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Wondering what to do in Athens, Georgia? While Atlanta might get more press, Athens is just over an hour away and boasts tons of fun and interesting things to do for locals and visitors alike.
The city is home to the University of Georgia, which was the very first state-chartered university in the entire country.
The college town vibe is prevalent, but so is the historical preservation effort from the local community.
Athens hosts some of the best-preserved architecture from the antebellum period (before the Civil War), so you can visit several sites to learn more about the people who lived there and their impact on the local community.
Whether you’re visiting for a weekend or moving here for college, you’ll find plenty of great things to do in Athens GA no matter what time of year it is!
You might also like our guide to free things to do in Atlanta if you’re visiting both cities.
Traveling farther afield? Check out our guide to North Georgia.
Fun Things to Do in Athens, Georgia
Tour the University of Georgia Campus
When in Athens, you must take a tour of The University of Georgia (405 College Station Rd).
The oldest public university in the United States was chartered in 1785 in the city of Savannah (see the placard photo below), although the campus is in the city of Athens.
The University has several nicknames including UGA (pronounced by locals as either U-G-A, or UGG-AAHH).
They are also known as ‘the Dawgs’ which is a nod to their beloved University Mascot.
You can schedule a tour of the campus through the UGA Visitors Center (Four Towers Building 405 College Station Rd).
A guided tour consists of a driving portion on a campus bus and an hour-long walking tour of the historic north campus.
Registration is required for all guests.
Alternatively, you can download a campus map and take a self-guided tour.
Georgia Bulldogs Game
If you are looking for things to do in Athens Georgia, even the casual sports fan will revel in watching the Dawgs take the field Between The Hedges!
The regular football season goes from August to December, so try to time your trip for the fall.
The team plays at Sanford Stadium (100 Sanford Drive), which opens to ticket holders two hours before kickoff.
Gameday policies are updated regularly, including parking restrictions (parking opens at 7am) as well as procedures for ADA-compliant Accessible Tickets.
Tickets sell out fast!
If you can’t purchase through the UGA Ticket Office, you can try to go through a ticket resale and exchange company, such as StubHub.
State Botanical Garden of Georgia
For natural beauty, take a trip to The State Botanical Garden of Georgia (2450 S Milledge Ave.).
The garden is free and open to the public during the day all week long (except for UGA holidays).
There is also ample parking on-site.
You can explore various garden areas, including a children’s garden a hummingbird trail, a heritage garden, the Porcelain and Decorative Arts Museum, and more.
For festive holiday fun, don’t miss the Botanical Garden’s Winter Wonderlights event.
The State Botanical Garden is arguably one of the most popular Athens GA points of interest!
The Tree That Owns Itself
This is certainly one of the unique things to do in Athens GA!
Visit The Tree That Owns Itself (at the corner of Dearing and Finley Streets) and snap a selfie.
The tree is its own character in Athens, after having been gifted its own deed of land back in 1890.
When in Athens!
Georgia Museum of Art
The Georgia Museum of Art (90 Carlton St.) is definitely among the best places to visit in Athens GA.
It is free to enter, which makes it the perfect place to visit more than once – especially in rainy weather!
The museum offers timed ticketing, so you must reserve tickets in advance.
Opening hours are Tuesdays through Sundays (closed Mondays).
Parking is available at the Performing Arts Center deck and is free on weekends.
Ware-Lyndon Historic House
One of the best attractions in Athens Georgia is the Ware-Lyndon Historic House (211 Hoyt Street).
It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is also home to the Lyndon House Arts Center.
Research that began in 2019 has led to a new exhibit entitled “Resilient Civic and Musical Life: Ware-Lyndon House Enslaved and Descendant Stories”.
This exhibit is dynamic and will evolve as more is understood about the enslaved plantation and domestic workers that resided at this circa 1840s property and their descendants.
The Georgia Theatre
If you are searching for musical entertainment in Athens GA start with The Georgia Theatre (215 N Lumpkin St.).
This historic venue dates back to 1889 and is part of both the Downtown Athens National Register Historic District and the Downtown Local Historic District.
Check out their Calendar of Events for special activities.
The Rooftop bar and restaurant is open on show nights and you can also rent it for private events.
The 40-Watt Club
Visiting The 40-Watt Club (285 W Washington St.) is another one of the top things to do in Athens GA.
