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Watkinsville, the county seat of Oconee County, is a pretty, pastoral suburb approximately 15 miles south of Athens and a popular choice for commuters. Watkinsville started as a stagecoach stop in the 1800s, mainly known for the Eagle Tavern, which provided drink and lodging to weary and rowdy travelers. Today, Watkinsville is known as the “Artland of Georgia,” as it has more artists per capita than any other city in Georgia. The Oconee Cultural Art Foundation (OCAF) arranges a variety of art exhibits throughout the city, including a well-attended pottery show every fall. You’ll find quite a few galleries in Watkinsville, including the Farmington Depot Gallery, a cooperative art gallery of local artists in a former rail depot. The success of the OCAF led to a revitalization of Watkinsville’s downtown, attracting critically acclaimed restaurants and transforming the area into a true dining and shopping destination.

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Living in Oconee County

Oconee County is right next to Athens and consists of bucolic small towns that feel like they’re out in the country but have the convenience of being just a quick drive into the city. If you want to travel to Atlanta, it’s about a 60-to-90-minute drive, making Oconee County a plausible commuter community, especially for those with hybrid schedules. Oconee has a long agricultural history, and rural farmland continues to make up a substantial part of the region. Several farms are open for pick-your-own berry season in the spring and corn mazes and pumpkin patches in the fall. Of course, with such abundant local produce, Oconee has great farmers markets—one in Watkinsville and one in Bishop—with an ever-changing selection of seasonal fruits and vegetables. There’s also an extensive art scene in Watkinsville, an excellent library system, plenty of antique shopping, and a variety of sophisticated restaurants.