• UO Guide: Athens, GA

    This week our new UO store opens in Athens, GA! We've been longtime fans of the Southern city and are so excited to finally open our doors this Thursday, August 13. And — better yet, the fun continues all month long, with our kick-off party on August 27 at Creature Comforts Brewery, featuring a performance by Unknown Mortal Orchestra, a Dreamers + Doers Marketplace featuring local Athens artists, and way more! Stop by the store to get your free ticket for the opening party! 

    In honor of the opening, we collaborated with local photographer Paige French and writer Alyssa DeHayes to curate their guide to the city — what to do, where to go, what to eat and drink, and where to explore whether you're a first-time visitor or long-time local.
    Photos by Paige French; words by Alyssa DeHayes

    Above: Tree Room

    REM trestle: Located in Dudley Park, this historic train trestle appeared on the cover of R.E.M.'s 1983 debut album "Murmur."

    Ben Burton: An in-town 32 acre wildlife preserve that makes it easy to go for a quick stroll in the woods on a busy day or wade out in the Middle Oconee River.

    Broad River Outpost: Grab some friends, slather on the sunscreen, pack a cooler, and spend the day floating on kayaks or canoes down an easy stretch of the Broad River. 

    The Tree That Owns Itself: A white oak at the intersection of Dearing and South Finley, local lore says that sometime in the 1820s, the landowner willed the beloved tree and the land eight feet around its base to the tree itself to protect it after his passing. 

    Tree Room: Located in the Chase Street warehouses, the Tree Room is a popular space for gatherings and celebrations, with a beautiful tree growing through the roof of this open air reclaimed industrial space, and the floor opens up into a koi pond. 

    Nowhere Archery: The instructors take a holistic approach to the mind + body experience of archery, and you’ll come away from a lesson at their lush plot of land (nicknamed The Shire) feeling calm, happy, and focused. 

    Above: Tlaloc, Normal Bar

    Seabear: In addition to their regular menu of delicious seafood, raw oysters, and frozen slushie negronis, Seabear has vegan ramen on Monday nights, a rum-filled cocktail umbrella haven at Tiki Tuesdays, and an oyster happy hour twice a day. 

    HiLo: A go-to brunch spot (and casual dinner spot... and karaoke and trivia spot.) Give us the gutten morgen (open-faced breakfast Reuben) or the pierogi scramble, and it's going to be a good Sunday. 

    Heirloom: Heirloom serves up elevated farm-to-table fare in a casual cafe setting in the Boulevard neighborhood. If you keep an eye out, you'll spot owner Jess driving her grandpa's refurbished old navy blue farm truck around town with the Heirloom tomato logo. 

    Tlaloc: Pupusa is the word at this El Salvadorian + Mexican restaurant. Thick handmade cornmeal tortillas are filled with cheese, beans, meat, or edible loroco flowers, and served up with refreshing curtido slaw. (Margarita is a great word here as well…)

    Above: Little Kings, Independent Baking Co.

    Independent Baking Co.: You'll want to set your alarm if you're trying to get a chocolate croissant before they sell out! The kalamata olive bread is another favorite.

    Normal Bar: Nestled in Normaltown and especially great for Friday happy hours, Normal has ample picnic tables, friendly pups of patrons, the Braves game on inside, and all the other earmarks of an inviting neighborhood bar. 

    Automatic Pizza: This neighborhood pizza joint was built into service station. Picnic tables now fill the one-time gas station canopy, and they’ll deliver your food to Normal Bar if you’re having a sip next door. 

    Little Kings: Grab a beer, play some corn hole, and kick back boat-side on the patio dock. Their weekend dance parties have been known to fog the windows. 

    Manhattan Café: One of Athens' oldest bars, Manhattan has a timeless, kitschy interior, cheap beer, fun cocktails, popcorn, and a killer jukebox. Calling it a dive bar would undersell its charm; it's an Athens treasure in the historic Hot Corner area. 

    World Famous: The kitchen at this downtown bar stays open until 2AM, and it’s a must-visit on the way back from a night out. Their pork steamed buns, wings, and tofu lettuce wraps are menu staples, and local chalk artist Chris Collins' specials board doodles are delightful. 

    The Old Pal: Cocktail aficionados take note! Old Pal has a classy old timey hardwood interior, an interesting beer list, and a seasonal cocktail menu. It's especially cozy in the winter with a fire in the fireplace. Great place to take a date for an after-dinner cocktail. 

    Above: Creature Comforts, White Tiger Gourmet

    1000 Faces Coffee Roaster: Located off Barber Street, 1000 Faces puts careful attention into every step of their process, from meeting the farmers their direct-trade beans come from to roasting on-site. Their bottled cold brew iced coffee is stocked around town at grocers like The Daily Co-Op and will give you a jolt of caffeine! 

    White Tiger: Ken and Melinda serve up excellent BBQ, salmon, and tofu out of an old general store in the boulevard neighborhood. We love their refreshing slaw in the summer, and their brunch will keep you full all day.  Extra Tiger sauce, please. 

