10 Alternative Athens Activities

Every Bobcat knows that there are many activities one should accomplish during their time in Athens, Ohio. Among the more popular are participating in a Court Street Shuffle, attend a Fest, steal an Athens Brick, and hike the infamous Bong Hill. These are just a few on the massive bucket list of things to do in Athens before impending graduation starts to loom over little Bobcat’s heads. However, part of what makes Athens so unique is all of its hidden gems. Here are 10 alternative activities to accomplish in Athens before graduation:

10. Visit the Athens Farmers Market

One of the great things about Athens being in the middle of nowhere is that it is surrounded by farmland. With farmland comes awesome fresh produce! Every Saturday from 9 am – 12 pm in the parking lot of 1000 E State St, Athens Farmers Market takes place. At the Farmers Market you will find a variety of fresh produce, locally made food and crafts. There is everything from raw meat to sprouting flowers to some yummy salsa. Attending the Athens Farmers Market is a must before graduating.

9. Have a brew at Little Fish

Picture of Little Fish’s beer selection

Athens is well known for the local brewery, Jackie O’s but not many are aware of another delightful brewery Athens has to offer. Little Fish Brewery is a charming brewery overlooking the Hocking River. It has outdoor seating, play toys for children, a wide selection of delicious brews, and there is even giant Jenga. What more could you want in a local brewery? Little Fish is located at 8675 Armitage Road, Athens, OH and is open Mon-Thurs: 3 pm-1opm, Fri: 3 pm-11 pm, Sat: 12 pm-11 pm, and Sun: 12 pm- 8 pm.

8. Boogie on the Bricks

Picture of me at Boogie on the Bricks 2015

Another popular activity for Bobcats are the fests and HallOUween block party (all of which are fun) but those are not the only street parties Athens has. Every year in June, Athens City Council shuts down Court Street for one day for Boogie on the Bricks. Boogie on the Bricks is a free Music and Arts Festival featuring local artists and vendors. This year’s Boogie on the Bricks takes place on June 17, 2017 from 12 pm-11 pm. If you are a fan of live music, the arts, good food and free things, then put on your dancin’ shoes because Boogie on the Bricks is the place for you.

7. Hike up Witch’s Peak

 

Nestled in the hills of Appalachia, Athens as a variety of wonderful hiking trails. Bobcats tend to favor the famous Bong Hill due to its spectacular view of Ohio University. Although Bong Hill has a nice view, located right across the street is its lesser known sister, Witch’s Peak; which has the beauty. Witch’s Peak is an enchanting forest with boulders to climb, a cave for burrowing and breathe taking surroundings. All hiker enthusiasts should wonder their way up to Witch’s Peak before leaving Athens.

6. Sleep on a porch couch

SnapChat of Annie Powell after a nap on her porch couch

Why sleep in your warm, cozy bed when you can sleep on a booze covered porch couch?! There are many off-campus houses with lovely porches, many of which are inhabited by college students. When choosing what furniture to place on said lovely porch, many students select used couches from Goodwill. Throughout the year these couches get pretty grimy, but this doesn’t stop students from sleeping on them! After a long night out on the town, the booze (and other questionable substances) covered porch couch doesn’t sound so bad. Don’t knock it til you try it Bobcats.

5. Trek through Moonville Tunnel

Me sitting on top of Moonville Tunnel

All Athens residents know of the local haunted asylum, the Ridges; but for those who like a good scare or even a pleasant hike, Moonville Tunnel is definitely worth checking out. Located about 30 minutes outside of Athens, Moonville Tunnel is an old mining trail that was boosting in the 1800s. The tunnel and trail are rumored to be haunted by a ghost in a white robe, carrying a lantern. Many visitors claim to see a ghostly figure and flashing lights shining through the tunnel at night. This is a beautiful trail to hike with a little spook.

4. Hear jammin’ music at the DIY Local House Shows

Picture from DIY House Show at the Pink Mistress

Athens may be a small town, but the music scene continues to thrive. We have #NumbersFest as the biggest college music festival in the nation, an array of concerts and dance parties at The Union and Casa Nueva, as well as DIY Local House Shows. There is so much passion and support for music and local artists here in Athens. To support local artists, students will turn their houses into venues to host house shows. These shows feature a variety of music genres and are usually a small donation or free to get in. Shows happen a few times a week and are posted on the Athens DIY Community Facebook page. If you’re into great music and cool people, these house shows are the place to be.

