20 Things To Do In Athens GA

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Athens, Georgia, is in the northeastern part of the state, about 70 miles (112 km) east of Atlanta, founded in 1806 and named after Athens, Greece, with the hope of becoming an intellectual hub. Athens followed its aspirations and was home to the first state-chartered university in the United States, the University of Georgia, which is still a prominent city feature.

One of the best things about Athens is that the city offers a unique blend of small-town charm and urban energy. Athens is a vibrant city with an exciting musical background, an amazing culinary scene, and captivating nature experiences. Athens is the birthplace of influential bands like R.E.M., the B-52s, and Widespread Panic, which earned the city the nickname “The Liverpool of the South.”

If you are interested in visiting, you will have plenty of things to do in Athens when it comes to art, culture and entertainment. The city has many activities, from the Georgia Museum of Art to the streets of Downtown Athens. Athens has plenty to offer if you are interested in art museums, viewing historic landmarks, exploring natural beauty, or immersing yourself in the music scene. 

Athens, Georgia

20 Things To Do In Athens, Georgia

athens ga skyline at dusk
Looking for things to do in Athens GA? Check out our top 20 list.

1- Catch A Game At Sanford Stadium

Georgia is known for a few things, including a prominent college football fanbase at Sandford Stadium, which serves the University of Georgia Bulldogs.

The stadium opened in 1929 and pays tribute to Dr. Steadman Vincent Sanford.

Bulldog fans have an undeniable energy that makes attending a football game an unforgettable experience, whether you consider yourself a die-hard or casual football fan.

Since this is such a popular event, it is best to purchase tickets in advance.

Although the stadium is one of the nation’s largest, with a seating capacity of 92,746, it still has sold-out games consistently.

Sanford Stadium is at 100 Sanford Dr, Athens, GA 30602.

2- Explore The Exhibits At The Georgia Museum Of Art

athens georgia aerial view at night
If you’re after some things to do in Athens GA, check out our top recommendations.

Founded in 1945, this well-rounded museum holds the spot as both an academic museum and Georgia’s official art museum.

The Georgia Museum Of Art is renowned for featuring local and international artists.

Visitors can view a range of art mediums, including paintings, artifacts, and photographs.

If you are interested in getting the full scope of information regarding the materials in the museum, guided tours are available for groups.

The Georgia Museum Of Art is closed on Mondays and has varying hours on each day of the week.

Admission is free, so this is a great budget-conscious activity.

Georgia Museum Of Art is at 90 Carlton St, Athens, GA 30602.

3- Take The Kids To The Children’s Garden 

The State Botanical Garden of Georgia is one of the most treasured attractions in the city.

The large garden spans over 300 acres (121 ha) and offers curated gardens, including diverse plant collections and well-maintained landscapes.

The International Garden, Heritage Garden, and Native Flora Garden are among some of the themed gardens within the property.

Admission and parking at the garden are free, but donations are welcome to continue the garden’s upkeep and fund the educational programs and events offered to guests.

The State Botanical Garden of Georgia is open daily from 8 am to 7 pm.

The State Botanical Garden of Georgia is at 2450 S Milledge Ave, Athens, GA 30605.

4- Grab A Cup Of Joe At An Athens Staple At Jittery Joe’s

woman blurred in the background and cup of coffee
Checking out cafes is one of the fun things to do in Athens ga.

Jittery Joe’s is one of the top coffee chains in Athens.

The cafe has been roasting in small batches from its hometown of Athens, Georgia, for over 20 years and has many locations throughout the city.

They are even considered the official “National Champions Coffee” in reference to the University of Georgia.

At one point, Joe’s clientele included frequent celebrity guests such as Michael Stipe of R.E.M., the B-52s, and comedians such as Penn and Teller.

Not only can you grab a fresh cup of coffee at their cafes, but you can also purchase whole beans to take home and branded goodies.

Jittery Joe’s is at 297 E Broad St, Athens, GA 30601.

5- Connect With Nature At The Sandy Creek Nature Center

This natural sanctuary is a great place to step outside of the city and connect with the beauty of Athens.

Located on 225 acres (91 ha) of land, the Sandy Creek Nature Center features many different ecosystems for visitors to explore, including forests, wetlands, and meadows.

Scenic trails offer great wildlife spotting and bird-watching.

The Sandy Creek Nature Center also has educational exhibits, nature programs, and interactive displays for visitors who want to learn more about the nature surrounding Athens.

The nature centre is open Tuesday through Saturday from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm.

The Sandy Creek Nature Center is at 205 Old Commerce Rd, Athens, GA 30607.

