Athens: Small City, Big Scene

Music Renegades Here

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Despite its relative small size, Athens, Georgia packs a wallop. In the late 70s and early ‘80s the eclectic college town spawned a tribe of alternative rock bands, including REM and folk-rockers the Indigo Girls, among dozens of other lesser known artists. This outpost, an hour and a half east of Atlanta down the Atlanta Highway (think B-52s-another hometown band), is college town all the way. Home to the University of Georgia-Athens, the downtown swarms with students at night and on game days. Most locals think the traffic is something one simply gets used to; the cost of living, so to speak, for a diverse, hip community.

Get Your Groove On

Music is absolutely a constant. The town has built itself on a unique “Athens’s sound” at the same time it’s managed to remain coolly independent and non-commercial. In the downtown area the most well-known night spot is the 40-Watt Club, a regular live music venue. For some of the world’s best micro-brews, and a corner seat on a busy Athens corner, you must grab a table with friends at the nationally known The Globe pub.

Of Neighborhoods and Coffee Houses

Closer to the UGA campus, the Five Points neighborhood marks the intersection of college and locals in tight and collegial residential neighborhoods. The nearby State Botanical Garden of Georgia features a wide range of botanical collections, including native azaleas and a formal rose garden, and both international and native gardens.

Jittery Joe’s coffee houses dot the Athens landscape and are slowly but surely making appearances in areas outside the region, such as South Carolina and around Atlanta. The coffee house is an area staple and sponsors its own cycle racing team. Bicycles are everywhere in Athens.

For visitors seeking a bit of historical architecture Athens will not disappoint. The style is distinctly Victorian and over the decades city officials and residents have been savvy enough to keep their architectural heritage intact.

Liberal Spirit

But this type of home grown and liberal independent spirit has been innate since its founding in the early 1800s. Athens began life as a destination for diverse free thinkers and it will likely not change in that respect.