Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Why Athens, GA?

View from inside The Globe, pub and restaurant in downtown Athens
photo by Me

We're moving to Athens. Some ask, "Why Athens?" Here's an excerpt about Athens from National Geographic's Traveler magazine to explain (after you consider that the main social entertainment where we live now is Walmart).

Magnolias and the B52s compete for your attention in this breezy, beautiful, musical southern city.

It's best to be seated when Leara Rhodes, a professor of journalism at the University of Georgia, starts extolling the virtues of Athens. "We're the smallest county in the state, but we have 37 venues for music and 550 bands. We have two opera companies, three symphonies, at least four independent theaters, a bus system, gardens, coffeehouses, great restaurants, music, piercings, conservatives, liberals, athletes. We have everything here, and that's why I love it."

A perfect day in Athens (and to Rhodes, most days qualify) includes at least one stop at Blue Sky Café, a walk through the State Botanical Gardens, a visit to the Georgia Museum of Art, quiche at the Bluebird Café, a walk past the Morton Theater (an old vaudeville venue and one of the first theaters in the U.S. to be owned by African Americans), a musical shopping spree at Wuxtry Records and Schoolkids Records (both on Clayton St.), dinner at the Five Star Day Café, and an evening of live music at the 40 Watt Club (where REM and the B52s got started).

Athens At-a-Glance

Fast Fact: In 1785, the University of Georgia in Athens was founded as America's first publicly chartered university.

Population: 100,266

The Big School: University of Georgia (1785)

Best Time to Go: Spring, summer, and fall. The Twilight Festival (April) features the Twilight Criterium bike race. Athfest (June) is a downtown music celebration that draws more than a hundred bands and 10,000 fans. October brings folk, harvest, and wine festivals.

Outdoor Escapes: The rose garden of the State Botanical Gardens of Georgia (2450 S. Milledge Ave; +1 706 542 1244) blooms May-September.

Trip Planner: The Athens Welcome Center is located in what is believed to be the city's oldest surviving residence, the Church-Waddel-Brumby House (280 E. Dougherty St.; +1 706 353 1820). Classic City Tours offers a cool 90-minute bus tour of the city (+1 706 208 8687; fee).

Don't Miss: The Georgia Museum of Art (90 Carlton St.; +1 706 542 4662); Morton Theater (195 W. Washington St.; +1 706 613 3770).

Recommended Rooms: The Magnolia Terrace Guest House (277 Hill St.; +1 706 548 3860; $85-165) is a cozy eight-room Victorian inn. The Nicholson House Inn (6295 Jefferson Rd.; +1 706 353 2200; $109-159) is an eight-room antebellum inn. Both are located near downtown.

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