Downtown blooms in Athens

Downtown blooms in Athens. Credit: Jake Gee

Explore Athens, Georgia’s Food, Brews & Culture

Athens is frequently named the most idyllic college town by Southern Living — it is the birthplace of higher education in America, after all — but the streets of the city hold so much more. This edgy town has seen the beginning of bands like R.E.M., Widespread Panic and the B-52’s, and there’s still live music playing almost every night of the week. The Classic City (between and beyond the storied Sanford Stadium hedges at the University of Georgia) is only 60 miles from Atlanta, and it’s ideal in any season.

From watching the flowers bloom at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia to losing your voice at the Dawgs home opener, there’s a new adventure around every corner. Here are four things — and some extra credit, since Athens is all about higher ed — you must do on your next Athens adventure.

Creature Comforts Brewery

Creature Comforts Brewery. Credit: Creature Comforts

1. Athens Beer Trail

Athens is quickly becoming an all-American beer town with six breweries creating sudsy goodness. Pick up a Field Guide at any of the following breweries, collect stamps at each one, and once you’ve visited all six, you’ll get a free mug at the Historic Athens Welcome Center!

Begin your golden-ale journey at Akademia Brewing, a brewpub where the wagyu Kobe dog pairs perfectly with the Extra Credit bitter. At Athentic Brewing Company, grab a seat on the patio and try a flight of their creative sours — think plum, pineapple, and peach puree creations. Two University of Georgia alums renovated an old tire store downtown to create Creature Comforts Brewing Co. Pop by for a pine-forward Automatic pale ale or Tropicalia, which went viral after it became Thor’s beer of choice in Avengers Endgame. In a hip, old warehouse, Normaltown Brewing Company makes a super-citrusy milkshake IPA that you’ll dream about. With a massive backyard, Southern Brewing Company is great for families and sipping some Hobnail IPAs. Round out your trail journey with Athens’ original brewery, Terrapin Beer Co. Tour the facility before crushing a Los Bravos Mexican-style lager.

Extra Credit: Voted one of the “USA’s Top 10 Beer Festivals” by BeerInfo.com, Classic City Brew Fest is held in October and highlights rare beers from around the world.

Live music at 40 Watt Club in Athens

40 Watt Club. Credit: Visit Athens, Jason Thrasher

2. Athens Music Walk of Fame

Athens is the birthplace of some of America’s most-loved bands — Pylon and Drive-By Truckers are two groups that got their start in town. The Walk of Fame is a new addition to the music scene, passing by iconic venues such as the Georgia Theatre, 40 Watt Club, and Morton Theatre. Download the app to learn about each inductee.

Extra Credit: Each June, local (and regional) musicians play for thousands of people over three days in the streets of downtown at AthFest.

Last Resort Grill in Athens

Last Resort Grill. Credit: Visit Athens, Jason Thrasher

3. Condor Chocolates & Other Good Eats

Bean-to-bar chocolatier Condor recently opened a cafe and factory downtown with huge windows showcasing the small-batch chocolate production in action. The cacao used in Condor’s creations is from the owner’s mother’s home country, Ecuador. Enjoy a latte made with their own Peña coffee and a truffle sampler while you people-watch.

The South takes its food seriously, so you’ll find no shortage of yummy delights in Athens. Five and Ten sports a James Beard Award-winning chef, while Weaver D’s Delicious Fine Foods was named in a list of “America’s Classics” by the James Beard Foundation. And The Grit’s black-bean chili was named the “Best Vegan Chili in the Country” by PETA. Other scrumptious stops include White Tiger Gourmet, Mama’s Boy, Thai Spoon and Big City Bread Cafe.

State Botanical Garden of Georgia

State Botanical Garden of Georgia. Credit: SBG of GA

4. Porcelain & Decorative Arts Museum

Located within the 313-acre State Botanical Garden of Georgia, this museum features eight gallery spaces blending conservation, botanicals, art, beauty and curiosity. Built with nature-lovers, art aficionados, history nerds and garden-growers in mind, the museum showcases Deen Day Sanders’ (a supporter of the gardens for more than 50 years) hulking personal collection of floral paintings, vases, plates and more. Neighboring the museum is the Garden of Discovery and Inspiration, where botanicals – based on the artifacts inside the museum — grow. While at the garden, take time to explore the five miles of nature trails, watch birds, and play in the expansive and immersive Children’s Garden.

Extra Credit: With a permanent collection of more than 18,000 works, the Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia is a must-visit. Spot Goyas, Dauras, Hiroshiges and more as you explore the immense galleries. Art lovers will also appreciate Athens’ dedication to public art throughout town and the Lyndon House Arts Center galleries.

Bonus, Coming 2023: The Classic Center Arena

Holding 6,500 seats, this will be the place to see concerts and tournaments in Athens. Just steps from downtown, the arena will be home to the University of Georgia Ice Dawgs and a professional hockey team. Come the holidays, the whole family will be able to ice skate on the massive rink.

Find even more reasons to visit Athens.

Published: April 2022

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