Whether your college time has started, are here for orientation or are still deciding if UGA’s right for you, take some time to explore the Classic City like the locals do! You’ll discover why Athens is the perfect college home for your next four years, and parents, you'll find that visiting your student will be one of your new favorite weekend activities! Go beyond campus to get the full picture of Dawg life.
Get a Taste of Athens
As one of the greatest pastimes in this city, you’re sure to find a restaurant to peak your taste buds.
Be Sure to Try: Big City Bread Café is a local gem with outdoor seating and a menu that will make it hard to pick just one dish. Their selections make wonderful use of fresh-baked goods, and vegan and vegetarian options are offered.
Live Like a Local: Fair warning, brunch lines start forming early, especially on the weekends.
Other Picks: Mama’s Boy, The Café on Lumpkin, Five Athens
Be Sure to Try: Created by local chef Peter Dale, Maepole is a build-your-own-bowl spot with delicious sauces, fresh veggies and mouth-watering spices.
There are so many fantastic options in Athens that it may take you a few days to get through your top choices! Try some fancier fare with southern flair or pick a pub vibe for a relaxing dinner.
Be Sure to Try: The Place is a delicious spot right on Broad Street with a small downstairs dining room and expansive upstairs seating. Try the chicken and waffles for some southern vibes with delicious tabasco candied bacon strips, salted caramel and blueberry reduction served with smoky gouda grits.
Of course, there's no end to the delicious food options around town, so be sure to check out all the info on Athens eats.
Stroll through North Campus
North Campus boasts the beautiful scenery that the university is known for: antebellum architecture, shady trees, hidden gardens and historic monuments. UGA was the first state-chartered university in the U.S. and its architecture owes its inspiration to that of Yale, so the North Campus is a must-see when you visit town.
Checklist: Pass by the iconic Arch (but don't walk through if you're superstitious!), ring the Chapel Bell and for the adventurous among you, take part in campus tradition and jump into the fountain on Herty Field, where the earliest UGA football games were played.
Live Like a Local: On College Ave., a stones throw from the Arch, is Walker's Pub and Coffee. Grab a delicious coffee and a book and find a shady spot under a tree to enjoy a summer in Athens.
Check Out Downtown Shopping
Be Sure to Try: Community is a great one-stop find of sustainable clothing design plus a wide variety of made-in-Athens food, bath & body, and household items that make great gifts or souvenirs for yourself.
While you’re exploring downtown Athens, definitely take some time to shop around for some Bulldawg gear! The Clubhouse carries all things UGA and The Red Zone has all the red and black you need for game day. Dynamite Vintage always has great vintage UGA gear as well as hard-to-find pieces.
Check out the music scene and Athens nightlife
Grab a drink, listen to some live music and enjoy what has made Athens legendary.
Be Sure to Try: Georgia Theatre is a top favorite place to experience the Athens music scene. With shows every week, who knows, you may just see the next R.E.M. or B-52’s before they make it big. Looking for an earlier show? Check out The Foundry, at Graduate Athens hotel.
Live Like a Local: Do the Athens Beer Trail, and taste all the great local beer Athens has to offer. Plan to visit your student while there's a show at The Classic Center or UGA Performing Arts Center, for bonus world-class entertainment while you're in town.
Live shows are a rite of passage in the Classic City, so be sure to check out the music calendar while you're in town! The B-52s and R.E.M. put Athens on the map, but Athens is home to hundreds of bands of many different genres. You’re bound to find bands you know and love at the Georgia Theatre or the 40 Watt, and you can let Live Wire introduce you to someone new. Attending weeknight shows is a popular way to take a break from studying and enjoy the city. Before long, you’ll be a certified Athens music scene expert.
With so much to do in Athens, venturing off campus doesn’t mean leaving the fun behind! Check out more ideas for ways to explore the Classic City and share your trip photos with #MyAthensVibe.
This blog was updated for 2023 by Isabella Martinez.