In the heart of Georgia lies the enchanting city of Athens, where a world of wonders awaits.
Nicknamed the Classic City, this quaint city is home to a plethora of restaurants, a chain of charming hotels, a myriad of shops, and a lifetime’s worth of tourist sites to check out!
Often celebrated as a vibrant college town, Athens offers much more than its academic charm.
From historic landmarks to hidden gems, this captivating destination boasts a plethora of places to see and explore.
Whether you’re seeking romantic things to do or curious about what to do in Athens, GA, this city promises an unforgettable experience.
With its rich history and thriving music scene, Athens invites you to embark on an adventure filled with endless possibilities.
This article will unveil the 21 best and most exciting experiences Athens offers.
Things To Do In Athens, GA
1. Georgia Museum of Art
Immerse yourself in the vibrant arts scene of Athens, Georgia, by exploring the renowned Georgia Museum of Art.
Founded in 1945, this distinguished museum holds a dual identity as both an academic museum and Georgia’s official art museum.
With free admission available six days a week, it’s an accessible treasure trove of artistic wonders and one of the top free things to do while vacationing in Georgia.
The museum’s extensive collection of over 18,000 works encompasses diverse expressions, including American paintings, southern decorative arts, and a notable Samuel H. Kress Study Collection of Renaissance and Baroque art.
As you wander through the museum, ensure you visit the Jane and Harry Willson Sculpture Garden, which features rotating exhibitions by talented women sculptors.
Whether you embark on a self-guided tour using the provided helpful maps or opt for a docent-led experience, the staff and volunteers are always ready to engage in stimulating conversations about the art.
To top it off, the on-site gift shop is a hidden treasure, brimming with an array of artistic goodies and unique finds.
From art supplies to whimsical decor and delightful gifts for budding artists, it’s a haven for creative souls.
As one of the top Athens attractions, the Georgia Museum of Art offers an enriching experience, showcasing remarkable collections and fostering a deep appreciation for the arts.
Best of all, it’s a free and must-see destination for anyone exploring the artistic wonders of Athens.
Address: 90 Carlton St, Athens, GA 30602, United States
2. Sanford Stadium
Sanford Stadium proudly serves as the home of the University of Georgia Bulldogs.
It is one of the most thrilling college football stadiums, drawing in fans from far and wide.
With an impressive seating capacity of 92,746, it ranks among the largest on-campus stadiums in the nation, setting the stage for an unforgettable game day experience.
As you step into the stadium, you’ll feel the palpable energy and passion that fills the air.
The stadium’s rich history dates back to its opening in 1929 and pays tribute to Dr. Steadman Vincent Sanford, an influential figure who played a pivotal role in its creation.
The stadium proudly showcases the university’s commitment to excellence in college football.
Attending a game here is an experience like no other, with facilities catering to all fans, including dedicated seating for individuals with disabilities and conveniently located first aid rooms.
While smoking and alcohol are not permitted, fear not, as plenty of tasty eateries are nearby to satisfy your cravings before or after the game.
Whether you’re a die-hard football enthusiast or simply seeking fun stuff to do in Athens, Sanford Stadium should be at the top of your list of Athens attractions.
So, gather your friends and immerse yourself in the electrifying atmosphere of Sanford Stadium this weekend.
Address: 100 Sanford Dr, Athens, GA 30602, United States
3. The State Botanical Garden of Georgia
Established in 1968 by the University of Georgia, this expansive 313-acre preserve serves as a remarkable blend of natural wonder and educational exploration.
As one of Athens’ most cherished tourist attractions, the garden offers various unique things to do and see.
Nature enthusiasts can embark on tranquil nature trails, exploring the diverse plant communities and habitats that reflect the Georgia Piedmont region.
Beyond its natural allure, the State Botanical Garden of Georgia hosts an array of special events, from the Sunflower Music Series to nature rambles and workshops, ensuring a rich and diverse experience for visitors.
Young adventurers will find joy in the Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden, where interactive, inspiring, and fun activities await.
There’s also an on-site café and gift shop, where you can indulge in local delights and find unique souvenirs to commemorate your visit.
With its blend of natural splendor, educational opportunities, and memorable experiences, the State Botanical Garden of Georgia is undoubtedly one of the top things to do in Athens, GA, today.
Address: 2450 S Milledge Ave, Athens, GA 30605, United States
4. Sandy Creek Nature Center
The Sandy Creek Nature Center, spanning an impressive 225 acres of woodlands and wetlands, offers a gateway to endless outdoor exploration.
The captivating destination invites visitors to embark on a journey of discovery along its extensive trail network.
