Athens Roadways: A Local’s Guide to Getting Around


Athens, Georgia is a thriving college town located about an hour’s drive northeast of Atlanta. Home of the University of Georgia, Athens boasts a vibrant music and arts scene, a burgeoning technology hub, and a host of historical sites and local attractions.

With students, professionals, and visitors constantly coming and going, Athens’ network of roads and highways serves as the lifeblood connecting its various neighborhoods and landmarks.

Whether you’re a longtime local or new in town, navigating Athens’ roadways is essential to getting the most out of this classic Southern city.

From multilane highways to narrow side streets, this guide offers an in-depth look at how to expertly traverse Athens by car.

Highways and Arterials

Athens’ major road arteries provide direct routes across town and convenient access to highway connections leading beyond the city limits. These higher-capacity roads allow Athenians and visitors to efficiently travel to key destinations around town.

Atlanta Highway (US-29/US-78/GA-10/GA-15)

The most prominent route into downtown Athens. This divided highway leads northeast 57 miles to intersect with I-85 in the Atlanta metro.

The section within Athens is lined with chain restaurants and big box stores. Key cross streets lead to the UGA campus and downtown.

Lexington Road (US-129/GA-15)

A four lane road heading southwest from Athens, merging with US-441 to eventually reach I-20 and Atlanta. The 2 mile stretch within Athens is commercial, with some older homes as it leads out of town.

Oconee Connector

Provides a direct link between Milledge Ave in central Athens and GA-10/the Athens Perimeter Hwy northeast of town. Requires a $1.00 toll via the only toll booth in the area.

Atlanta/Athens Perimeter Hwy (GA-10 Loop)

Forms a semicircle around northeast Athens, allowing drivers to bypass downtown traffic. Connects with US-29 heading to Atlanta or I-85, as well as US-441 and US-129 towards Madison and Danielsville. Lined with suburban retail centers.

Gaines School Road

Major east-west cross street traversing mostly residential neighborhoods on Athens’ south side. Turns into Hawthorne Ave heading into downtown.

College Station Road

Stretching southwest from downtown past UGA’s College of Agricultural campus. transitions from residential to rural. Continues on as State Road 10 on its way to Madison, Georgia.

Downtown Streets & Neighborhood Roads

Heading to one of Athens eclectic intown neighborhoods or seeking parking downtown during a busy weekend? Here’s a guide to navigating the dense grid of downtown streets and neighborhood byways.

Lumpkin Street

Narrow one-way street lined with restaurants, bars, and shops. One of Athens’ most vibrant downtown centers of activity. Best visited on foot or via ride share due to limited street parking and high pedestrian volumes.

Clayton Street

Two-lane downtown corridor running parallel to College Ave one block over. Home to a mix of boutiques, music venues, apartments and small office spaces. Metered parking gets snatched up quick most evenings and weekends.

Pulaski Street

Winds alongside the historic Taylor-Grady house on this two-block stretch between Thomas St and Baldwin St. Part of the scenic downtown residential area.

Prince Avenue

Heading west from downtown toward the UGA campus. Mostly old Victorian homes along this corridor, interspersed with a few newer student apartments. Traffic and parking can spike on college football game days in the fall.

Milledge Avenue

Main thoroughfare that connects central Athens straight to north campus and Sanford Stadium. Shops, restaurants, bars, music venues dot both sides, including the famous arches welcoming visitors onto UGA’s historic north quad. High foot and vehicle volumes on busy weekends.

Boulevard & Foundry Street

These roads traverse through the trendy Boulevard neighborhood, situated just south of downtown between Pulaski Street and South Lumpkin Street. Mostly residential streets with bungalows, cottages and abundant shade trees.

University of Georgia Campus & Transit

As a quintessential college town, many Athens roads feed directly onto the UGA campus through a mix of tree-lined thoroughfares, narrow drives, and winding side streets.

Campus transit and non-motorized modes of transit also abound, allowing students and visitors to easily navigate without a car.

Sanford Drive

Entryway into the heart of UGA’s famous north campus quad, which features historic academic halls and the iconic archway. Heavily trafficked on game days and orientation weekends. Accessible from either Lumpkin St or Foley Field via Herty Drive.

South Campus Transit

UGA’s bus system provides service linking south campus housing, athletic facilities, and peripheral parking lots to central locations like the Tate Student Center, Main Library, and Science Center. Useful for avoiding congestion and parking limitations on south campus.

East Campus Road

Two lane road with bike lanes traversing through UGA’s East Campus. Home to the Lamar Dodd School of Art, Performing Arts Center, Ramsey Student Center, and other buildings. Links to downtown via Broad Street.

Carlton Street

Popular pathway leading from North Campus central quads toward Sanford Stadium via a canopy of old oak trees. Sidewalks on both sides accommodate high volumes of pedestrian traffic on game days. Street closes on home football game days during march to stadium.

