Limiting the best of Athens to five things is an inconceivable task. As the birthplace of higher education, Athens rises on the shoulders of the University of Georgia and remains stalwart through the love of its locals. Simply, perfection’s address remains the Classic City, and if we must choose five Athens’ highlights, here are our favorites.
1. SAVOR LOCAL FARE
From a James Beard award-winning chef to backyard turned-pro grill masters stoking the smoker’s fire, food prospers in Athens. The dishes and concoctions (including stellar drinks and cocktails) are conceived by personal experiences, cherished ingredients and guests’ favorites. No eatery will deny that.
Eat from morning to night. For breakfast, Mama’s Boy, Café Racer and Farm Cart. The biscuit battle will be obvious. For lunch, Cali N Tito’s (steak Cubano) or Pulaski Heights BBQ. Snack on Alumni Cookie Dough, and end the day with dinner at The Place or Five.
2. EXPLORE NORTH CAMPUS
The beauty and architecture of North Campus illustrate UGA’s history. Don’t miss Herty Field, the site of their first football skirmish, a victory against Auburn. The bell, once housed inside the chapel walls but now encased behind, signaled the end of classes or an emergency on campus; now, it clangs for Bulldog victories. The Arch, the iconic campus entrance, is the perfect photo opportunity when you visit.
3. CHUG BEER AND CHUCK AXES
Who thought that chugging beer and chucking axes could be so entertaining, or even possible?
The folks at Lumberjaxe have nailed fun. With six double lanes for friendly competition, throwing axes will be, surprisingly, your new go-to outing. Snack on munchies as well as consume local brews and enjoy the afternoon. Manager Cory Farmer will share the tricks on how to hit the bullseye. lumberjaxe.com
4. GO WITH THE FLOW WITH OCONEE JOE
Just who is Oconee Joe? I’ve met him, and I have no idea of his name.
With the water as his muse, he makes his way along 60 miles of waterways that lead from Athens to Lake Oconee on the Oconee River Piedmont. His guided eco and historic tours deposit you in kayaks or canoes, inches from the region’s diverse ecology. It’s a lesson in nature and history.
Catering to the outdoor adventurer, he also promises the finest food. Charcuterie boards with cheeses and crackers washed down with local, seasonal beers served fireside. oconeejoe.com
5. TAKE A DAWG WALK
No game tickets? You’re in luck.
As thrilling as the action is between the hedges, it’s the Dawg Walk, which happens exactly two hours and fifteen minutes before each home game, that will light your fire. Once the Redcoat Band warm-up session has now become a tradition. The players, coaches and trainers exit the busses on Lumpkin Street at the Tate Center and head into the stadium flanked by thousands of screaming fans. Other than a Bulldog win between the hedges, it doesn’t get any better.
Travel journalists and photographers Judy and Len Garrison present their latest publication, 100 Things To Do In Athens, Ga., Before You Die. Available September 2022, the book compiles a list of the 100 things that you must experience during your visit to the Classic City. Presales are available online at seeingsouthern.com. The official book launch, a ticketed event, will be held October 20 at Lumberjaxe in Athens. For more details and up-to-date information, follow the Facebook page, @100ThingstodoinAthensbeforeyoudie.