Athens Named For Best College Town Weekend

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As Ohio University celebrates Homecoming weekend, Athens is celebrating a reader’s poll victory naming it as a top 10 college town to spend a weekend.

Voted on by readers of USA Today, Athens received second place honors behind Lafayette, Louisiana, and just beat out Madison, Wisconsin on the list.

“The best part about the contest was sharing it on social media and reading the comments from people who see Athens as a unique place that they really love,” said Paige Alost, executive director of the Athens County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Alost said the bureau was notified by USA Today that they had been nominated alongside bigger college towns like Lafayette (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Madison (University of Wisconsin) and Flagstaff, Arizona (Northern Arizona University). 

Also on the list were Ithaca, New York (Cornell University, Ithaca College), Duluth Minnesota (University of Minnesota Duluth), Charlottesville, Virginia (University of Virginia), Feyetteville, Arkansas (University of Arkansas), Fredericksburg, Virginia (University of Mary Washington) and Oxford, Mississippi (University of Mississippi). 

“They are all typical college towns and a lot of them are much bigger than we are, but for us it’s less about the college than it is about the love of the town as well,” Alost said. “Athens is really unique that way.”

The community events and tight-knit atmosphere bring a different perspective to Athens compared to the other towns, she added.
“We have something that (The Ohio State University) alumni can’t say,” Alost said. “There are a lot of alumni that say they love OSU, but don’t say ‘I love Columbus,” but our alumni are saying ‘I love Athens’ and ‘I love OU.’”

In the reader’s poll, Athens was called “laid back” and film festivals and the local music scene were cited as reasons for the second place finish.
Court Street is the backdrop for Athens’ way of life, Alost said. She said the street has been called “Ohio’s most eccentric half mile” by locals.

The USA Today honor gives the town “bragging rights,” according to Alost, and an opportunity to promote their town in even more ways.
“We hope this means people in other college towns will want to come visit Athens now, to see what we offer as a different type of college town,” Alost said.