From LAX, nonstop service to Atlanta is offered on Delta, direct service (stop, no change of plane) on America West and connecting service (change of plane) on American, US Airways, Northwest, United and Continental. Restricted round-trip fares begin at $198.
Where to stay
Nicholson House Inn, 6295 Jefferson Road, Athens, GA 30607; (706) 353-2200, fax (706) 353-7799, http://www.nicholsonhouseinn.com . On 34 sylvan acres five miles from Athens' center. This inn, a rebuilt early 19th century tavern and stagecoach stop, has eight nicely furnished rooms with baths, air conditioning, cable TV and telephones. The public rooms are lovely, and, from a rocking chair on the veranda, guests can watch deer feeding at dusk. Rates, including full breakfast, begin at $99.
Foundry Park Inn & Spa, 295 E. Dougherty St., Athens, GA 30601; (866) 9ATHENS (928-4367), (706) 549-7020, fax (706) 549-7085, http://www.foundryparkinn.com . A two-story, 119-room Colonial-style complex within easy walking distance of downtown attractions and the university. Two on-site restaurants: the casual Athens Steam Co. Pub and the formal Hoyt House. Large, comfortable rooms. Double rooms average $100.
Southern Cross Guest Ranch, 1670 Bethany Church Road, Madison, GA 30650; (706) 342-8027, http://www.southcross.com . On a country road about nine miles outside town, this year-round guest ranch has 16 themed rooms with baths, air conditioning, TV and telephones. Doubles start at $100 with breakfast.
Where to eat
East West Bistro, 351 E. Broad St.; (706) 546-9378. Casual dining Downtown (downstairs), where there's an open kitchen, a big, varied menu and a noisy crowd. For candlelight, there's the formal Uptown (upstairs), where the cuisine is Northern Italian, featuring fish and game. Dinner entrees Downtown are $7-$24; Uptown, $16-$24.
Five and Ten, 1653 S. Lumpkin St.; (706) 546-7300. Canadian-born chef/owner Hugh Acheson rocketed to culinary fame in 2002 as one of Food & Wine magazine's top 10 new U.S. chefs. Contemporary American fare with French and Italian influences in a small, smartly turned out space. Dinner daily and Sunday brunch. Dinner entrees $15-$28.
Last Resort Grill, 174 W. Clayton St.; (706) 549-0810. Regional dishes such as fried green tomatoes, Georgia trout dusted with pecan flour and salmon and grits. Lunch and dinner daily and Sunday brunch. Dinner entrees $8-$15.
To learn more
Athens Welcome Center, 280 E. Dougherty St., Athens, GA 30601; (706) 353-1820.
Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau, 300 N. Thomas St., Athens, GA 30601; (800) 653-0603, http://www.visitathensga.com .
University of Georgia Visitors Center, Four Towers Building, College Station Road, Athens, GA 30602; (706) 542-0842 for reservations and information about student-led tours.
Madison Welcome Center, 115 E. Jefferson St., Madison, GA 30650; (800) 709-7406.