Every college student has received the dreaded text from their parents: we're coming to Athens this weekend! Don't get me wrong: I Iove my parents to death, but I usually have no idea what to do with them once they arrive. Luckily, now with two parents' weekends under my belt, I think I have worked out the kinks and have a recipe for success for how to entertain parents in Athens over a home football weekend. Here are my suggestions for an unrivaled parents weekend.
If your parents are anything like mine, the weekend will not start until late afternoon on Friday, giving you plenty of time to nap and rest up for an action-packed 48 hours.
Most parents, regardless of their knowledge of the Athens, will be staying somewhere in the vibrant downtown area, which is the perfect place to start showing off the town! Because it will be a home game weekend, the Friday dining situation will be the most difficult task of the weekend. While downtown staples such as FIVE, The Place, and Last Resort Grill are great options -- especially with your parents footing the bill -- they will be spilling over with families who had the same great idea as you. If you are intent on dining downtown, some great alternatives might be a dinner at Trappeze, The National, or Clocked. Personally, being the impatient person I am, I would venture a little further out into Athens for a nice dinner with fewer crowds. Five Points has some great dining options and further down Milledge is the lesser known but very delicious George's Lowcountry Table. Quite honestly, Athens crushes it when it comes to food and any local joint is a safe bet for a tasty meal.
I highly suggest you check out some of the great dessert locations after dinner on Friday. Ben and Jerry's and Insomnia Cookies are great if you're looking for something quick, and there is always Zombie Coffee and Donuts if you are looking for a little pick me up! If the night is still young, the over-21 crowd can always stop in at Magnolia's, Bar South, or one of the other bars located in downtown Athens.
Are your parents more into the music scene than anything? Well lucky for you Athens has plenty to offer in that department as well. Keep track of the concerts happenings and take in a Friday Night show at one of Athens' celebrated music venues like The Georgia Theatre, Live Wire, or 40 Watt. Just make sure you get some sleep because I can promise you that Saturday in Athens will be a marathon!
The second most difficult task of the weekend will be getting out of bed on Saturday. Instead of a leisurely 11 AM wake up, you are likely to receive a loving wake-up from mom text right around 8 AM (if you're lucky), and before you know it your Saturday with your parents has begun. First things first: it's time to caffeinate. The three big shops -- Starbucks, Jittery Joe's, and Einstein's Bagels -- on Broad Street are appealing, but Saturday morning might be the perfect time to venture off the beaten path a bit and take a trip to Hendershots, Ike & Jane, or Two Story Coffeehouse. While the latter two may require a quick trip in the car, you should be able to avoid most game day traffic before 9.
College football in the South isn't complete without a tailgate, so do your best to get your parents to one! Whether it be a friend's, an organization's, or even your own, tailgating is one of the best ways to pass the time before kickoff. Unfortunately, tailgates are not always easy to find, no matter how popular you are! Luckily, downtown Athens is not too shabby a place to spend hours leading up to game time. While the most sought after spot is likely the Rooftop of the Georgia Theatre, there are plenty of other places to dine and catch the pregame show, including Fuzzy's, Saucehouse, or Blind Big Tavern, all of which are within walking distance of Sanford Stadium!
If your parents have tickets to the game, make sure to get there early so they can experience the Dawg Walk - taking place 2 hours and 15 minutes before kickoff behind the Tate Center - and all of UGA football's game day traditions! If they do not, however, we still have you covered with the best places to watch the game around Athens. If you're fortunate enough to be at an evening game (so much fun!), let's assume the game is not over until 10 PM. Now you might be saying what do I do now, it's much too early for bed! In my case, I can accurately predict my parents will be down for the count after the game, and I would be free to end my night how I saw fit. But if your parents are trying to relive the glory days and stay out with the college kids, there's still plenty of options located in, you guessed it, downtown Athens!
Since you likely have a hankering for some late night food, I would highly suggest checking out the infamous Pauley's Original Crepe Bar or the newly opened Clarke's. Both are great for a late night snack and a nice cocktail to conclude the day, and you should have no trouble getting a table at either. If they are still full of fans from the game, take a trip up the street and check out Ted's Most Best for some pizza and a brew on their outdoor patio.
If you made the most of your Saturday in Athens, your parents should let you sleep in for a bit on Sunday! And quite honestly, you don't need to get moving until around 10 to take advantage of Athens' Sunday tradition: brunch. I can assure you that the usual hot spots will be packed: Mama's Boy, Big City Bread Cafe, and Last Resort are great but might make you wait a bit for their delicious food. Some other lesser-known brunch spots are Porterhouse and The Grit, and both The Place and FIVE serve brunch on Sundays as well. For a really special end to the weekend, plan ahead with a brunch reservation at Five & Ten!
Now that you are nice and full, you are ready to tackle a not-so-lazy Sunday. Your parents' anticipated departure time for the day will certainly shape the day. Option number one is to freshen up your wardrobe with some downtown shopping. While the big stores of Heery's, Pitaya, and Red Dress Boutique catch the eyes of the ladies, there are plenty of places for dad to also enjoy window shopping. With everything from High Country Outfitters for the outdoorsy types to Bulldog fan favorite Tailgate, the downtown shopping scene is a nice way to end a fun weekend in Athens and get a few new shirts out of the ordeal!
Option number two is to make a trip to the State Botanical Garden. Sundays always seem to be the sunniest days with the bluest skies, so they are a great day to take a stroll through the 313-acre preserve just off of South Milledge. Featuring specialized theme gardens and more than five miles of nature trails, the Garden is certain to leave you in awe for free!
Option number three is to take a tour of one of the local breweries. Between Creature Comforts located in downtown Athens and Terrapin and Southern Brewing Co. just a short drive away, there are no bad options. If you are looking for more time in the sun, the latter two are great options with great outdoor spaces. However, if you are looking for a quick pit stop on your way back to your parent's hotel, Creature Comforts might be the way to go.
Regardless of what you do on Sunday, or throughout the weekend for that matter, your parents will just enjoy getting to visit the classic city! A weekend in Athens is a weekend well spent, just do your best to treat your parents to all of the great things Athens has to offer.
Now that you've survived one of the toughest weekends of the year, you can take on anything! Not only will inviting your parents back score major brownie points but you'll also be getting a nice meal and a hug from mom. Watch the Athens Events Calendar to keep track of big basketball games, concerts, or events at The Classic Center for anything that might pique their interest because I can promise that after one weekend here, they'll want to experience all that Athens has to offer.