Road Trip: UGA
Posted: Wednesday January 3, 2007 11:16AM; Updated: Thursday January 4, 2007 5:39PM
Welcome to the University of Georgia in Athens, a place where sports are a religion and students bleed red and black. At UGA, barking and shouts of "Go Dawgs!" are perfectly acceptable ways of saying hello or acknowledging a friend passing by, and anything yellow or orange is immediately shunned.
UGA is a place where artists and the bohemian lifestyle fit right in with the rampant sorority/fraternity scene. With bulldog statues in and around Athens, national championship tennis and gymnastic teams, and streets decorated by art students, there is an aspect of the university and the town for everyone to identify with. Students here work hard, play hard, and have a passion for their school that is unparalleled in the state.
With a plethora of restaurants for any taste, sports bars and clubs with great atmospheres, and ever-increasing academic rigor, the University of Georgia has it all...and then some.
Best way to start a sports season: Five months before the opening kickoff, the annual G-Day scrimmage is the closest thing to a real game day in Athens, and it comes complete with tailgaters and a halftime show. The scrimmage splits the Bulldogs into red and white teams. The prize for the winner? A steak and lobster dinner. The loser eats beanie weenies with the winners. After the game, the public is allowed on the Sanford Stadium field to watch a family movie like Rudy or Shrek on the JumboTron. Tickets are sold for the movie, with proceeds going to HERO for children, a local charity that helps kids with cancer. Overall, it's a great day to be in Athens during the offseason.
Best place to watch a dynasty at work: Stegman Coliseum, the home of the Gym Dogs and the men's and women's basketball teams. The Gym Dogs, who recently won the national title, and the Lady Dogs live at Stegman every game day.
Best rivalry: Any matchup between the Bulldogs and a conference rival brings high drama and emotion. But anyone who has even vaguely heard of the SEC or is a fan of an SEC team, knows that in-state rivalries are always the best. The Georgia Tech game is a prime example. Whether it's played in Athens or at Bobby Dodd stadium in Atlanta, this heated battle never disappoints fans ... well, unless you've been a Georgia Tech fan for the past six years.
Best bar: Close your eyes, spin around twice, and open them. The bar you are looking at is the best. From sports bars like Wild Wings to chill bars like The Arch Bar to bar/clubs like The Ritz, no one joint in downtown Athens is better than the other.
Best place to indulge: The Grill is conveniently located downtown. After a hard night of drinking, nothing ends the evening like a huge pile of fries with feta cheese dip, old fashioned milkshakes, and grilled cheese sandwiches in a 1950's atmosphere. There is often a long line at 3 a.m. to 4 a.m., but it is completely worth the wait. It's not fun to wait outside for a table, but there is never a shortage of entertainment -- like the local guitarist or violinist on the corner playing for passersby, or the drummer beating on gallon jugs for an audience that has gathered to hear the beats.
Best Halloween party: Take a rock and throw it down Milledge Avenue, otherwise known as sorority/fraternity row. You will hit at least five great theme parties, no matter what the season or reason for throwing them.
Best restaurant: Cali N Tito's, a new Latin American restaurant, has a unique atmosphere in which you can bring your own beverage, alcoholic or not, and drink it outside while enjoying one of the many absolutely delicious menu choices. WoW Café and Wingery has 35-cent wing night, daily happy hour specials, three large flat screen TV's overlooking the bar, and small screens at each booth, so no action will be missed when the game is on the line. For vegetarians, The Grit is the place to eat organic. Have a craving for Tex Mex and trivia? Head to Taco Mac. Want a Sub sandwich in a hurry? Run over to Jimmy John's for a quick bite before class. Guys will appreciate that it's located next to the all-girl dorm on campus.