What Makes Athens, GA so Quirky?
Many words can be used to describe Athens: vibrant, picturesque, eccentric, quaint, but most importantly, unique. Athens, GA is anything but ordinary. Live music, one-of-a-kind local eats, and lots of red and black are awaiting you. Athens is as quirky and fun as they come.
Local Business Love
Although geographically the smallest county in Georgia, citizens and visitors alike can always find some something fun to do within Athens' 118 square miles. The love and support of local, small businesses is unparalleled. Ask any local about their favorite specialty store and they'll skip the franchises and babble off a list of businesses developed and sustained right here in the heart of Athens.
One favorite is Frontier, a downtown Athens store known as the best little gift shop in the heart of Athens. With locally made products like stationary, apparel, and handmade lotions – you can’t go wrong with shopping for something special here. After all, that is why they call it, “Gifts for the Soul & Shelter”. For all the chocolate lovers out there, Condor Chocolates, an Ecuadorian bean-to-bar shop in Five Points is a must. Athens natives Nick and Peter Dale oversee the entire process; from the beans being harvested by hand in Ecuador to being packaged here in Athens, the quality is unparalleled. Stop by for an expertly crafted espresso or a delectable truffle.
Thrift Store Galore
Many people in Athens take to the several thrift stores around town to create their own unique style.
Dynamite Clothing has a plethora of 70's and 80's inspired clothes and accessories. You can find just about anything you could need at Dynamite – whether you’re looking for a costume for a party or just a truly vintage piece. Vintage home decor is also popular in Athens. Junk in the Trunk has furniture and decor that will make any home a bit more homey. For the fashionista, head to Suska, a hot spot for "previously loved" clothes that are in season. This European inspired consignment shop collects higher-end clothing and sells them at affordable prices.
Annual community events always draw a huge crowd, as they are the foundation of Athens’ culture. Athens can find just about anything to make a celebration out of, so experiencing one of these events is definitely recommended.
The Twilight Criterium professional bike race completely takes over downtown Athens on a Saturday night each spring. With professional bikers circling the downtown streets over and over, professional drinkers gather to cheer them on. AthFest is also a music lover’s favorite, bringing tons of people to downtown Athens to enjoy free live music, much of which is local artists. Proceeds benefit AthFest Educates, a local nonprofit that supports art and music education. Athens Wine Weekend is a fun winter event that is every vino-lover’s dream and showcases hundreds of wines. Last but not least, we cannot forget Georgia Football, which brings 92,000 of our closest friends to Athens every fall.
Creative Culinary Community
Athens has a booming culinary scene, which makes it a destination for hometown favorites and nationally acclaimed chefs.
Athens offers the opportunity to try cuisine from around the world with such a community-oriented atmosphere. Looking for eccentric American food? Try the Peanut Butter Bacon Burger at Clocked downtown. Enjoy Japanese hibachi at Shokitini and take over one of their karaoke rooms while you’re at it. Head over to Cali N Tito’s for authentic Latin American cuisine in an atmosphere as quirky as it gets. If you’re craving an Italian sub, Ted’s Most Best is where it’s at; plus, their cheesecake is to die for. Essentially, you can’t go wrong when choosing what or where to eat in Athens. However, with all the amazing options, you might have trouble choosing!
Fabulous Fitness Finds
While any true local has a mental list of the best restaurants and most mouth-watering local dishes, they can also point you in the direction of the nearest yoga studio or nearby gym. You'll find Athens streets teeming with cyclists, joggers, and dog walkers.
The city of Athens has managed to balance the overindulgences that the amazing local food might bring about, with excellent and unusual exercise options. You don't have to be stuck on the treadmill with choices like Balance, All Body Studio, Active Climbing, multiple martial arts studios, or M3Yoga (overlooking the Tree Room). Ever wanted to run away and join the circus? Take a class at Canopy Studio, a trapeze dance and performing arts studio, for all ages and all levels – even first timers.
With quirky traditions, food, and events, you never quite know what to expect while in Athens!
This post, originally published on May 27, 2015, has been updated and re-published by Ellie Harding on September 8, 2017.