    Pulaski Heights BBQ: Chuck's smoked meats are on point, and the "redneck (or veg-neck) Reuben" and catfish tacos at this BYOB BBQ spot are the jam. Sit on the patio snacking on their spiced pecans, pimento cheese, and oysters and watch the trains go by. 

    Creature Comforts Brewery: Combine a brewery tour with the Wednesday night farmers market, and you have a solid evening under way. Grab an Athena Berliner weisse and people-watch from a front window perch, or relax on the patio. 

    Above: Automatic Pizza, 1000 Faces Coffee

    The National: Chef Peter Dale's menu brings an international flair to fine dining. Whether you're seeking small plates like olives and hummus at the bar or a full meal in their elegant, intimate dining room, you’ll leave full and happy.

    The Grit: Even if we run into someone who's only visited Athens once, odds are high that they've been to this vegetarian local staple (and odds are that someone from any of your favorite bands has worked here at some point). The secret to the famously perfect fried tofu in the Golden Bowl is reason enough to pick up their cookbook. 

    Food for the Soul: A favorite soul food spot in Athens. No need to hold back here: go for the buffet and try it all, plus an Arnold Palmer (half iced tea, half lemonade.) If you feel like you need a nap after, you did things right. 

    Condor Chocolates: This specialty chocolatier in the Five Points area's hot sipping chocolate gets rave reviews, and their fancy chocolate bars make great gifts. 

    Trappeze: Trappeze has the biggest selection of beer in town, and their knowledgeable bar staff can help you navigate their book of options if you're not sure what you're in the mood for.

    Above: 40 Watt Club, Nuci's Space

    Nuci’s Space: Nuci's Space is one of Athens most beloved nonprofits, and is so vital for our arts scene. They provide physical and mental health resources for our musicians and creative community, youth programs, and affordable practice space for bands (click here to read our interview with the Nuci's Space team to learn more about their work)

    40 Watt ClubCaledoniaGeorgia Theatre… Athens has too many music venues to name, and every night in this town hosts a packed music schedule of local and touring bands. Flagpole’s music calendar will help you navigate where to go and who to see on any given night. 

    Georgia Museum of Art Lamar Dodd art school exit shows + Athica: Athens has a vibrant creative community, and there's always something happening at one of these three spaces. Local tip: look to Athens arts writer Jessica Smith (Flagpole) to keep up with art events. 

    Indie South Fair artist markets: Indie South fair takes place several times each year and brings together the Southeast' best makers and vintage vendors. 

    Twilight bike race: you don't have to be a cyclist to enjoy Twilight Criterium. The weekend has taken on a block party vibe and marks the start of spring in our minds. 

    Athfest + Athens Intensified + Slingshot Festival: If a packed show schedule isn’t enough for you, club-crawl style festivals bring unique lineups to town several times each year. 

    Athens Art Crawl: Take a stroll through town and check out installations from local artists along the way. This year’s art crawl, presented by the Athens Area Art Council, takes place Saturday, October 10. 

    Above: Daily Co-Op

    Ciné: If a film has made it past the selection process at Athens’ nonprofit independent art house movie theatre, we can safely bet that it’s worth seeing.

    Yoga classes at Rubber Soul: Rubber Soul's yoga studio is donation-based on a sliding scale and filled with lots of natural light. Take a Saturday morning class to set the tone for the weekend. 

    The Daily Co-Op: The Daily has a great selection of organic, local, and natural foods and personal care products. Their cold case has sammies, spreads, and snacks made in-house, and is your go-to before a picnic or road trip. 

    The University of Georgia: The University has a heavy presence in Athens. North campus is downtown, and full of old buildings, fountains, and lawns to lounge on. 

    Athens Farmers Market: Athens is lucky to have so many great farms in the surrounding area. Our farmers market takes place on Saturday mornings at Bishop Park and Wednesday late afternoon/ early evening next to Creature Comforts Brewery. In addition to local, organic veggies, there's ready-to-eat food, music, and coffee

    About the author:
    Alyssa DeHayes is celebrating her 10 year Athens-versary this month. She came here to attend UGA, and now works as a publicist for record labels and independent artists and runs a label of her own. In the time between, she’s tended the bars downtown, worked at local boutiques, and helped out at The 40 Watt Club, Ciné, and other local favorites. She’s had a hand in booking shows, hosting food events, running a vintage shop, helping local festivals, and loves to play Athens tour guide to visiting bands and friends. 

    About the photographer:
    Paige French is a freelance photographer happily living in the creative paradise that is Athens, Georgia. She started her work here in 2009 and has been shooting for local and national clients ever since, ranging from talented Athens small business owners to magazines and publishers with a readership spanning the globe. When she's not working, she is shopping for antiques and mid century furniture with her two young girls, collaborating with other artists, or sipping wine and cooking dinner with friends.