Athens is the #6 Best Place to Live in America because of the Certified Blue Program

This week’s blog is written is written by Marilyn Hall, Water Conservation Coordinator for Athens-Clarke County, Georgia

Athens was just ranked #6 on Outside Magazine’s Best Places to Live list.  I am not surprised by this.  After all, we have great mountain biking, kayaking, and hiking, plus a community ethos of outdoor stewardship.  Yet, except for a nod to our road biking scene, Outside’s ranking didn’t say anything about these things.  Athens was chosen because of fluffy biscuits, vegan salchipapas, and Bourbon.

the National

Staff at the National proudly wear “Conserve: WATER u waiting 4” shirts during a busy lunch hour to promote conservation.

Two of the six spots that Outside uses for our #6 ranking are Certified Blue:  The National and Hi-Lo Lounge.  These places were chosen because of their great food, drinks, and unique Athens vibe.*   Outside didn’t mention vibe, but if you visit the National and Hi-Lo you know exactly what I am talking about.  They are locally owned and uniquely Athenian and go out of their way to support the efforts of local organizations, including the Water Conservation Office.  They use water efficiently and educate their staff and customers about water conservation.  All of our Certified Blue Restaurants and Bars do this, even the big chains.  For example, Outback Steakhouse uses our educational materials and Papa Johns lets us attach conservation messages to their delivery boxes.  All Blue restaurants and bars have gone through a Water Use Assessment, repaired leaks, and have retrofitted inefficient fixtures.


Jon, co-owner of the Hi-Lo Lounge accepts the Certified Blue certificate during an event. The Hi-Lo was one of the first Certified Blue restaurants.

Outside didn’t just choose these places because of their great food. They chose them because of a unique Athens vibe that includes conservation and community involvement.  Congratulations Athens, the National, Hi-Lo Lounge, and Certified Blue for getting our town recognized.  Athens deserves it!

Visit any of the Certified Blue Restaurants listed here for a meal or drink prepared by a great conservation partner.

*BTW, the other 4 places mentioned by Outside Magazine serve good food, are locally owned, and have a nice Athens vibe too.  They are great candidates for the Certified Blue Program.  They should sign up!


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