6- Browse The Eclectic Shops In Downtown Athens

Athens was named the South’s Best College Town by Southern Living Magazine in 2022, so it’s no surprise that Downtown is the happening scene in the city.

In addition to concert halls and rooftop dining, visitors can enjoy quirky and unique shops nestled into historic buildings lining charming streets filled with shady trees.

Some of our favourite spots are Cheeky Peach Boutique, Bizarro Wuxtry, and Bear Hug Honey.

Bringing home a souvenir from vacation won’t be hard when you visit Downtown Athens.

Downtown Athens is at Broad St, Athens, GA 30601.

7- Go On A Scavenger Hunt For Three Dozen UGA Bulldog Statues

This public art display, “We Let the Dawgs Out,” includes dozens of life-size bulldogs standing guard throughout Athens.

The display was installed by the Athens-Oconee Junior Women’s Club in 2003.

When the official project ended in 2010, the club auctioned off the statues, generating $25,000 for charity.

The statues can still be found all over the city today, making this a great activity trying to find each one and snap a photo.

Whether you are a UGA fan or a fan of the arts, you are sure to love this unique experience.

8- Immerse Yourself In The Vibrant Music Scene

The Georgia Theatre is a historic music venue originally built as a movie theatre in the 1800s.

It is one of the city’s best spots to enjoy live performances and contributes to Athens’s charm and legendary musical history.

The theatre has an extraordinary atmosphere, which makes it an unforgettable experience.

Be sure to check the website for upcoming shows and purchase tickets ahead of time to enjoy this Athens treasure.

The Georgia Theatre is at 215 N Lumpkin St, Athens, GA 30601.

9- Take A Bike Ride Through The Firefly Trail

legs peddling a bike
One of the best things to do in Athens ga is to cycle around exploring the town.

The Firefly Trail is a scenic trail that spans over 39 miles (62 km) and follows an old railway line route.

The trail offers picturesque views of charming communities, preservation areas, and wide open landscapes.

The Firefly Trail is a popular destination for bikers, joggers, and hikers.

Since the trail flows through downtown Athens and provides access to parks, restaurants, and attractions.

The Firefly Trail is at 800 E Broad St, Athens, GA 30601.

10- Meet Winnie the Hoo At The Bear Hollow Zoo

Bear Hollow Zoo is an excellent spot in Athens.

The Zoo tries to replicate the animals’ natural habitat as closely as possible, creating a truly immersive environment for visitors.

There are plenty of species of animals to visit, including Winnie the Hoo, a great horned owl who found rehabilitation and a home at the zoo after surviving a car accident.

The best part about Bear Hollow Zoo is that it offers free admission.

The Bear Hollow Zoo is at 293 Gran Ellen Dr, Athens, GA 30606.

11- View The Art At Lyndon House Arts Center

Lyndon House Arts Foundation, Inc. was organised in 1993 as an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to providing a centre for the arts to flourish.

The Lyndon House Arts Center was completed in 1999 and provides exhibits, including paintings, artifacts, and collections from local artists.

There are even studios at the centre for practising arts.

The Lyndon House Arts Center is open Wednesday to Saturday (10 am to 5 pm); Tuesday/Thursday (10 am to 8 pm).

Lyndon House Arts Center is at 211 Hoyt St, Athens, GA 30601.

12- Hang Out At The 40 Watt Club To See Top Tier Talent

Remember when we said that Athens had a vibrant history when it comes to music? Well, it’s all thanks to the 40 Watt Club.

It is one of the most iconic music venues in the world.

The club served as a home base for many of the beloved artists that emerged from Athens.

The club is still open today and hosts nationally recognised and smaller local artists, but there is no shortage of talent on the club’s stage.

Stop in, drink, and enjoy some live music from some of the world’s best at 285 W Washington St, Athens, GA 30601.

13- Take A Guided Tour Of The Double-Barreled Cannon

The state of Georgia played a large role during the Civil War.

This double-barreled cannon now stands as a historic monument representing the period.

The cannon was originally built for warfare but was never used during battle.

The cannon is part of the Downtown Athens Historic District and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

You can visit the landmark at any time on any day at 301 College Ave, Athens, GA 30601.

14- Visit An Interesting Local Landmark At The Tree That Owns Itself

While this may seem silly for a tree to own itself, this historic landmark in Athens has a heartwarming back story.

19th-century University of Georgia professor William H. Jackson, had fond memories of growing up around the specific tree.

In his adulthood, he deeded the tree and the surrounding 8-foot radius of land to the tree itself.

