Welcome to Athens, and thank you for participating in this year’s Collegiate Challenge. This guide is intended to help you get a feel for our city so you can get the most out of your time here. We look forward to having you for this exciting event!
Visit the Habitat for Humanity International website to learn about the Collegiate Challenge: https://www.habitat.org/volunteer/travel-and-build/collegiate-challenge
Athens Area Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1988. We are dedicated to eliminating substandard housing locally and worldwide by constructing homes, rehabilitating homes, advocating for fair housing policies, and providing training and access to resources to help families improve their shelter conditions. Our volunteers have built more than 85 homes and renovated nearly 50 rental units for the community. The local organization includes two thrift stores. Restore West is located at 4125 Atlanta Hwy., Athens, GA 30606. Restore East is located at 532 Barber St. Athens, GA 30601. The main office shares the same address as Restore East.
While in Athens, you’ll be staying at the Milledge Avenue Baptist Church just south of the UGA campus near Five Points. You’ll be housed on the second floor of the academic building adjacent to the church proper, and you’ll have access to the kitchen if you’d like to prepare home cooked meals. Upon arrival you’ll receive an orientation to the church campus, schedule, and rules from the church and Athens Habitat staff.
With around 36,000 students, UGA is one of the most esteemed schools in the South. UGA was founded in 1785 as the first state-chartered public university in the United States. (Campus landmarks map, UGA Visitor’s Center)
Be sure to check out North Campus to see some of the oldest buildings in Athens and their beautiful neoclassic architecture. The Founders’ Memorial Garden is a hidden treat tucked away at the corner of Baldwin and Lumpkin. While you’re there, ring the Chapel bell and take a picture at the Arch, both icons of the university. Be careful though! Those who walk through the arch before they graduate are supposedly doomed to never graduate. You have been warned!
Take some pictures by Sanford Stadium, which holds over 92,000 loyal Georgia fans. If the weather is nice and you feel like spending time in the great outdoors, head over to Lake Herrick, UGA’s campus lake located on East Campus. There are walking trails all around the lake and a nice, grassy area right next to the lake for a picnic.
If you have a taste for the fine arts, UGA has you covered. The Georgia Museum of Art is free to the public. You can also enjoy live performances at UGA’s Performing Arts Center which brings some of the best symphonies and performers in the entire world to Athens.
For maps, souvenirs, and further info on Athens, visit the Athens Welcome Center at the corner of Dougherty Street and North Avenue.
Some fun things to check out while you’re here are the Silent Disco on Saturday nights or live jazz Fridays and Saturdays at the Highwire Lounge, bowling at Showtime, board games at the Rook and Pawn, the escape rooms at Escape the Space, visit critters at Bear Hollow Zoo, and Trivia Night at the Blind Pig Tavern. If you’re feeling something more active, try Rush Athens, a trampoline park, kayaking with Big Dogs on the River, or hiking trails in Sandy Creek Park. There is also a CVS located on Broad Street in Downtown that stays open until midnight.
Directly adjacent from North Campus, the Classic City offers one of the best downtown atmospheres in the South. Not only is Athens consistently ranked as one of the best college towns in the U.S., but it is also the number 3 city for music behind Nashville and Austin. So if watching live music is your thing, we have some of the best venues around.
The Georgia Theater is the biggest of all the venues and offers the top rated artists and bands. You can also eat some delicious food on the Georgia Theater rooftop while you wait for one of the shows.
The 40 Watt Club has been an iconic venue for over 30 years and has hosted some of the best artists around the world, such as The B52’s, R.E.M., Nirvana, Patti Smith, Jamey Johnson, My Morning Jacket, Snoop Dogg, and Iggy Pop to name only a few.
If you want to watch upcoming artists, try out The Caledonia Lounge. Also, Live Wire is a great place to check out if you want to catch their weekly open mike night, and The Foundry is good if you have some money to spend and prefer some laid-back live music with dinner.
If you want to see some stand-up comedy, theater, or dance, The Classic Center is your place!
If you’re looking for a more low-key, coffee shop experience, be sure and check out Walker’s Coffee and Pub or 1000 Faces. 1000 Faces is only open until around 6 p.m.; however, Walker’s stays open late and provides a classic Athens, rustic atmosphere.
Athens Bagel Co.