With over 4 miles of trails to traverse, including a wheelchair-accessible interpretive trail and a direct link to the North Oconee River Greenway, there’s no shortage of options for those seeking an exciting natural experience.
The Education and Visitor Center is a treasure trove of knowledge, housing fascinating exhibits that showcase the region’s diverse ecosystems, including live reptiles, amphibians, and mesmerizing marine and freshwater aquariums.
If you’d like to get nature-inspired souvenirs, the Frog Pond Shop awaits, catering to visitors of all ages.
Convenient amenities such as free parking, picnic areas, and public restrooms make visiting stress-free.
Located near various tourist attractions, the Sandy Creek Nature Center presents the perfect opportunity for an unforgettable weekend getaway.
Whether you’re a local looking for places to go around Athens or a tourist visiting this weekend, this nature center promises an enriching adventure in the heart of Georgia’s natural beauty.
Address: 205 Old Commerce Rd, Athens, GA 30607, United States
5. Georgia Theatre
The Georgia Theatre is an iconic music venue in Athens, Georgia which has shaped the city’s reputation as a vibrant musical hub.
This historic downtown building has transformed over the years, previously serving as a YMCA, Methodist Church, music store, and even a Masonic Temple before evolving into its current state as a beloved music venue.
In 2009, a devastating fire threatened its existence, but the resilient community rallied together, raising funds to rebuild and restore this cherished establishment.
Today, the Georgia Theatre seamlessly blends modern, state-of-the-art equipment with its timeless architectural charm, offering a unique and intimate experience for concert-goers.
With a capacity of just over 1,000, this venue creates an atmosphere of closeness and connection between the performers and the audience, making every show a memorable experience.
The open floor setup encourages attendees to let loose, dance, and fully immerse themselves in the electrifying energy of the performances.
As you explore things to do in Athens, GA, ensure you include a visit to the Georgia Theatre on your list.
Address: 215 N Lumpkin St, Athens, GA 30601, United States
6. Tree That Owns Itself
Athens, Georgia, is home to a unique and fascinating attraction that showcases the power of devotion and love for nature.
It all started with a resident’s profound love for a particular tree, leading him to grant it a unique privilege – ownership of itself.
This incredible phenomenon, known as the Tree That Owns Itself, stands proudly at the intersection of South Finley and Dearing streets, captivating locals and visitors alike.
According to local lore, Colonel William H. Jackson’s will, dating back to August 12, 1890, bestowed upon this magnificent tree ownership of itself and the surrounding eight feet of land.
While the legal implications of this act remain uncertain, the tree’s property rights have never been challenged.
The original towering oak sadly fell during a powerful windstorm in 1942.
However, the Junior Ladies Garden Club of Athens lovingly cultivated a new generation white oak to replace it.
This ongoing commitment to preserving the spirit of the Tree That Owns Itself reflects the fun and unique activities you can find in Athens, Georgia.
So, if you’re wondering what to do or looking for things to do in Athens, GA, make sure to include a visit to this enchanting attraction.
Address: 277 S Finley St, Athens, GA 30605, United States
7. Bear Hollow Zoo
Bear Hollow Zoo should be at the top of your list if you’re looking for cheap things to do in Athens, Georgia.
This beloved destination offers a delightful experience for families, allowing them to witness the wonders of Georgia’s native wildlife.
As you stroll along the well-maintained, tree-lined path, you’ll encounter diverse animals, from majestic black bears and elusive bobcats to graceful white-tailed deer and captivating owls.
What sets Bear Hollow Zoo apart is its commitment to creating an immersive environment that resembles the animals’ natural habitats, giving visitors the feeling of being part of their world.
Embark on a self-guided tour and discover the incredible stories behind each resident.
Learn about Winnie the Hoo, a great horned owl who found solace at the zoo after surviving a car accident, or Athena, an American black bear who found a loving home here in 2010 after being orphaned in the wild.
The self-guided tour page provides detailed information about each exhibit, including fascinating facts about the various species.
And don’t worry if you have any questions – friendly staff members are always on hand to assist you.
Bear Hollow Zoo offers free admission, making it one of the best free things to do in Athens, GA.
So, when you’re wondering what to do or looking for fun places to go around Athens, be sure to include Bear Hollow Zoo on your itinerary for an unforgettable and educational experience surrounded by Georgia’s remarkable wildlife.
Address: 293 Gran Ellen Dr, Athens, GA 30606, United States
8. Sandy Creek Park
This picturesque park, spanning 782 acres, surrounds the serene 260-acre Lake Chapman, providing a stunning backdrop for numerous activities.
