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Georgia Theatre in Athens, Georgia

9 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions and Activities in Athens, Georgia (2022)

Planning to explore Athens? Athens is a beautiful city in Northeast Georgia, popular for its antebellum architecture. The city got its name after the capital of Greece by the 1805 Governor John Milledge. Athens has a long-established reputation for academia and learning, and it has undoubtedly lived up to the name. It hosts the first chartered university, the University of Georgia, and many other educational wonders. Due to this influence, Athens is majorly populated by young generations, especially students who come down to the city to build their strong future.

However, tourism in this mid-sized Georgian city lacks no behind. Athens has the upper hand in art, architecture, and culture, which blesses it with attractions like museums, art galleries, heritage buildings, performing centers, and more. In addition to that, there is plenty of nature scattered around the city that adds to some serenity. The general sense of green adds some peace to the fast-pacing life of Athens. Ready to discover what to do in Athens, Georgia? Consider our choicest picks for popular tourist attractions to visit in Athens.

9 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions and Activities in Athens, Georgia

Have a look:

1. Bear Hollow Zoo

Bear Hollow Zoo is a pretty little family-friendly attraction in Athens, Georgia. With a bit of difference, it serves as a rescue center for local animals with physical health problems. The Zoo is located in a woody part of Memorial Park, featuring plenty of green space. Individuals can walk through the pleasant trails and watch various animals up-close and personal. Some of the common animals housed here include alligators, bobcats, black bears, otters, white-tailed deer, river otters, Virginia opossum, etc.

Rescued animals who are no longer fit to survive in the wild are kept in their natural setting with great care. Bear Hollow Zoo is full of shaded places and picnic tables where visitors can enjoy their lunch while watching animals. It is also a great place for birthday parties and school field trips. Entry to the Zoo is absolutely free, though donations are encouraged.

2. Georgia Museum of Art

A popular tourist attraction in Athens, the Georgia Museum of Art is located inside the University of Georgia campus. It is Georgia’s official art museum and a prominent landmark that draws lakhs of visitors every year. The museum was established in 1945, and since then, its collection has grown to over 18,000 artworks from various disciplines. Some of the notables from the collection include decorative arts from the Southern states, pieces by Africa American Artists, and interesting paintings from the Renaissance and Baroque periods. The museum also features a collection of American art from the 19th and 20th centuries. Work by Andrew Wyeth, Winslow Homer, and Georgia O’Keefe is easy to be found here. For utmost visitor engagement, the museum keeps on hosting school field trips, hands-on art tours, and summer day camps. It even features a beautiful café and an excellent gift shop.

3. State Botanical Garden of Georgia

Truly a must-see in Athens, the State Botanical Garden is managed by the University of Georgia. This soothing and gorgeous urban oasis is spread over 313 acres and offers visitors a great excuse to spend a few hours away from the city’s hustle. The garden is home to a greenhouse that propagates plants from seeds and seedlings and a tropical conservatory housing plants from the world’s warmest climate zones. Highlights of the facility include a heritage garden, an annual/perennial garden, the dahlia garden, and a medicinal garden. Here you can find plants that were used in genetic modifications and cross-breeding during ancient times. Or the ones that had immense medicinal values and still continue to hold the same. The garden has 5 miles of hiking trails which are also accessible for wheelchairs. Though it operates year-round, the best time to visit here is during spring.

4. Downtown Athens

Downtown Athens is a popular district that allows individuals to learn about the city in a fruitful manner. To the south, it is surrounded by the University of Georgia, to the west by Pulaski, and by Dougherty Street and Foundry Streets in the north and east, respectively. And right in the middle, it features multiple landmarks, including churches of several different denominations, government offices, the city’s oldest homes, and historic old theaters. The entire downtown of Athens is in an easy-to-follow grid pattern, making it easier for all to explore. No matter which lane you pick, you are never going to lose the way. This vibrant and bustling area is also home to cafés, coffee shops, and plenty of restaurants. There is a wealth of affordable, boutique, and branded opportunities for shoppers.

5. Georgia Theatre

For performing art lovers, there is no better place to visit in Athens than the Georgia Theatre. Established in 1978, it has hosted some of the biggest American pop, rock, and folk shows of all time. Some of its past performers include Kenny Chesney, John Mayer, Willie Nelson, Warren Zevon, and the Dave Matthews Band. Georgia rate saw a renovation after the massive 2009 fire. Today it features great seating, two balcony levels, excellent acoustics, and an open-air roof area. It even has a bar serving alcoholic beverages and food for an ultimate fun time. It even has a nice art gallery in the foyer and a rooftop restaurant offering excellent views of downtown Athens. Georgia Theatre also holds high historical importance and has played several roles before serving as a theatre. During the early 1900s, it was a Masonic lodge, a furniture store, a record store, and even home to the university basketball team.

6. Lyndon House Arts Center

Lyndon House Arts Center is another popular landmark for art lovers in Athens. This local performing arts & education venue organizes local and national art exhibits all year round. Art enthusiasts can join the open studio and bring their creativity to life. The facility also hosts regular art classes for participants of all age groups. The classes may include pottery making, enamel jewelry making, drawing, printmaking, and more. During the annual Deck the Walls sale at Lyndon House, individuals can even buy local art to give forward as gifts. The Lyndon House Art Centre also organizes other activities, including dance, theatre, and musical events.

7. Athens Institute for Contemporary Art

If you are a true art lover, you are going to love your time in Athens. The city has a number of exciting landmarks, and the Athens Institute for Contemporary Art adds another stop to the itinerary. It is basically a non-profit independent gallery established back in 2001. The institution is home to four curated contemporary art exhibits that stay on display annually. Besides that, it also features the local art scene and some beautiful work by regional artists. The majority of its exhibits focus on political and socially conscious themes like consumer culture, democracy, homelessness, and environmentalism. Art Enthusiasts or individuals who are on their journey of awakening must definitely visit this place in Athens.

8. Sanford Stadium

Sanford Stadium is undoubtedly one of the most popular attractions you must see in Athens. Dominating the University of Georgia grounds, the stadium has organized multiple exciting football matches since 1929. Sanford is the 9th largest stadium in the United States and has a seating capacity of 100,000 spectators. Though on a regular day, you can find the facility much empty on a game day, it is jam-packed with football lovers and enthusiasts. However, even if you are not much into this game of ball, you can still visit the stadium for a self-guided campus sightseeing tour. The rolling hills at its west end-zone, stunning architectural designs, and gorgeous privet hedges will make your jaw drop.

9. Sandy Creek Nature Center

Athens has some beautiful outdoor playgrounds, and the Sandy Creek Nature Center is one of them. Encompassing 225 acres of beautiful woodlands and wetlands, it is ideal for visiting year-round. The four miles of trails accessible for both hiking and wheelchair take you inside the wonderland of flora and fauna. The centerpiece of this outdoor playground is Lake Chapman, which adds to its beauty, adventure, and recreational quotient. In addition, you will find multiple other elements, including an 1815 log cabin, aquariums featuring freshwater and marine wildlife, a visitors’ center, and other interactive spots. It is even home to disc golf. The Nature Centre also organizes many educational programs like guided trail walks, fishing, and more throughout the year.

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