3. Vegan Cooking Workshop

Busy schedules and small budgets can make cooking healthy meals a bit of a challenge for college students. But every Tuesday night students and Athens residents come together to chow down on some delicious vegan food. Starting at 7 pm, people begin cooking then food is served at 9 pm. Helping to cook the food is not required but it is a great way to learn how to make yummy health food. For those who do not cook there is just a $2 donation for the meal to help fund the cost of food and rent. Athens Vegan Cooking Workshop takes place in the basement of United Campus Ministries (UCM) at 18 N College Street. This is a fantastic place to eat a delicious healthy home cooked meal and hang with lots of friendly hippies.

2. Get on the roof of Pawpurrs

Chilling on rooftops is another popular activity that Bobcats frequently engage in. There are some Bobcats who like to take this to the next level. The roof of Pawpurr’s is the ultimate rooftop chill spot. The view of Court Street is breath taking and it’s an awesome spot for watching drunk Bobkitties stumble down the bricks. However, getting on top of Pawpurr’s roof is illegal so climb at your own risk!

  1. Rope Swing on Mound Street

The rope swing on Mound Street is Athens ultimate hidden gem. Behind one of the houses is a massive tree and a large cliff-like-pit, looking over the woods. Tied to one of the tree’s branches is a heavy-duty rope with a milk crate attached to it. You sit on top of the crate, jump off the top of the cliff and hold on for your dear life. You swing over the pit, flying around the brush below. It literally feels like flying. Rope swing is fun during the day but is best at night because the view of the stars and moon is unreal. This may seem unsafe but no one has died (yet) from falling off. Take a swing on Athen’s greatest gem; it’s worth the risk.

Bass catchin’ not bar hopping

As a farm girl from the South trapped at a rowdy party school I have approached my past four years of college much like a roller coaster: close my eyes and hope it’s over soon. Unlike other students, the place I know I’ll look back on with nostalgia when thinking about my college town isn’t a bar or a burrito place, it’s a fishing spot.

It’s true that many students visit Strouds Run State Park at some point during their stay in Athens, Ohio but what many of them don’t know about–or maybe just don’t care about–is a more secluded section of Strouds Run that is the core of Dow Lake. The dam built in 1959 that sits in a little off-set pocket right against East State Street.


http://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/Portals/wildlife/Maps/Lake%20Maps/PDFs/dowlake2.pdf

While the north and west sides of the lake are typically occupied on warm spring and summer days, this little haven remains scarcely populated. Parking, boat rentals and beaches are located on the north and west sides of the lake so to the typical collegiate friend group deciding to embark on an outdoor pursuit this is where they end up. Yes, these city slickers and Midwest rurals are bonding over the great outdoors and it’s wonderful! However, I go to the water for exclusion.

A few times I have been sitting cross-legged on the bank securing my reel to my arrows, a meditative act I enjoy doing to prepare to bow fish, when a stranger suddenly joined me. My dog lets me know if someone is approaching before they could possibly see me. He isn’t a hunting dog by any means, just an overly loving goober who is particularly adept at tracking down hands to pet him.

These visitors are usually middle aged men who grew up here. “Townies” as us students like to call them. They always apologize for interrupting me because they came here to be alone too (after getting over their complete and utter surprise because a student knows this spot), then the bow sparks some interesting conversations.

One morning I was there and had no intentions of fishing. I brought the dogs to swim and to get some fresh air while I tinkered around with my bow. A younger gentleman came walking up (with my dog prancing beside him. Traitor.) and started setting up his spot to fish. He actually was a hobbiest archer himself and we sat and worked on my bow together. He had a set of archery wrenches (tools used to adjust a bow) and when he left he told me to keep them. It was simple and meaningless, yet I wouldn’t trade that wrench set for a million Court Street Snapstories.

I took this Snap when a kind townie gave me a spare set of tools for my bow!

For the most part it’s just my dog, the fish and myself over at the dam. Isolated. Not “experiencing” Athens. Occasionally, I get to listen to fishing stories or see pictures of last bow season’s buck though. It’s times like those that make me feel like I’m not the one missing out but instead the one actually experiencing Athens.

Magic in the hills

Athens, Ohio is what I personally consider to be hippy heaven on Earth. This lovely little college town is filled with spunky free spirits, some of the best food on the planet, and a brilliant institution. But what really makes Athens so special is all of its hidden gems. I could go on and on about all of the fascinating nooks and crannies around this town, but for now I am going to focus on one of my personal favorites; Witches Peak (also known as Witches Hill and Witches Tit).

Being in the middle of Appalachia, Athens has a variety of rolling hills that are great for hiking. There is the ever so popular, Strouds Run. Then you have Radar Hill, with the spooky Ridges planted on top. And we can’t forget the most famous, Bong Hill. However, just across the street from Bong Hill is its lesser known sister hill, Witches Peak.

