I was born inside the old Powers Hospital in Athens in 1950. I have written about it several times and have wonderful friends and numerous relatives in the town. I will have to say that Athens did more with their Exit 351 off of Interstate 65 than just about anyone in North Alabama -- gas stations, hotels, chain restaurants, Lawler's BarBQ, and Russell Stover Candy are all within sight. Good for them!
I was interested, however, in any changes that have been made since AthensMainStreet was organized and headed up by my friend Tere Richardson. I've seen her work in the past and know that she's the type to get things done and done well. As I got closer to the courthouse square, I immediately noticed that many traffic lights had been removed in favor of very attractive 4-way stop signs and lots of large pots on all the corners filled with colorful flowers.
LuVici's, a restaurant open for years next door to U.G. White Hardware, has been replaced by Terranova's Italian Restaurant. The original location for Terranova's is on Hwy. 72 in Madison. The Athens version has a similar menu and similar hours, except Athens is closed on Sundays.
I LOVE the murals beginning to appear on storefronts and planned for Merchant's Alley, beside Terranova's.
I was glad to see some of my favorite restaurants still open and busy. Village Pizza, Sweetest Things Tea Room, Wildwood Deli, Lucia's Cocina Mexicana to name several. Take note that right now Sweetest Things is taking orders by phone, then you go by to pick it up. Hopefully, they will soon be allowing diners back inside to enjoy their very cute cafe.
I also spotted popular shops that have been on the square for a number of years, such as Pimento's and Trinity's. A new one caught my eye diagonally across from Village Pizza called Epiphany with a coffee shop attached, Square Coffee. Oh, the Vinyl Records store on Pryor Street is new.
I was glad to find High Cotton Arts open. It's the big green storefront near the railroad track on W. Washington Street. All of the art inside has been produced by local artists. There are 9 booths and a space near the back for art classes. It reminded me of a much smaller version of Lowe Mill Arts in Huntsville. This is a great chance to meet artists and watch them work. It's open Wednesday through Saturday. I recommend stopping by when you're in Athens. Beautiful artwork and super nice people.
I had intended to order an upside-down banana split from Kreme Delite, but my timing was off a bit. One of these days . . . . I probably need to have one when I have a friend or a husband to share it with. :)
Some other places you might want to find -- Athens Saturday Market, a state-certified farmers' market. It was empty when I was in town, but I'd like to see what makes this market "state-certified."
Also, I haven't been to a drive-in theater since Steve and I were dating. Athens has one of the few drive-in theaters in North Alabama beside Cinemagic Theatre at 1702 S. Jefferson Street SE. Check the website to see what's playing next -- www.cinemagictheatre.net.
The Alabama Veterans Museum is quite impressive. It attracts people from miles around who see the signs on the interstate and love exploring history and honoring the brave men and women who have worn a military uniform in service to America. Admission is free, but donations are gladly accepted.
The Limestone County Courthouse is very attractive after undergoing a recent refurbishing. The day I visited it was surrounded by vehicles from television stations with reporters covering a trial of major interest in the area. Fortunately, I was NOT asked to participate in a woman-on-the-street interview. Whew!
Athens is a great town to claim as my birthplace. Go check out some of these businesses, attractions, and restaurants I've mentioned. Tell them Cousin Josh's niece sent you. :)