Recently named the “Best Town in College Football” by Athlon Sports, it’s no surprise that visitors can expect much more from Athens than just a Saturday football game. With award-winning food, some of the most sought-after craft beer in the country, a world-renowned music hub, and an eclectic downtown scene, Athens is a city that will require an extended stay. So, come for the UGA football game on Saturday, but arrive early on Friday and stay until Sunday afternoon to experience all Athens has to offer during an ideal fall football weekend.
The game day energy circulating through fans crowded into Sanford Stadium starts long before the first whistle is blown. Start your Friday in Athens by touring the Special Collections Libraries’ annual exhibit from the UGA Athletic Association archives, this year focusing on the Redcoat Band. This tour is offered on Friday afternoon before each home football game.
Move onto downtown Athens that is bursting at its seams with stylish and quirky shops, a variety of bars and music venues, unbeatable dining, and more. The Victorian-era architecture creates an inviting atmosphere for visitors and locals to take a leisurely stroll and explore the local shops.
Grab a bite to eat downtown, as there is no shortage of the traditional “tailgating” delicacies in the area. Visit Amici for wings, Clocked for a great burger or Ted’s Most Best for a yummy slice of artisan pizza. Head up to the rooftop of the Georgia Theatre for unbeatable views, elevated pub fare and a full bar. Venture outside of downtown to Butt Hutt for delicious BBQ, Cali N’ Titos for a Cuban sandwich that will change your life or George’s Lowcountry Table for New Orleans-style dishes. Take a trip to Athens’ award-winning breweries, Terrapin, Creature Comforts, and Southern Brewing, for tours, complete with tastings of their house-crafted brews.
More than two decades since Athens burst on the music scene as the home of the legendary B-52’s, R.E.M. and Widespread Panic, the vibe is as energetic as ever. Downtown’s world-famous musical venues, the heart of this historic college town’s live music scene, will guarantee a one-of-a-kind night out with friends. Weekend evenings are particularly exciting, as clubs like The 40 Watt, The Foundry at Graduate Athens and the Georgia Theatre play host to various musical performances.
The city starts tailgating at the crack of dawn, regardless of kickoff time. Athens will teem with red and black as fans rush to the downtown streets and favorite tailgate spots to get pumped for the game. Just a short walk from downtown, watch thousands of people line the main entrance to Sanford Stadium for the Dawg Walk, right outside of the Tate Plaza, to welcome the players and coaches before warm ups accompanied by the tunes of the Georgia Redcoat Band. While you’re in Tate Plaza, stop by the UGA Bookstore that has everything a Dawg fan could dream of. Then follow as everyone heads to cheer on the boys of fall between the hedges.
Win or lose, everyone needs to eat after the game. Relax in ambient settings from sidewalk and courtyard cafés to dining rooms overlooking the University of Georgia’s historic North Campus, with menus that feature exceptional wines and Italian, sushi, steak, Cajun, and farm-fresh offerings from local Athens growers. For a full list of Athens restaurants, visit http://www.visitathensga.com/restaurants/.
Wake up, go out and you’ll realize that Athenians take Sunday brunch seriously. Mama’s Boy is the epitome of “Southern Fun Dining,” complete with Southern breakfast and lunch staples and relaxing digs. Mama’s Boy has been voted Athens’ Favorite Brunch by Flagpole Magazine for the past four years and named one of “The South’s Best Biscuit Joints” by Southern Living magazine, so you can imagine how popular it is — arrive early. Last Resort Grill’s brunch is also a favorite among visitors and normally has a line out the door for their stuffed French toast, shrimp & grits, crab benedict and breakfast enchiladas. Other popular breakfast and brunch options include Donderos’ Kitchen, Preserve, and Heirloom Café.
Extend your visit after brunch and peruse two official state attractions, as Athens is home to the State Botanical Garden of Georgia and the Georgia Museum of Art. The Georgia Museum of Art, located on UGA’s East Campus, has a permanent collection of more than 9,000 works of art as well as a variety of traveling exhibitions. The 313-acre State Botanical Garden of Georgia is the perfect place to have a picnic and take a walk on miles of nature trails in cool fall air.
As you can see, your fall football weekend will be packed in Athens. So, it’s only right to spend a little more time in Athens by venturing from your tailgate sport. For information on last-minute hotel availability, parking, tailgating, weekend events and special deals, go to VisitAthensGA.com/football or call the Athens Convention & Visitors Bureau at (706) 357-4430. To stay up to date on travel, visitor and event information, follow VisitAthensGA on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
A devoted Georgia Southern Eagle in Dawg Nation, Khyra Walker took a job as the public relations coordinator for the Athens Convention & Visitors Bureau and has fallen in love. The craft beer scene, variety of food options and creative energy are among her favorite things that Athens has to offer.