Your Guide to the Nightlife in Athens, Ohio

Best known for its outrageous Halloween party, Athens, Ohio is home to one of the liveliest bar scenes considering its relatively small town atmosphere. This southwestern Ohio community is a speck on the map buried between the Appalachian Mountains and acres upon acres of farmland.

If you happen to be passing through Athens, you’ll be in for quite a shock when the rural countryside suddenly turns into a hustling and bustling public university. Ohio University consists of about 20,000 undergrads who will all tell you the same thing—they know how to party. Recently voted #2 Party School in the nation by Princeton Review for 2005, this is truly the school that never sleeps.

The main drag, known as Court Street, is the popular site for the annual Halloween bash. This infamous brick-paved road boasts 18 bars within a 2 block radius, perfect for tipsy college students who enjoy stumbling from one bar to the next. Those who dare will participate in a “shuffle” where they attempt to make it to every bar on Court Street for a drink. Many even leave their mark on every bathroom stall honoring their shuffle.

Each of the bars carry drink specials on any given night whether it is BW3’s cheap pitchers on Thursday, Courtside’s 50 cent drafts on Tuesday, or The Junction’s Quad Night on Thursdays where the alcohol in every drink is doubled, free of charge. Or for only $2.00, you can sip your beer from a giant cup, known as an aquarium, at The Pub.

If music is your passion, hit up The Blue Gator or O’Hooleys, where there is almost always a live local band playing on into the night. If you prefer to do the singing, Casa Nueva offers open mic night on Wednesdays where you can show off your talent. When you want to get down, The Union is the place for you. It offers Dance or Die on Thursday nights for a small cover charge. There you’ll soon find yourself surrounded in a sea of disco lights and dance moves.

Stumble on into Pawpurrs or The CI if you’re in the mood to challenge a buddy in a game of pool. Or if your stomach is growling, head in to Pigskin for a giant burger and fries or Skipper’s for some killer margaritas and heavenly mozzarella sticks. Or check out any of the other local bars like Smiling Skull, Cat’s Eye, The Crystal, Lucky’s, or Cat’s Den and pick your own favorite.

Every bar has its own crowd of patrons—the Greeks, the townies, the emo kids, the jocks—all looking for a good time and a cheap beer.

For the special Parent’s weekends throughout the school year, you can find Moms and Dads bellying up to the bar alongside their kids. You can even spot the occasional professor enjoying a cocktail with his or her students on any given night. Although the college kids make up the majority of the bar’s patrons, it’s never unusual to see young and old alike guzzling their drafts.

But if Athens is your pit-stop for the night and the bars just aren’t your scene, there are a plethora of alcohol-free activities for you to choose from. Baker Center often books local musicians to play on Friday nights in the coffee shop. Or one of the local coffee shops like The Donkey or Perks, can whip up a mean mocha while you lounge on one of the comfy couches and enjoy the local artwork. And for a few bucks, the local movie theater, The Athena, located on Court Street, offers a midnight movie on Saturday nights.

Whatever your pleasure, Athens has what you are looking for. Consider stopping by this diamond in the rough and enjoy the benefits this small town has to offer.

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