Home of the Georgia Bulldogs, the ultimate college town of Athens is a culturally rich destination - as well as a thriving meeting destination, offering 24 hotels with 2,431 rooms. Athens event venues offer everything from a Victorian-era downtown full of historic architecture, impressive gardens, cultural venues, and museums to an innovative culinary scene, diverse nightlife and chic boutiques.
Located just 70 miles from Atlanta, Athens is easily accessible from Atlanta's Hartsfield Jackson International Airport, which offers regular ground shuttle service to Athens hotels. Visitors may also elect to fly into Athens Ben-Epps Airport, which is just three miles outside of downtown and features daily shuttle flights to Atlanta.
As an added benefit, Athens is also known as a live music mecca. In fact, the B-52s and R.E.M. both got their start here. Today, hundreds of bands can be heard playing nightly in Athens' music venues including the Georgia Theatre and 40 Watt Club. This 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 and features an exhibit gallery of local visual artists. (Cine offers special event space for up to 150 guests.)
Chief among Athens meeting venues is its Classic Center, which offers more than 105,000 square feet of convention space. Located in the heart of downtown, the Classic Center features 35 meeting breakout rooms, a 56,000-square-foot exhibit hall and 2,053-seat theater. Opened in February 2013, an 8,000-square-foot atrium now offers meeting planners even more event space to choose from. 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 numerous shopping, dining and entertainment venues.
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 grounds. Visitors can take a step back in time to the antebellum Athens by touring one of the city's four 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 also take part in a number of music history tours and historic tours throughout Athens' 15 historic districts.
Two Top Chef alums have helped put Athens on the map as a rising destination for foodies and culinary enthusiasts. Meeting participants can dine and gather at restaurants like Five & Ten or the National, which are both owned by Hugh Acheson, named "Best Chef: Southeast" by the James Beard Foundation. Other dining venues in Athens include Porterhouse Grill and George's Lowcountry Table. All of these dining establishments offer private dining options.