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Introducing Athens

A beery, artsy and utterly laid-back college town roughly 70 miles east of Atlanta, Athens has an extremely popular football team (the University of Georgia Bulldogs), a world-famous music scene (which has launched artists including the B-52’s, REM and Widespread Panic) and a burgeoning restaurant culture (featuring star chef Hugh Acheson and his dynamite eatery Five & Ten). Known throughout Georgia as UGA, the university drives the culture of Athens and ensures an ever-replenishing supply of young bar-hoppers and concertgoers. The pleasant, walkable downtown offers a plethora of funky choices for eating, drinking and shopping. At least three routes run from Atlanta to Athens (Hwy 316, Hwy 129 and Hwy 78), each with relative pluses and minuses.

The Athens Welcome Center (706-353-1820; 280 E Dougherty St; 10am-6pm Mon-Sat, from noon Sun), in a historic antebellum house at the corner of Thomas St, provides maps and information on local tours – these include a Civil War tour and a ‘Walking Tour of Athens Music History, ’ printed in conjunction with the local entertainment magazine, Flagpole.