From swimming and sunbathing at the expansive sandy beach to exploring the tranquil waters on electric or non-motorized watercraft, there is no shortage of fun things to do at Sandy Creek Park.
For adventure seekers, the park offers a challenging 29-hole Disc Golf course, perfect for a competitive game with friends or family.
Nature lovers can embark on a memorable journey along the park’s extensive 16-mile trail network, catering to hikers and horseback riders.
And for dog owners looking to enjoy a day out with their furry companions, Sandy Creek Park boasts a public dog park and five private dog parks available for rent.
So, if you’re near Athens, GA, and searching for the best outdoor activities to enjoy today, add Sandy Creek Park to your list of must-visit destinations.
Address: 400 Bob Holman Rd, Athens, GA 30607, United States
9. State Botanical Garden of Georgia Gift Shop
Prepare to be enchanted at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia Gift Shop, where a world of treasures awaits.
Located within the Visitor Center and Conservatory, this shop showcases an exquisite collection of unique gifts crafted by local artists.
Explore a world of creativity as you peruse through handcrafted pottery, jewelry, fragrant handmade soaps, and wax candles.
The children’s section is a delight, brimming with educational toys, art supplies, entertaining games, and an array of captivating books to inspire young minds.
From locally-inspired artwork to nature-inspired jewelry, the State Botanical Garden of Georgia Gift Shop is the best place to find that perfect gift.
Embrace the spirit of giving while supporting the garden’s research and horticulture departments.
With its charming ambiance and an abundance of unique items, this shop is a must-visit among the many fun and captivating things to do in Athens, GA.
Address: 2450 S Milledge Ave, Athens, GA 30605, United States
10. 40 Watt Club
For music enthusiasts and seekers of unforgettable experiences, the 40 Watt Club in Athens, Georgia, stands as one of the city’s best music venues.
This renowned establishment has gained international recognition for its vibrant live performances that take place nearly every night of the week.
As a must-visit destination for anyone interested in exploring the thriving alt-rock scene in Athens, the 40 Watt Club holds a special place on the list of fun places to visit.
Throughout its storied history, the club has served as the primary stage for an impressive lineup of local bands, including Pylon, Love Tractor, and Guadalcanal Diary.
The 40 Watt Club continues to attract top-tier talent, serving as the home base for nationally acclaimed local bands like Montreal, Drive-By Truckers, and The Whigs.
Whether you’re a rock, punk, or indie music fan, stepping into the 40 Watt Club promises a night of fun and unforgettable memories.
When planning your visit, remember that the club welcomes guests aged 18 and above, and a state-issued ID is required for entry.
Prepare yourself for an extraordinary musical journey as you witness the best of what Athens offers at the iconic 40 Watt Club.
Address: 285 W Washington St, Athens, GA 30601, United States
11. Lyndon House Arts Center
The Lyndon House Arts Center is a gem on the outskirts of Athens’ bustling downtown.
This enchanting destination seamlessly blends the old and the new, much like the city.
At the heart of the center lies the historic Greek Revival Ware-Lyndon House, a captivating architectural marvel dating back to 1856.
Athens-Clarke County has expanded the complex to include various exciting features, such as a gallery hall, a children’s wing, festival grounds, and art studios.
As a non-profit organization operated by the county’s leisure services department, the Lyndon House Arts Center proudly offers free admission, welcoming visitors to immerse themselves in a world of artistic wonders.
Step into the galleries, thoughtfully arranged across two floors, showcasing diverse exhibits that captivate the senses.
Each display, meticulously curated by the center’s program supervisor and Athens-based artist, Didi Dunphy, evokes emotion and sparks curiosity.
Unlike crowded venues, the center provides a tranquil atmosphere, allowing guests to explore at their own pace.
Be sure to visit the gallery shop, a treasure trove showcasing the finest creations of over 100 local artists, including exquisite pottery, stunning blown glass, intricate jewelry, captivating paintings, and more.
For those seeking hands-on experience, the center offers workshops and classes led by working artists.
The Lyndon House Arts Center, where artistry knows no bounds, is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit when seeking fun and engaging things to do in Athens, GA.
Address: 211 Hoyt St, Athens, GA 30601, United States
12. World of Wonder Playground
The World of Wonder Playground in Athens, Georgia, has garnered widespread attention and is a cherished destination.
Its charming design evokes a sense of stepping into a fairytale, making it a must-visit place in Athens, GA.
This playground, constructed with the remarkable effort and dedication of 1,500 volunteers, proudly holds the record of being Georgia’s largest volunteer-built playground.
It offers various delightful features, including castle-style fixtures, traditional favorites like rock walls and monkey bars, and interactive games like tic-tac-toe.
