zoo
If you are looking for something fun for the kids, make a stop by Bear Hollow Zoo where they can see and experience some of Georgia’s native wildlife. Admission is free and you can view many species of wild, free-living animals including bobcats, black bears, and white-tailed deer.
The number one stop on Athens’ music scene is the historic Georgia Theater. Located in downtown, this theater has served as a significant performance venue for emerging and established musicians from Athens and beyond. If you are going to be in town, make sure you check their event schedule and grab tickets for an evening.