Ben and Jerry’s
Dawg Gone Good BBQ
Jittery Joe’s Coffee
Taste of India
The Taco Stand Downtown
Ted’s Most Best
Zombie Coffee & Donuts
An upscale residential neighborhood in Athens centered around the intersection of South Milledge Avenue, South Lumpkin Street, and Milledge Circle, Five Points is half a mile down Milledge from the church. Milledge Avenue is considered the yellow brick road of Athens and is a great path to stick to if you’re looking to go on a walk. You can pass most of the UGA Greek Life homes, and local businesses on the long, flat road. Plenty of restaurants, stores, and coffee shops make Five Points the perfect place to spend an afternoon if you are looking to walk. Be sure to check out the oldest burger joint in Athens, ADD Drug, which doubles as a pharmacy.
The Normaltown neighborhood is near the Habitat office and Restore East. If you’re a B52’s fan, you’ll recognize Normaltown and the now-defunct’s Allen’s Hamburgers from their song “Deadbeat Club” off the album Cosmic Thing. This is a fun part of town that is less crowded than downtown but still has all the culture. If you’re looking for a place that loves local art, great food, and hipsters with southern charm, then Normaltown is the place for you. Be sure to check out open mic night at Hendershots on Mondays (seriously, there’s no cover and it’s amazing), the award-winning vegetarian restaurant The Grit, and the best homemade donuts you will ever eat at Ike and Jane.
Big City Bread Cafe
The Grit (Vegetarian)
Ike and Jane Donuts and Coffee
Marti’s at Midday
Pulaski Heights BBQ
The Taco Stand on Milledge
Taqueria Del Sol
Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe
Alps Road and Baxter Street (their intersection is known as Beechwood) is where you want to go in Athens if you need a Kroger, CVS, or TJ Maxx, or are looking for familiar chain restaurants and “student dives”. For good southern food, check out Mama Jewel’s, The Farmcart, and Home.made. There is even a full service movie theater! There are also a lot of unique gyms if you’re looking to take a work out class while you’re here.
Only 2.5 miles down S. Milledge Avenue, the State Botanical Garden of Georgia is an immense garden of 313 acres with a conservatory operated by the University of Georgia. The Heritage Garden includes many pass-along perennials from the Old South. The International Garden offers visitors the chance to be surrounded by nature and smell the roses around them. The Shade and Native Flora Gardens are at their peak in the spring when dogwoods, magnolias, and azaleas are bursting with color. The new Alice H. Richard Children’s Garden is fun for all ages! Be sure to check this nice scenic area of Athens. Admission to the garden is free for all.
The Tree That Owns Itself
A unique local curiosity, the Tree That Owns Itself was willed an eight-foot radius of land around its base and is surrounded by a cobblestone street. The tree, a white oak, stands at the corner of Finley and Dearing Streets in Athens.
A 4,000-pound anchor in the middle of Broad Street was installed in 1990 to honor the Navy Supply Corps School in Normaltown (now a UGA health school campus). Supposed to anchor a destroyer, it couldn’t be used because of a crooked shaft.
The Double-Barrelled Cannon
The idea was that two cannon balls, connected by a chain, would shoot from the barrels and take down Union soldiers. It didn’t work (surprise), and the double-barrelled cannon now sits in front of City Hall — pointed north.
The Chapel Bell
The Chapel bell, along with the famous Arch, is one of the best known landmarks to students and alumni of UGA, and all Georgia Bulldogs fans, although it can be difficult to find if you don’t know where it is. The Chapel itself was built in 1832 and served as a hospital during the Civil War. The bell is traditionally rung after UGA athletic victories, as well as the occasional wedding.
Atlanta is only about an hour and twenty minutes away by car, and has some great things to do like visiting the Georgia Aquarium, the Center for Civil and Human Rights, the World of Coca-Cola, MLK House, the Ponce City Market, and Zoo Atlanta. There’s also Piedmont Park, Centennial Olympic Park, and the College Football Hall of Fame. Or you could go to Topgolf, or the Six Flags over Georgia amusement park.
The foothills of the Appalachian mountains lie just over an hour from downtown Athens. Check out Tallulah Gorge State Park and Raven Cliff Falls for short hikes. The North Georgia mountains boasts many small towns with unique small businesses. If you’re in downtown Clayton, check out Wander North Georgia. Or, if you feel like visiting Bavaria in Georgia, there’s the alpine village of Helen.
Athens boasts two roller skating rinks. Athens Skate Inn is close to Habitat ReStore West on the west side of town. Their $5/person Wednesday Retro Skate Night is a great deal, as is the $3/person Tuesday night deal at Fun Galaxy.
There’s mini putt putt at Funopolis Family Fun Center in Commerce, GA, about a 30-minute drive from Athens.
St. Mary’s Hospital ER is at 1230 Baxter Street.
Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center is located at 1199 Prince Avenue.
The correct procedure to follow in the event of an emergency is as follows: