Top 5 Things to Do in Athens, Georgia

Photo Credit: @picturesbecrazy via Instagram

Photo Credit: @picturesbecrazy via Instagram

This fall when you and thousands of others head to Athens, Georgia to cheer on the Dawgs in the Sanford Stadium, be sure to check out all that the Classic City has to offer beyond the hedges. With so many available activities, the Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau has compiled a “Top 5 Things To Do in Athens on Football Weekends” list!

  • dtExplore downtown Athens: Just a short walk from Sanford Stadium, downtown Athens is bursting at its seams with stylish and quirky shops, a variety of bars and music venues, unbeatable dining, and more. The Victoria-era architecture creates an inviting atmosphere for both visitors and locals to take a leisurely stroll and explore the local shops. While you’re checking out the town, keep a look out for the world’s only Double-Barreled Cannon on the corner of College Ave. and Hancock Ave and the Tree That Owns Itself, which is a few blocks away on the corner of Dearing St. and Finley St. Bordering downtown, the University of Georgia’s beautiful North Campus, which also makes for a beautiful walk, begins at The Arch on Broad Street.
  • Feast on Local Fare: No football fan will be underfed this season with dozens of delectable restaurants lining the streets of downtown Athens. The Classic City’s food scene is booming and has recently caught the attention of national media. Among the most recognized eateries are Five and TenTop Chef Hugh Acheson’s restaurant, and The Last Resort Grill on Clayton St., which is always a family favorite. Mama’s BoyHeirloom CafeThe GritPorterhouse Grill, and East-West Bistro are also popular choices for weekend brunch. There is no shortage of traditional “tailgating food” such as pizza, burgers, and wings, which can be found downtown at Amici Italian CafeThe Volstead, and Dirty Birds. A complete list of Athens restaurants can be found here.
  • Enjoy a Cold Brew: While in Athens, fans will want to try local Athens beer. Known for its unsurpassed flavor and character, Terrapin beer is quickly winning over the nation. Adding to their collection of awards, Terrapin Beer Co. recently claimed a spot on The Best 25 Craft Breweries in the U.S. list, and visitors will understand why. The whole family, including leashed four-legged friends, is invited to tour the brewery on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Live outdoor music, free tastings, lawn games, and brewery tours every half-hour make for a pleasant, relaxing environment for all. A $10 souvenir beer glass secures eight four-ounce tasting tickets for visitors ages 21+. Athens’ newest brewery, Creature Comforts Brewing Company, opened in April 2014 in downtown Athens, in the old Snow Tire building on Hancock Avenue, and continues an Athens tradition of the exceptional reuse of historic spaces. Creature Comforts is open for tours Tuesdays through Saturdays. Check their Facebook page prior to home game weekends for any revisions on hours.
  • meltingRock Out: Named the “Number One College Music Scene in America” by Rolling Stone Magazine, Athens is gushing with awesome music!  The local venues attract rising stars, old favorites, and everything in between. Not only have world-renowned bands such as R.E.M., the B-52’s, and Widespread Panic originated from the Classic City, but hundreds of new and upcoming bands make their debut in Athens each year. Between famous Athens venues such as the Georgia TheatreThe Melting Point, and 40 Watt Club, and intimate venues such as Caledonia LoungeLittle Kings Shuffle Club, and the Green Room, there is always a great show to be seen. Check out the performance schedule here!
  • Take a Tour: For visitors interested in learning about the historical components of Athens, guided tours are available. The Classic City Tour of Athens is offered daily through the Athens Welcome Center, along with free self-guided brochures/maps, audio tours, and pod tours. Details can be found at hereAthens Food Tours are a delicious and exciting option for those wanting to learn about and taste local and regional cuisine. Lastly, the self-guided Athens Music History Walking Tour focuses on the history of Athens music and the locations that made the music scene into such a success. The tour brochure is available at the Athens Welcome Center or online.
For more information about Athens, Georgia visit http://www.visitathensga.com/.

Civil War Wednesday: The Fall of Atlanta

Destroyed box cars in Atlanta, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-33492

Destroyed box cars in Atlanta, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-33492

One hundred fifty years ago this week, Major General William T. Sherman turned his three armies to the southwest, and began maneuvering around besieged Atlanta, in an attempt to cut the remaining railroads supplying the Confederate forces protecting the city. General John Bell Hood, head of the Army of Tennessee, upon learning the Federal troops had vacated their positions opposite the vast series of earthworks and fortifications surrounding Atlanta, believed Major General Joseph Wheeler’s raid into northwest Georgia had accomplished the mission of severing Sherman’s supply line out of Chattanooga. Although Wheeler and his horsemen inflicted some damage to the Western & Atlantic Railroad, Northern repair crews soon had the rails restored, and supplies flowed to Sherman’s 100,000 troops.

Scouting parties soon reported to Hood the presence of Federal forces near Rough and Ready, with elements also approaching Jonesboro. Hood ordered Lieutenant Generals William Hardee and S.D. Lee to move, posthaste, toward the area. Hardee arrived first, reaching Jonesboro on August 30. At 1:00 p.m. on the day of his arrival, he received a dispatch from Brigadier General Francis Shoup, Hood’s chief of staff, indicating the commanding general “…does not think the necessity will arise to send more troops to Jonesborough to-day.”[1] Before sunset on the day, the Confederates reversed their thoughts regarding a pending attack, and full preparations for battle began.

The plan of attack for the Confederates dictated Lee and Hardee would coordinate their attempted repulse of the approaching Federals, with Major General Patrick Cleburne launching the assault. Upon hearing the sound of Cleburne engaging, Lee would strike the left of the Federal position, while Hardee hit the right. Light skirmishing broke out on the morning of August 31, and Lee, mistaking the sounds for Cleburne’s full advance, initiated his attack. Lee’s soldiers, forced to fall back, could not support a breakthrough Cleburne’s men later achieved. Day one drew to a close with Lee suffering the majority of the Confederate casualties. Major General Oliver O. Howard sent the following report to Sherman: “The enemy attacked us in three distinct points, and were each time handsomely repulsed.”[2]

Fearing an attack upon Atlanta from another direction, Hood ordered Lee to make his way back to the city during the evening of August 31. When the battle renewed at Jonesboro on September 1, Hardee, severely outnumbered, had no chance to hold-off the bulk of Sherman’s armies. Two days of fighting resulted in 2,000 Confederate dead, wounded, and missing; the Northern forces lost 1,149 men. The defeat at Jonesboro, coupled with the severing of the final rail lines running into the city, left Hood no choice but to abandon Atlanta on the evening of September 1, 1864. He ordered the destruction of over 80 box cars – some loaded with munitions – and five locomotives, which the Confederates could not extricate. The resultant blast leveled nearby buildings, while the noise alarmed civilians for miles in all directions.

The fall of the city weakened Southern morale and increased the resolve among many in the North to continue the war effort. None received this news with greater elation than President Abraham Lincoln. He issued an order of thanks to Sherman and his armies, and called for the nation to observe a day of “Thanksgiving and Prayer” on September 10. Perhaps more than most, Lincoln had occasion for giving thanks, as his reelection hopes, spiraling downward before the capture of Atlanta, met a complete reversal after news of Sherman’s victory spread. Lincoln’s Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Wells, pointedly addressed the political implications from the fall of Atlanta in his diary entry of September 9. “The success of Sherman at Atlanta…has very much discomposed the opposition. They had planned for a great and onward demonstration for their candidate [George B. McClellan] and platform, but our naval and army successes have embarrassed them exceedingly.”[3] Six small words from Sherman, “…Atlanta is ours, and fairly won,” transformed Northern military and political fortunes in 1864.[4]

shafferMichael K. Shaffer is a Civil War historian, author, newspaper columnist, and lecturer. He can be contacted at: www.civilwarhistorian.net.

[1] U.S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, reprint 1899 ed. Series I 38, pt. 5 (Harrisburg, PA: National Historical Society, 1971), 1000.

[2] Ibid., 727.

[3] Gideon Wells, Diary of Gideon Wells, Secretary of the Navy under Lincoln and Johnson (1911; repr., Lexington, KY: Filiquarian Publishing, 2011), 2:140.

[4]O.R., 38, pt. 5, 777.

Fan Photo Friday

Submit your Georgia photos for the chance to be featured:

Sunset in Downtown Atlanta from the top of the Crowne Plaza in Midtown. Photo by Gene Phillips. Submitted via Facebook.

Sunset in Downtown Atlanta from the top of the Crowne Plaza in Midtown. Photo by Gene Phillips. Submitted via Facebook.

The overlook at Cloudland Canyon State Park in Rising Fawn, Georgia. Photo by Cosmonaut. Submitted via Flickr.

The overlook at Cloudland Canyon State Park in Rising Fawn, Georgia. Photo by Cosmonaut. Submitted via Flickr.

 

Kayaking the Chattahoochee River. Photo by @kathyreynolds27. Submitted via Twitter.

Kayaking the Chattahoochee River. Photo by @kathyreynolds27. Submitted via Twitter.

Sitting in the Indian Seats at Sawnee Mountain. Photo by @heehawlife. Submitted via Instagram.

Sitting in the Indian Seats at Sawnee Mountain. Photo by @heehawlife. Submitted via Instagram.

 

Atlanta’s Best Scenic Beginner Hikes

Arabia Mountain Top Trail

Arabia Mountain Top Trail

 

Atlanta’s plentiful parks, tall trees and comfortable climate make it a fantastic city for outdoor activity. And with unique landscape features, from creeks and rivers like the mighty Chattahoochee to towering bald summits like Stone Mountain and Arabia, there’s an abundance of hiking adventures to be found around the city.

Explore Atlanta’s stunning outdoors on these five metro-area trails, all within 30 miles of the city (and some in town). They’re all great for beginning hikers: they’re easy to moderate in difficulty, under four miles in length, and pack a ton of outdoor beauty within a relatively short distance.  And the few that top the mileage charts are still beginner-friendly: there’s plenty of scenic outdoor beauty spread along the trail.  So if you don’t make it the full distance your first trip, don’t worry: enjoy as much of the trail as you can,  and return for more hiking fun in the future.

No hiking boots? No problem! These trails are running-shoe-friendly.  Be sure to pack basics, like printed trail directions (see each trail’s link for detailed directions and maps), water, sunscreen and your mobile phone in case of emergency.

Arabia Mountain Top Trail

(1.3 miles, unpaved / open rock expanses)

Hike through stunning geology and ecology to the summit of Arabia Mountain in the Davidson-Arabia Nature Preserve near Atlanta’s east side perimeter. The Arabia Mountain Top Trail scales the mountain’s cratered, open rock expanses to stunning 360-degree views at the summit.  The best time to hike? After a rain, to catch pools of water in the mountain’s craters that reflect the wide-open sky above.

 

South Peachtree Creek Trail

South Peachtree Creek Trail

South Peachtree Creek Trail

(2 miles, paved / boardwalk)

This PATH Foundation trail near Decatur crosses a towering train trestle before descending to the ruins of the Decatur Waterworks.  And after rolling elevation through a shady forest, the South Peachtree Creek Trail runs raised boardwalk through a forest on the banks of South Peachtree Creek.

 

Morningside Nature Preserve Trail

Morningside Nature Preserve Trail

Morningside Nature Preserve Trail

(2.45 miles, unpaved)

Located on the fringes of Morningside, one of Atlanta’s upscale residential neighborhoods, the Morningside Nature Preserve Trail is a tucked-away favorite of neighborhood residents. The trail hikes across a suspension bridge spanning the sandy shores of South Peachtree Creek before winding through a terraced forest. Keep watch for wildlife on the trail: beavers, turtles, raccoons and birds are often sighted in the preserve.

 

Sweetwater Creek Red Trail

Sweetwater Creek Red Trail

Sweetwater Creek Red Trail

(2.3 miles, unpaved)

Hike the Sweetwater Red Trail at Sweetwater Creek State Park to the ruins of a mill destroyed in the Civil War on the banks of a beautiful, whitewater-filled creek. Sweetwater Creek’s rushing whitewater rapids, small cascading waterfalls, and sandy banks punctuated with large boulders are a perfect backdrop to a mid-hike picnic.

 

Red Top Mountain Iron Hill Trail

Red Top Mountain Iron Hill Trail

Red Top Mountain Iron Hill Trail

(3.8 miles, unpaved / boardwalks)

Hike the meandering shore of Allatoona Lake on the Iron Hill Peninsula at Red Top Mountain State Park north of Atlanta. The Red Top Mountain Iron Hill Trail hikes through a spindly, shady forest, catching nearly continuous views of the lake’s glassy-water cove. The trail gently rolls elevation along the shore thanks to a series of raised wooden boardwalks that span the peninsula’s occasional elevation dips.

Eric ChamplinEric Champlin is a writer and photographer who loves to hike, run, kayak and cycle Georgia’s beautiful outdoors. Eric is the author of Atlanta Trails, an online magazine that reviews the best hiking trails, running trails and outdoor adventures throughout Georgia. His mission? To inspire Atlanta residents and visitors to get fit outdoors and explore Georgia’s beauty.

PHOTO CREDIT (all): Eric Champlin

 

55 Things to Do on Labor Day Weekend

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Head to any of the Labor Day events in Georgia and make the most of your long holiday weekend. Watch hot air balloons float above the trees in Pine Mountain, crush grapes at a winery in North Georgia, build a sand castle on the beach, cheer for your favorite football team and race car driver, and watch a Pirate Boat Parade on Lake Blackshear. Find these and many more events on http://exploregeorgia.org.

