College Towns of the South: Athens, Georgia

Home of the Georgia Bulldogs
Downtown Athens
Downtown Athens

Known for its music, football, and vibrant culture, Athens in northeast Georgia is both sophisticated and sweet. The Victorian-era downtown is filled with galleries and boutiques, while its concert venues lure international acts and its restaurants earn raves from Food & Wine.

Stay in the heart of town, where the great lodging options include Hotel Indigo and The Foundry Park Inn and Spa. The former is a popular go-to, with airy rooms and an on-site gallery with local art. The latter has more of a country-inn feel, plus a range of massage treatments and body therapies at its spa.

Start the day at Mama’s Boy with a cup of Jittery Joe’s locally roasted coffee and a biscuit the size of your fist. Spend the morning browsing the downtown shops like Agora Vintage, Masada Leather and Outdoor, and Athena Jewelers.

For an intimate lunch, try Trappeze Pub. Offering a seasonal menu, it serves everything from juicy burgers topped with pimento cheese to pecan-crusted trout. Or, try The Branded Butcher, located on the next to the famed Georgia Theatre, which has hosted acts like Athens’s own R.E.M. and the B-52s. The restaurant focuses on local, organic foodstuffs, and most days you’ll enjoy a pleasant breeze while you eat.

Hotel Indigo
Hotel Indigo

Intercontinental Hotel Group

Spend the afternoon kayaking the Broad River, with seventy miles of continuous navigable water that’s perfect for beginners. Or, traipse through the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, home to a new three-acre garden showcasing the state’s prettiest wildflowers.

For dinner, check out local celebrity chef Hugh Acheson’s acclaimed restaurant 5&10. Words of advice: Make reservations and get there early. Last Resort Grill, another local favorite, serves upscale Southern fare that will make anyone’s mouth water. Be sure to save room for the monstrous desserts.

After dinner, return to Georgia Theatre’s rooftop for drinks before catching a show downstairs. If you’re not feeling the lineup, check out Highwire Lounge, which offers a menu of signature cocktails made with small-batch liquors and locally sourced ingredients.


“DePalma’s, La Dolce Vita, The 5’s, Shokitini, and Last Resort Grill are local favorites, and you can’t go wrong with those establishments.”
—Greg McGarity, director of athletics, class of 1976

“The Georgia Theatre
is a great music venue.”
—Laura Jolly, vice president for instruction

“Our botanical garden is outstanding and so is the Richard Russell Library. My wife Barbara’s favor-ite restaurant is the Last Resort, and we both enjoy a cup of locally brewed Jittery Joe’s coffee.”
—Vince Dooley, head football coach, 1964–88, director of athletics, 1979–2004