All of the hills in the Athens area are wonderful hiking spots, but Witches Peak is more than just a hiking trail to me. Bong Hill may have a nice view and Strouds has a lake, but Witches Peak has the beauty. The hill is enclosed in a grove of trees that makes you feel like you are in a completely different world. It’s enchanting.

View from the far side of Witches Peak

I love Witches Peak because I feel at peace when I am up there. For one, it is always less crowded than Bong Hill. You may see fellow hikers up on Witches Peak, but it is never as packed as Bong Hill. It is also quiet at the top of Witches. You can hear the breeze whistle through the trees up there; I love being able to hear that sound.

Green encompasses the top of the hill, even during the coldest months of the year. There is also a copious amount of boulders and rock formations scattered throughout the hill, that are great for climbing. To top it off, there is even a little cave like structure to burrow under. Witches Peak is like my playground. I can climb trees, run around in the leaves, and scale giant rocks all while taking in Mother Nature’s beauty surrounding me.

Witches Peak in the summer

Now, I’m sure you are wondering where the name “Witches Peak” came from. Rumor has it that there was a Satanic worshiping witch cult that did rituals on top of the hill in the 70’s. However, there is no confirmation of this rumor being true. Chances are it was just made up to scare freshman but hey, anything is possible right?

Call me crazy, but I am someone who likes to believe in magic. Witches Peak is one of my favorite hidden gems in Athens because it’s a place where I feel like magic could exist. Not the kind of dark, Satan worshiping magic that may have gotten the hill its name; but a playful, warmhearted magic. I often say that if I was a mythical creature, I would be a woodland faerie. I think if I was, that Witches Peak would be my faerie wonderland.

Witches Peak in the fall

*Note: Pictures do not do Witches Peak justice.

The view of campus from Witches Hill from athensohio

5 of the best meals in Athens you probably didn’t know about

 

1. Get yourself a sexy dog at O’Betty’s Red Hot!

O'Betty Red Hot!
O’Betty Red Hot!

Near the end of Court Street, this little hotdog shop is a sharp turn off the main drag and onto West State Street. It churns out some of the most delicious and diverse hotdogs in town. The inside of the shop is decorated with old school showgirls, red walls and cheetah print drapes. This is a great place to go if you want great local food late night or a quick bite midday. I usually order either the Varla which has sauerkraut, horseradish, bacon bits and 1000 Island Dressing all mounted on a bratwurst, or I get the Tempest which is a hot dog smothered in Casa Nueva’s Hot Habanero Salsa with chopped jalapeños, shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream. And if you are from Cincinnati and feeling a little homesick, their chili cheese fries are the closest thing to homemade Skyline chili you will find in Athens. The only menu item I advise against is the fresh garlic fries. They are literally covered in raw garlic – not my thing. Other than that side warning, everything else here is great. Prices range from $4 to $10.

 

2. Start your Saturday off with a saucy brunch at Casa Nueva.

Casa Nueva
Casa Nueva

If you are sick of dining hall brunch and want to try something a little different, walk down to Casa Nueva near the intersection of Court Street and West State Street. I am a sucker for a Mexican-inspired brunch, and this place has a reputation for creating tasty dishes with local ingredients. This restaurant gets everything local and even changes part of their menu with local seasonal ingredients. No matter what time of day, I always order the Enchiladas Verde, stacked. Their isn’t actually a brunch version of this, so I just order the stacked breakfast enchiladas and add green chilies, cream cheese and salsa verde. They have a wide variety of homemade salsas and all of them are delicious. It really is a great way to start off any Saturday. Prices range from $7 to $20.

 

3. Netflix and chill with takeout from Thai Paradise.

Thai Paradise
Thai Paradise

This may sound weird, but for some reason a big bowl of pho is my version of comfort food. It has a flavorful warm broth, lots of basil, bean sprouts, jalapeños, noodles and meatballs – just a lot of amazing things. It is the perfect food for a cold, rainy night when you just want to snuggle up in your sweats and binge watch Dexter on Netflix. The only place to properly complete this Netflix and chill bonanza is Thai Paradise. Call ahead and take a quick trip down Union to this cozy spot to grab your take out. This is one meal experience that will relieve you of your FOMO anxiety. Prices range from $11 to $30.

