Quality of Life

Fostering Work-Life Balance

Why do we think it is important to tell you about the amazing quality of life we have here in Athens? It is because we know a strong business is only as good as the happiness of its employees. Athens offers an environment that makes it easy to foster work-life balance – and at a lower cost of living, too. Athens also has a unique character and offers a great quality of life including holistic healthcare services, comprehensive childcare, quality education, endless outdoor recreation options, a booming local food economy, and a thriving arts and music scene. The list goes on and on.

Athens County is a patchwork of close-knit communities, each with its own flavor. The City of Athens and City of Nelsonville both offer rich downtown scenes with a variety of shops and restaurants, many of which started from “home-grown” talent like Jackie O’s in Athens and Fullbrooks Café in Nelsonville. Talk to any Athenian and they will tell you we have some of the best local food cantinas around. But if you prefer a quieter place to relax, it’s just a short drive to the beautiful countryside. Situated perfectly in the rolling foothills of Appalachia, Athens County has some of the most bucolic views and scenery. Athens is also home to Ohio University, which brings with it many cultural opportunities not only for students, but for Athens residents and businesses as well. We have big city perks with a small town sense of community – a win-win situation!


In 2014, O’Bleness Hospital, which has served the region for nearly a century, became a full member hospital of OhioHealth. With more than $50M of capital investment, membership has allowed O’Bleness to expand both services and facilities throughout the region, including a new OhioHealth Nelsonville Heath Center, a new intensive care unit, and an MD Anderson accredited Cancer Care center, as well as expansive renovations in the emergency department. A strong network of providers at the OhioHealth Physician Group Heritage College offers a wide range of services from primary care, women’s health, and general surgery to pulmonology, orthopedics, and heart and vascular, among other specialties. OhioHealth at Home provides world class home health services and hospice care. O’Bleness Medical Park is also home to Athens Surgery Center, Health Recovery Services, Appalachian Behavioral Health, and Hopewell Health Center.

The privately-owned Holzer Clinic also offers specialized care in over 40 areas of expertise including gastroenterology, orthopedics, cardiology, endocrinology, rehabilitation, and more. At Holzer, caring for the health needs of the community goes beyond providing exceptional care to in-patients and out-patients.

Athens provides a well-rounded approach to healthcare and prides itself as a leader in the holistic health movement. It is home to the only osteopathic medicine program in Ohio. Ohio University’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine is dedicated to research and services that improve healthcare in rural Appalachia. There are other holistic and alternative healthcare provider options in the area as well.



Comprehensive Childcare

One of the most common phrases you’ll hear about Athens is that it is, “a great place to raise a family!” We agree. Every family is different, and every child is unique. Even from the youngest age, Athens County places a high value on education and offers a range of childcare options from home-based, to center-based, to faith-based programs. Resources that publish childcare information include the Ohio Dept. of Education, Athens County JFS, and CareLulu. Here you will find a comprehensive list of childcare programs and services including the Ohio University Child Development Center and Blooming View Montessori Academy.


Athens Public Schools

Beyond the pre-school stage? Your child will be well equipped to continue their learning at one of Athens’ five K-12 public school districts. Did you know Athens High School students consistently score higher on ACTs and SATs than the state’s national average? This is in part due to the individual attention teachers give each student. In Athens County, there are only about 16 students per class. Our teachers are dedicated to providing students with the best education possible, and these efforts are enhanced through partnerships with Ohio University’s Patton College of Education. Our very own Mayor is particularly supportive of STEAM education in Athens City Schools (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics). Tri-County Career Center also offers students the opportunity to get a quality education while pursuing a career, preparing them for both college and the real world.

Athens County K-12 Public Schools


Home Schooling

Prefer home-school for your child? Join the community’s robust network of families who opted in for home-schooling. Stay connected and engage in peer interaction by joining The Athens Homeschool Community Group.


Higher Education

Athens is no stranger to higher education. It is home to Ohio University, which offers a number of prestigious undergraduate, graduate, doctorate, and medical degree programs, while providing students with a transformative learning experience. There are also twelve two-year and four-year higher education institutions within a 45-minute drive time (shown below).


