State Botanical Garden

The State Botanical Garden of Georgia at UGA is a recommended destination for parents coming to visit students here. The garden covers hundreds of acres and includes hiking trails, a greenhouse, an interactive children's garden and specialty gardens, making it a popular all-ages destination. (Photo / Julian Alexander)

When you come up to visit your student over the next four (or five) years, schedule some time to get to know the Classic City. A few ways to get started:

1. Explore downtown boutiques and shops

The heart of town is home to dozens of independent retailers. One entrepreneurial success story is Red Dress Boutique, a fast-growing online retailer. Heery’s Clothes Closet has outfitted generations of UGA students and alumnae. As you might expect in a college town, vintage and consignment shops abound: check out Dynamite, Agora Vintage and Atomic.

A particularly interesting store is Community, which sells local designs, including “up-cycled” pieces made from vintage wear.

2. Browse books and music

Music fans of all ages head to Wuxtry Records, which occupies a revered spot in Athens music history. Its upstairs sibling, Bizarro Wuxtry Comics, is a hive of collectibles. Lo Yo Yo Stuff Records, also downtown, is another spot which sells music the old fashioned way. Independent Avid Bookshop in Five Points stocks popular and harder-to-find titles and hosts author readings and other events.

3. Take in some art — both classic and modern

The Georgia Museum of Art serves as the state’s official art museum. It occupies a contemporary building on East Campus, and holds over 8,000 objects in its permanent collection. Admission is free. Downtown’s Lyndon House Arts Center is a cultural hub that includes exhibits and events. The Leathers Building in Pulaski Heights is home to ATHICA, a gallery that hosts contemporary exhibits and performances. Just a few blocks away is newcomer Tiny ATH Gallery.

4. Stock up on Georgia fan gear

Die-hard fans will find plenty of merch at downtown stores The Red Zone, Tailgate and The Clubhouse. And don’t forget the campus bookstore, where you can stock up on official Bulldogs gear and all sorts of branded gifts.

5. Support some local farmers

The Athens Farmers Market operates on Saturday mornings at Bishop Park, offering food trucks, coffee and produce. (Tip: Check our online version of our  Eat & Drink Athens, GA guide for updates on this and other farmers markets operating in the age of social distancing.)

6.  Explore the great outdoors

The North Oconee River Greenway hugs the river just east of downtown. A few miles south of campus, the State Botanical Garden of Georgia is a great family destination. The grounds boast themed gardens, special collections, an interactive children’s garden and over 5 miles of trails. Check out the conservatory, cafe and gift shop. On campus, miles of trails wend around newly re-opened Lake Herrick and through the intramural fields area.

Golfers can get in a round or two at the award-winning UGA Golf Course. Students golf at steeply discounted rates and family deals are available.

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