Staycationing in Athens, GA

We all know the turn the economy has taken. Most people feel that now is not the time to throw money around in order to have fun, and that a vacation would lead to regret when the return trip is being made. However, money woos may be observed while fun is still found during the summertime. A staycation is one of the best solutions – enjoying your vacation time in the town you see everyday on the cheap and realize the budget-saving abilities of local good times. The locale we are going to explore now for staycation-potential is Athens, GA – the town that is home to the University of Georgia.

Athens, GA is assuredly a college town. The largest street in the downtown area overlooks the beginning of the historic campus, and even during summer you can run into many students and young professionals relaxing at one of the many bars downtown. However, Athens is home to many families, and the city has managed to cater to both groups. This of course means that there is much potential for your staycation:

1. Visit the Farmer’s Market at Bishop Park every Saturday from 8am – 12pm to pick up some freshly-baked bread and locally-grown vegetables and fruits.

2. Pack up your gains from the Market, or simply assemble items you already have on hand, to create a picnic (think freshly sliced watermelon and hummus with pita chips and vegetables) and head to Dudley Park behind Mama’s Boy Restaurant, Memorial Park off of Milledge Ave, or any one of the tens of other parks in Athens. Of course, feel free to skip the picnic and simply enjoy the air and sunshine (remember sunscreen and water!) as you walk the trails or read a book. (More information available at the ACC Library.)

3. Head to the State Botanical Garden off of S. Milledge Ave. to find many trails to lose yourself on and views of intriguing plants you’ve probably never heard of.

4. Stop by the Intramural Fields of the University of Georgia (or any other large field you know of) with your friends or family for a heart-racing day of UltimateFrisbee, kickball, or soccer – three of the cheapest sports to play.

5. If you’re feeling especially small-town adorable, create a picture scavenger hunt of the downtown area using facts from the Athens Travel Bureau, and get some friends together with digital cameras to see who’s team can grab pictures of everything the quickest. The winning team gets a free pitcher at lunch or dinner!

6. Take a trip to the Animal Control shelter (located at 45 Beaverdam Road Ext.) any day except Wednesday sometime between 9am and 4pm to visit all of the dogs who would love some company. You can walk the dogs and play with them in the interaction pens that are available. Insure you head there knowing whether or not you can leave with a dog though, because their faces will tug at your heart, but leave you feeling good when you leave because you know you gave them some happiness.

7.Find a few exotic, or simply new-to-you, recipes you’ve thought about trying, such as chocolate chip bagels, and go for it! Sure, making bagels takes an hour or two, but you have the time, and whoever doesn’t appreciate a warm homemade bagel is not a true friend of mine.

8. Visit all of the little thrift and antique stores in Athens and either dig for treasures if you have a little cash to get rid of or laugh at the idea of “one person’s trash, another person’s treasure.” I would start in the downtown area at Agora (the corner of Pulaski St. and Clayton St.) and the Habitat for Humanity ReStore (off of Barber St.) and then venture out to the Salvation Army (off of Hawthorne Ave.), Goodwill (off of Atlanta Hwy.), and the Petzone Thrift Store (further down Atlanta Hwy., past Sam’s Club).

9. Lastly, use my favorite resource, the Flagpole Magazine’s calendarto find out what’s happening in the area each day/night, so you can make sure to catch a game of trivia or the many concerts that happen each day (some of which are FREE).

I love all of these ideas, and have done or used each of them at least once, but they are really just the tip of the iceberg ofpossibilities for your staycationthat are available in Athens. Just remember, whatever you choose to do with your vacation time this summer, there are always things that you can do on the cheap in the town you live in and still call it a vacation, because, hey, who doesn’t have to go to work the next day? That’s right, you don’t! Enjoy yourself.