When visiting a city with as much rich history and character as Athens, it can be difficult to know where to begin and what to see. From its football fame and music history to its top-rated restaurants and superb shopping scene, Athens, Georgia is truly unlike anywhere else. We've put together the top 10 must-see places on your first visit to give you the best look into Athens' culture. So what are you waiting for? Come check out the one-of-a-kind places that make up the Classic City.
1) Sanford Stadium
It's not a Saturday in Athens without watching the Dawgs play, and it's not a trip to Athens without seeing Sanford Stadium! Hailing as one of the ten largest stadiums in the nation in terms of capacity, the home of the Georgia Bulldogs football team is not to be missed. Stand on the edge of the stadium and Call the Dawgs, just like tens of thousands of UGA fans do when the Dawgs play Between the Hedges in the fall.
2) Bulldog statues
Spreading the pride of the Bulldog Nation, these statues sit proudly outside establishments all across Athens. Each bulldog is specifically painted to reflect the sites and scenes from the area surrounding it. See how many you can find as you adventure around Athens!
3) Mama's Boy
Ask any Athens resident for a breakfast or lunch recommendation and Mama's Boy is sure to be mentioned. Come see why people are always willing to wait, even when the line is out the door, at this Classic City brunch spot. Enjoy one of their signature biscuits with a cup of Jittery Joe's locally-brewed coffee. If you want to take in more of the Athens scenery, place a pick up order and have a picnic at Dudley Park just behind the restaurant. Make sure you ask for the blackberry jam!
4) Bear Hollow Zoo
Take a walk on the wild side at the Bear Hollow Zoo. Don't let its small size fool you; a variety of animals call this zoo home, including black bears and bobcats. All animals housed at the zoo are unable to be released into the wild due to physical reasons. While Saturdays in Athens are best known for the Dawgs, they're pretty special at the zoo, too. The exhibit hall is open to the public on Saturdays when visitors are able to touch the animals. There is no admission charge for the zoo. Check out this page for more free things to do in Athens.
5) The Georgia Theatre
While it's no secret football is highly revered in Athens, the music scene also brings its own buzz. See a show at The Georgia Theatre where Athens-native bands like REM and Widespread Panic once played when they were just starting out. If you can't make it for a performance, hangout at the Georgia Theatre Rooftop. The Rooftop boasts a full bar, lunch and dinner menu, and views of downtown unlike anywhere else in Athens. Check out our other music spots here!
6) Last Resort Grill
With its exposed brick interior and unique Southern cuisine, Last Resort Grill embodies the charm of Athens. Open for lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch, Last Resort Grill is a favorite spot to dine in Downtown Athens. Finish off your meal with a slice of their famous cheesecake. Snap a pic by the brightly covered mural on the side of the building to commemorate your visit, although the food will make sure you never forget.
7) Georgia Museum of Art
Did you know the state of Georgia's official art museum is located in Athens? Wander through the Georgia Museum of Art to see the paintings, sculptures, and other pieces of artwork that fill the colorful rooms of the permanent collection. Be sure to check out the current exhibit on display as well. Take a guided tour or view at your own pace. Admission to this museum is another attraction to add to the list of freebies in Athens!
8) The Tree that Owns Itself
One of Athens famous, funny sites is The Tree that Owns Itself. Just as the name suggests, this tree is under the authority of no one but itself and has been since the 1800s. The story states that the original owner of the tree left the tree to itself in his will. This tree stands tall in its own enclosure in the middle of the road, unable to be cut down. Curious as to what the plaque reads? Come to Athens and find out!
9) Downtown Athens
Take a stroll through Downtown Athens to take in all of the historic charm the Classic City offers. Shop at trendy, locally-owned boutiques like Agora Vintage, Cheeky Peach, and The Indigo Child. After you've shopped 'til you've dropped, grab a beverage and a bite at Trappeze Pub, where you must try the fries and form your opinion on the best sauce pairing, or Five Bar, a restaurant and bar with five entrees on the menu, none of which you can go wrong with.
10) The Arch
Last, but certainly not least, visit the UGA Arch. This famous University of Georgia monument serves as a symbol for not only the university, but the city of Athens. Watch your step when viewing this iconic landmark. Legend has it that students who walk under The Arch will not graduate. Think your days as a college student are over? Don't be too sure-- you may fall in love with this city so much you surprise yourself and never want to leave!
See how many of these special sites you can check off the list during your first visit! Be sure to hashtag the photos from your visit with #VisitAthensGA for a chance to be featured on our social media.