With a world-class music scene (R.E.M. and the B-52s started here), hip bars, and a number of cutting-edge restaurants, Athens is a small city that packs a punch. With mild temps, you can visit year round and check out this Georgia town that’s always been on the cutting edge.
Athens’s food scene is busting out with menus full of local, sustainable fare. At the forefront is Top Chef judge and acclaimed chef, Hugh Acheson with his two to-not miss establishments: 5 & 10 and the National, both showcasing local fare with a bit of international flair.
For some local, no-frills soul flavor, check out bright green Weaver D’s, an Athens’ institution serving up your favorite “meat and three” in the classic (not so eco-friendly) Styrofoam plate at long communal tables. Popular eats are the fried chicken, collard greens, mac n’ cheese and the sweet potato soufflé. Wash it all down with a southern tradition, sweet tea.
And no matter what you do, don’t forget to get some pimento cheese, the caviar of the south – it’s addictive!
In 1977, Paul Butchart came to school in Athens and never left. In 1980 his band opened for a new, local band called the B-52s. Today, Paul is a music historian and raconteur giving colorful tours of this legendary music town.
One really hot summer, after all the clubs closed at midnight, we’d go skinny dipping,” said Paul. “So I’ve seen Michael Stipe and all of R.E.M. naked.”
The Athens music scene blew up in the early 1970s and later in the 80s with the Georgia Theatre and 40 Watt Club as the bands R.E.M. and the B-52’s scored breakout hits. Also coming out of this talented city: Widespread Panic, Indigo Girls, and Matthew Sweet.
The brewing scene is Athens is exploding. Athens’ newest brewery is Creature Comforts housed in an old Chrysler dealership from the 1940s. Their brews emulate traditional English, Belgian, and German beer, but what sets them apart is their ability to mix different styles and traditions. Tastings are $12 for about 6 small samples.
Over at Terrapin Brewery, Carmen Miranda (yes, that is her name) gave us tastes of their popular beers including the Hopsecutioner, their number one seller, the Moo-Hoo, a chocolate milk beer, and Hi-5, a California-style IPA heavy on the hops and citrus. They offer up public tastings Wednesday through Sunday where you can also enjoy live music in “The Backyard” on their huge outdoor patio.
College reunion? Going to Homecoming? Going back to school has never been more fun thanks to a new crop of boutique hotels in college towns across America. No more drab, cookie cutter rooms at the chains often found near universities. Graduate Hotels offer nostalgic nods to those glory days, while reflecting their cities with local design elements and charm.
Graduate Athens showcases locally sourced vintage and contemporary art that references the community and university. The rustic, yet modern lobby, set within an early 19th century iron foundry building, is an inviting space to chill with tables, cozy couches, and a coffee bar.
Athens was voted best college town in America by GQ Magazine last year. As one of the top ten grossing college football teams in the U.S., bulldog pride runs deep here. With the University of Georgia right in the heart of town, there is a great influx of academics, art and culture all around.
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Disclosure: During my time in Athens, I was a guest of the Graduate Hotel and AJ Capital Partners. As always, all opinions and writing are my own.