Blog + Photo by: VisitAthensGA
Whether you’ve been to Athens several times or this is your first visit, all you Gamecock fans who are heading to Athens, GA in November should move beyond Sanford Stadium and enjoy the inspiring culture that Athens has to offer. A road trip to Athens is a special experience for those who are following the visiting team, whether you have tickets or not. So, our team at VisitAthensGA.com has compiled a list of can’t-miss things to do in Athens just for South Carolina travelers.
Come Friday and see South Carolina and the UGA Ice Dawgs face off on the ice in Akins Arena at The Classic Center, tailgate on Saturday before the big game, and still have time to explore our incredible music and culinary scenes. Stay for an extra day or two, we won’t tell your boss on Monday morning, we promise.
1) Explore Vibrant Downtown
Every visitor should explore Athens’ vibrant downtown located just across Broad Street from the University of Georgia’s historic north campus. UGA is the birthplace of public higher education in America, with buildings dating back to 1806 and picturesque quads modeled after Yale University. Cross through the Arch (one of the most instagrammable spots in Athens), wander the streets and explore inside vintage stores, record shops and boutiques with the latest trends and locally made items. You will feel the creative energy within downtown's restored historic setting. Downtown Athens is known for a wide range of acclaimed restaurants offering everything from an amazing burger at The Grill or Clocked, to Kalbi Steak at Iron Factory and authentic Mediterranean flavors at The National with world-renowned Chef Peter Dale.
No visit to Athens would be complete without sampling a bit of Athens' renowned music scene. Known worldwide as the birthplace of R.E.M., Widespread Panic and the B-52's, hundreds of bands still call Athens home. Venues throughout downtown like the famous 40 Watt Club attract rising stars and old favorites. Between famous Athens venues such as the Georgia Theatre, The Foundry, and 40 Watt Club, and intimate venues such as Caledonia Lounge and Live Wire, there is always a great show to be seen. Don’t miss out on the Music History Walking Tour with Paul Butchart; Download a self-guided copy or reserve a guided tour with Classic City Tours. Guarantee your spot by reservation at 866.455.1820 for groups of 5 or more.
No football fan will be underfed this season with dozens of delectable restaurants lining the streets of downtown Athens, in walking distance of Sanford Stadium. The Classic City's food scene is booming and has caught the attention of national media in recent years. Among the most recognized eateries are Five and Ten, James Beard award winner Hugh Acheson's restaurant, and The Last Resort Grill, which is always a family favorite. Mama's Boy, Heirloom Cafe, Five Bar and Porterhouse Grill are also popular choices for weekend brunch. A complete list of Athens restaurants, (plus foodie itineraries!), can be found at VisitAthensGA.com/restaurants.
Don’t be afraid to venture out of downtown for amazing eateries - Athens has no shortage of can’t-miss restaurants. Looking for a vegetarian option? The Grit has been recognized by GoVeg.com, Peta, and GoDairyFree, and no, you don’t have to be a vegetarian to love it! Want to be transported to the coast? Try Marker 7 Grill or home.made. But don’t take our word for it, Sports Illustrated, Conde Nast Traveler, The Local Palate, Eater Atlanta, the AJC, and others have a lot to say about the Athens food scene too.
Athens is also a growing star on the craft brewery scene. Terrapin Beer Company is one of Georgia's largest craft breweries, now pouring in 15 states. Voted Top Brewer in Georgia from RateBeer Best Awards in 2016 & 2017 and as the Official Beer of the The Walking Dead, Terrapin offers year round and seasonal brews like Hopsecutioner, Luau Krunkles, and White Chocolate Moo-Hoo.
Downtown Athens is home to Creature Comforts, who has recently garnered national attention from USA Today and the Local Palate. Creature Comforts offers a range of styles, including IPA, pilsner, and their award-winning Berliner Weisse, Athena.
Southern Brewing Company is the most recent brewery to open and sources local ingredients whenever possible. They are one of less than 50 breweries in the nation to preserve and recultivate a yeast strain that is used to brew the beer onsite. They offer a large dog-friendly yard, giant Jenga, cornhole, and two stages which host live music on the weekends.
Visit one or all three breweries during a weekend in Athens for tours and tastings. Want to learn all about how your beer is created? Ask for a free tour and wow all your friends back home with your new-found knowledge and behind the scenes photos!
No matter your personality, you can find your niche in Athens. Are you a creative sort that loves art and innovation? Check out the Chase Park Warehouses, home to Canopy, which boasts trapeze and movement arts, Athica, a nonprofit gallery that focuses solely on local art, and the Tree Room, which you guessed it, brings the outside in.
Do you love the finest of everything? Head to Five Points, just 1.5 miles away from Sorority Row and UGA campus, take in the beautiful scenery and enjoy the historic architecture. Acclaimed eateries like Condor Chocolates and Marker 7 Coastal Grill will not leave you hungry. Enjoy a day of retail therapy at upscale boutiques like BMA at home and Andree’s Essential Soaps that offer the newest fashions and luxury cosmetics.
Want a hipster experience? Be sure to visit Normaltown, complete with neighborhood bakery Ike & Jane and townie bars The Old Pal and Normal Bar. Stop by Normal Hardware Company, Inc. and P&M Army Surplus Store for a unique souvenir that is sure to start a conversation.
There is a quiet side to Athens as well. Athens is home to Georgia's official museum, the Georgia Museum of Art. But you don’t have to be an art-expert to enjoy the over 10,000 pieces in the permanent collection, 20-25 temporary exhibitions, and the Jane and Harry Willson Structure Garden. Athens also boasts the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, which includes five miles of trails and has been designated an Important Birding Area by the Georgia Audubon Society. The Special Collections Libraries, located on the University of Georgia campus, house impressive exhibits including the Peabody Awards and Georgia History artifacts. The Sandy Creek Nature Center is a local family favorite attraction with interactive exhibits as well as outdoor areas. Athens’ 17 historic districts are a pleasure to drive through. Roadside wonders include the Tree that Owns Itself and the Double Barreled Cannon.