It’s a space where both children and the young at heart can escape their cares and fully embrace their inner child.
The World of Wonder Playground not only prioritizes imaginative play but also considers the comfort of its visitors.
Giant canopies provide ample shade over various play areas, and benches thoughtfully placed throughout the park offer relaxation for parents.
In addition, its proximity to bathrooms ensures convenience, especially for parents with potty-training toddlers.
The park even features a walking path within its fenced area, enabling parents to enjoy a stroll while their children revel in playtime.
Whether you’re seeking enchanting places to visit or contemplating what to see and things to do in Athens, GA, the World of Wonder Playground promises an unforgettable experience for all.
Address: 325 Whit Davis Rd, Athens, GA 30605, United States
13. Morton Theatre
Submerge yourself in Athens’s mind-blowing arts and cultural scene by visiting the renowned Morton Theatre.
With its timeless charm and storied past, this historic venue has become a top choice for various performances and special events.
From comedy shows and dance competitions to plays, concerts, and film festivals, there is no shortage of exciting things to see at the Morton Theatre.
Stepping into this cherished establishment allows you to connect with the local history and experience firsthand the vibrant artistic spirit that defines Athens.
As one of the oldest surviving vaudeville theaters in the United States, the Morton Theatre holds a special place in the city’s cultural landscape.
Originally founded in 1910 by Monroe Bowers Morton, an influential African-American businessman, it quickly became a hub for diverse acts and renowned performers from near and far.
Over the years, the theater transformed, including a stint as a movie house before a fire prompted its closure.
However, the community’s dedication and successful restoration initiative rejuvenated Morton Theatre in 1987.
Today, managed by the Morton Theatre Corporation, a non-profit organization, it thrives as a cherished venue, offering a 500-seating capacity.
As you explore Athens, don’t miss the opportunity to witness the captivating performances and timeless beauty of the Morton Theatre.
Address: 195 W Washington St, Athens, GA 30601, United States
14. Double Barrel Cannon
Sitting proudly on the grounds of Athens City Hall in Georgia, the Double-Barreled Cannon stands as a unique testament to the ingenuity and ambition of the Confederate South during the Civil War.
This remarkable weapon, constructed in 1863 amid fears of Northern invasion, remains the sole of its kind in the state and the entire country.
The concept behind this unconventional cannon was to load it with two iron cannonballs connected by a lengthy chain.
Upon firing, the balls would whirl out, creating a devastating path of destruction for enemy soldiers unfortunate enough to be caught in its trajectory.
However, the cannon’s effectiveness proved more fiction than fact, as its test firing resulted in a field of hapless cows becoming the unintended casualties.
Despite its failure as a military innovation, the Double-Barreled Cannon has found a new purpose as a beloved symbol of Athens’ history.
Today, visitors can marvel at this extraordinary relic free of charge as a reminder of a bygone era.
Address: 301 College Ave, Athens, GA 30601, United States
15. Taylor-Grady House
The Taylor Grady House is an iconic historical treasure at 634 Prince Avenue in Athens, Georgia.
This revered edifice holds a storied past as the childhood abode of Henry Woodfin Grady, a renowned American journalist and orator.
Originally erected in 1843 by General Robert Taylor, a prominent planter and cotton merchant, the mansion is a testament to Greek revival architecture.
Adorned with triple-sash windows and exquisite plaster accents, it captivates visitors at first sight.
However, the true highlight is the awe-inspiring facade, boasting 13 monumental and fluted Greek Doric columns, which gracefully envelop the house and its front rooms.
Today, the Taylor Grady House is a cherished local treasure, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and beloved as a historic landmark.
It is open to the public as a museum on weekdays and serves as a picturesque setting for unforgettable weddings, receptions, dinners, and other special events.
Indeed, the Taylor Grady House is one of Athens’ most fascinating things to see, as it embodies the Southern city’s timeless beauty and heritage.
Address: 634 Prince Ave, Athens, GA 30601, United States
16. The Classic Center
Situated in the bustling downtown area of Athens, Georgia, The Classic Center shines as the epitome of distinction, acting as the leading convention center and performing arts theater in northeast Georgia.
Renowned for its remarkable event spaces, impeccable service, and diverse entertainment options, this distinguished venue has become the preferred choice for conferences, meetings, and special gatherings.
Each year, it draws an impressive crowd of over 365,000 attendees who eagerly partake in more than 650 convention center and theater events.
Beyond its impressive stature, The Classic Center holds a special allure for locals and visitors alike, offering an array of exciting things to see.
