College Towns: Athens, Georgia

Learn more about Athens, Georgia -- Home of the University of Georgia.

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The Town: Athens, Georgia

On the banks of the Oconee River lies Athens, consistently rated as one of the most hospitable college towns in America. While larger than some college towns (with a population of 115,000), the hospitality that typifies the South will make you feel like you’re in a much smaller town. Expect warm weather year-round. If you’re looking to escape the cold while you’re in college, Athens should be near the top of your list.

The School: University of Georgia

The University of Georgia (UGA) is home to 26,000 undergraduate and 9,000 graduate students. Numerous departments rank in the top 20 of their respective fields, including the business, education, journalism and law programs.

As a member of the Southeastern Conference, the University of Georgia takes its football very seriously.

As a public university, the University of Georgia takes care of its in-state residents. The Georgia HOPE scholarship program was established to provide any resident who qualifies to attend a state university without paying tuition, so long as they maintain GPA requirements once they’ve enrolled.

A campus steeped in tradition, the Old College building was modeled after Yale’s Connecticut Hall. Walking around, you’ll notice “The Arch,” which resembles the state seal and represents the tenants of the Georgia constitution. Superstition holds that you won’t receive your diploma if you walk under the Arch before you have graduated.

The Jackson Oak, also known as “The Tree That Owns Itself,” is likely to be the only self-governing tree in the country. Legend has it that a man named William Henry Jackson deeded the tree to itself because he didn’t want to see it be cut down, and it has now become a mainstay of the Athens community and University of Georgia campus.

What to Do

As a member of the Southeastern Conference (SEC), the University of Georgia takes its football very seriously. Sanford Stadium holds more than 90,000; however, the biggest game of the year takes place in Jacksonville against the University of Florida. Known as the “World’s Largest Cocktail Party” and “The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry,” a lost season can be salvaged with a win over the Gators.

Enjoying one of the more diverse music scenes in the south, both R.E.M. and the B-52s have their roots in Athens. Every summer, the city hosts AthFest, a non-profit arts and music festival in downtown.

Where to Eat and Drink

If you’ve ever heard of R.E.M’s album “Automatic for the People,” the name was inspired by the motto of Dexter Weaver, owner of Weaver D’s restaurant. It’s easy to spot thanks to the neon green exterior. While you’re there, treat yourself to some exquisite traditional Southern food, including fried pork chops, sweet potato casserole and macaroni and cheese.

Did You Know?

UGA students can study abroad at every continent on the planet, including Antarctica.

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