By Mary Ashton Mills


Nestled at the base of the Georgia foothills, Athens is the epitome of a college town with a cool vibe.  It is hard to experience Athens and not pay a visit to the campus of the University of Georgia so plan accordingly when you make your trip.  With football in the air in the fall, it is an ideal time to make an overnight or day trip.

Arrive on a Friday and stop at the Bear Hollow Zoo where you can see rescued animals that are a sampling of Georgia’s native wildlife. Next hit downtown Athens and watch out because someone let the dogs out. Larger than life bulldog statues are a public art display on the streets of downtown and add a fun element to any visit.  Enjoy lunch and a stop at Rook and Pawn, a game café that feels like the coolest living room in town.  Sample a craft beer, coffee or delicious food while you play a variety of unique board games.  If beer is your thing, wet your whistle at one of Athens local breweries (Creature Comforts, Southern Brewing, Terrapin) some of which are child and pet friendly.  Next, head over to campus for a guided tour at the visitors center. Tours are available Monday – Friday at 8:30 am, noon, and 3:30 pm.  Make sure to pay a visit to the Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall for a first hand look at historical athletic memorabilia, touch screen displays, Heisman trophies and more.  While you are there you can sneak a peek at the adjacent newly built state of the art indoor football practice facility. It isn’t open to the public but you can get an impressive glimpse from the Butts-Mehre building.

As evening falls, prepare to gather picnic fare and enjoy some leisure time at the intramural sports field where the University of Georgia Redcoat Band practices on Friday evenings.  If you are lucky enough to score tickets to a home football game the next day, hit up the dawg walk before the game and bring your vocal chords because this place doesn’t lack in school spirit! It’s like a red carpet for the players, cheerleaders, band and Hairy Dawg (Glory Glory to Old Georgia).  After your 24 hours in Athens, it’s safe to say you might be bleeding red and black!

Distance: 1 hour 54 minutes, 105 miles.

Budget: Shoestring, easy day trip with so much to see

What to See: Sanford Stadium, University of Georgia bookstore, Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall, Dog walk, Rook and Pawn, Bear Hollow Zoo, band practice on the Intramural fields, local breweries.

If you go: Fall is a popular time of year so make your plans well in advance if you plan to spend the night.

Mary Ashton Mills is an Augusta freelance writer and mother of two.

This article appears in the September 2017 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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