 

4. Get away from the crowded restaurants on parents weekend at Zoe Fine Dinning.

Zoe Fine Dinning
Zoe Fine Dinning

If your parents are coming to town, this little city-slicker’s gem snuggled next to Passion Works Studios on East State Street is the perfect place to get away from the crowds. It is one of the few places that will take reservations. A lot of underclassmen don’t know about Zoe, so it is a nice meal with a short wait. The restaurant serves a wide variety of upscale cocktails, and the menu features a lot of Hungarian-inspired cuisine. Prices range from $11 to $30 a plate, depending. So, like I said, it is a good place to take your parents!

 

5. Enjoy a heaping spoonful of soul at OMG! Rotisserie.

OMG! Rotisserie
OMG! Rotisserie

It’s a small adventure down Columbus Road, but the trip is well worth it. In the center of a concrete parking lot next to the Sunset Motel is this tiny orange restaurant lined with orange and yellow flowers. If you are in need of some fresh soul food, this is the perfect place to reach a comatose bliss. The menu is filled with  sweet and savory options, but there are a few absolute must haves when you venture out here. The chicken and sausage gumbo is a cup of flavor you won’t regret trying, the sweet potatoes are lathered in warm butter and sugar and the sweet tea has unlimited refills. Grab a breast and a wing and sit under the sun as you enjoy these delicious southern flavors. Prices range from $5 to $12.

 

Feel like I’m totally full of it and have no clue what food is? We want to hear what you think of these places and what your five favorite meals are. Join our conversation about what the best places are in Athens on Slack!

Athens’ little secrets

Here is something that may surprise you: Athens has a lot to do! But not every student makes the effort to check out some unique spots in-and-around Athens. So we decided to take you to a few places beyond Court Street that students may not think about when they explore Athens.

 

Athens Farmers Market

Make sure to check out this market on Saturdays from 9am-12pm on Saturdays, 9am-12pm Wednesdays (April-December) and 4pm-7pm Thursdays (May-September). Athens favorites such as Jackie O’s and Casa Nueva have booths where they sell some of their best foods (such as bread and salsa). Check it out though to see all the vendors, you can even grab a slice of pizza or a vegetable taco for lunch!

The Athens Farmers Market is located on 1000 East State Street, inside the parking lot of the Athens Mall. Here is the map if you want to find it. Starting in the fall of 2016, there will be a bus that will take you to the farmers market if you do not have a car.

Directions to the market from Court Street (in front of College Green)
Directions to the market from Court Street (in front of College Green) via Google Maps

 

Strouds Run State Park

About 15 minutes outside of Ohio University is a state park that stretches over 2,606 acres and includes hiking trails and a beach for anyone to enjoy. On a perfect day, this is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the weather. At Strouds, there are almost 80 campsites and 35 miles of trails that you can hike on (25 of those miles can be open to bikes).

The park is located on 11661 State Park Road in Athens, here is a map for directions.

Directions to Strouds Run from Court Street (in front of College Green)
Directions to Strouds Run from Court Street (in front of College Green) via Google Maps

Premiere Video

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-23 at 7.48.21 PM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzNVtHkqNKw

In an age where video stores close in favor of websites like Netflix and Amazon, Premiere Video serves as the exception that video stores cannot compete against the Internet. This store has hundreds of movie titles (both DVDs and VHS tapes) and offer great deals on a regular basis. So if you have a DVD player and/or a VCR, look no further than Premier Video for your movie needs.

Premiere Video is located on 284 East State Street.

Directions to Premiere Video from Court Street (in front of College Green)
Directions to Premiere Video from Court Street (in front of College Green) via Google Maps

 

ReUse Thrift Store

You can't miss the colorful facade of ReUse, their sign is just as quirky as the store.
You can’t miss the colorful facade of ReUse, their sign is just as quirky as the store.

ReUse is located on 100 Columbus Rd. On a nice day, enjoy a 40 minute walk from Campus taking W Carpenter St. all of the way until you hit Columbus Rd. There is also a bus that you can take for that costs a dollar per trip. Honestly, this thrift store has character. They have everything from clothes for 25 cents to cheap silverware and the occasional Hula girl. If you want to pull together a complete look for under five dollars while simultaneously getting a taste of real Athens county, ReUse is a must-go.

The Antique Mall 

I had a hard time leaving the antique mall without feeling sentimental.
There is something about antique malls that makes one feel mighty sentimental.