All shows at the 40-Watt Club are general admission/standing room only and 18 and over unless otherwise noted.
Note that state-issued identification is required of all guests, regardless of age.
Creature Comforts Downtown Taproom and Brewery
Another one of the cool things to do in Athens GA is to visit Creature Comforts Downtown Taproom and Brewery (271 W Hancock Ave.).
Creature Comforts is open seven days a week and offers various reasonably priced flights of beer, themed events, and several daily tours of the brewery.
The Athens Beer Trail Trolley Tour
The Beer Trail Trolley Tour is one of the best activities to do in Athens GA!
The tour starts downtown and runs every Thursday and Friday afternoon-evening.
Check out their website for booking information.
Kelly’s Authentic Jamaican Food
When visiting Athens GA stop by Kelly’s Authentic Jamaican Food (1583 S Lumpkin St) which is the local’s favorite go-to for delicious Jamaican comfort food.
Don’t be discouraged by the long lines because the food is well worth the wait!
Rashe’s Cuisine (585 Vine Street, Suite 3) is another delicious option for Jamaican-inspired home-style, comfort food.
The restaurant has been an Athens staple since 1993 and offers catering including the option to hire their food truck for your event.
You can also track its location on the Street Food Finder App while sightseeing in Athens GA.
DePalma’s Italian Cafe
Another one of the best things to do in Athens GA is to get some authentic Italian food at DePalma’s Italian Cafe.
There are three locations: Downtown (401 E. Broad St), Eastside (1965 Barnett Shoals Rd), and Westside (2080 Timothy Rd).
Take your pick and enjoy one of Athens’ favorite local spots!
If you prefer to cook at home check out Earth Fare (1689 S Lumpkin St.).
An alternative is the community-owned Daily Groceries Co-Op (523 Prince Ave.).
Both options offer healthy grab-and-go foods or grocery items to prepare at home.
Athens Haunted History Walking Tour
Local historian Jeff Clarke has appeared on the Discovery Network, The Travel Channel, and Georgia Public Broadcasting.
He provides 2-hour walking tours of the spookiest places to see in Athens GA.
Tours are by appointment only, weather permitting, and require advance reservations.
Contact information to book a tour can be found on the website.
Historic Athens Welcome Center
The Historic Athens Welcome Center (280 E Dougherty St.) offers tours of the city to help you make the most of your Athens GA sightseeing.
The Welcome Center is open seven days a week (except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s).
Get a great introduction to Athens before exploring more!
Sandy Creek Nature Center
Sandy Creek Nature Center (205 Old Commerce Rd.) is another one of the best Athens GA places to visit.
The nature center offers 225 acres of woodlands and wetlands and more than four miles of trails to enjoy.
When you plan a visit to this kid-friendly location, be sure to check out the Education & Visitor Center for more background on the local flora and fauna.
J and J Flea Market
J and J Flea Market (11661 Commerce Rd.) is also one of the fun places to go in Athens GA.
The 1,200-booth market is open Saturdays and Sundays year-round.
There is also free parking available.
UGA Performing Arts Center
The UGA Performing Arts Center (230 River Road) is one of the best places to visit in Athens GA if you appreciate theater and live music.
With shows from UGA students and faculty — as well as a wide variety of other acts and performances from visiting artists — the PAC is the perfect place to see a show.
This venue is open daily, but check out the Calendar of Events for event and ticket information.
UGA’s Special Collections Libraries
Another one of the Athens GA tourist attractions is the Gallery Exhibits at the UGA Special Collections Library (300 South Hull Street).
Exhibits are updated on a regular basis and are free and open to the public during specific times and days each week.
Check the website before you go to avoid disappointment.
Another one of the historic places to go in Athens GA is the Morton Theatre (195 W Washington St), which you won’t want to miss.
Check out their Calendar of Events to purchase tickets for upcoming performances and special events ranging from comedy shows to film festivals.
Athens African American History Self-Guided Tour
African American History is a huge part of what makes Athens the dynamic city that it is.
Download the map for a self-guided tour, which features 21 points of interest from UGA North Campus through downtown to Epps Bridge Road.
Most sites are within walking or biking distance of each other, with the exception of a few where a car is more convenient.
Are you ready to visit Athens GA now? We hope this guide provided tons of inspiration for fun things to do while you’re there!
Let us know your favorite spots in Athens in the comments below.
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