Athens is known for the lights and music of downtown, people and food, football and breweries, but the Classic City also has a quieter side. Whether you need a weekend to relax or just a quick break to breathe, these gardens, parks and peaceful spaces will help you stay calm, cool and collected all while taking in some of Athens' most unique attractions.
Founders Memorial Garden
In 1891, America's first garden club was born right here in Athens, GA. The Founders Memorial Garden on the University of Georgia's campus was created in the mid-1930s to commemorate this organization. This small, but enchanting garden features hidden walkways with luscious greenery making it seem as though you have stepped out of Athens and into a fairy tale land. Wonder down one of the winding paths to find a hidden bench or sit next to the bubbling fountain in the sunshine.
North Oconee River Greenway
Break out your bike or throw on your walking shoes and spend an afternoon outdoors at the North Oconee River Greenway. Take a leisurely stroll through the paved walkways with tree branches arching overhead. String up your hammock by the river at one of the hammock stands or take a picnic and snack in the sunshine. If you have kids who keep you on your toes, this is the perfect place to unwind while giving them plenty of room to play. They will love riding their bikes down the off-road trail just as much as you will. If the Greenway sounds like your ideal way to decompress, check out more parks and outdoor spaces to visit in Athens.
State Botanical Garden of Georgia
Wander through any of the 313 - acres of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia for a guaranteed relaxing way to spend your day. With many themed gardens, five miles of trails and a three story glass-walled conservatory filled with brilliant flowers and creeping vines, the botanical gardens can transport you a world away from work and all other stressors in your life. Bring the kids along to check out the Alice H. Richards Children's Garden, a two and a half acre outdoor space featuring themed gardens and play areas.
UGA's North Campus
Need a second away from the noise of downtown Athens? Just walk across Broad St. to UGA's North Campus! Historic buildings dating as early as 1805 surround the large amount of green space, making it a peaceful escape from the quick-pace of the world around it. No matter the time of year you find yourself in Athens, the lawn of North Campus is a dreamy area to unwind and take in the sites and sounds of UGA. North Campus is also the home of UGA's original football and baseball field, Herty Field. This field and its accompanying fountain are popular on-campus spots to sit out in the sun or to snap an Instagram-worthy photo.
Oconee Forest Park
Did you know the largest scarlet oak tree in Georgia is located in Athens? That's right, this record-holding tree can be found in the Oconee Forest Park. See if you can spot it as you venture through the walking trail, part of the 60-acre natural area that the park offers. If you'd rather sit still and take in the scenery, grab a book from one of Athens' bookshops and find a seat near the 15-acre lake, Lake Herrick. With over 1.5 miles of hiking-walking trails that wind through the hickory forest along Lake Herrick and 1.2 mile mountain bike trail there are plenty of soothing spots to find along the way. This peaceful park can be accessed through the UGA Intramural Fields.
UGA Trial Gardens
In the middle of all the action on the University of Georgia's campus sits the UGA Trial Gardens, where greenery has been growing since 1982. See what plants make the cut to be labeled "Athens Select" and sold in garden centers around the country. Don't forget to stop by and purchase some plants to bring home at their annual Plant Sale in April.
Georgia Museum of Art
The museum of art on UGA's campus is serene every day, with walls and walls of gorgeous art and the lovely hush of awe as visitors wind their way through the paintings, artifacts and sculptures. Find a spot of one of the benches placed through the space to take a breath and admire the view, or stroll through the space and find your favorite piece. Looking for a more guided moment of serenity? Attend one of their Friday morning mindfulness events, or one of their yoga in the galleries classes.
When relaxing at any of these serene spots, be sure to tag your photos with #VisitAthensGA and #AthensGA for a chance to be featured on our social media.