Oconee through a college student’s eyes

Even though it may not always feel like it, Oconee County is really its own college town. Between UNG, which is located barely a mile away from downtown Watkinsville, and UGA just a fifteen minute drive away, Oconee has thousands of college students travelling across its county line each day. What many of these students may not release is how suited to college kids Oconee actually is, but I’d like to think that I know otherwise.

My name is Dillon Thompson, I’m a third-year political science major at UGA, and I’ve been the Oconee County Tourism Department’s student intern for the past three months. As someone who had spent very little time in Watkinsville during my first two years of school, I’ve definitely learned a lot about Oconee during my time working here.

Today is my last day working for the county, but I’d like to leave this post behind before I’m finished here. The post below lists just a few activities in Oconee that are completely suited to people my age, and hopefully gives an insight into what Oconee looks like through the eyes of a college student.

University 16 Cinemas

University 16 Cinema

The new University 16 Cinema offers the most luxurious movie going experience in both Watkinsville and Athens. Between the theater’s kitchen, which serves meals well beyond the average candy and popcorn options of most cinemas, and its bar, a valuable option for those of age, University 16 has the amenities to make for an extremely comfortable evening. On Thursdays, Saturdays, and Mondays, the theater turns into a big screen sports haven, showing NFL and UGA football games free of charge. On top of it all, University 16 offers discounts to its movies for anyone with a student I.D., making taking advantage of this new cinema even easier.

Washington Farms


With cool weather right around the corner (hopefully), Washington Farms will soon turn from its summer berry picking to its many fall festivities. The farm becomes a pumpkin patch each autumn, and offers a corn maze, hayrides, and even a pumpkin slingshot to keep you entertained while you’re browsing through the grounds. The wholesome atmosphere and beautiful landscape is a perfect place for a date, or to go with a group of friends and soak in the seasonal vibes.

Chops & Hops

Even though Chops and Hops is one of the most famous eateries in all of Oconee County, many students living in Athens have never even heard of it. For the unfamiliar, the restaurant serves delicious items true to its name: its American-style menu features a little bit of everything, but focuses on “chops” of hand-cut steak, and its selection of around 60 different beers provides the “hops” for those of age to partake. Chops and Hops is the perfect restaurant to show off to your parents when they’re in town, and its distance from the always-busy Athens downtown will take some of the stress out of the parking and waiting involved with a more populated area.

Attic Treasures

Attic Treasures Antiques

Some college students probably think of their parents or grandparents when they think about browsing through antique stores. Fortunately, though, the opinion that youth has no place among the aged furniture and storied trinkets of a rustic antique shop is totally false. Attic Treasures, located conveniently right in the middle of downtown Watkinsville, has many items that should peak a young adult’s interest. Whether its hundred-year-old UGA yearbooks that demand fascinated browsing, authentic street signs to decorate your new apartment with, or collections of antique coffee mugs, Attic Treasures is guaranteed to catch a college student’s eye for much longer than they may think.

Elder Mill Covered Bridge


The history of the Elder Mill Covered Bridge is undeniable. Built in the late 1800’s, the cross-able bridge is one of only about a dozen still standing in Georgia. Although it is fascinating to marvel at the age and strength of the wooden bridge, college students may be more interested in its offering of a unique photo opportunity. With a creek peacefully flowing just beneath, and a rustic look that’s hard to find elsewhere nearby, the Elder Mill Covered Bridge is the perfect place if you’re looking to go out and snag some one-of-a-kind pictures.

Oconee Veterans Park

Oconee Veterans Memorial

One of the biggest advantages of being young is the nearly unlimited energy that comes with youth. College-aged students have the ability to stay active nonstop, and there’s no better place to do that than at Oconee Veterans Park. Between the park and its next door neighbor (Herman C. Michael Park sits just across the street), students have the facilities to get out and play soccer, basketball, tennis, baseball, disc golf, and many other sports depending on field availability. The parks also have trails for running or walking, for those who are looking to stay in shape but don’t have the numbers to get a game of some sort together. While you’re there, be sure to check out the new Veterans Memorial, which features an actual piece of the World Trade Center towers.

Study Spots

Jittery Joes

For students looking to beat the crowds in Athens and get some peace and quiet while they study, Oconee has some perfect study spots for group projects and solo work. Jittery Joe’s in downtown Watkinsville offers more space than many of the locations closer to UGA, and it is generally less loud and crammed. In addition, De’lishi Frozen Yogurt on the Oconee Connector offers a private room for group study, and while you’re there you can get some delicious frozen yogurt to help break up the pains of school work.

Additional Events/Activities

  • Get active and explore some of the Antebellum Bike Trail, which runs all the way from Athens to Macon.
  • Check off the Athens and Watkinsville barbecue stops on the “Brews and Q’s” trail, which features breweries and BBQ from all over the state.
  • If you’re 21 or over, visit 16th annual the OCAF Wine Fest, this October at Ashford Manor in downtown Watkinsville.
  • Escape the bustle of game day with a trip over to Oconee County, and check out shops, restaurants, antique stores, and art exhibits at the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation.

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Posted on: August 27, 2015 | Posted by:
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