Best of Athens Logo 2018

Best Small Town in Athens County


Would it be churlish of us to point out that Nelsonville is technically a “city” rather than a “town?’ Yes?

OK, then, we won’t say anything.

Whatever the case, Nelsonville, town or city, is getting better all the time. It has a thriving art district, a community college that’s the talk of the county, and one of the coolest performing arts venues in Ohio, Stuart’s Opera House. Plus, it has a highway bypass with really cool snake fences along the right-of-way.

Second, third, fourth and fifth place go to Albany, Amesville, The Plains and Coolville, respectively.

Other than being depressed that the bustling community of Dog Holler didn’t win placement this year, we heartily endorse those selections.

Best OU Campus Site

The Ridges

Like last year, The Ridges wins top spot for Best Campus Site. And we’re talking about the proper name The Ridges, as opposed to the generic word for the higher parts of geographic folds in the land.

But it is gratifying to see The Ridges win first prize in this category, since the old Athens Asylum/Mental Health Center and grounds are about the most fascinating place in Athens, just oozing history. Plus it’s a great place to walk your dog. Well, not so much your dog, but my dog.

Second-place winner is the College Green, which this time of year is closer to being brown or yellow.

Third, fourth and fifth place go, respectively, to Emeriti Park, Baker University Center and the Schoonover Center.

(While we like the new Schoonover Center, it’s not nearly as cool as the old student union, the original Baker Center, which once occupied that spot. Can anybody say “enjoying 50-cent Rolling Rocks on the Frontier Room patio”?)

Worst Local Eyesore

All the Potholes

We’re down with this selection 100 percent – minus about 10 percent. You see, when it comes to sensory perception, “all the potholes,” winner of the Worst Local Eyesore category, hurts not just visually but also tactilely and auditorily. So we need to stress that “all the potholes” are multi-sores rather than just eyesores.

Second places goes to “East State Street,” which as it happens is where the worst potholes in the city of Athens are found. We’re not sure if voters picked East State based on potholes or based on its being Athens main commercial strip.

Walmart always does “well” in this category, and this year picks up third place.

Fourth and fifth place go to Bromley Hall and the city Engineering/Public Works Building, respectively.

Best Medical Facility/Clinic

OhioHealth Physician Group Heritage College Obstetrics and Gynecology (formerly River Rose)

Good health is not too hard to come by when there are so many quality health facilities in Athens to choose from. It seems like the heavyweight champion of this category has yet to be established.

Rising from its fourth-place spot in last year’s vote, this year’s winner for Best Medical Facility is OhioHealth Physician Group Heritage College Obstetrics and Gynecology (formerly River Rose). This is the clinic’s first first-place win in a Best of Athens election. 

The specialty clinic put an end to last year’s champion Holzer Clinic Athens’ two-year winning streak, leaving the East State clinic in second place this time around. Must be the year of the underdog.

Not far behind, in third place is OhioHealth O’Bleness Memorial Hospital, a cousin of River Rose in a sense. Special mentions go to Hopewell Health Centers in fourth and Muntean Health Care in fifth place.

Best Local Building

Lin Hall, The Ridges


This is a new category this year, though we have used it in past years, just not the past few. Lin Hall, formerly the Main Administration Building for the old Athens Asylum (aka Mental Health Center), got the most votes this year. Lin Hall, which among other things houses the Kennedy Museum of Art, is the most distinctive of the old, historic buildings on The Ridges, and truth be told, can be a little scary on a dark night. Second place goes to Ohio University’s Baker Center (or the redundant “Baker University Center,” if you prefer). This is a fine building with two “ground” floors, one at the top of the hill and the other at the bottom. We like the escalators because they remind us of the airport, and we love to travel on the big flying machines. Winning third place is the Southeast Ohio History Center located in the former First Christian Church of Athens. Fourth and Fifth place go to the Athens County Courthouse and Athens Armory, respectively. It seems odd that all of the truly historic buildings on the OU campus – various dorms and classroom buildings – didn’t place in this category. Perhaps they canceled each other out?

Best Local Place for a Fancy Date

Zoe Fine Dining

For the second year running (and cantering, galloping and walking), Zoe Fine Dining is our readers’ top choice as a fancy place to take a date.

We were a little worried that some of our more esoteric readers would think we were asking about where to take the fruit that’s called a “date” but then realized that Zoe would be a great place to take a date, a fig, a strawberry or any sort of fruit. But seriously, you can’t go wrong taking any definition of date to Zoe Fine Dining.

Second place is probably a more appropriate ethnic spot to take a date or a dig, the Middle-Eastern/Mediterranean-specializing Restaurant Salaam, though it’s also a great place to take a human date. We like the Salaam’s gyros and salads but there’s plenty of other sensational options.

Lui Lui, in the Station Plaza, wins third place, with fourth place a tie between Tavolino and Cutler’s (Ohio University Inn).

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