Whether it’s catching a thrilling performance, supporting the University of Georgia Ice Dawgs hockey team, or immersing oneself in the highly anticipated Athens Wine Weekend, The Classic Center promises an Athenian experience unlike any other.
Prepare to be captivated as you venture into the realm of The Classic Center, where extraordinary moments await at every corner.
Address: 300 N Thomas St, Athens, GA 30601, United States
17. Downtown Athens
Situated just a stone’s throw away from the historic North Campus of the University of Georgia, Downtown Athens presents a fascinating blend of history and creativity.
Step into a world where restored Victorian-era buildings exude a palpable sense of energy, day and night.
Here, you’ll find a vibrant tapestry of independent shops, enticing eateries, and live music venues that keep the city’s pulse alive.
As you stroll down West Broad Street, the intersection of downtown Athens and the university, you will be greeted by a harmonious fusion of old-world charm and modern energy.
As a favored convention site and a tourist hotspot, downtown Athens has earned a reputation as a foodie haven.
So, be sure to treat your taste buds to a delicious meal enjoyed by the streetside or on a rooftop.
Address: Athens, GA, United States
18. Athens Farmers Market
What’s a better way to explore Athens, if not through its thriving farmers’ markets?
Not only do these bustling hubs offer an array of fresh produce in sync with the seasons, but they also provide a unique opportunity to engage with local growers.
As you wander through the market stalls, you’ll have the chance to uncover the secrets of local dishes and recipes, helping you understand the rich culinary heritage of Athens.
Moreover, these markets are a treasure trove of creativity, showcasing locally-crafted goods like handcrafted soaps and charming housewares.
As you navigate through the colorful stalls, take the time to connect with the friendly faces behind each booth and forge connections with fellow shoppers.
Address: 705 Sunset Dr, Athens, GA 30606, United States
19. Last Resort Grill
The Last Resort Grill has an intriguing history that dates back to its origins as a vibrant music club in 1966.
Today, it continues to captivate locals and visitors alike with its distinctive Southwestern cuisine and a culinary perspective that sets it apart.
The Last Resort Grill opens seven days a week and invites guests to indulge in their mouthwatering creations.
What distinguishes the Last Resort Grill is its commitment to preserving culinary traditions like open-fire cooking, grilling, pickling, and preserving.
While the restaurant prides itself on serving the highest quality food and providing exceptional service, its genuine relationships with guests and suppliers enhance the overall dining experience.
So, if you’re seeking exquisite cuisine and memorable moments, the Last Resort Grill should be at the top of your list of things to see in Athens.
Address: 174-184 W Clayton St, Athens, GA 30601, United States
20. Rush Athens Trampoline Park
Prepare for an incredible indoor adventure at Rush Athens Trampoline Park, where excitement knows no bounds.
This ultimate trampoline destination caters to all ages, offering a variety of thrilling attractions to enjoy.
Bounce to your heart’s content on the main court, engage in epic dodgeball battles on dedicated courts, or take on the exhilarating challenge of the only ninja court in Georgia.
Dive into foam pits, perfect your slam dunk skills, and experience non-stop fun.
While the little ones explore, parents can unwind and relax in the comfortable lounge area.
Walk-ins are welcome, but it is best to pre-purchase tickets online, particularly on busy days like Fridays, Saturdays, and holidays.
Address: 10 Huntington Road, Athens, GA 30606, United States
21. Hendershot’s Athens
Hendershot’s Athens combines the best elements of a coffee shop, bar, and music venue.
The inviting atmosphere extends to their full bar, where patrons can delight in a wide selection of beverages ranging from coffee and tea to beer, wine, and handcrafted cocktails.
Additionally, Hendershot’s boasts a full kitchen, ensuring guests can savor delicious lunch and supper options throughout the week.
As the sun sets, the stage comes alive with the captivating sounds of live music, featuring an eclectic mix of local and national talent spanning genres such as Americana, Jazz, Comedy, and more.
With diverse food options, including vegetarian, vegan, and kid-friendly choices, Hendershot’s caters to various palates and preferences.
Whether you prefer to savor your meal on-site or take it home, this welcoming venue provides a memorable experience where community, creativity, and culinary delights intertwine harmoniously.
Address: 237 Prince Ave, Athens, GA 30601, United States
Start Planning Your Trip To Athens, GA
From indoor excitement and live performances to scenic outdoors and delicious cuisine, Athens is one of the best places to visit year-round.
With a myriad of tourist attractions and places to go, there’ll never be a dull moment when you’re out to make memories for an unforgettable experience!
Welcome to Athens, Georgia, a city that’ll keep you coming back for more!