By: Camren Skelton | Photography: Lauren Leising
Athens: a college town unlike any other. Where on football Saturdays, everyone’s blood bleeds red and black. Where Monday through Friday, campus is buzzing with students learning in the classroom, and Thursday through Saturday, the streets of downtown come alive with students looking for a night out on the town. Athens has something for every taste whether you’re a music junkie, a foodie or engrossed in the art scene, it is guaranteed you will find something to fit your needs.
But with all that Athens has to offer, it can be difficult to get a taste of everything. If you’ve been around Athens long enough then you’ve probably seen a show at the Georgia Theatre, had a crêpe at Pauley’s and had a breakfast or two at Mama’s Boy. But there is so much more to Athens than the typical bucket list spots. If you’re looking for an adventure, then check out the coolest hidden spots that Athens has to offer.
1. The Tree Room
This is a building with a live tree growing inside of it. Different, right? The Tree Room is part of the Chase Park Warehouses on Tracy Street. In the 1900s, a fire burned the roof of the building and years later, a tree started growing inside of it. The once-abandoned building is now rented out for events, parties and weddings and is a frequent stop for students looking for a new adventure.
2. 1000 Faces Coffee
This is a coffee shop founded in 2006 by former Peace Corps volunteer Benjamin Myers. The name for the shop comes from a quote by Joseph Campbell in the book, “The Hero With A Thousand Faces”: “Wherever the hero may wander, whatever he may do, he is ever in the presence of his own essence - for he has the perfected eye to see. There is no separateness.” The coffee shop on Barber Street features blends from around the world, offering a new variety to the coffee connoisseur.
3. Ike & Jane
Located on Prince Avenue, Ike & Jane is a locally owned and operated café and bakery. Their specialty? Doughnuts made from scratch. “It’s definitely a mom-and-pop kind of restaurant. It’s very quaint. And they have the best chicken salad ever,” says Alexandra Falcucci, a sophomore fashion merchandising major from New Jersey. Named after the owner’s family, a bite to eat at Ike & Jane will make you feel like you’re right back in grandma’s kitchen.
4. Iron Works Coffee
Want a cool place to study but tired of the usual spots like Starbucks and Jittery Joe's? Check out Iron Works Coffee, located in the lobby of the Graduate Hotel. The rustic brick and eclectic local artwork will make you feel like you’re more than just a few steps away from downtown. If you’re always on the lookout for new places to study or grab a delicious hot drink, then add Iron Works to the top of your list.
On top of the UGA physics building sits the observatory. It’s open to the public once a month. If the skies are clear, you can look into the night sky through the department’s telescope. If it’s on the cloudy side, then there is a lecture held in the auditorium by one of the physics professors.
6. The Hill
No, it’s not the residence hall. The Hill is a collection of historic homes on the outskirts of Athens that date back as early as the antebellum period. All of the homes on the Hill are numbered by their address according to the year they were built, and they are available to rent for events and weekends. If you crave a little hands-on history outside of your classes, then make your next adventure to the Hill. It’s history in your backyard.
7. Independent Baking Company
A small bakery located in Five Points, Independent Baking Co. is noteworthy because their bread is served at many local Athens restaurants including Ted’s Most Best, SeaBear Oyster Bar and the National. In addition to these locations, Independent Baking Co. also has indoor and outdoor seating, so you can enjoy a pastry or croissant on warm spring days.
8. Caledonia Lounge
If you’re heavily into the music scene in Athens, then the Caledonia might be familiar. “Performing at the Caledonia is a rite of passage for artists starting out,” says Lauren Cerny, a senior mass media arts major from Roswell. “And it’s the perfect place for them to create a name for themselves in Athens.” If you’re looking to discover new music, the Caledonia is a place to check out. You never know when you could stumble upon the next big thing.
9. Heirloom Café
Heirloom Café on Chase Street specializes in serving ingredients from local farmers, producers and artisans. Their mission is “to celebrate local farmers and our community by crafting a fresh take on heritage dishes.” “It’s healthy and away from downtown so parking is easy,” says Savannah Young, a senior health promotions major from Atlanta. Restaurants like these make Athens a unique place to live.
10. Hip Pops
The Popsicle joint’s main location is in the Chase Park Warehouses on Tracy Street. But you might have seen its Popsicle carts around town. There is a cart next to Daily Groceries Co-Op on Prince Avenue Monday through Friday. Hip Pops are handmade frozen popsicles created with simple ingredients and named after popular hip-hop artists and songs. Some titles include “MC Slammer,” “Kanye Zest,” “Fifty Mint” and “Green LaTeaFa.”