No community of comparable size in the Southeast can boast richer cultural resources than Athens, earning recognition as one of America's Top 25 Arts Destinations by AmericanStyle magazine.
AthFest each June attracts over 20,000 visitors to see over 100 bands playing on indoor and outdoor stages throughout downtown Athens. The weekend also features visual arts and children's activities and was named a Top 20 Event by the Southeast Tourism Society. Nightlife and Music in Athens throughout the year are world-renowned. The city that nurtured R.E.M, the B-52's, and Widespread Panic continues to offer live music nightly from hundreds of new bands.
From touring Broadway productions and headline entertainers to Athens' symphony orchestra and theatre companies to the myriad of performances and exhibitions at the University of Georgia's Performing and Visual Arts Complex, top-quality venues draw appreciative audiences year-round.
Athens is also renowned for its Visual Arts community, as home to Georgia's official State Museum of Art and a thriving local arts scene, with numerous galleries and artists' studios. Downtown Athens houses an eclectic mix of specialty shops, artists' galleries, and restaurants, housed in restored, Victorian-era buildings. Gardens in Athens include the State Botanical Garden of Georgia and other gardens and specialty nurseries that draw enthusiasts from throughout the Southeast and the nation. Athens is home of America's First Garden Club.
Living History can be discovered in Athens' three House Museums representing a variety of architectural styles. The Church-Waddel-Brumby House (Federal, 1820); Taylor-Grady House (Greek Revival, ca. 1844); and Ware-Lyndon House (Italianate, 1856) are all open to the public. Athens has 14 neighborhoods and 35 other sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Morton Theatre (ca. 1910), was one of the first vaudeville theatres built, owned, and operated by an African American. The site of performers such as Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington is completely restored as a performing arts venue and is on the National Register.
As far as most Athens residents are concerned, Atlanta is just close enough. On one hand, it's a definite advantage from many standpoints to have a major international city just 70 miles away. On the other, that's enough distance to maintain a protective buffer from the city's notorious traffic and urban sprawl.
Besides easy access to Atlanta to the west, Athens' central location in the Southeast region makes it easy to enjoy a weekend getaway, whether one's preference runs to mountains or beaches. Head north and you soon hit the foothills of the Appalachians. Go east to find any number of charming cities and resort areas along the Atlantic coast. Or drive south a couple hours if you prefer the blue water and white sand of the Gulf. Orlando—the world's number one vacation mecca—is within a day's drive. However, if you just never find the time or the motivation to leave Athens to take a vacation, everyone here will understand.
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