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.

Favorite spots to eat on Court Street

Court Street provides a wide variety of places to eat and drink. Whether one visits one of the many bars or one of the several coffee shops, uptown Athens knows how to please even the pickiest of eaters. In this video I take a trip on Court Street and interview two patrons about their favorite spot uptown.

The forgotten bookstore

Rich Purdy is the co-owner of The Little Professor Book Center on Court Street in Athens. He co-owns with his brother-in-law and the two have owned the store for 34 years. He first arrived in Athens in 1969 when his family moved here. The one thing he likes about his store in Athens is that it’s a prime location in a college town. The store sells books for classes as well as leisure reading.

The “other” bookstore

Cloud 9 – my home away from home

9 South Congress Street, Athens, Ohio

From the outside, 9 South Congress Street looks just as any other typical student-rented house in Athens. After years of new groups of students consistently moving in and out, the walls of 9 South Congress Street have many stories to be told.  With the numerous memories created and relationships that have blossomed within this house, I am one of the lucky bobcats to have been able to call this place my Athens home. It has quickly become my home away from home.

The girls of 9 S. Congress Street outside of our house for SantaFest

9 South Congress, or Cloud 9 as my roommates and I like to call it, currently has 8 girls, a Siberian Husky, a cat, and a fish residing. Visitors are immediately greeted in our entryway leading to the living room which serves as the main hangout area for all of our r
oommates. With 2 couches and 3 chairs as well as plenty of floor space it is a great place for everyone to gather to play board games, play Mario Kart, watch movies, or simply sit and talk with each other about anything and everything.  The living room is filled with labels in case anyone forgets what the ceiling, floor, lamp, mirror, or other items may be. Our connected dining room hosts are wall of “fine art” consisting of an outdated llama calendar, university posters warning of meningitis, a plastic face, and more unique décor.

Tito the house dog sitting on the porch of Cloud 9

Luckily, all 8 roommates have their own bedrooms that are personalized to everyone’s preferences and lifestyle.  The bedrooms serve as the more personable spaces for smaller and more intimate conversations. Some of our greatest bonding sessions have come from small gatherings of 2-4 roommates and friends in each other’s bedrooms. The bedrooms also host great sleepovers among roommates to make us feel like we are 12 again.

Numerous delivery eateries around Athens know 9 S Congress Street very well. It is a house of 8 girls that eat like 20 men. Food is delivered to our house multiple times a week, and sometimes, even multiple times a night. Embarrassingly, some delivery drivers from the same place come to our house multiple times in the same night, our record being 5 separate Jimmy John’s deliveries in one night (even though we live a brisk walk through an alley away).

Cloud 9 has allowed the relationship my best friends and I have held over the years to flourish into something even greater.  My roommates have become my second family- my home away from home.  After growing up living with just myself and my parents, sometimes the crowd makes things extremely challenging, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I am so thankful for the memories I have from living in 9 South Congress and am so excited for the next groups of lucky bobcats that will be able to call this magical place home in the future.

Strouds Run: Athens’ hidden gem

When you’re from northeastern Ohio the closest thing you have to a beach is something man made that is only open for four month and you have to pay to go to it. Lake Erie is there but its cold for the majority of the time
you could use it as a beach. There are lakes scattered through the state, but if you want to go to a true beach you’d have to leave the state. All of this is why I was pleasantly surprised when I started school at Ohio University and learned that there was a beach in Athens.

I was very skeptical when i first heard of Strouds Run. OU is in Appalachia, there’s no way there was a beach here. I could believe that it was a state park due to how much of the area was woodland. I was unable to actually go to Strouds until my junior year since I didn’t have a car until then. So when I made my first trip to Strouds I could not hold back my excitement.

The trip was a winding drive through the Appalachian hills with no cell service (a perk in my book). People always said there is a beach but I never believed them until I arrived and thought there actually is a beach here! I put my feet in the sand, listened to the surrounding families and my fellow college students, who were also ignoring responsibilities, and realized I was truly at the beach.

I’ve made multiple trips back since my first encounter. I try my best to take advantages of all the amenities. You can call head and rent a pontoon boat if you have a group of friends who are up for a little excursion. If you’re flying solo you can rent a kayak or canoe and take it out to relax on the water and possibly cast a line out. Perhaps you’re not feeling the water on a particular day. No worries, there’s miles of trails in the woods. I’ve been able to hike to the top of the hill that overlooks the lake and then get lost on the way back down. that’s the beauty of it though, getting lost.

Strouds offers many options for relaxation, including sunbathing or canoeing and kayaking.

Strouds is somewhere to get lost at. it is an escape for college kids who are stressed out and need a break. you can’t use your cell phone there, but nobody wants to once they’re there. They embrace all 2,600+ acres of the state park. Students, or locals too, rent out a boat and get lost on the lake for a few hours. They fill a backpack with the essentials and hit the trails and get lost in the woods until the real world calls calls you and says it time to get back to reality.

So if you’re ever in the mood to get lost for a few hours and you don’t believe there really is a beach in Athens, Ohio, head to Strouds Run State Park. I’m sure you’ll be able to find your escape.

