After months of lectures, exams, and projects, every college student deserves a break. But what is there to do in Athens, Ohio? Whether you’re into vibrant festivals, delicious food, or hiking in some beautiful nature with friends, this small but lively town has something to offer for everyone!

Our Favorite Festivals Near Athens, Ohio

Our favorite answer to “what to do in Athens, Ohio” is FESTIVALS! They’re the perfect way to celebrate summer and check out the local culture. Here are some of our favorites right here in Athens:

Black Diamond Music & Arts Festival (June 7-8)

Want to explore southeastern Ohio’s cultural roots? Check out the Black Diamond Music & Arts Festival! This must-see event features the Appalachian staple of country and bluegrass music, plus a variety of local art. Worried about a place to stay? This festival is hosted at Hocking College with the option to rent a campsite or a dorm for the night!

Nelsonville Music Festival (July 26-28)

The Nelsonville Music Festival, or NMF, is held at the Snow Fork Event Center next to Nelsonville, Ohio. NMF features a huge artist line-up and is one of Ohio’s best-kept secrets. Plus, part of the proceeds funds a local Arts Education program!

With the following headliners, you’ll never have to wonder what to do in Athens, Ohio:

  • Killer Mike
  • Courtney Barnett
  • Three Sacred Souls
  • Indigo De Souza
  • Amyl & The Sniffers
  • Michael Hurley
  • And More!

Ohio Brew Week (July 12-20)

If you’re a craft beer enthusiast (and over 21), Ohio Brew Week is the festival for you! With over 40 breweries participating, this week-long event celebrates all things local. You can attend tastings, workshops, and even a homebrew competition. And the best part is that most of the events are free!

Ohio Pawpaw Festival (Sept 13-15)

Named after Ohio’s officially designated native fruit, the Pawpaw Festival is a local celebration located at the scenic Lake Snowden. Featuring live music, food vendors, workshops, and even a pawpaw eating contest, this festival is a unique way to experience Ohio’s natural beauty and culture.

What to Do in Athens, Ohio—Activities and Adventures

Festivals aren’t the only things to do in Athens, Ohio. We’re also known for our beautiful nature and outdoor activities. Here are some of our top picks:

  • Hiking: Athens has several state parks with gorgeous hiking trails, including the popular Hocking Hills State Park.
  • Canoeing/Kayaking: The Hocking River runs right through Athens, making it a popular spot for canoeing and kayaking.
  • Biking: With its rolling hills and scenic routes, Athens is a great place for biking. You can rent bikes from the university if you don’t have your own.
  • Zip-Lining: For a more adventurous activity, check out Hocking Peaks Adventure Park to zipline through the treetops!

Getting Hungry? Local Eateries to Try

Now that you know what to do in Athens, Ohio, your festival-going and outdoor exploration will probably work up an appetite. Or maybe you’re just a foodie who prefers food over festivities! Luckily, Athens has a wide variety of mouth-watering restaurants to try.

Athens Farmer’s Market

It’s not exactly a restaurant, but the Athens Farmer’s Market is a must-visit for fresh produce and locally-made goods. Plus, they often have food trucks with delicious options.

Bagel Street Deli

This popular spot offers a variety of creative bagel sandwiches and some of the best coffee in town. It might just become your favorite hangout spot!

Casa Nueva

This Mexican restaurant is an Athens favorite, known for its tasty burritos and margaritas using fresh, local ingredients.

Purple Chopstix

Craving Asian cuisine? Purple Chopstix has a delicious variety of Chinese, Japanese, and Thai dishes. Plus, they have vegan and vegetarian options.

O’Betty’s Red Hot

For a unique Athens twist on hotdogs, check out O’Betty’s Red Hot. From classic chili dogs to gourmet sausages, this place has something for everyone.


For some tasty Mediterranean food and some great vibes, check out Salaam—their falafel and hummus is to die for.

Notable Summer Events

What else is there to do in Athens, Ohio? If you’re looking for more fun, here’s a quick list of summer events. You can find even more on the official Athens, Ohio website.

  • Athens Art Guild Market: Every Saturday morning
  • Amesville Writers Workshop: June 6-June 9
  • Old Time Jam Night: July 10

Moving to Off-Campus Housing? Check Out Wharton Rentals

Is it time for you to move out of your dorm and find an apartment off-campus? Check out Wharton Rentals for the best selection of high-quality, affordable apartments. Plus, you’ll be just a short distance from everything fun, now that you know what to do in Athens, Ohio. Browse our website for updated listings today!

Wharton Rentals is committed to making the off-campus living experience a positive one for college students in Athens, Ohio.

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