This gained the nickname “The Tree That Owns Itself.” Each year that passes, the deed to the tree is placed at its base for visitors to admire.

The tree stands as a symbol of the significance of the relationship between humans and the surrounding nature.

The Tree That Owns Itself is at 277 S Finley St, Athens, GA 30605.

15- Find Fresh Produce And Local Crafts At The Athens Farmers Market

things to do in athens ga

If you truly want to experience the community of Athens, head to one of the Athens Farmers Markets.

Fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers are sourced from local farms, and plenty of locally-based vendors sell their crafts, including baked goods, cheeses, honey, jams, and art.

The Athens Farmers Market has two separate locations.

The Saturday market is the larger of the two and is located on Sunset Drive.

This market is from 8 am to 12 pm and hosts over 40 vendors each week.

If you are visiting mid-week, you can visit the Wednesday market from 5 pm to 8 pm on Hancock Ave.

The Athens Farmers Market is at 271 W Hancock Ave, Athens, GA 30601 and 705 Sunset Drive, Athens, GA 30601.

16- Discover Athens’ Heritage At The Athens-Clarke County Library

Athens-Clarke County Library serves as the central library of the region, providing visitors with a deeper knowledge of the community.

The library even won the 2017 Georgia Public Library of the Year award.

Resources of the Athens-Clarke County Library include your typical books, magazines, and other print, downloadable audio and eBooks, access to scholarly databases, video production software, and 3D printing by reservation.

Our favourite spot is the Heritage Room, which gives visitors access to information on genealogy and local Athens history.

The public library is open daily at 2025 Baxter St, Athens, GA 30606.

17- Eat Brunch At Mama’s Boy Restaurant

plates of food in a restaurant
Eating in restaurants and cafes is one of the things to do in Athens Georgia.

If you want to eat like a local, look no further than Mama’s Boy.

This Athens-based restaurant is one of the top breakfast spots in the city and the entire state.

Mama’s Boy founders pride themselves on serving up made-from-scratch food with a side of Southern hospitality.

Enjoy classics such as the Georgia Peach French Toast and Buttermilk Biscuits.

The restaurant is first-come, first-serve, with no reservations or call-ahead seating available.

We suggest getting there early to claim your spot to enjoy this Athens gem.

Mama’s Boy Restaurant is at 197 Oak St, Athens, GA 30601.

18- Enjoy The Beauty Of A Local Treasure At The Taylor Grady House

The Taylor Grady House is a historic landmark in Athens and an architectural beauty admired for its intricate Greek Revival stylings.

The house was originally the residence of Taylor Grady, a prominent journalist, orator, and influential figure during the Reconstruction Era of the South.

Step into the past with well-preserved interiors, artifacts, and furnishings.

You can explore this museum Monday through Friday (10 am to 3 pm or 12 pm to 4 pm), so check hours before heading over.

The Taylor Grady House is at 634 Prince Ave, Athens, GA 30601.

19- Check Out The Historic Ruins At Oconee Forest Park

Located on the University of Georgia campus, this expansive park’s dense forest offers tranquillity in the busy city.

Oconee Forest Park is a nature lover’s perfect hideaway, offering over 850 miles of trails, campgrounds, picnic areas, and babbling creeks.

One of the most interesting features of the park is the historic ruins of the old Scull Shoals Village, which are on the banks of the Oconee River.

The Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources manages this 100-year-old park.

Although the park is free, donations to the program are always appreciated.

Oconee Forest Park is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 5 Lake Herrick Dr, Athens, GA 30602.

20- Spend An Afternoon At The World of Wonder Playground

World of Wonder Playground is the perfect place to take the kids for a day of fun.

This large playground located on the outskirts of the city has plenty of fun to be had for locals and tourists.

The World of Wonder Playground has everything from tall treehouses to colourful slides.

Full amenities at the playground include water play areas, ten slides, swings, musical instruments, a climbing rock wall, and even an augmented reality gameplay experience.

For parents, there are bench swings, a large central seating area, and a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) walking loop.

The park is open daily from 8 am to 8 pm and offers free entry at 325 Whit Davis Rd, Athens, GA 30605.

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Jordan is a freelance writer that has been in the industry for over a year. She graduated from the University of North Florida with a degree in Communications which she used in her marketing career. Her hometown is Philadelphia, PA. Currently, Jordan resides in Central Florida with her family and French Bulldog, Philly. Jordan has travelled many places for fun and even travels for a living as a Flight Attendant. Her favourite destinations include Denver, Reno, and anywhere else with mountains and plenty of good coffee!