 

 

An Athens gem worth climbing for

 

A walk-in waterfall at the lowest point of Old Man’s Cave

Athens, Ohio is a small town full of life and character. Even one street alone, Court Street, can hold a million memories. But when stumbling home at 2 a.m. isn’t attractive, or hopping from bar-to-bar gets old, a real hidden Athens gem can give a person experiences of a lifetime.

It’s scenic and it’s worth every step. Even if you can’t make it to the top of the climb to reach the view above a waterfall, Old Man’s Cave has beauty no matter where you decide to stop your hike to take a breather. Nature surrounds you every where a person may look, while they follow the dirt path winding through narrow rock walls. No matter how far you make it on your journey through Old Man’s Cave, each section has a view that is worthwhile.

The middle section of Old Man’s Cave gives tourists a chance to take in the scenery

My freshman year I took a trip to Old Man’s Cave with several of my friends during the spring. It was the perfect time to visit, as nature was blossoming around us and the weather was great. It was ironic, as soon as my friends and I made it to the top, we were only more excited to get back down the narrow path to the bottom of the cave.

After several swindling and dusty steps, we traveled back down leaving the marvelous view we had came for. But at the bottom was sand, where you could take off your shoes and play in the water. Hiking for the view was great of course, but now we could be involved underneath a waterfall. Taking those first steps in, we could feel the sand beneath our toes and the water was fair. Giant rocks paved a path for us to hop under the waterfall where we felt sprays of water on us while we took advantage of the photo opportunities.

 

A small bridge over water gives tourists a great view from a far distance

The great thing about Old Man’s Cave is you dont need a fake ID to enter, or a debit card to swipe. Any age of any gender can truly enjoy what is hidden deep in an Athens trail. The adventure of getting there is part of the fun, I anticipated every step that led to the giant cave and the water beneath.  Little kids played in the water while mothers and grandmothers also took their turns. Photographs at almost every level of the hike were necessary to capture what you never want to forget, unless you are like myself, who visits as often as the weather allows.

I have never went and been surrounded by only college students doing college student things. The atmosphere is respectable and the people are genuine. From the time you pull in to the rocky driveway until the time you are standing at the highest point above all of Old Man’s Cave, you feel thankful that such a hidden gem is in Athens for those who need an escape.

Parents weekend, Siblings weekend, or either mom or dads, this is the perfect place to show them if you dont want them around a drinking and partying area. There is so much more to offer at Old Man’s Cave. If you are interested in more details, they have a website with all they offer, and the experiences you can enjoy as well.

https://www.hockinghills.com/old_mans_cave.html

 

The bricked trees of Athens

 

Who never stopped to see the colors of Athens?

Athens, this amazing city located along the Hocking River in the southeastern part of Ohio, is probable most known for its buildings, streets and old-styled places where the bobcats (the students) usually go to study or stay for a while between classes. Maybe, one can say that the best symbol of this place is its nature, surrounded by hills and oak trees; I would say that are all of them.

Who knows Athens once will never forget its bucolic scenario: buildings with red brick-walled walls, streets paved by blocks made in the factories of Hocking Valley, and a wonderful nature of trees, hills, river, squirrels, crows and bobcats (not the students, but the animal, the “Lynx rufus”. Fortunately, I never see one…).

Many people don’t know that the historical bricks which are part of the buildings in Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa are made in the bricks’ ovens of Nelsonville and others bricks’ factories located around the Hocking Valley region. In Athens, it is not different.

 

 

 

These genuine antique bricks fascinate everyone who cross the streets and, at least once, stops to see its characteristic colors and textures, that becomes more than orange, maybe red, when the light of the sun set hits them.

Who never did that? I guess, no one. But, who never once stopped to see the colorful trees having their leaves falling during the fall season? I would say again: I guess, no one.

In about three weeks in November, the city’s oak trees change the color of their leaves from green to red, yellow and even white, for then, fall and color the blocks of the streets. And then comes the winter of December…

Isn’t it part of a special environmental movie’s script? I would say no, because the scenario is wider. We can’t forget the beauty of the rugged hills covered with hardwood and pine, the rock shelters, springs, and animals living in the forests all around the county, or in the Wayne National Park.

And so, after the description above, answer the question: are Athens’ red brick-walled walls buildings and its block paved streets inserted in the natural covered hills, or is the beauty of the nature part of the city scenario? Don’t ask me. Stop by a while and see by your own. You will be impressed by this bucolic paint and after all will have the answer. I promise, You will never forget!


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

A quiet place amid the bustle of Athens

While I spend an inordinate amount of time (and money) at Donkey Coffee, and often spend time with my friends in various places around campus, my absolute favorite place in Athens is Strouds Run State Park.

Strouds can be found at 11661 State Park Rd., after traversing up the steep hills of eastern Athens and the winding, tree-line roads of the state park.

Strouds is a great place for hiking, swimming, canoeing or any other outdoor activities. On nice days, the park and beach area are often packed with visitors, from old couples relaxing on a picnic bench, to college students throwing a Frisbee on the beach, to young families hiking together.

