Athens, Georgia, as home to the main campus of the University of Georgia, offers a big city’s worth of cuisine, music and personality in a college town setting. If you’re staying the Hotel Indigo Athens Downtown-Univ Area, you will find plenty to see and experience nearby:
Food & Drink
Serving Southern staples with a twist, The Last Resort Grill is one of the essential restaurants to try in Athens. Don’t miss the shrimp and grits — a brunch staple. For vegan and vegetarian offerings that even carnivores will like, The Grit is your go-place. Meanwhile, renowned chef, author and Top Chef judge Hugh Acheson is responsible for two of Athens’ best-known restaurants: Five and Ten, his flagship, serves upscale Southern-style cuisine in an early 20th century home, while The National is a more intimate bistro specializing in Mediterranean cuisine.
As befitting a college town, Athens offers plenty of spots to throw back a few drinks.Terrapin Beer Co and The Southern Brewing Company are two of the city’s best known local breweries and are just a five-minute ride from the Hotel Indigo, while Creature Comforts Brewing Co is a less than 10-minute walk. Walker’s Pub and Trappeze Pub are two welcoming bars with unusually large beer selections. At Highwire Lounge, you can enjoy creative cocktails, like the Almost Famous, a mix of mezcal, Aperol and yellow chartreuse, as well as live jazz.
As the launching pad for bands like R.E.M., The B-52s and The Drive-By Truckers, Athens has long nurtured a thriving music scene. Many of the town’s era-defining groups got their start at venues that are still running today.
The 40 Watt Club is a 500-capacity room that over the past 40 years has featured then up-and-coming acts like R.E.M., Indigo Girls and The Whigs. Today, it hosts artists big and small but remains dedicated to local talent. The newly renovated Georgia Theatre, which also has a major historical pedigree within Athens’ music scene, hosts many of the bigger acts that come through town. It’s 1,000-plus capacity floor plus a balcony, guarantees anyone with a ticket will get a great view.
Athens is also home to a range of smaller music venues that breathe life into the local music scene every night of the week. The Caledonia Lounge, Go Bar, The Foundry and Little Kings are just a few of the venues within walking distance of Hotel Indigo.
The University of Georgia operates two museums on campus. Built in 1942 and serving as Georgia’s official state art museum since 1982,The Georgia Museum of Art is a two-story masterwork full of historical collections as well as showcases for the UGA art students who roam its halls and attend class on the upper floor of the building. The Lyndon House Arts Center is a smaller facility with a rotating gallery and frequent art workshops, as well as historical tours.
Art house movie theater Ciné sits right on the edge of downtown Athens and regularly features local artists on the walls of it lobby and showcases student art in its “Ciné Lab” venue space.
One of the most unique blends of architecture and nature in Athens is The Tree Room, a remnant of a 19th century coal shipping plant that has been re-purposed into a community gathering place and event center with a large tree growing from the building’s foundation.
Hardcore R.E.M. fans will want to Instagram the recently restored steeple of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, where the band played its very first show in 1980. Not far from the steeple, on an unmarked path, is another landmark: the wooden railroad trestle from the back cover of R.E.M.’s 1983 album Murmur.
Everyone should make time to stroll through the University of Georgia’s campus, which is lined with century-old buildings and known for The Arch, a nearly 160-year-old iron structure meant to symbolize the three pillars of wisdom, justice and moderation.