Wednesday, December 20, 2017

24 Hours In Athens, Georgia at The Graduate Athens {Video}

Ever since beginning teaching this past August weekends have become a time to regroup and prep for the week ahead. At the beginning this was especially true since I felt like I had to work on lesson plans, grading, and creating assessments for my students all weekend long. Fortunately, as I've gained some footing with how to teach fourth grade, stay on top of my work as a student in grad school, and manage to blog on the side I've been able to slowly take my weekends back. That is not to say that weekends are work free by any means, but you could say that the work/life balance that you hear about is slowly becoming a bit more balanced. I'm sure y'all have seen the triangle that has social life, sleep, and good grades at each of the points and informs college students that they can only pick two. Sadly, in some ways I feel like that has followed me into the real world just a bit. 

So, whenever I have the opportunity to enjoy my weekends and somehow seamlessly combine all of my responsibilities I take it. That's exactly how my trip to  The Graduate Hotel in Athens a couple of weeks ago felt. If you were following along on Instagram (@prepinyourstep) I'm sure you saw that I made the most of getting to explore a college town that's different than my own, take photos for the blog, and smile at all the subtle yet thoughtful nods the hotel made towards students during my quick trip to Athens, Georgia. 

After a snowy Friday evening Sophia and I packed my car and made the short hour and a half drive from Greenville, SC to Athens, GA. I've been to Athens two other times to visit one of my dear friends, Macy, who is a year above me and graduated from UGA. Seeing the town through her eyes was always so fun so we used some of her suggestions as well as the ones given to us by the hotel to make the most of our 24 hours in town. Conveniently enough, Macy happened to be in town for a friends wedding so I got to see her this trip as well. 

As soon as we arrived in Athens we had to check out where we were staying to get a feel for its location in proximity to the things we had planned.  The Graduate Athens is a boutique style hotel with a combination of locally sourced vintage pieces and contemporary flare. The hotel features 122 rooms, a Spa, and event venue, Iron Works Coffee shop, and a rich history all within a short walking distance to downtown. I wish I had counted the number of times we commented about how cute the hotel was or how much we loved getting to stay there since that count was very high. 

Driving in the car has its way of working up an appetite so we headed to a highly recommended restaurant for brunch before we even checked in. If you know anyone who attended UGA then you've probably heard them rave about Mama's Boy (and rightfully so). While there was a bit of a wait the food and atmosphere of the restaurant made it completely worthwhile. Fueled with another cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll to split that was larger than my head we were ready to look over the menu filled with delicious southern breakfast options. The biscuits there are a huge hit although every thing that passed by our table caught our eyes as we waited for our food to arrive. When it did make it to the table we promptly devoured it all while taking in the atmosphere of the restaurant. 


In a slight food coma, we went back the Graduate Athens and checked into our room. The hotel felt like its own little village and the details included in the lobby and even on our key cards had us so excited to finally check out our room. The vintage vibes combined with details that embodied the hotels location in a college town were even cuter than what I had seen online. From an old times phone and radio to the post card pillow and plaid blankets and even a chalkboard with a chemistry equation we were pretty thrilled to settle in. There are a number of Graduate Hotels around the country (all situated near college towns) and now I'm dying to see how the details in the rooms would change from place to place. 


Since we were mixing work and play, Sophia was able to help me with a number of photos for future blog posts before we recouped in the room (I'm telling you, we never wanted to leave) in preparation to explore downtown Athens. The feel of downtown Athens is very different compared to Greenville and reminds me more of a larger version of my hometown, Fairhope, Alabama. We stopped in a number of shops and enjoyed the Christmas decorations around before heading to dinner at the Last Resort Grill after countless numbers of y'all suggested we go there. The food did not disappoint and neither did the atmosphere. We were lucky enough to be seated right away, but as the night went on the wait list continued to grow. Sophia and I both enjoyed some soup and an entree and even took a delicious piece of cake (as suggested by friends) with us to go. The temperature had been dropping all afternoon and into the night so our walk back to the car was a bit chilly. We opted to head back to the hotel (since we were their to experience it in the first place), grab a cup of hot chocolate from Iron Works Coffee directly in the lobby, and put on our matching pajamas to enjoy Christmas movies in bed before falling asleep.

In the morning when we woke up we were excited to have another day to explore the city, UGA's campus, and of course, drink copious amounts of coffee and eat delicious food. After bundling up for the chilly weather it was back to Iron Works coffee to caffeinate for the morning as we headed back downtown. We walked around the North part of Georgia's campus and admired the beautiful architecture before deciding to head into some other shops downtown and warm up with coffee at many students' favorite, Jittery Joes. We both grabbed our laptops to do a bit of work in a stress free environment (it was for us anyway although it was exam time for the students around us) while we waited for Pauley's, a crepe restaurant, to open. 

Macy ended up joining us for a bit at Pauley's while we waited for our crepes and it was so fun to catch up with her while in town since she was the reason I first visited Athens a few years back. After finishing our meal and stopping in a few more shops it was back to Greenville and back to reality. Despite only being in Athens for 24 hours Sophia and I were able to take in our surroundings and relax during our mini vacation. During our drive back we began to brainstorm other cool places within driving distance that need to be added to our list of other 24 hour weekend stops! 

I can't thank the team at the  Graduate Athens enough for making our stay so enjoyable. Be on the lookout for blog posts in the near future that have the Graduate Athens as their backdrop and in the meantime check out the video I made of our trip below! 

I'd love to hear your favorite places to go on quick trips like this! 

If you happen to be near a college town and are looking for a place to stay, be sure to see if there is a  Graduate Hotel nearby as it is the perfect place to stay in order to get a taste of your surroundings in the most comfortable environment! 

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