We are downright spoiled when it comes to fun things to do in Asheville, North Carolina. And don’t even get us started on all of the awesome places to eat and drink. The Asheville food scene is incredible! But let’s say you want to get out of town for a long weekend. And you don’t want to drive really far nor get on a plane. Might we suggest Athens, Georgia? It’s less than three hours away!
Come along and see our top picks for places to eat and drink as well as activities and attractions in the city that’s just a hop, skip and a jump from us. Come on, let’s go exploring! Beyond Asheville: Athens, Georgia
The Best Place to Stay in Athens
Graduate Athens | 295 E Dougherty St
This boutique hotel was EXACTLY what we needed after a long stretch of van life. When we pulled up to the hotel, I think we both actually breathed out a long, slow “aaaaaaah.” It’s super clean, unique and stylish. It’s also really comfortable and felt instantly like a home away from home. A very different experience than just your basic hotel or motel. If you’re looking to up your lodging game a little, we highly recommend the Graduate. Oh and it gets bonus points for fast, free wi-fi and several great places to work (Iron Works Coffee is right inside the hotel lobby and has a really great feel to it.)
Best Places to Eat in Athens
Clocked! | 259 W Washington St
When we asked a couple of Athens locals what they suggested as far as the best place to get a burger, they pointed us towards Clocked. It was just as they promised: unpretentious, fun, fast service and delicious. Go for the Mushroom Swiss Burger and the basic Cheeseburger. You can’t go wrong with either of them. And get the fries, they’re some of the best we’ve had in a long time. We may or may not have eaten them in fistfuls and then mumbled sorry a few minutes later after the dust cleared.
Zombie Coffee and Donuts | 350 E Broad St
You can basically make your own donut at Zombie. If you want to, that is. You don’t even really need to because they have several to choose from, all of which you can see in the display case. We found two that looked delicious to us: the Cinnamon Bun (moist, tender, perfectly salted and not too sweet) and their special of the month, the Two Thousand ET (chocolate drizzle and miniature Reese’s Pieces). Both were super tasty and left us licking our fingers wanting more.
Seabear Oyster Bar | 297 Prince Ave. Ste 10 |
This is the kind of place you take your wife or girlfriend for a special night out. It’s also the kind of place you take the person you HOPE will be your wife or girlfriend. The service is top-notch (Jess took great care of us: attentive without being overbearing, extremely knowledgable about the menu and just flat out cool) and the food is excellent. Order without worry or second-guessing yourself and then sit back and just enjoy yourself and your date. Full disclosure: we’re already wondering when we can make it back.
Mama’s Boy | 197 Oak St
This is the perfect brunch spot and definitely a local’s place. We could hardly find a parking spot at Mama’s Boy and the place was packed with everything from college kids to professionals in suits and families. Must orders include the banana bread (it comes with honey poppyseed butter!) and the biscuit (you must try the raspberry jam – we’re serious about this one.) We about damn near stuffed ourselves with the french toast and peaches and pork taco plate. And their breakfast taco with drunken beans.
home.made | 1072 Baxter Street
There’s so much to love about this restaurant. We don’t want to give it away but we’ll say come with an empty stomach and settle in for some of the most delicious food you’ve ever had. Mimi Maumus is both owner and chef here and her touch is on everything – from the first course to the last course. Say yes to everything, especially the Pickled Deviled Egg and the fried chicken but save room for dessert (bourbon creme brûlée anyone?!)
Best Places to Drink in Athens
The Old Pal | 1320 Prince Ave
As soon as we walked in, it was as if we had entered a different world. Or time. Or something. The outside just sort of seemed to disappear and the focus became on conversation and really, really good hand-crafted cocktails. Matt, the owner and bartender mixes drinks with the nuanced touch of someone who has been honing their craft for decades and in many different cities, among them New Orleans, New York and Philadelphia. The result is nothing short of magical. Share with him your tastes and let him pick for you or order one of our top picks: Smoke and Mirrors, North Star or the Alpine Cooler.
Creature Comforts Brewing | 271 W Hancock Ave
We love beer. Especially craft beer. Needless to say, we fell in looooove with Creature Comforts Brewing. Our favorite beers were the Tropicália (their American IPA – citrus-y and a little bitter at the end) and their Reclaimed Rye (pure amber deliciousness). Okay we also really loved their Get Comfortable IPA (2018). Actually there wasn’t a beer of theirs we didn’t like. This would definitely be one of our go-to spots if we lived in Athens.
Jittery Joes | Several different locations
Coffee. Excellent coffee. And really great people. We honestly couldn’t get enough of this place.
Best Things To Do in Athens
Archer Paper Goods | 675 Ponce De Leon Ave NE
We found this store as we were exploring downtown and couldn’t help but go inside. It’s got the perfect card for almost any occasion and a space that feels like you’ve just stepped inside an Etsy shop. Or Instagram account. I could hardly pull myself away from their pencil collection!
The Tree That Owns Itself | Corner of Finley Street & Dearing Street
Huh? If your first thought was “what the heck?!” you’re not alone. This is a one of a kind thing to do in Athens. Make that anywhere, really. Legend has it that sometime in the early 1800’s Col. William H. Jackson deeded to the tree ownership of itself and the eight feet of land around it. No one knows exactly where the original deed is but the tree is protected and loved by the community. Oddly enough, the original tree was blown down in a storm in 1942. The one that stands in it’s place today was grown from one of the original tree’s acorns and of course, planted in the same spot.
University of Georgia Campus | 405 College Station Road
The main campus of the University of Georgia aka UGA is located in Athens. Did you know that the UGA is one of the top three producers of Rhodes Scholars (among public universities) within the last two decades? Pretty cool. The 762 acre campus is quite lovely – we went for a run around the place the second morning we were there and instantly fell in love.
Trail Creek Park | 200 Trail Creek Street
On the east side of Athens you’ll find Trail Creek Park. It’s home to a splash pad for hot summer days as well as a five miles of mountain biking trails. Oh and it’s free and has tons of parking.
Avid Bookshop | 1662 S. Lumpkin Street
If you like independent bookstores, you’re going to love Avid. There’s two locations – we visited the one right next to Donna Chang’s in the Five Points neighborhood.
Visit the r. wood studio | 450 Georgia Drive
We met Rebecca, the owner of r. wood studio while having lunch at home.made. Turns out we were actually eating off of some of her dishes! Though we didn’t have the chance to make it out to her studio we are hoping to do so next time we’re in town. It’s one of the largest pottery studios in America and currently employs 8 other artists.
Next time must-do’s in Athens
Sister Louisa’s Church | 254 W Clayton Street
Donna Chang’s | 1664 S. Lumpkin Street
Beyond Asheville: Athens, Georgia Recap
Now that we’ve been to Athens, we’re wondering why we never visited there before! It’s just a hop, skip and a jump from where we live. We think it’s the perfect getaway and has a little bit of something for everyone. We only had 48 hours there before we realized there’s a lot to do to keep you busy for a long weekend and more. We’ll definitely be back.
Have you traveled to Athens? If so, what’d you think? We’d love to hear your thoughts, please leave your comments below!