Some of my favorite memories from my first semester of college were made at Strouds. During one of my first weekends in Athens, a group of my friends and I spontaneously decided to go to Strouds. We all packed into a Green Cab, gawking at the narrow, curving streets of Athens that were previously unknown to us.

When we arrived at our destination, we spent the whole day lying on the beach and swimming. I remember being in awe of the natural beauty of the park, and I felt grateful to attend school in such a picturesque, serene area.

Dow Lake in Sept. 2016

About a month later, I found myself at Strouds again after Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. After services, it is customary to perform tashlich, which involves casting bread into a body of water to rid oneself of the regrets of the past year. The congregation at Hillel decided to do tashlich at Strouds, so my friend and I rode in the car of an older couple from the community.

After Rabbi Danielle handed out stale challah and leftover cookies from Shabbat services to congregants, we dispersed around the beach to do tashlich and quietly self-reflect.

Of the forty-some people who were there, I spent the longest time sitting by Dow Lake, in awe of the scenery around me. I thought a lot about the past year as I crouched in the soft grass—the places I’d traveled, graduating high school, beginning college—and what I looked forward to in the upcoming year.

After I did not have any more bread to toss into the lake, I joined the rest of the congregants on the beach. They were all gathered around Luna, the one year old daughter of Lauren, a Hillel employee, for Luna’s baby naming. It is traditional for Jewish kids to be given their Hebrew names sometime during their early years of life, and Luna’s parents chose to have the ceremony on the banks of Dow Lake that day. Lauren emotionally spoke to members of the Athens Jewish community of the origins of her daughter’s Hebrew name. It was an incredibly special moment to be a part of.

Taken while hiking on one of Strouds Run’s many trails

I have always loved hiking and connecting with nature, and Strouds is the perfect place to do that. On nice days, I crave the feeling of solitude and peace I know that I can find at Strouds. Even though it is over six miles away from campus, I am happy to make the trip and reconnect with the world around me. Amidst the stress of school and work, I know that I can go to Strouds and find solace.

Crazy relaxation at the looney bin.

It may sound a little crazy, but next time you get the chance you should really stop by the Athens Insane Asylum…I mean the Ridges.

The Ridges (formerly the Athens Insane Asylum), was a functioning mental health hospital from 1874 to 1993. Ohio University obtained the property in 1989, the land grab almost doubled the size of the Athens, Ohio main campus.

Despite its marred past of mistreating the mentally ill and partaking in acts of quackery such as lobotomy and shock therapy, along with its believed connection to the supernatural, the Ridges is a perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon.

This piece of 19th century architectural gold sits atop the hill (or the ridge rather) on the south side of the Hocking River directly across from West Green. Take a walk out Richland Ave. past the roundabout. Then you will come to a park. Hang a right and then head up the rugged brick road.

(Photo: Eben George
Large black birds perched atop the historic Ridges complex at Ohio University. (Photo: Eben George)

The sprawling grassy knolls of the Ridges make for a perfect picnic perch, lofted above the Hocking River Valley. Bring a friend or a special companion along with you. Layout on a blanket, soak up some rays and raise your serotonin levels with some good ol’ fashion vitamin D.

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The beautiful green space at the Ridges makes for a perfect place to collect your thoughts, hit the books and hang with friends. (Photo: Eben George)

If being lazy and lethargic isn’t your thing, then get active and in touch with your nature side. Take a hike on one of the Ridges hiking trails. The favorite trail among students is the Ridges Cemetery Nature Walk. The gravel trail winds through the hill littered, dense wooded area surrounding the grounds.

The cemetery is somewhat of an eerie place, old, decrepit grave markers are scattered throughout a clearing on the hill. Many of the markers bear no name, rather just a number to identify the deceased patients. The lack of names is due to the stigma surrounding the mentally ill during the early days neuroscience and mental healthcare.

It doesn’t take long to notice that many of the buildings at the Ridges are in ill-repair. Despite the crumbling facade, the future does look bright for the the Ridges.

In 2015 OU announced that it has developed a tentative plan to make major renovations to the existing buildings. The plan also includes utilizing the land for new structures.

The university has yet to set a timeline and funding plan for the project in stone. However, the 700-acre complex presents the university with its greatest opportunity for physical expansion. This need for expansion becomes more evident as the main campus population inches closers toward 25,000

Ohio University has already renovated serval of the structures at the Ridges. Most notably the asylum’s administration building, now know as Lin Hall. It boast iconic victorian towers and a breathtaking three tiered porch. Inside the beautiful Scofield creation now resides the Kennedy Museum of Art .

Lin Hall's stunning Victorian era towers were designed by the prominent Cleveland architect, Levi Scofield, in 1868. (Photo: Eben George)
Lin Hall’s stunning Victorian era towers were designed by the prominent Cleveland architect, Levi Scofield, in 1868. (Photo: Eben George)

Regardless of your interest, the Ridges is a perfect place to unwind from the tightly wound spool of college life. Go and catch up on your R and R before you wind up being in need of a lobotomy yourself.