Athens, an artistic jewel of the American South, is known as a breeding ground for famed rock groups such as the B-52s and R.E.M. Because of this distinction, creative types from all over the country flock to its trendy streets in hopes of becoming, or catching a glimpse of, the next big act to take the world by storm. At the center of this artistic melee is the University of Georgia (UGA). With more than 30,000 students, UGA is an influential ingredient in the Athens mix, giving the quaint but compact city a distinct flavor that falls somewhere between a misty Southern enclave, a rollicking college town, and a smoky, jazz club–studded alleyway. Of course, this all goes "to the Dawgs" if the home team is playing on home turf; although, even then, Athens remains a truly fascinating blend of Mayberry R.F.D. and MTV. The effect is as irresistible as it is authentic.
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Things You Can't Miss
Stop by the intersection of Dearing and Finley Streets to visit the descendant (grown from an acorn) of an oak that was willed ownership of itself.
TFM / Alamy
Take one of four tours at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia. Enjoy a three-story conservatory and beautiful specialty gardens and nature trails.
This intimate wildlife preserve’s residents are deemed nonreleasable because of injuries. Hear their poignant stories while visiting.
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