Are you trying to decide what to do during your stay in the Classic City? The City of Athens has so much to explore.
Don’t worry, because there are plenty of things to do in Athens Ga for your weekend away, especially when you have tips from an insider! Whether it’s visiting famous landmarks, strolling through gardens, or taking interesting pictures, Athens, Georgia has you covered.
WHERE TO STAY IN ATHENS
When you’re visiting a college town like Athens, there is no better hotel than The Graduate.
This idyllic boutique hotel located on the edge of Downtown Athens sits in the historic Foundry building where blacksmiths once crafted famed works like the UGA Arch and the Double-Barreled Cannon.
Even if you’re only visiting for the day, don’t miss grabbing a drink and a meal at The Foundry. The music venue was reimagined to honor the site’s roots and to preserve this piece of Athens’ fine past.
WALK AROUND THE ARCH
What better way to start your time in Athens than visiting the most iconic spot in town? Make sure to walk around the arch rather than under it if you haven’t graduated from UGA!
This is likely most recognizable symbol of the University of Georgia (UGA). It's the gateway into north campus from downtown Athens.
Legend says, whatever you do, don't walk through it! If you walk through the arch, you won't graduate from UGA!
WALK THE TREE THAT OWNS ITSELF
Probably the coolest tree you’ll ever see, this white oak tree legally owns itself and the land eight feet around it! Even “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!” has featured it, making it one of the most famous trees you’ll probably ever see. Make sure not to linger long though, since it’s in the middle of a residential area - sitting right in front of someone’s house!
RING THE CHAPEL BELL
Do you have some great news you just have to celebrate? Do you just feel like having a bit of fun? Well, the Chapel Bell is here for you. Go ahead and ring it - anyone can do it! You might have to put your whole body weight on it though, it’s heavy!
PICNIC AT HERTY FIELD
If it’s nice and sunny outside, you’ll most likely see some people lounging on Herty Field. Bring a blanket and some food and enjoy a relaxing time in the sun. While you’re here, you can also check out the Herty Fountain, a popular spot for Athens-based photoshoots.
CLIMB THE IRON HORSE
This spot is further away than any of the locations, but it’s definitely an Athens staple. The Iron Horse sits in a large field, perfect for you to take some fun scenic pictures and horse around. Try climbing on top of it, because this is the type of art you can touch!
SEE SANFORD STADIUM
Who can forget the most cherished land in Athens? This massive stadium is the home of some of the Bulldogs’ best and worst games, but it’s a massive part of the UGA college experience, nonetheless. Even when it isn’t football season, it’s still fun to visit and take pictures!
Explore downtown Athens, just across Broad Street from the University of Georgia's historic North Campus. Restored Victorian-era buildings are full of creative energy day and night, with a vibrant collection of independent shops, restaurants, and of course, live music venues.
THE LOCAL FAVORITES
STAGE YOUR OWN PHOTOSHOOT IN FRONT OF ARTSY MURALS
What does every quirky town have? Fun, Instagram-worthy murals and Athens is no exception! There are tons of murals to choose from, but some iconic ones are The Last Resort, Pulaski Street Phoenix, and the Tate Student Center Mural. There are plenty of murals to find around Athens, so make sure to keep an eye out for them wherever you go.
VISIT WUXTRY RECORDS
Are you a fan of R.E.M.? Well, then you must be a fan of Wuxtry Records. Peter Buck worked in this record store when Michael Stipe came in as a visitor, and the rest is history. Not only is it cool to visit the birthplace of such a well-known band, but it’s also a fun store if you like vinyl. They have cases on cases on cases of vinyl records, you could easily be entertained for hours looking through the varying vinyl!
GRAB SOME ICE CREAM AT HODGSON'S PHARMACY
Is your sweet tooth tingling? Try stopping by Hodgson’s Pharmacy, located in 5 Points, for some ice cream. This place is an actual pharmacy, but has a great ice cream bar, just like the old days!
