Road Trip! Athens, GA with Kids

Road Trip to Athens, GA with kids

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:

athens02The 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:

UGA sign Abe and Dave on campus milo and gus in a tree

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. Abe and Abraham Baldwin statueThen 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. Apparentlyย  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:

Natural History Museum--Ari and Abe Milo and a bearNext 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:

gus looks at art part 1 gus looks at artAfter this, we swung by the student center and bookstore, then went to the hotel to rest for awhile before dinner. The kids found Les Mis on TV and watched that for awhile.

We ate at (another) burger place called Clocked for dinner. They had milkshakes, which seemed like a good birthday dessert for the new teenager:

athens11Gus REALLY liked this place.

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:

four kids in front of plants inside at the Botanical Garden….and then they complained a lot about how hot it was when we went outside. I threatened to blog about it and make them sound like terrible, ungrateful children. But, really, it WAS pretty hot.

athens14We wandered aimlessly for a bit, then found a trail through the woods down to the river, which everyone complained a little less about than the aimless wandering:

athens15Botanical Garden verdict: good for kids, but not so much when it’s 90 and humid.

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:

athens16Then we checked out the inside exhibits, which were surprisingly extensive and really nicely done. There was a sea turtle!

athens17And a rattlesnake!

athens18Milo and Gus stayed right there, staring at the rattlesnake, for a remarkably long time.

Ari and Abe climbed through a tree tunnel:

athens19And 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:

athens20And then we headed home! Short trip, but we packed a lot in, and Ari says he is pleased with his birthday trip.

Don’t forget that there’s still time to enter the BLACK+DECKER cordless drill giveaway!

Some other travel with kids posts:

Saving Money at Disney World

Providence Canyon State Park

Chattanooga, TN


Road Trip! Athens, GA with Kids — 12 Comments

  1. A very happy birthday for Ari!! I can not believe that you have a teenager and that he wanted to go on a tour of your old stomping ground! HA! I just love that! And how fun and I bet crazy to head back to college with your crew! Love Abe by the statue!!! And that botanical garden looks amazing! I am going to click on your link here in a bit! Glad that you guys had a good trip friend! Wishing you a wonderful end to your week! Nicole xoxo

    • Thanks, Nicole! I was surprised he wanted to go, too! He’s usually not quite so academically minded :). I think he’s mostly intrigued by the idea of unlimited meal plans at college ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. We are headed to Athens right before Haven! Looks like you guys had a great time! Happy birthday Ari! Hope it was beary special. Haha so punny.

    • We hadn’t been in forever before this! DH doesn’t have family there anymore, so it’s hard to find excuses to go ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Rocky’s is gone and now it’s a chain???!!! This is terrible news, even though I like Amici’s pizza.
    Sandy Creek was always my favorite school field trip. I wish we had gone to Athens when we were visiting last April. Did you show the kids the double barreled cannon? And the tree that owns itself?

    • Is Amici’s a chain? I had no idea. it didn’t look very chainy, if that makes you feel better; it still looked a lot like Rocky’s. only with a bar in the front. did Rockys’ have a bar? I don’t remember it having one. We didn’t see the cannon or the tree :(. We had big plans to; I had these self-guided walking tours at the ready. but then it was so hot! See, I should have asked you about things to do; I bet you remember more of your childhood excursions than Dave does.

      • I’ve just looked it up — Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria is a Bay area chain, while Amici Italian Cafe is a North Georgia chain. Two totally different places. The Athens place looks like a small, local chain, while the Amici’s I have out here feels like it’s part of a very corporate national chain, even though they only exist in the Bay area. So there you go.

        I vaguely remember Rocky’s having a bar; it’s possible they added it during the time I was living there for college.

        And yes, I probably do remember more about Athens than Dave does, if only because I’ve lived there more recently. However I haven’t been there at all in 14 years so a lot of what I remember might have changed.

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