I remember being a freshman, a complete newcomer, to both Athens and the University of Georgia.  I was overwhelmed by how enormous the campus was (and hilly!). "How in the world am I going to get from East Campus to the Miller Learning Center in 15 minutes?" "Do I need a bike?" "More fruits, less cheese puffs..." After buying a new water bottle and seriously contemplating a motor scooter, I decided I was just going to take on UGA campus one step at a time. It really is shocking how quickly the campus shrinks once you make new friends and learn the bus routes. 



After getting used to the campus, I began to venture out into Athens. Athens is the smallest county in Georgia, but it is massive in personality and culture. I'm taking Athens on, as I did UGA, one step at a time, and am enjoying the interesting things I'm finding at every turn. Don't just be a student at the University of Georgia, be a member of the Athens community! Here are a few starting points to discovering life beyond the Arch!




Eat Local


 UGA's Meal plan is amazing! Unlimited food - need I say more? But remember that Athens is full of amazing restaurants. Our chefs and restaurant owners work so hard to create a culinary scene that is unmatched.

  • Mama's Boy has one of the most delicious breakfast menu in town. It's a great place for breakfast or brunch. If you want pancakes make sure you go on a Tuesday for a boost before those long Tuesday/Thursday classes.
  • If you want something unique for lunch you could try Add Drugs. It's a drug store with a lunch bar that serves great food. Add Drug Store has been around since 1961. Locals loved it then and love it now!
  • Now let's talk dessert! Condor Chocolates makes bean-to-bar Ecuadorian chocolate right here in Athens, Georgia. They focus on the educational aspect of the business, as they demonstrate the skillful process they use to create delicious truffles and chocolate bars.




Study Off-Campus


 UGA Campus has great hiding places to get some one-on-one time with your books, but a change in scenery never hurt anyone! There are tons of quiet study spaces around Athens that could spice up any boring class material (Well, Organic Chemistry? Maybe not so much...) 

  • Two Story Coffee House designated their top floor as a quiet study lounge. With their cozy set up and Wi-Fi access you can knock out a ton of studying. And once you're done, head downstairs for some coffee and a little socializing.
  • Donderos' is owned by a local family and is located in the Historic district. It's a quiet café that serves as a great place to study with both great food and free Wi-Fi access.
  • Jittery Joes has coffee, bakery items, Wi-Fi, a library shelf, and calming vibes that set the tone for a perfect study session.



Support our Music Scene


I know how tempting Netflix is on a Friday night, but there are live shows downtown nearly every night. Get out of the bed or library or dining hall and check out some amazing Athens talent in action.

  • The Foundry hosts performances for nationally renowned musicians as well as local and emerging artists. If you're in the mood for smooth vibes, delicious handcrafted food, and great beer head to The Foundry.
  • The Georgia Theatre is a prominent music venue here in Athens. Many successful acts from the early music of Athens, Georgia performed at the Theatre, including a range of folk, popular and country acts. Taylor Swift, Luke Bryan, John Mayer, and Wiz Kalifa are a few notable artists that have performed at The Georgia Theatre.
  • Hendershot's has performances by local artists all the time. If you're feeling up to it take the stage yourself on open mic night on Mondays!




Volunteer Around Town


There is no better way to make a community your own than by lending a hand. By giving your time to those who need the extra help you're doing more than becoming a part of Athens, you're leaving a mark too.


  • Bear Hollow Zoo is a small zoo that exhibits rescued, non-releasable Georgia native wildlife. If you love animals or are looking for a way to get involved, Bear Hollow Zoo relies on their volunteer program to carry out animal care and special events. There are five categories: general park volunteers, animal care volunteers, education volunteers, special project volunteers, and group work day volunteers.
  • Food Bank of Northeast Georgia sponsors weekly preparation of approximately 500 disposable sacks with enough food for two days of meals to be given each Friday to school children at risk of going hungry on the weekends. Email kidsmeals@foodbanknega.org to volunteer with the Food 2 Kids program and make a difference in the lives of the children in your community.
  • Athens Clarke County needs coaches for their youth sports program. There are basketball and soccer teams that need volunteer coaches over the age of 18 to volunteer 2-3 hours a week. This is a great opportunity to be a role model and provide support for the youth in our community. 


Most students only get to spend four years in Athens, so make sure you take the time to explore life beyond the arch. Check out Ramen Noodle night at Seabear Oyster BarFive and Ten, or Pulaski Heights BBQ. Sing your heart out for karaoke at ShokitiniSign up to coach a local youth sports team. Or just grab some friends and explore Athens! I promise you will find your own favorite places and make awesome memories along the way. So be present, be active, and be influential -- find your place beyond the arch and don't be afraid to make Athens your home away from home.


For more things to do in Athens, see our event page at visitathensga.com/things-to-do