15 Things To Do in Athens Georgia for Families

Building in Athens Georgia

Less than two hours north of Atlanta, Athens, Georgia, is known as “The Classic City.” Home to The University of Georgia, the school pre-dates the town. Chartered in 1785 as the first publicly funded college in the fledgling United States, the university gave rise to the city of Athens.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the city caters mainly to college students. On the contrary, the town is full of family-friendly activities on the cheap. These are the fifteen best things to do in Athens Georgia for families.

Athens Family Activities for Outdoor Lovers

Family enjoying time together outdoors.
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Settled in North Georgia on the Oconee River, Athens offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. Whether you like to stroll, run, paddle, or bike, this city has several activities to choose from.

1. Sandy Creek Nature Center

Blooming yellow flower.
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Kids will love exploring the 225 acres of the Sandy Creek Nature Center. Comprised of woodlands and wetlands, families can choose from twelve trails, including one that is ADA-compatible. Stop at the Visitor’s Center to check out binoculars and educational trail packs for your hike. While there, don’t miss the reptiles, amphibians, and aquariums on display.

  • Admission: Free

2. Sandy Creek Park

Kayaking on the river
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Suppose water sports are your thing, head to Sandy Creek Park on Lake Chapman. Canoe and kayak rentals are an absolute bargain. This park is a one-stop shop with a public beach & swimming area, playgrounds, fishing opportunities, ball fields, disc golf, and more!

  • Admission fee for ages 4-64

3. Oconee Rivers Greenway

Backpackers Camping Hiking overlooking the landscape
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This trail system offers a mix of natural surfaces, hike-only trails, and concrete, multi-use trails. Bring your bikes and explore the wetland corridors and greenspace surrounding the Oconee River.

  • Admission: Free

4. The Tree That Owns Itself

Plaque describing the Tree That Owns Itself
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Yes, you read that right. One block away from the U.G.A. campus is the tree that owns itself. Legend says that U.G.A. professor Col. William Jackson loved the tree so much that in his will, he deeded the tree ownership of itself and the eight feet surrounding it.

The paperwork can’t be found, but Athens has allowed the tree its rights, and the community has cared for it. Interestingly, the tree that is there today is a descendant. The original tree came down in a windstorm in 1942. Not wanting the tradition to end, the Junior Ladies Garden Club grew a sapling from the parent tree’s acorns and planted the current tree in 1946.

  • Admission: Free

5. Memorial Park and Bear Hollow Zoo

zoo keeper
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Bear Hollow Zoo is different from your traditional zoo. The animals here are rescues that cannot support themselves in the wild. As such, they have a rotating roster of animal residents. The reptile house in the middle of the zoo is open on Saturdays and occasionally Sundays.

  • Admission: Free

6. State Botanical Garden of Georgia

Pink flowers
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Operated by the University of Georgia, children will be delighted to explore the 2.5-acre Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden. In addition, the facility offers flower gardens, a heritage garden, greenhouses, nature trails, and more! Be sure to plan plenty of time to visit the State Botanical Garden of Georgia.

  • Admission: Free

Athens Family Activities for Inquisitive Minds

7. Georgia Museum of Art

Three young people hipster students with different skins looking happy together, talkng, looking at Famous Paintings on wall
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If you have older kids, or children interested in art, make time for a visit to The Georgia Museum of Art. Opened to the public in 1948 on the U.G.A. campus, the museum became the official art museum of Georgia in 1982. Hours vary, and timed ticketing is required.

  • Admission: Free

8. Georgia Museum of Natural History

Nature path with yellow, falling leaves
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This museum on the U.G.A. campus is open Tuesday through Thursday, featuring wildlife and plant life found in Georgia. The Georgia Museum of Natural History website advises that the exhibits are best for children five and older.

  • Admission: Free

9. Heritage Sites

Downtown Athens Georgia
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Curious about the past of Athens? Love looking at historic houses and other heritage sites? As expected of a town that was chartered in 1806, Athens has plenty of culturally significant sites to check out.

Your first stop should be at the Athens Welcome Center in the historic Church-Waddel-Brumby House Museum. You can pick up brochures for self-guided tours or book your spot on a guided walking tour.

  • Admission: Free

10. The Rook and Pawn Board Game Café

Time to take a break? If you want our kids to stay off their phones and engage with the family, The Rook and Pawn Board Game Café is a must-stop.

Upon entering, you think you’re in an old London shop. Let the good folks at the bar know that you are there to play; if you want, they’ll assist you in choosing a game. A fee of $7.00 per person 13 and up gets you access to every game in the café.

Athens Family Activities for Music Lovers

11. Current Athens Music Scene

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College towns are great spots to catch up-and-coming musicians, and Athens, Georgia, is arguably one of the best! If you’ve got older kids, consider taking them to a show at well-known Athens venues like The Classic Center and The Georgia Theatre. Then, for music on the cheap, walk around! Street performers abound, and music spills out from patios.

12. Athens Music Walk of Fame

A band performing at an outdoor venue
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Retro is cool; introduce your kids to R.E.M., the B-52’s, and Widespread Panic. Like stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in California, the Athens Music Hall of Fame inductees are on guitar pic plaques on the sidewalks around some of Athens’ most popular music spots. Download the Athens Music Walk of Fame app to learn more about the featured artists.

13. Wuxtry Records

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Continue your retro tour with a trip to Wuxtry Records. Founded in Athens in 1976, Wuxtry has continued to sell vinyl. It also offers compact discs as well as posters and T-shirts. Turntables are all the rage; get your kids started on a quality collection! Their sister shop, Bizarro-Wuxtry, is excellent for teens into comics and novelty toys.

Athens Family Activities for Photo Ops

14. Bulldog Scavenger Hunt

Dog Statue in Athens
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If the weather is fine and you feel like walking, then the “We Let The Dawgs Out” public art exhibit is for you! There are dozens of bulldog statues (or, if you’re a U.G.A. fan, dawg statues) throughout Athens. Each one is uniquely decorated and makes a fun photo op!

  • Cost: Free

15. Insta-Walls

Athens Georgia Downtown area
Image Credit: Jen Wolf / Shutterstock.

If you’ve got kids all about doing things for the ‘gram, you can’t miss all the Athens murals. Even if Instagram photos are not your thing, some pretty amazing public art is out there. Take a stroll to appreciate it!

Affordable Things To Do in Athens Georgia

Family Walking Along Track In Autumn Countryside With Children Running Ahead
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Athens, Georgia, offers plenty of options for family fun. Most are free or cheap, making them perfect for families looking to explore. When planning your next vacation, take a look at Athens.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks Travel.

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Amy Albers is a librarian in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta. When she's not getting lost in genealogy and local history, she is finding fun solo and family travel destinations to share with others. With over a dozen years of experience writing about family and travel on her own blog, Amy now enjoys freelance writing. She has three teen and young adult boys who turned her on to all things Marvel and Star Wars and a husband who has nurtured her into a committed SEC football fan. The beach and the great outdoors are her happy places but she's never mad at a luxury hotel. Her book reviews and latest adventures are found on Instagram at Exploring The Amysphere.