Commitment to Sustainability

Athens is a unique gem in the region and one that deviates from typical perceptions of Southeast Ohio. The community is very much committed to sustainability, prioritizing programs like the Athens 30-Mile Meal Project (30MM), which challenges the community to purchase and eat foods grown or raised within a 30-mile radius of Athens. Many of our area restaurants enact this approach to sourcing ingredients, including local favorites Jackie O’s or Casa Nueva! This not only encourages us to support our local farmers in an area with deep agricultural roots, but is a way to strengthen our community culture and reduce our carbon footprint.

Our devotion to sustainability runs deeper than just the local food movement. Athens is home to Rural Action, a nonprofit focused on developing the region’s assets in an economically sustainable way. The Sustainable Ohio Public Energy Council (SOPEC), a local electricity aggregator working to shift our community’s energy economy, is another great example of our commitment to sustainability. The Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACENet) provides a variety of services to area entrepreneurs that support our local economy.

It’s no surprise the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce’s motto is, “Love Athens, Shop Local.” Our commitment to all things local shows pride in our community and our desire to see it thrive.


Parks & Recreation

Athens is a community where you can easily get from one side of town to the other all by way of bike trails and bike paths. Extensions to the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway take you all the way from Athens to Nelsonville, with several bike spurs in between that connect to local breweries and restaurants such as Little Fish Brewing Company and Eclipse Company Store (the latter being the former center of the century-old coal mining town of Hocking, now beautifully renovated with historic integrity).

Athens is also extremely close to a number of beautiful state parks and national forests, each with its own personality. Strouds Run State Park offers numerous outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming, paddle boarding, or fishing. The newly formed Outdoor Recreation Council of Appalachia (ORCA) is also leading efforts around the Baileys Trail System. Once complete, it will be the largest bike trail system east of the Mississippi River with over 88 miles of trail to explore.

Not a huge fan of the outdoors? That’s alright. Athens has several community facilities offering indoor activities including the Athens Community Center and the Ohio University Aquatic Center. An avid golfer? Look no further than the Athens Country Club or the Ohio University Golf Course!


Athens’ Arts & Music Scenes


Ohio University brings with it many opportunities for shows and concerts for students and community members alike. The Ohio University School of Music hosts a variety of concerts each year, many of them free.

For a quintessential Athens experience, visit Stuart’s Opera House in Nelsonville. In the late 1800s, Stuart’s Opera House was a hot spot on the Vaudeville circuit. Today it attracts musicians who thrive on playing live, from Richie Havens to Arcade Fire, and there’s not a bad seat in the house. Stuart’s also hosts the annual Nelsonville Music Festival, a three-day festival celebrating the region and the best up and coming artists. To hear weekly live entertainment that embodies these performances, look no further than a show at The Union in uptown Athens.

And where do rock legends settle down to build a home and a legacy? Jorma Kaukonen, lead guitarist for Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna, chose Southeast Ohio for his Fur Peace Ranch. FPR raises world-class guitarists right down the road in Pomeroy, Ohio.


Performing Arts

The Ohio University Performing Arts Series brings artists from around the world to Athens’ 2,000-seat Memorial Auditorium. Each season is an eclectic mix: Broadway plays, ballets, musical revues, comedians, and international children’s choirs. Arts West: Athens Community Gateway to the Arts is an arts center that provides the community with a variety of classes from yoga to square dancing. Last but not least is the Ohio University School of Theater, which offers a variety of performance options in multiple theatrical disciplines, including the Tantrum Theater, a resident professional theater company founded by Oho University. Athens County has no fewer than 5 theater groups active throughout the community. In the summer months, students and faculty team up with community members for Ohio Valley Summer Theater, a regional entertainment gem since 1951.


Visual Art

The Dairy Barn Arts Center and Kennedy Museum are two museums with revolving exhibits. The Dairy Barn is a historic landmark and art gallery in one. The building itself dates back to 1914, with its slate roof and three cupolas that recall the days when it was a working dairy barn. The Dairy Barn’s two staple exhibits are the Quilt National and Bead International shows. The Kennedy Museum, on the other hand, is tucked inside the former Athens Psychiatric Facility, a gothic edifice overlooking the Hocking River. It features exhibits that bring the world to Southeast Ohio.

If one image captures the spirit of Athens County, it is the Passion Flower, produced only by the Passion Works Studio. Inspiring and liberating the human spirit through the arts, Passion Works is a studio for artists with and without developmental disabilities, and aims to strengthen community through expressions of art.

For more information on events and activities, see the Athens County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau