Vibrant, eclectic and accessible, Athens is the ultimate college town and a world-class meeting destination. Home to the University of Georgia – the country's first state-chartered college – Athens features a Victorian-era downtown full of historic architecture, impressive gardens, cultural venues, museums and first-rate Athens meeting venues.
Located just 60 miles northeast of Atlanta, Athens is also known as a live music mecca. In fact, the B-52s and R.E.M. both got their start here; and today, hundreds of bands play nightly in the renowned music venues in Athens.
Athens is served by Athens Ben-Epps Airport, which is just three miles outside of downtown and features daily shuttle flights to Atlanta. Thanks to its proximity to the Georgia capital, Athens is also served by Atlanta's Hartsfield Jackson International Airport, which is a major global air hub to 151 U.S. destinations and more than 80 international destinations in 52 countries, as well as regular ground shuttle service to Athens hotels.
Chief among Athens meeting venues is its Classic Center, which offers more than 80,000 square feet of flexible meeting space. Located in the heart of downtown, the Classic Center features 29 meeting breakout rooms, a 28,000-square-foot exhibit hall and 2,053-seat theater, as well as in-house catering, audio-visual and decorating services. The Classic Center is located adjacent to the 185-room Hilton Garden Inn and within walking distance of more than 1,500 hotel rooms, as well as a number of shopping, dining and entertainment venues.
Meeting participants can dine and gather at restaurants such as the award-winning Five & Ten or Farm 255. Other dining venues in Athens include the East West Bistro, The Capital Room and The National.
Attractions and event venues in Athens include the beautiful 313-acre State Botanical Garden of Georgia, home to themed gardens, five miles of winding trails, a three-story tropical conservatory and four private rental facilities overlooking the gardens. Visitors can also tour house museums, including the 1844 Greek Revival style Taylor-Grady House, as well as the 1852 octagonal-design T.R.R. Cobb House. Visitors to Athens can take part in a number of music history tours and historic tours throughout Athens' 15 historic districts. (Athens historic oddities include the world's only double-barreled cannon, which sits on the grounds of City Hall.)
Meeting participants can relax in the 225-acre Sandy Creek Nature Center, which features an 1800s log cabin and turn-of-the-century brick factory nestled within beautiful woodlands and wetlands.
The city's artistic and musical flavor can be experienced at many of its attractions and unique venues. Private events may be held in the Morton Theatre – one of the first vaudeville theaters that was built, owned and operated in the U.S. – or at the Athens Institute for Contemporary Art. Athens is also home to Cine, an art house cinema that shows independent and international films next to an exhibit gallery of local visual artists. Also available is the Georgia Museum of Art, which recently reopened in January 2011 after a two-year expansion project.
Photo by Wikimedia Commons user : Michael Rivera