Athens, it’s hard to go wrong. I personally can’t vouch for any hotels, we’re able to make the drive and return home, but, anywhere in Athens is fine, just choose the hotel brand you prefer and book early. Athens is a wonderful scene and beautiful campus, personally my favorite, although, it pains me to say such.
Places to visit:
Attractions around town include Downtown Athens, the State Botanical Gardens of Georgia. Athens is known for it’s famous music scene so be sure and check the line-up at the Georgia Theatre and the 40 Watt Club.
While not in downtown and not a bar in the strictest sense, brewery geeks will also enjoy a trip out to the Terrapin Beer Company on Newton Bridge Road. Terrapin is consistently voted among the top craft breweries in the country, and they give a great tour. Copper Creek Brewing is another brewery located on Washington Street downtown.
Where to Grub out:
When it comes to eats, Athens has much more than just college bar food.
For fine dining, you might try either Five and Ten (on Milledge) or The National (on Hancock), both owned by celebrity chef and Top Chef TV show judge Hugh Acheson. You’ll need a reservation, and even then your odds of getting in are slim. But if you do, you’ll end up telling all your friends about it.
For more laid-back fare, try Transmetropolitan on Clayton Street, a funky little pizza/pasta place like you’ll find in most college towns. There’s also DePalma’s on Broad Street, a cozy Italian place where I recommend the goat cheese and spiced walnut ravioli.
Another favorite is the Blind Pig Tavern on Baldwin Street or West broad Street, a bar and grill which serves as the host of Dawg Sports’ own annual Sacrificial Goat Roast get-together. *No actual goats have ever been sacrificed at the Goat Roast. They feature over a dozen different burgers (rated recently by Garden & Gun Magazine as among the 50 best burgers in the South), as well as other standard bar fare like wings, cheese fries and fried pickles. They also have a decent beer selection, 11 beers on tap and 50-plus in the bottle.
There’s no better breakfast in town than The Mayflower, a greasy diner on Broad right across from the famous Arch on North Campus. If you’re staying in town Saturday night hit up the Sunday brunch at nearby Porterhouse Grill, featuring a full Southern breakfast, omelette and carving station.
The parking situation in Athens can be tricky. Be prepared to either arrive very early in the morning or park pretty far away and walk or shuttle. Parking near the stadium is almost exclusively by pass only. Several businesses and churches on Milledge Ave. will let you park for a reasonable fee ($10-20), it’s less than two miles from the stadium, and you’ll pass through a lot of good tailgating on the way, including the lawn of the Georgia Center for Continuing Education. Further information can be found at the University’s game day website.
UGA does have some rules about tailgating, the most important of which for visitors are no booze on the sidewalks or in the streets, no setting up your tailgate before 7 a.m., and if you park on the sidewalk, your car may be gone when you get back to it. There are some extra rules about tailgating on historic North Campus (the area between Broad Street, Lumpkin Street, Baldwin Street, and Jackson Street). A lot of this has to do with really bad behavior occurring there over the past few years, which generated a lot of really bad publicity. But set up on this part of campus is not allowed until 5 hours before kickoff, there are no kegs, grills or other portable cooking equipment allowed, and generators, televisions, and amplified music are also forbidden. Frankly, if it’s not your thing I’d recommend at least walking through this historic patch on your way to other rowdier sections.
UGA has some pretty special gameday experiences and traditions.
The Dawg walk is a must, fans gather outside the Tate Student Center (I think that’s the name) to catch the Bulldogs on their way into the stadium. Usually, about two hours prior to kickoff, buses carry the team down Lumpkin Street to the stadium, where they then walk through the crowd of fans, cheerleaders and Redcoats into the stadium.
And personally my favorite, outside of the War Eagle at Auburn taking flight is the trumpet player standing behind the ‘South Upper” section sign. The trumpeter plays the introductory notes to the “Battle Hymn of the Bulldog Nation,” followed by legendary radio announcer Larry Munson’s narration of a highlight package that celebrates the past and present of Georgia football.
As a Gamecock, hopefully, you won’t get to witness this tradition, the Ringing of the Chapel Bell. Fans can participate in one of the university’s oldest football traditions. Students and alumni have rushed to the UGA Chapel to ring its bell after victories since the 1890s, and the tradition continues today.
Let’s just say aside from the city planner completely screwing the “pooch,” Athens is one of the best gameday experiences in the nation.