Make a day of thrifting on the West side of Athens. Just down the road from ReUse at 180 Columbus Rd. rests an AMAZING antique mall. The Athens Antique Mall is two floors of Appalachian gold. They have vintage clothing, mirrors, old books, records, trinkets and boxes galore. Even if you don’t have the money, making a trip to look around and see artifacts and history is well worth it. Plus you never know what you will find …

https://www.instagram.com/p/BEm5rXPEzgf/?taken-by=dap_menny

 

Hopefully none of you will say, “oh I wish I visited…” once you graduate from OU. These three places are just the tip of the iceberg, there are many places around town to visit and experience.

So what are you waiting for? Go out and explore Athens!

 

 

 

 

Dinner with a side of community

Transcript

Athens, OH: the most impoverished county in the state. Last month’s Ohio Poverty Report said 51 percent of residents– about 13,000 people– live below self-sufficiency and 16 percent rely on food stamps.

Those food stamps only add up to about $110 per week, though, hardly enough to feed a family. Community members and university students help fill those gaps.

“Sure it’s important to prep food and get it to people who need food, but the primary goal is create an experience of community. So it’s not people standing behind a counter serving food.”

That’s Evan Young, the campus minister at the town’s United Campus ministry. The organization is a center for spiritual growth, social justice, and, for over two decades, it’s also been the host of community meals. Yes, that’s their specific term– community meal.

“The idea is that we are not just a soup kitchen– the idea is that it’s a community meal. So all these people are coming together to build friendships and connect with each other over food.”

That’s how Kelli Wanamaker describes it. She’s a UCM Free Meal Intern, a position she’s held for 2 years. Evan says people like Kelli are the reason these meals exist.

“Thursday supper and Saturday lunch exist because students who are involved and engaged in the community looked around and saw a need. They said there are a lot of hungry people here and no free meal on Thursdays.. We have this space, what can we do?”

What they manage to pull off takes days of preparation. Jackie Duffy is a Social Work Intern at UCM.

“So usually on Tuesday we’ll come in …. and we’ll see what kind of ingredients there are, what donations we’ve gotten, what we have in the freezers and all that sort of thing. It’s about a 2day prep i would say. Come in on Thursday and make a shopping list. We get donations from tons of organizations, Athens community members, former interns, churches, etc.”

Evan says the community’s support is imperative, but it’s also increasingly impressive. The night I went to eat with them, I was expecting pots and pans and casseroles of homemade dishes. That happens most of the time, but when I walked in and saw pizza delivery boxes, I was… surprised.

“Avalanche donates the pizza. That’s great! We have a relationship with chipotle, they donate some of their leftover food. Pigskin, every now and then they’ll show up with a tray of pork loin.. It’s like Thursday night we made this for you. Awesome! That’s great!”

And who is enjoying this food? Ask Miranda McKinney, another Free Meal Intern, and she’ll tell you why that’s her favorite part of the job.

“They are for everybody. I think that’s what’s so great is it’s not just students, it’s not just community members, it’s not just old people… i can sit down and have a convo with people who are 60 or 16 or 6.”

I spoke to David Hardinger, an Athens man who had stopped by for a free meal.

“How long have you been coming to free meals? About 10 years…. Why do you like coming here? To socialize with my friends.”

David told me his favorite meal UCM cooks is chicken, but he asked me to make them serve Sheppard’s Pie one of these days. I told him they would need a lot of pies. There were about 30 people in the room that night, but the space was only half full.

“The level at which it’s utilized varies with the economy… a few years ago with the recession, we were seeing between 50-75 people a night. It’s less now, things are not quite as dire.”

Community members and university students serve free meals 6 days a week throughout the town– you can find a list of the locations on CourtStreetStories.com. No matter the organization serving food, though, one thing is for certain:

“You just come in and eat, whether you really need it or you don’t.”

For CourtStreetStories, I’m Bianca Hillier.


Free Meals in Athens, OH

Monday:

First United Methodist Church

2 South College Street

Athens, OH 45701

(740) 593-3977

Time: Noon


Tuesday:

Athens Church of Christ

785 West Union Street

Athens, OH 45701

(740) 593-7414

Time: 5:30 pm

 

Wednesday:

Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd

64 University Terrace

Athens, OH 45701

(740) 593-6877

Time: Noon

 

Friends and Neighbors Community Center

24576 Parkersburg Road

Coolville, OH 45723

(740) 667-0684

Time: Noon

 

Thursday:

United Campus Ministry (UCM)

18 North College Street

Athens, OH 45701

(740) 593-7301         

Time: 5:30 pm

 

Friday:

Good Works

location of meal changes seasonally; call ahead for directions

(740) 594-3339

Time: 4:30 pm – 7:30 pm

 

Saturday:

United Campus Ministry (UCM)

18 North College Street

Athens, OH 45701

(740) 593-7301

Time: Noon