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Athens

Home of the Passion Flower, the PawPaw Festival and first university of the Northwest Territory (pssst, that’s Ohio University) Athens is known throughout the region for its arts, outdoor opportunities, and local food movement. Make Athens your home, too.

Arts, Performance, and Culture

Trying to find a place to begin within the music and arts community in Athens is like trying to find the beginning of a circle. Vibrant and collaborative, the creative network in Athens County and surrounding areas is alive and well. Athens residents and students alike come together for hundreds of projects throughout the year at several locations throughout the community. Check out the following links for a few of these great sites (Note: These links will navigate you away from the College of Business website.):

  • ARTS/West — A multipurpose community arts space, this old uptown church building is home to several performance groups, musicians, dancers, photographers, and more.
  • Dairy Barn Arts Center — Internationally recognized, this art space is famous for Quilt National. Built in 1914, The Dairy Barn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and features a 6,500 square-foot gallery. It’s located next to OHIO’s Ridges property and used to be part of that historic complex.
  • Passion Works — The whimsical, brightly-painted metal flowers you’ll see pop up around Athens come from this art studio. The “Passion Flower” is the city’s official flower, plus there is a green and white one for Bobcats, too! Passion Works artists (artists with disabilities) work with resident and visiting artists to create unmistakable paintings and mixed-media projects.


Outside of Athens City, visit the Historical Nelsonville Square Arts District  and Stuart’s Opera House. This list only scratches the surface of the incredible arts experience in Athens County and beyond. Click here to learn more from the Athens County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau’s website.

Get Outdoors

Enjoy the great outdoors right in the City of Athens, within walking (and cycling) distance of campus.

  • The Ridges Trails — The Ridges, formerly known as the Athens Lunatic Asylum is now part of Ohio University. There is access to acres upon acres for hiking and exploring.
  • Hockhocking Adena Bikeway — The 21-mile Hockhocking Adena Bikeway is named in honor of the first inhabitants of this southeastern Ohio region. It stretches from East State Street, through campus, and on to Nelsonville.
  • Sells Park — Talk about hidden gems. You’ll forget that the hustle and bustle of the city and university are just steps away once you enter Sells. Enjoy a network of hiking and mountain biking trails that can take you away from it all and into the woods.
  • Athens Skate Park — This 17,000 square foot concrete skate park is on East State Street, next to the Athens Community Center. Named one of the most innovative and challenging parks in the Eastern United States, this park is open from dawn until dusk.
  • Geocaching — Enjoy the first GeoTrails in Ohio and the only handicapped-accessible trail in the nation.

Got wheels? You’ll need a car to get there, but Strouds Run State Park is a favorite amongst students, featuring a beach; kayaking; canoeing; fishing; and hiking, horseback, and mountain bike trails. (It’s also where the OHIO rowing teams practice.) Beautiful Lake Snowden, home of the PawPaw Festival, is just outside of Athens and is Hocking College’s research land lab. Drive a little farther and visit Lake Hope State Park, Zaleski State Forest, and the world-famous Hocking Hills. Click here for even more recreational opportunities from the Athens County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau website.

30 Mile Meal

Athens has been a “localvore” community from the very beginning; it was only a matter of time before the power of that “hyper-local cuisine” was harnessed. A region rich in farming history and the harvesting of native wild foods, Southeast Ohio has become a model for community supported agriculture. Athens’ 30 Mile Meal initiative was one of the nation’s first super-local food economies — it really is possible to eat a meal entirely created from foods within 30 miles.

To that end, the Athens County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet), 140+ local food partners, and consumers have teamed up to create an enriching and unique food environment. Check out the following partners of the “Garden of Eatin’” :

  • Athens Farmer’s Market: Named one of the best markets in the nation by Audubon Magazine, the Athens Farmers Market features more than 100 vendors offering fruit, vegetables, cheeses, honey, meats, poultry, herbs, plants and more grown in and around Athens County. It’s located at the Market on State, so you’ll need transportation to get out there, but Graduate Student Senate and the Office of Sustainability have teamed up to offer a Mini Farmer’s Market on campus throughout the year.  Click here for more information and for seasonal hours.
  • Restaurants: You can find all sorts of local foods at restaurants around town. The flagship “localvore solution” is Casa Nueva and Cantina, who has been serving locally-grown food since it opened in 1985. Other restaurants in the 30MM network are Bagel Street Deli, Avalanche Pizza, Burrito Buggy, Cutler’s Restaurant at Ohio University Inn, Jackie O’s Pub and Brewery (plus, they microbrew their own beer!), Kiser’s Restaurant, Donkey Coffee and Espresso, Fluff Bakery and Catering, Sol Restaurant, Village Bakery and Cafe, O’Chocolate, Restaurant Salaam, O’Betty’s Red Hot, and Zoe Fine Dining. (And that’s just some of them.) Click here for a full list of restaurant partners.
  • Groceries: Several local groceries may not be under the 30MM brand, but many of their shelves are devoted to locally grown or Ohio-made food products. Keep an eye out while you are at Kroger, Seaman’s Cardinal Supermarket, Busy Day Market, the Undercover Market at Village Bakery, and The Farmacy Natural Food Store.