In this article, we invite you to join us on a journey through the 15 must-visit attractions that define Athens, Georgia. From serene nature centers to iconic sports venues, captivating art galleries to family-friendly playgrounds, this list encompasses the essence of Athens and provides a glimpse into the soul of the city. Join us as we explore the top things to do in Athens, where culture and nature meet in perfect harmony.
Things to do in Athens, GA
1. Sandy Creek Nature Center
- Website: Sandy Creek Nature Center
- Address: 205 Old Commerce Rd, Athens, GA 30607
It’s a great place for nature lovers and a peaceful escape into the outdoors. You can walk on well-kept trails through forests and wetlands, see local plants and animals, and take pictures of birds and wildlife.
The center has exhibits with birds, reptiles, and amphibians, giving you a close look at Georgia’s wildlife. They also have educational programs for families and school groups interested in nature and conservation.
2. Sanford Stadium
- Website: Sanford Stadium
- Address: 100 Sanford Dr, Athens, GA 30602
The hallowed ground of the University of Georgia’s football team and a true mecca for sports enthusiasts. With 90,000+ seats, it’s an iconic venue for thrilling college football games and electrifying events, not just a stadium.
Attending a game at Sanford Stadium is an unforgettable experience. The crowd’s roar, “between the hedges” tradition, and Bulldog fans make it unforgettable. Rich history and Athens’ heart make it a must-visit.
You can also explore Sanford Stadium on guided tours to learn about the history, traditions, and significant moments that have taken place within these hallowed grounds.
3. Bear Hollow Zoo
- Website: Bear Hollow Zoo
- Address: 293 Gran Ellen Dr, Athens, GA 30606
This unique zoo provides a close-up look at native Georgia wildlife and offers an educational and entertaining experience.
The zoo is home to a variety of animals, including black bears, river otters, raptors, and reptiles. Exhibits mimic animals’ habitats for behavior observation and ecological learning.
Bear Hollow Zoo is not just a place to see animals; it’s also a center for education and conservation. The zoo frequently hosts educational programs and events, making it a fantastic place to learn about the diverse wildlife that calls Georgia home and the efforts to protect and preserve these species.
4. Tree That Owns Itself
- Address: 265 Hill St, Athens, GA 30601
This iconic oak tree is said to have legal ownership of itself, making it a local legend and a must-see for visitors.
The story goes that in the early 19th century, Colonel William H. Jackson, the original owner of the land, had deep affection for the tree and wanted to ensure its protection. He supposedly drafted a deed in favor of the tree, granting it ownership of itself. The deed’s legal validity is debated, but the tree and its surroundings are treasured for their historical and cultural importance.
Visitors can stand in the shade of this historic tree and marvel at the notion that it “owns” itself. This attraction, though simple, adds a touch of uniqueness to your Athens experience. While there is no official website for the Tree That Owns Itself, its iconic status and intriguing story make it a must-visit on your Athens itinerary.
5. The Classic Center
- .Website: The Classic Center
- Address: 300 N Thomas St, Athens, GA 30601
Is the cultural heartbeat of Athens, Georgia. This state-of-the-art facility serves as a hub for a wide range of events, conventions, live performances, and artistic exhibitions. It’s a place where the arts, business, and entertainment converge, offering a myriad of experiences for locals and visitors alike.
The Classic Center hosts an array of events, from concerts and live performances to business conferences and conventions. Its modern design and versatile spaces make it a perfect choice for various gatherings, both large and small. The Grand Hall’s grandeur, the Atrium’s versatility, and exceptional acoustics establish it as Athens’ top event venue.
6. The State Botanical Garden of Georgia
- Website: State Botanical Garden of Georgia
- Address: 2450 S Milledge Ave, Athens, GA 30605
It’s a place where you can take a leisurely stroll through themed gardens, natural habitats, and educational displays, all while surrounded by a diverse collection of plants and scenic landscapes.
The garden’s extensive collection of flora represents a wide range of native and exotic species, creating a vibrant and ever-changing tableau. The well-maintained walking paths guide visitors through a variety of garden environments, including shade gardens, herb gardens, and more. Each season brings new blooms and different displays, making every visit unique.
Whether you love horticulture, botany, or nature’s beauty, the State Botanical Garden of Georgia offers a perfect setting. Explore at your pace or join guided tours for in-depth insights and conservation information.
7. Georgia Theatre
- Website: Georgia Theatre
- Address: 215 N Lumpkin St, Athens, GA 30601
With a rich history and a central location in the heart of downtown, it has become a cultural cornerstone and a cherished spot for locals and visitors alike.
The Georgia Theatre’s stage has featured diverse, captivating performances: live music, comedy, and theater. Its intimate ambiance lets you connect closely with performers.
The atmosphere at the Georgia Theatre is electric, and its historic significance in Athens cannot be overstated. It has been a launching pad for many local and national artists, and it’s a place where music and the arts thrive. Whether you’re a fan of live music, stand-up comedy, or other artistic performances, the Georgia Theatre is the place to be.
8. University of Georgia
- Website: University of Georgia
- Address: 220 South Jackson Street, Athens, GA 30602
It’s a picturesque and historic destination that showcases the rich cultural heritage of Athens.
The campus of the University of Georgia is a blend of historic architecture, lush green spaces, and towering trees. It offers a serene and inviting environment for visitors to explore, making it an ideal place for a leisurely walk or a relaxing afternoon. The university’s historic buildings and well-maintained lawns create a captivating backdrop that reflects both the academic heritage and the cultural significance of Athens.