Herty Field Road

Winds its way northeast from Foley Baseball field through UGA’s historic North Campus which includes the Arch, Chapel, Old College, and New College. Flanked by iconic oak trees and magnolias. No street parking, so best seen on foot or pedal.

Meigs Hall Access Road

Short one-way drive allowing vehicle access and service loading to Meigs Hall. Runs behind the Tax Interdisciplinary Center from Carlton Ave. to Baldwin Street next to the Chapel. Fluorescent jersey-clad cadets manage pre-game traffic flow.

Best Biking Routes

From neighborhood cycling treks to scenic road rides, Athens offers plenty of pedaling potential across a range of bike-friendly routes that avoid heavy traffic areas.

Firefly Trail

Paved multi-use greenway connecting downtown to UGA’s intramural fields. Shared pedestrian and cycle use. Accessible from College Station Rd, Brooklyn St, and UGA’s East Campus Rd.

North Oconee River Greenway

Sandy Creek Nature Center features a network of mulch trails open to mountain bikers, trail runners and walkers seeking paths less traveled. Best access is from a small parking area off old Barnett Shoals Road.

Barnett Shoals Road

Heading further from town transitions from busy retail corridor to winding country route popular with road cyclists building endurance en route to Athens’ rural outskirts.

Trail Creek Street Neighborhood

Quiet neighborhood south of Oconee River featuring low traffic, hilly terrain, and multiple connected side streets offering safe cycling for families and recreational riders. Access from Trail Creek Street south of Macon Highway.

Prince Avenue to Dudley Park

Ride along beautiful North Prince through shady Victorian neighborhood all the way to scenic Dudley Park which connects to the North Oconee River Greenway trails. Avoid Prince Ave gamedays.

Major Intersections and Problem Spots

With bustling college life, major highways bisecting neighborhoods, and football crowds jamming roads every fall Saturday, Athens has its fair share of intersections and bottlenecks prone to congestion or crashes. Here’s an inside scoop on problematic junctions:

Lumpkin Street & Broad Street

Managed only by a flashing yellow light and subject to very high foot traffic between downtown and UGA’s central campus.

Use extra caution crossing through this congested four-way intersection. Pedestrians have the right of way but do not always watch for turning vehicles within the crosswalks.

Atlanta Hwy & Tallassee Rd

Very busy intersection especially around shopping peaks. Multiple turn lanes & crosswalk signals attempt to guide traffic flow but pattern and speed alterations to enter/exit abutting shopping centers interrupts traffic flow. Watch carefully for distracted drivers focused only on securing that Target parking spot.

Milledge & Broad

Major downtown crossing point made more chaotic on UGA game days. Four lanes cut at an offset angle. Watch for peds crossing while vehicles vie to turn left either onto one-way stretches of Broad St or Milledge. Allow extra green light time given complex turning patterns.

Dougherty & Pulaski

This offset T-junction was identified as Athens’ highest crash intersection in 2020 with 63 wrecks. The skewed intersection of 5 connecting streets with a slight rise over the railroad tracks reduces visibility. Greenway, Hull, & Dougherty also identified as high crash corridors through downtown neighborhoods.

College Station & East Broad

Despite a four-way stop and flashing yellow lights, this junction saw 46 crashes in 2020. The routes carry high bike and scooter traffic from central campus out East Broad Street causing bike/vehicle conflict at intersection. Cyclists should use added

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  • Head south on Prince Ave toward E Broad St/US-78 Trunk/GA-10 Loop. Continue to follow Prince Ave past GA-10 Loop/US-78 Trunk/N Lumpkin St. Turn left onto Smith St, then take the 1st right onto Roywood Dr. Make a slight left onto Prometheus Cir, then turn right. Turn left onto Smokey Rd/Woodstone Dr, then turn right to stay on Smokey Rd. Turn right onto Foundry St, then turn left at the 1st cross street onto Round Table Rd. The destination, 130 Round Table Rd, will be on the right.
  • rom the start point, take a left turn onto Franklin St. Turn left onto Dearing St, then continue onto Plaza Dr. Turn right onto Forest Hills Rd, then continue onto Smokey Rd. Turn right onto Foundry St, then turn left at the 1st cross street onto Round Table Rd. The destination, 130 Round Table Rd, will be on the right.
  • Take a left onto E Broad St/US-78 Trunk/GA-10 Loop and continue as it turns slightly right and becomes Gaines School Rd. Turn left onto Lexington Hwy/GA-10 Loop/GA-335/US-129/US-78, then take the 1st right onto Old Hull Rd. Take the 2nd left onto Smokey Rd, then turn right to stay on Smokey Rd. Turn right onto Foundry St, then turn left at the 1st cross street onto Round Table Rd. The final destination, 130 Round Table Rd, is on the right.