Family Fun

Aug. 29-31: Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival at Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain

Aug. 30: Annual Kingsland Catfish Festival, Kingsland

Aug. 30-31: Laurel Summer Fest, Gainesville

Aug. 30-31: Labor Day Weekend – Sunset Tours, North Georgia Zoo, Cleveland

Aug. 30-Sept. 1: Labor Day Celebration and Customer Appreciation Weekend, Clayton County International Park – The Beach, Jonesboro

Aug. 31: Tybee Island Labor Day Beach Bash, Tybee Island

Sports & Racing

Aug. 29-31: IPRA World Championship Fall Rodeo, Cumming

Aug. 30: Georgia Tech Football vs. Wofford, Atlanta

Aug. 30: Big Cat Quest Catfish Tournament, Rome

Aug. 31: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hampton

Aug. 31: Callaway Gardens Family Fitness Series Triathlon, Pine Mountain

Wine & Cheese

Aug. 30: Crush Fest, A Harvest Celebration, Yonah Mountain Vineyards, Cleveland

Aug. 30: Grape Stomping Festival, Paradise Hills Resort, Spa & Farm Winery, Blairsville

Aug. 30: Cheesemaking 101, Sweet Grass Dairy, Thomasville

History & Culture

Aug. 30: 3 Deep in the Yard – The Pivotal Battle of Jonesboro, Jonesboro

Aug. 30: Civil War Event at the Yellow River Post Office, Lilburn

Aug. 30-31: Mountain Heritage Festival, Blairsville

Art & Music

Aug. 30: Lighthouse Gospel Concert, Thomasville

Aug. 30: Just My Imagination Workshop, Dublin

Aug. 30-31: St. Simons Island Antique Show, St. Simons Island

Aug. 31: Drake and Lil’ Wayne at Aaron’s Amphitheatre, Atlanta

Select Events at Georgia State Parks

Aug. 29: Art in the Park, Sweetwater Creek State Park, Lithia Springs

Aug. 29 & 31: Labor Day Weekend Night Kayak, Hard Labor Creek State Park, Rutledge

Aug. 30: Labor Day Festival, Fort McAllister State Park, Richmond Hill

Aug. 30: Astronomy, Stephen C. Foster State Park, Fargo

Aug. 30: Bark in the Park Dog Luau, F.D. Roosevelt State Park, Pine Mountain

Aug. 30: Labor Day Fishing Rodeo, Reed Bingham State Park, Adel

Aug. 30: Labor Day at Jarrell Plantation Historic Site, Juliette

Aug. 30: Lake Blackshear Pirate Festival, Georgia Veterans State Park, Cordele

Aug. 30: Moonlight Movie Night, Victoria Bryant State Park, Royston

Aug. 31: Guided Canoe Trip, Mistletoe State Park, Appling

Aug. 31: Jr. Ranger Mini-Camp, Tugaloo State Park, Lavonia

Aug. 30-31: Indoor Basic Archery, Panola Mountain State Park, Stockbridge

Aug. 30-31: Tallulah Gorge Floor Hike, Tallulah Gorge State Park, Tallulah Falls

Aug. 30-Sept. 1: Labor-less Day, Little Ocmulgee State Park and Lodge, Helena

Aug. 30-Sept. 1: Labor Day on the Lake, Florence Marina State Park, Omaha

Aug. 30-Sept. 1: Tools and Skills that Built a Colony, Wormsloe Historic Site, Savannah

Sept. 1: Labor Day Commemoration, Fort Morris Historic Site, Midway

Sept. 1: Labor Day at Fort King George Historic Site, Darien

Last Chance! Events Ending Labor Day Weekend

Through Aug. 29: Bea Kuhlke Art Exhibition, Sacred Heart Gallery, Augusta

Aug. 30: Blue & Gray Saturdays, Heritage Sandy Springs Museum, Sandy Springs

Through Aug. 30: Family Farm Tours, Jaemor Farms, Alto

Through Aug. 30: Victorian Mourning Tours, Stately Oaks Plantation, Jonesboro

Through Aug. 30: 3D Off the Wall Exhibit, The Art Center, Blue Ridge

Through Aug. 31: The Land Abstracted: Exhibit by Colleen Sterling, The Art Center, Blue Ridge

Through Aug. 31: Corks and Canvas, Evans

Through Aug. 31: Exhibits at Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, Atlanta

Through Aug. 31: Splash Pad, Southern Pines Regional Park, Dublin

Through Aug. 31: “Right On,” Horizon Theatre, Atlanta

Through Sept. 1: Summer Music Weekends, Rock City, Lookout Mountain

Through Sept. 1: Blue Star Museums, Flint RiverQuarium and Thronateeska Heritage Center, Albany

Opening Labor Day Weekend

Aug. 30-Sept. 17: Perspectives 2014 pottery event, Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation, Watkinsville

Aug. 30-Oct. 26: Pick Your Own Apples, Red Apple Barn, Ellijay

Aug. 30-Nov. 16 Buford Corn Maze, Buford

Sept. 1-30: Blue Morpho Butterfly Month at Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain