If you ever dare venture outside of Athens, a stop in the old town of Watkinsville is highly recommended. Located in the heart of Oconee County, Watkinsville has grown exponentially in recent years. The city’s motto is “The Artland of Georgia,” due to the relatively high number of artists who live and work in Oconee County. The thriving arts community is supported by the Oconee County Arts Foundation (OCAF), which has become an integral part of Watkinsville’s charm and ambience.
The Eagle Tavern, located on Main St. in Downtown Watkinsville, serves as the Oconee County Welcome Center, as well as a museum commemorating the era of stage and wagon travel. The tavern was made famous by a Southern soldier who hid in its attic as Union troops moved through the town after they were defeated at the Battle of Sunshine Church on July 31, 1864. The soldier was cared for by slaves, who provided him with food and coal.
You can learn more about the history and legends of Watkinsville by participating in a tour, hosted by Melissa Piche, a woman with a passion for history and special talent for storytelling. This month, you can join in the spirit of Halloween and enjoy a good fright on the special Ghost Tour. Melissa will take you on a scary ride full of spooks and legends. This tour is so scary, in fact, that it is not recommended for children under 12. A special kids tour is given a little earlier in the evening, while the adult tours begin at 8pm this Friday and Saturday, October 21-22. Additional tours will be hosted October 28-31.
Before or after the tour, you might enjoy a bite to eat at one of Watkinsville’s newest restaurants, Chops and Hops. As the name suggests, it is the place to go if you want steak and beer. The atmosphere is that of an upscale, neighborhood bar and grill; think “Cheers” with pizazz. The menu consists of the usual steaks, burgers, fries and salads, but also boasts crab cakes, salmon tacos, lamb chops and several delicious vegetarian options. The beer and wine selection, like the food menu, consists of usual favorites, plus a few gems that you will be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in Oconee County.