As one of the oldest public universities in the United States, the University of Georgia has played a vital role in shaping the Athens community. Whether you’re an alumnus returning to your alma mater or a first-time visitor, the university’s campus provides a charming setting to learn about its history and contribution to the city.
Exploring Athens, stroll the University of Georgia for its academic and cultural charm. Welcoming for visitors, the campus’s beauty and history enhance your itinerary.
9. Last Resort Grill
- Website: Last Resort Grill
- Address: 184 W Clayton St, Athens, GA 30601
This popular restaurant offers an exquisite dining experience in the heart of the city, making it a must-visit for food enthusiasts.
The Last Resort Grill has earned a stellar reputation for its delectable dishes that showcase the flavors of the South. At Last Resort Grill, enjoy a menu that caters to all tastes, from classic Southern comfort food to regional delicacies and contemporary creations. The restaurant’s commitment to using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients ensures that each dish is a delectable and authentic experience.
The cozy and welcoming atmosphere of Last Resort Grill provides a perfect setting for a memorable meal. Whether dining with loved ones or having a romantic dinner, the friendly staff and Southern hospitality ensure an enjoyable visit.
10. Lyndon House Arts Center
- Website: Lyndon House Arts Center
- Address: 211 Hoyt St, Athens, GA 30601
This dynamic center is dedicated to promoting and celebrating the visual and performing arts, making it an essential stop for art enthusiasts and creatives.
The Lyndon House Arts Center hosts a rotating array of exhibitions featuring local and regional artists. These exhibitions often cover a wide range of artistic styles, mediums, and themes, providing an opportunity to appreciate and engage with the diverse talents in the Athens arts community. In addition to viewing art, the center offers a wide variety of artistic programs and workshops for all ages, from painting and ceramics to dance and photography.
The center fosters the arts within the community, hosting cultural events and educational programs that enrich Athens’ cultural tapestry. As an artistic and creative hub, the Lyndon House Arts Center is a place where visitors can immerse themselves in the local arts scene and learn about the city’s thriving cultural landscape.
11. 40 Watt Club
- Address: 285 W Washington St, Athens, GA 30601
- Website: 40 Watt Club
This iconic club is renowned for its intimate atmosphere and the multitude of groundbreaking artists who have graced its stage over the years.
Since its inception in the late 1970s, the 40 Watt Club has been a haven for live music in Athens. It has hosted countless local and national bands, including many who went on to achieve international acclaim. The club’s dedication to diverse music genres, spanning indie rock to punk, solidifies its status as a premier venue for emerging and established artists.
When you attend a show at the 40 Watt Club, you’ll experience an unforgettable night of live music in an intimate setting. The club’s up-close and personal atmosphere allows for a special connection between artists and their audiences. The authenticity of the 40 Watt Club experience and its role in the city’s music history make it a must-visit for music lovers.
12. Georgia Museum of Art
- Address: 90 Carlton St, Athens, GA 30602
- Website: Georgia Museum of Art
This museum is a great place for art lovers and anyone interested in visual arts. They have a diverse collection that includes art from various times and cultures, like European classics and modern American pieces. The museum also has changing exhibitions that highlight different aspects of the art world, so each visit is unique.
Besides their art, the museum offers educational programs, lectures, and events to connect the community with art. These activities help you understand the artworks and get involved in the creative process.
13. Stegeman Coliseum
- Address: 100 Smith St, Athens, GA 30602
- Website: Stegeman Coliseum
Stegeman Coliseum is famous for exciting college basketball action and offers an energetic atmosphere for sports enthusiasts.
Watching a game there is thrilling. The passionate fans, players’ energy, and competitive spirit make it lively. The Coliseum has witnessed many historic college basketball moments and hosted both men’s and women’s basketball events.
Although it’s mainly for basketball, it also hosts concerts and shows, making it a versatile entertainment spot. Its location at the University of Georgia’s campus adds to the unique experience of visiting this iconic arena.
14. World of Wonder Playground
- Address: 500 N Pope St, Athens, GA 30601
- Website: World of Wonder Playground
This fun and creative play area is for kids. It has many colorful play things like swings, slides, and climbing walls. They made sure everything is safe and fun for all kids. The themes and design make kids want to explore and use their imagination. It’s a great place for families and playdates.
The World of Wonder Playground has things that all kids can enjoy. They have seats, shaded spots, and everything you need for a good time. It’s a friendly place for families.
15. Sandy Creek Park
- Address: 400 Bob Holman Rd, Athens, GA 30607
- Website: Sandy Creek Park
This expansive park offers a wide range of recreational activities and scenic beauty, making it a prime destination for those looking to enjoy the great outdoors.
The park boasts an array of amenities, including hiking trails, picnic areas, and a beautiful lake where you can enjoy fishing or boating. For those who love the thrill of sports, Sandy Creek Park provides opportunities for disc golf, archery, and even a dog park for your four-legged companions. The vast green spaces and lush forests create a peaceful and immersive environment that allows visitors to reconnect with nature.
Sandy Creek Park also hosts events and educational programs, providing a platform to learn about environmental conservation and participate in outdoor adventures. Whether you’re planning a family outing, a picnic with friends, or a day of solitude in nature, this park offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
As our exploration of Athens, Georgia, draws to a close, we hope you’ve found inspiration and a deeper appreciation for this vibrant city. Athens offers an eclectic mix of experiences, from cultural immersion at the Georgia Museum of Art to the natural serenity of Sandy Creek Park. It’s a place where history and the contemporary coexist, where the melodies of the Georgia Theatre and the roar of Sanford Stadium echo through the streets. Whether you’re a traveler in search of new horizons or a local resident looking to reconnect with your city, Athens delivers a tapestry of attractions that define the essence of this community.