CHECK OUT LOCAL ENTERTAINMENT
Athens is known for its music scene, so what better way to celebrate your time here than go see a concert? Check out the local entertainment.
Athens’ music scene is one-of-a-kind and is alive and well today through a variety of events and attractions, like the Athens Music Walk of Fame -- a two-square-block area in downtown Athens. The walk passes several renowned music venues in western downtown, including the Morton Theatre, the 40 Watt Club, and the Georgia Theatre, and markers showcase iconic musicians with roots in Athens, including R.E.M., the B-52s and the Drive by Truckers.
TAKE A BREWERY TOUR AT CREATURE COMFORTS OR TERRAPIN
If you’re 21 or over and you like beer, then you’re going to love Creature Comforts and Terrapin. These two breweries are a great spot to meet with friends and test some great, local beer. You’ll walk away with a nice commemorative glass, too.
What’s the college experience without beer? Those who visit Athens can adventure on the new Athens Beer Trail and taste the town’s notable craft breweries. The popular Creature Comforts Brewing Co. is celebrating its 9th anniversary in May of 2023, and Terrapin Beer Co. just celebrated 20 years
WATCH A MOVIE AT THE TATE THEATRE
If you’re in the mood for a movie, head to the Tate Theatre! This movie theater is a great date night spot because it’s free for UGA students. If you aren’t a Bulldawg, have no fear, because tickets are fairly inexpensive. Don’t forget to check their calendar first and see what’s playing that night.
LAUGH ALONG WITH IMPROV ATHENS
Improv Athens is one of the top eight improv troupes in the United States. The troupe consists of UGA students, but don’t worry, their shows are open to anyone and everyone! Check their schedule for dates and times for shows!
CATCH A FILM AT CINE
Ciné screens films from all different genres, eras and countries, which makes it an extremely unique spot in downtown Athens. It’s much smaller than a run-of-the-mill movie theatre, but it’s coziness gives it character. They also have a bar/cafe for when you get those mid-movie munchies!
MUSEUMS, GARDENS AND OTHER ATTRACTIONS
VISIT THE DOUBLE BARRELED CANNON
Another unique landmark in Athens is the Double-Barreled Cannon. The cannon was created during the Civil War and though it was never used in a battle, it still made it’s mark in Athens. It sits in downtown Athens right beside the Athens-Clarke County City Hall.
WANDER THROUGH THE BOTANICAL GARDEN OF GEORGIA
The State Botanical Garden of Georgia was named the #7 best botanical garden in the United States by USA Today, and there’s no wonder why.
Try walking the long and sprawling trails, sipping coffee at the arboretum, exploring the chapel, or just admiring the beautiful flowers and fountains! On a sunny day, this place is easily one of the prettiest sights in Athens.
VISIT THE GEORGIA MUSEUM OF ART
If you love the arts (and cool A/C on a hot day), make sure to check out the Georgia Museum of Art. GMOA houses many exhibitions, including traveling exhibits, so even if you’ve been there before, there’s a large chance you’ll see something new. They also have a pretty mini cafe on the first floor with some delicious pastries.
BROWSE THE SPECIAL COLLECTIONS LIBRARY
If you’re more into learning about history, make sure to stop by the UGA Special Collections Libraries. You can peruse historical maps, books, manuscripts and so much more. You’ll leave the building with a much better understanding of historical Georgia than when you walked in.
EXPLORE THE FOUNDERS MEMORIAL GARDEN
This 2.5-acre garden was created in honor of the first gardening club in Georgia. The Founders Memorial Garden is home to intricate shrubberies, beautiful landscaping, and a picture-perfect staircase. What more could a garden lover want?
BEST OUTDOOR ADVENTURES
EXPLORE NEAR HOLLOW ZOO
If you love animals and the outdoors, then this is the place for you. Bear Hollow Zoo is a free zoo with tons of cool animals like a bald eagle, a bobcat, alligator, and, of course, black bears! Check out the reptile house if you want to see some slithering and slimy animals, too.
TAKE A GUIDED TOUR OF THE CITY
If touring the classic city seems more worthwhile to you, check out Classic City Tours. The Athens Heritage Tour and the Museum Mile Tour of Historic House Interiors offer a glimpse into the history of Athens. Through these tours, you will learn the rich history of Athens, and see unique architecture on historic Antebellum museum homes.
TRY TO FIND ALL OF THE "WE LET THE DAWGS OUT" BULLDOG SCULPTURES
“We Let The Dawgs Out” is an art exhibit around Athens that consists of bulldog sculptures painted in different ways. You won’t just find these bulldogs on the UGA campus, though! All around Athens are fun bulldogs you can take pictures with. Some of my favorite bulldogs are located at Chastain Building, Baxter Street, and the College of Pharmacy, but there are also many others to look out for! Can you find them all?
GO FOR A WALK AT THE NORTH OCONEE RIVER GREENWAY
The greenway is the best place to walk your dog, go jogging, have picnics, or simply explore the nature around you. You’ll wander on the paved path along the North Oconee River that runs through the greenway. If you’re looking for some fresh air on a leisurely day, this is the place to go.
PLAY A ROUND OF GOLF AT THE UNIVERSITY GOLF COURSE
If you like to play golf, try snagging a tee time at the University Golf Course. You can play on the same golf course that notable alum like Bubba Watson and Chris Kirk once played on… How cool is that? The 18-hole course is open to the public, so don’t sweat it if you’re not a Bulldawg!
SHOP AT THE UGA BOOKSTORE
What better way to remember your time in Athens than with some UGA swag? The bookstore has everything bulldawg-related that you could possibly dream of. Even if you don’t want to buy some merch, it’s definitely worth a visit to get you in the UGA mindset!
ATTEND THE ATHENS FARMERS MARKET
If you truly want to get a taste of Athens, head over to the Athens Farmers Market Saturdays at Bishop Park and Wednesdays at Creature Comforts. Many Athens vendors join this event, meaning you get to see the true Athens experience. And don’t worry, they sell more than just fruits and veggies!
SHOP FOR VINTAGE CLOTHING
If you’re a fashionista looking for some outfits to add to your closet, Athens is the perfect place for you. Stores such as Agora Vintage or Dynamite Clothing offer classically-cool vintage clothing at affordable prices. Most of Athens’ vintage stores are downtown, meaning you can shop until you drop without running around the city
This Athens Bed and Breakfast just opened in the Fall of 2021 - ATH |BNB is an innovative new lifestyle and accommodation concept featuring just 14 rooms, (each with a bathroom en suite) in Athens’ Five Points neighborhood. This design-focused boutique bed and breakfast unlike any other with the comforts of home, but the added luxuries of your favorite hotel. Sleep in and enjoy breakfast catered each morning by The Cafe on Lumpkin.
The Graduate Athens hotel is serendipitously located near the heart of downtown Athens and the historic UGA campus. They’ve made their home in the Foundry, where blacksmiths crafted famed works like the UGA Arch and the Double-Barreled Cannon. This reimagined space honors the site’s roots and preserves a piece of Athens’ historic past.
Still looking for something else to do? Try chowing down at a unique local restaurant! Athens has loads of options when it comes to dining. You can try out some new styles of food, or stick to the classic hamburgers and hotdogs that you love… Whatever you’re craving, Athens has it.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO GEORGIA
- YOUR GEORGIA VACATION
- ATHENS RESTAURANTS: 15 BEST RESTAURANTS IN ATHENS GA: AN INSIDER’S GUIDE
- FLEA MARKETS: 12+ OF THE BEST ATLANTA FLEA MARKETS AND BEYOND
- FREE IN ATLANTA: 50+ FREE THINGS TO DO IN ATLANTA (THAT DON’T SUCK)
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