Six Classic City Attractions, as Selected By Athens Native Jack Kingston

Editor’s Note: With this weekend’s Georgia Republican Convention in Athens, former congressmen Jack Kingston compiled this list of things delegates and alternates might want to see and do in the Classic City. Although Kingston represented a district that included much of southeast Georgia, he is originally from Athens.

In addition to the places in this list, don’t forget the Peach Pundit Road Show, beginning at 6 PM Friday At Magnolia’s. We look forward to seeing some of you…

Friends,

I am looking forward to seeing you in my hometown this weekend for the Georgia Republican Party’s 2015 Convention. By birthright, Athens was founded by The University of Georgia. Bound at the hip, its name comes from the Greek Goddess of Enlightenment— Athena. Along with all the University has to offer, there are many off-campus things to do this weekend during the State Convention. This event is an important part of the political process and I encourage all of those able to attend to do so.

If you are interested in watching me speak, I will be on stage around 12:30pm in the main room at the Classic Center.

For those of you who plan on being there, just in case you need a break from politics, here are a few things to do and places to visit while you are in Athens:

The Mayflower – Located right across the arch, the Mayflower is one of the few restaurants that have been owned by the same family and has been in the location since its founding in 1948. Not open for dinner, Mayflower is one of the best spots for breakfast and lunch. I recommend almost anything on the menu, and would also recommend a walk around downtown after your meal, I usually walk out of there pretty full.

Terrapin Brewery – After three unsuccessful years looking for investment money, two Atlanta Brewing Company employees, had made it big. While living in Atlanta, a 1993 UGA grad and his buddy from California had been brewing their own drinks at their house and had a vision to start their own brewery. The idea was to create beer with a unique and distinct taste in a town with a unique and distinct vibe. Finally, the first Terrapin Beer was brewed in April of 2002. Terrapin Brewery, named after the Grateful Dead song “Terrapin Station,” hosts tastings and tours and usually has around 30,000 visitors a year.

For those under 21 or with young kids, there is a really nice outdoor area with space for dogs, games, food trucks, space heaters in the winter, live music, and tons of family fun.

The Tree That Owns Itself – Also known as the Son of the Tree That Owns Itself since the original tree fell in 1942, this local historic landmark has gained nationwide attention. It is assumed that the owner of the tree died and, in his will, left the tree “the deed to itself.” The property was once owned by Colonel William Henry Jackson, who was the son of James Jackson, an American Revolutionary war hero, a Congressman, a Senator, and Governor of Georgia. While word of mouth has kept this story alive, most of what we really know dates back to one front page story in The Athens Weekly Banner on August 12, 1890. Those who swear by the story also claim that the tree owns the eight feet radius around the stump. I wonder what will happen when it grows outside of its own private property.

Sanford Stadium – Sanford Stadium is named after Dr. Steadman Vincent Sanford, who arrived in 1903 to the University to teach English and eventually became the School’s President and major sports advocate. This major sporting venue is home of the Georgia bulldogs football team and holds more than 92,000 seats, making is the tenth-largest stadium in college football. Games played here are dubbed “Between the Hedges” due to privet hedges that were on the original field in 1929. The hedges were torn down in 1996, in order to host select Olympic Games. My mother-in-law actually kept some of the roots and now we now have sister plants in our yard in Savannah. Luckily, the storied Hedges were replanted in the late 90s and the nickname still remains.

Most Students know that the first football game was played, not in Sanford Stadium, but up the hill on North Campus. The game was coached by a chemistry professor named Charles Herty. Many current and past Bulldogs will recognize Herty Field, which I would also go see—it’s next to the school and has a beautiful garden and fountain, many do not know that it gets its name from a great sports coach who happened to be far more accomplished in the laboratory.

Athens Zoo – Many who spend time in Athens do not realize that right off Milledge Avenue is a place known as “Bear Hollow Zoo.” This locally funded operation, may not have the big-budget attractions that a larger city zoo might, but many of the animals may surprise you. Black bears, crocodiles, bald eagles, gopher tortoises, white tailed deer (also seen on the interstate outside of the zoo) and many other animals are taken care of all by a volunteer workforce. In just about thirty minutes, you can cover a full walkthrough, which includes a reptile room full of snakes, turtles, lizards, and frogs. Although, I am not sure how the last two made it into the reptile room.

Georgia Theater – First opened in the late 70s, this music venue is one of my favorite places in Athens. Even though it can hardly hold over 1,000 people, The Theater has hosted many great bands and has served as a catalyst to the early stages of some very special musical careers. Beck, Dave Matthews Band, Derek Trucks, Widespread Panic and REM, have all stopped through The Theater for shows—those last two even got their starts in Athens. On the morning of June 19th, 2009 a major fire combusted and ruined much of the building, including severe damage to the roof. After years of renovations, the landmark re-opened in early August 2011. Now The Theater is in better shape than ever, with great multi-level seating, and my personal favorite— a rooftop bar with a large patio overlooking Downtown Athens. Sometimes the roof hosts its own band separate from the one playing inside.

See you in Athens,

Jack Kingston
Delegate, Chatham County

6 comments

  1. Will Durant says:

    Both my orientation tours with my kids included Sanford Stadium. Forgive me if I fail to see the attraction of an empty football stadium. Face it, the biggest attraction in Athens is the night life and that loses much of its appeal after one achieves a certain age.

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