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5 Activities and Museums in Athens, GA

Small-town Georgia is at its best in Athens. From an alumni-owned chocolate shop to an archery-inspired paper goods store to Graduate Athens itself, everything in Athens has a whole lotta soul. Treat yourself to the quaint Southern spirit that makes Georgia unique, plus the Bulldog pride you just can’t beat.

Stroll down memory lane or experience a side of Athens you’ve never seen before, starting with these eight things to do, see, and eat.


Georgia Museum of Art

Get lost in the traveling exhibits or enjoy the well-curated permanent collection at the state of Georgia’s official art museum. With a wide variety of art and programming for all ages, the Georgia Museum of Art is not only an academic museum, but a one-stop-shop for culture lovers everywhere. Whether you’re into American classics, Italian Renaissance or their growing collection of works by African-American artists, there are plenty of must-sees for everyone in your circle. And just when you thought a day at the museum couldn’t get any better, admission is free for all.  

Insider Tip

While its ever-changing exhibits are wonderful year-round, the air-conditioned museum is especially pleasant during hot Georgia summers.

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Catch the latest indie flick at Downtown Athens’ only art house theater. A restored historic venue, Ciné screens all the independent, international, documentaries and classic films your cinema-buff friend raves about. The hip and funky space is the perfect window into Athens’ unique charm– it even has an exhibit gallery featuring local artists and a Lab space for live performances. Part modern arts center, part small-release theater, Ciné is also a non-profit organization working to foster creativity and culture in the community.  

Insider Tip

Grab pre-show refreshments from the full-service bar, featuring a wonderful selection of wine, beer and specialty cocktails. Don’t worry, you can take ‘em to your seat too!

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Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall Sports Museum 

An absolute can’t-miss for any huge Bulldog (or really just sports) fan, Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall Sports Museum is chock-full of memorabilia honoring University of Georgia athletics history. The museum houses legendary items like the 1980 National Championship trophy and both Herschel Walker and Frank Sinkwich’s Heisman trophies. Visitors can also relive infamous plays thanks to interactive touch-screen displays and video highlights dispersed throughout.  

Insider Tip

The museum is adjacent to the Dooley Sculpture Garden, a football field-sized area containing 11 individual gardens. Stop by before or after your trip inside to see the lovely landscaping.

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State Botanical Garden of Georgia

Roam along the riverbank at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, an outdoor lover’s go-to for all things horticulture and conservation. Though the garden does offer science-based, experiential learning programs, you don’t have to be a nature buff to enjoy the many plants, flowers, and walking paths. 

Meander among native flora and fauna, stroll through rows of fragrant flowers, or be transported to a new locale through the International Garden’s Alabama snow wreaths or Chinese sweetshrubs. While at the garden, do as the wildlife do by following The Hummingbird Trail, which charts 21 different spots where you’ll come across these fast-flying birds.

Insider Tip

Need to work up a sweat? Follow the Orange Trail for a nice loop along the Oconee River.

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The UGA Arch

This 160-year-old arch has seen UGA through more than a century of graduating classes. Though legend has it you should only walk beneath the arch once you’ve graduated, it’s still among one of campuses best photo ops. With three arches that represent wisdom, justice, and moderation, it also stands as a reminder of UGA’s commitment to serve the people of Georgia—fitting, given that the arch borders North Campus and Downtown Athens. 

See the arch up close to witness the many ways it mirrors Athens, from the Arch’s base that likely comes from the same light poles you’ll see throughout town to the wreath detailing that mirrors those on the Lucy Cobb House porch.

Insider Tip

Make sure you don’t walk under the arch before graduation. Tradition says that anyone who walks under the arch before graduation will not receive a diploma!

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