Living in the northern part of Lawrenceville, GA, I am almost as close to Athens as I am to Atlanta. My husband and I decided to take a day trip there for our anniversary, and it took us about the same amount of time to get there as it does to get into the city (if not less due to experiencing absolutely no traffic either way).
Athens is a funky, laid-back college town with lots to love. You won’t see the glitz and glamour that you see in Atlanta, but there are plenty of bakeries, boutiques and bars to keep everyone entertained. Just make sure you check the UGA football schedule before you go, because it can get crazy on game days.
We started our day with some strong espresso drinks and a chocolate croissant at a cute little bakery called Independent Baking Co. A tiny spot specializing mostly in coffee and freshly baked breads, we were informed when we arrived a little after 10am that we had just missed the Saturday morning rush. I was happy to hear it, as we were able to enjoy our morning fortification in peace sitting at the small counter facing the window.
Next stop – TREEHOUSE kid and craft, a children’s store that I read was equally amusing for adults. I was glad that my friend had just had a baby and I was in the market for some gifts while I was in here, otherwise it would have been a short visit. An ultra whimsical store, it was definitely super cute, but I actually didn’t really understand how most of the crafts and toys even worked. I’m sure though that it’s a hit with creative kids and artsy parents, and they have a lot of crafty baby stuff too. (Save your pennies for your visit, though, this place isn’t cheap!)
I also dragged my husband to The Red Dress Boutique in Downtown Athens, which I had seen on Shark Tank. All of the clothing in there was very unique and trendy – in a good way. I got some adorable moccasin boots at a really good price, and I definitely need to return there one day when my husband is not waiting outside for me. I’d also like to check out some of the other stores downtown, as it’s chock full of ‘em – along with many, many bars.
As I was shopping, my husband found a food truck festival up the street, so the shopping was short lived. Luckily I prefer eating to shopping anyway. While our food truck fare was unfortunately lackluster, I was intrigued to find a boutique truck selling clothes right in the mix. Called The Rolling Runway, the store was owned by a recent UGA grad, and another UGA student still in school. I was super impressed with their ambition, and scored a very affordable, on-trend kimono to add to my wardrobe.
Next we did the obligatory stroll through the UGA campus, which was very quiet and relaxing. (Obviously the dawgs were out of town.)
The highlight of our trip was the three or so hours we spent at the Terrapin Brewery just a few miles from the center of town. For just a few bucks we got a tour and more than enough samples of some great beer. I was in love with a beer called Liquid Bliss that had chocolate and peanut butter in it!!! My husband is a real beer drinker, so he loved the Hi-5 IPA, which he described as “very hoppy.” In addition to Terrapin, there’s also another brewery right in the heart of Athens called Creature Comforts.
We topped our day off with dinner at Hugh Acheson’s The National. I was pleasantly surprised by the striking, sophisticated décor inside based on the more gritty street that the restaurant was located on. Nonetheless we sat outside to take advantage of some fabulous weather. It was a little loud at first due to some type of hipster event next door, but it soon quieted down.
Having just glugged down way more beers than necessary, I ordered one of the flavored sodas for my drink. The flavors were actually a bit too subtle for me, so I could have just gone with a sparkling water instead. To start we had the patatas bravas. I am obsessed with the patatas bravas at Atlanta’s Eclipse di Luna, so I was very excited for this dish. Unfortunately it fell flat compared to the ones I’d previously tried, and I felt that a lot more salt was needed.
For our mains, I had a tasty, juicy chicken breast with a chickpea pancake and some fresh, bright sauces, vegetables and herbs. I quite enjoyed it. Unfortunately my husband’s main – shrimp and rice – was not good. He was put off by the fact that it was more of a stew than expected. That part didn’t bother me, but the shrimp was really fishy and the spices just weren’t working.
Overall The National wasn’t bad, but I did expect a bit more from Hugh Acheson based on his reputation.
Athens as a whole though blew me away. Both my husband and I had the best time there and can’t wait to return – me for the boutiques, and him for the breweries.Tags: Athens, Atlanta, Brewery, Georgia, Hugh Acheson, Terrapin, The National, UGA