Over the last seven or so years, I’ve spent a lot of time in Athens, a rural area an hour and a half northeast of Atlanta. It’s home to the University of Georgia and is one of the South’s most notable college towns, but there’s so much more to it than that. Both of my sisters have lived there, so I’ve had the chance to discover the local’s perspective. So if you find yourself in the Classic City but aren’t interested in the dive bars of downtown or the chaos of gameday on campus, you’re in luck. There’s plenty for you to enjoy!
Where to Eat
White Tiger Gourmet– Set inside an old grocery store, White Tiger is best for nice weather when you can sit at the picnic tables outside. I never get sick of their breakfast items or buffalo chicken tacos.
Ideal Bagel Co– I can’t spend more than 24 hours without grabbing a bagel from this former toy store. The bagels are authentic, especially when topped with a fried egg and pastrami, my personal favorites.
Pulaski Heights Barbecue– Around the corner from my sister’s house, this barbecue joint offers pulled pork with classic sodas and craft beer. If you’re not in the mood for barbecue, opt for tacos and sandwiches.
The World Famous Athens– You’ll find cheap beer and bar food at its finest here as well as live music. I love their chicken and waffles club with fries topped in their aioli, which they call Liberace sauce.
Heirloom Cafe and Fresh Market– Among the best outdoor brunch spots is Heirloom. Love on a Biscuit is as amazing as it sounds, a buttermilk biscuit topped with brisket. They also have vegetarian and vegan options.
Five and Ten– Typically a restaurant for students to bring their parents when they’re in town, this restaurant is celebrity chef Hugh Acheson’s flagship eatery. The menu features as many local ingredients as possible.
Trappeze Pub– Named for the Trappist monks and their signature beer, Trappeze is a beer bar with delicious food. Seek out unique brews upon the bartender’s recommendation.
Where to Drink
Creature Comforts Brewery– I may be biased, as one of my sisters currently works there, but this brewery is perhaps my favorite in Georgia and certainly my favorite in Athens. Housed in a former tire store, be sure to try the Tropicalia and Athena.
Terrapin Beer Co.– But you should also stop by the OG of Athens brewing on the outskirts of town. Their specialty brews are top-notch like their Walking Dead themed beer and the chocolate milk-esque Moo Hoo.
1000 Faces Coffee– Go straight to the source, the roaster, for the best coffee in town. Don’t let the location fool you, as you can get a pour over here along with all the equipment and gear you need to make coffee at home.
Manhattan Cafe– I love this bar more than words can explain. Located on a historic corner of Athens known as “Hot Corner,” this bar has a small patio but a dark interior that slightly resembles a strip club. But the cocktails are top notch, served in vintage barware, and cheap.
Sister Louisa’s Church – Athens– The second outpost of an offbeat Atlanta favorite, here you’ll find bizarre (and to some, sacrilegious) artwork, cheap PBRs, choir robes and, most importantly, ping pong tables.
Little King’s Shuffle Club– For a casual dance spot, head to Little King’s. They also have rock trivia.
What to Do
Avid Bookshop– Browse for your favorite reads at this independent bookstore with regular author events. They have a great children’s section as well!
Dynamite Clothing– Vintage clothing lovers should stop by here for gently worn t-shirts, clothing for men and women, and accessories.
Georgia Museum of Art– You’ll be surprised at this fantastic art museum that is attached to the University of Georgia’s Lamar Dodd School of Art. They host regular exhibitions, including student works.
The State Botanical Garden of Georgia– Located on the way out of town, the botanical garden is a sprawling space of walking paths. They also have a greenhouse and host events like fitness classes.
West Broad Farmers Market– Get the freshest produce from local farmers to start your day off right. There are also tents with prepared food and coffee.
Georgia Theatre– Catch a show at Athens’ mother theater, which surivived a massive fire and has reopened. Headlining acts typically perform here and they have a rooftop bar.
The Foundry– Another live music venue is at Graduate Athens, which hosts smaller music acts.
Where to Stay
Hotel Indigo Athens Downtown – Univ Area– The original boutique hotel in town, Hotel Indigo is well located for downtown access and has its own in-house coffee shop and art gallery. The design is inspired by covered bridges found in the area.
Graduate Athens– Formerly the Foundry Park Inn, the Graduate Athens is a re-branded boutique hotel chain found only in college towns. Here you’ll find a live music venue, spa and funky rooms.
AirBnB– You’d be surprised how many great places you can stay in Athens on AirBnB. This gives you more options in terms of neighborhoods (try Cobbham or Pulaski Heights!) and is better for groups. Try your first stay on AirBnB by using this link and get $20.