I went to college in Athens and spent four years there, but I mostly learned things like where to find cheap beer (and, you know, all the stuff from the classes, too)….not so much about what to do there with kids.
And Dave actually grew up in Athens, so he really ought to have had a lot of insight, but he….didn’t so much. I guess he was a kid a long time ago or something.
So when Ari decided he’d like to take an overnight trip to Athens to celebrate his thirteenth (!) birthday, we had to scramble a bit to figure out exactly what we were going to do there. I put together ideas from Trip Advisor and Facebook friends, and we came up with a couple of days of kid-friendly/alcohol-free fun.
I signed up for a campus tour for Ari and me at noon on the first day of the trip (also his actual birthday), so we left bright and early to make sure we got there in plenty of time (we live about an hour and a half away). Before the tour, I made the kids pose in front of the UGA arch up there and we ate brunch at The Grill:
The Grill is a basic diner/hamburger place that’s always open and never changes at all. It’s nothing special, but we all ate for $20, which is pretty remarkable these days. When Dave came back from the bathroom, I asked him how it was. “Exactly like I remember it!” he said. Heh. So, umm…it’s nice that some things haven’t changed in nearly 20 years?
Then we let the kids roam around campus for awhile until it was time for our tour:
We found this statue of another Abraham–the one who was the first president of UGA–and tried to get our Abe to stand in front of it. Then Ari and I went on our UGA tour while Dave and the other kids went and checked in to our hotel. Ari still has five years before college, so I’m not sure why he was interested the tour, but he jumped on it when I suggested it. In my day, we didn’t get on a BUS for the campus tour, but the campus was a lot smaller in my day. I had my camera with me, but I didn’t take many pictures on the tour. We rode around while the perky tour guides told us about stuff, then we got out and walked while they told us more stuff. I imagine we’ll be doing it again in four years or so.
I should mention at this point that the two days we were in Athens were quite hot. On day 1, by the time we’d finished the tour, we were already pretty tired of walking around outside in the heat. So we devoted the rest of the day to doing all the inside things we could find to do.
When we met back up with Dave and the younger kids post tour, we checked out the “Georgia Museum of Natural History.” The reviews on Trip Advisor were not encouraging:
“Get a real museum!”
“This isn’t a museum; it’s a room on a college campus with stuffed animals in it.”
And….yeah, it was kind of sad. It was all one room, mostly full of….stuffed animals. Apparently they have much bigger collections stored away somewhere in the building, but you can’t just wander in and look at them. Anyway, we got some funny pictures:
Next up we headed over to the Georgia Museum of Art, one of those places I probably should have gotten around to seeing when I actually lived in Athens (I believe every single place we went, by the way, had free admission (some with suggested donations)). This was a lovely, fairly small, museum. But Abe didn’t like it at all. He doesn’t like places where you’re supposed to just hang out quietly in your Ergo and look at stuff. So Dave took him outside after a few minutes while the other kids and I spent some time looking at art. There were kid-focused signs next to some of the paintings with extra information, but, aside from that, it wasn’t really designed to be particularly kid-friendly. Mine enjoyed it for the short visit, but wouldn’t have wanted to hang out there for hours or anything:
We ate at (another) burger place called Clocked for dinner. They had milkshakes, which seemed like a good birthday dessert for the new teenager:
We walked around downtown for a bit after dinner, then headed back to the hotel, where Ari closed out his birthday staying up late watching HGTV (that’s my boy! We don’t have cable, so HGTV is a special treat).
On day 2, everyone slept in until a reasonable hour, even though we were in a hotel, so that was pretty exciting.
First stop on day 2 was the Georgia Botanical Garden.
“I used to go there a lot when I skipped school in high school,” Dave said. I had been there once before, for a wedding. Oh! Also Dave’s prom was there.
I think the kids would have enjoyed this a lot more had it not been so hot. As it was, they enjoyed the inside part well enough:
We went for an early lunch after this, at the restaurant that USED to be Rocky’s Pizza downtown, but is now called something that starts with an A. Amici’s? I think that’s it. We went because the website said they still had the train on a track near the ceiling that I remember from Rocky’s. But, sadly, the train wasn’t running when we were there. They also said they had the best wings in Athens. They were fine.
Our last stop was the Sandy Creek Nature Center, a place Dave actually remembers from his childhood. Vaguely. We were way more impressed with this place than we expected to be. First we took a short walk on the stroller friendly boardwalk. There was a guide that gave a lot of information about various marked spots on the trail, and the kids were pretty interested in it. It also felt ten degrees cooler than the Botanical Garden for some reason:
Ari and Abe climbed through a tree tunnel:
And then Abe discovered this scanner thing that BEEPED! and he was interested in nothing else after that. The idea was that you scanned something and a screen told you about the materials it was made of, but Abe was just in it for the beeping:
Don’t forget that there’s still time to enter the BLACK+DECKER cordless drill giveaway!
Some other travel with kids posts: