An Afternoon in Athens

We explore a charming street in this shopping-friendly Georgia town.
Alice Welsh Doyle

Visiting South Lumpkin Street is like dropping by the homes of friends with a penchant for collecting. Former residences from the 1920s to the 1940s now make for an appealing and intimate shopping experience. South Lumpkin is located a couple of miles from The University of Georgia's campus in Five Points, one of Athens' first suburbs.

We started our stroll at Appointments at Five, a 15-year-old antiques and gift shop owned by friends Kitty Culpepper and Jenny Sligh. Their shop carries a mix of old and new, ranging from linen cocktail napkins for $12 to an 1830s sideboard for $3,200. The furniture includes a collection of bamboo pieces, French oak buffets, and mahogany bowfront chests.

Styled accents adorn the furniture. "Each chest is like a vignette," explains Kitty, "so you can visualize what works with the piece." Handwritten cards attached to the antiques describe their origin and features.

Each room in the two-story house focuses on a theme. There's a baby room, kitchen room, bed-and-bath room, and bridal registry area, making targeted gift buying easy. We liked the distinctive china patterns from Lynn Chase and Herend.

More adventures await at The Garden Gate, a home and garden accessories shop full of outdoor lanterns, woven vine baskets, plant stands, iron sconces, and birdcages. Mother and daughter-in-law owners Jennifer and Mary Wimberly creatively display merchandise on an iron tree inside. The pair even creates custom-designed plant containers. "The kitchen is used as a potting shed, and the bathroom as a conservatory," explains Jennifer.

If you're ready for a respite, just step into the adjoining Lumpkin Café for a welcoming light lunch in a cozy room where you can still admire The Garden Gate's goods.

We pressed ahead to Slippers, a women's shoes and accessories store featuring shoes from Donald Pliner, Anne Klein, and Via Spiga, along with jewelry from Crisly and local designer Sue Shefts. Owner Amy Bray stays up on the latest trends and gives honest fashion advice.

Finally, we break for afternoon tea at Five & Ten, an airy room serving nouvelle Southern cuisine. We enjoyed cucumber-and-cream cheese sandwiches on French bread, scones, and fresh fruit. Tea is served only from 2:30 to 4:30 on Saturday, but the restaurant serves dinner seven nights a week and brunch on Sunday.

If you're in search of Georgia crafts, amble into Homeplace. With glazed pottery from Wade Franklin, stained-glass boxes by Susan Staley, and enamel jewelry by owner Jim Norton, the store also sells children's toys and books to delight any little one.

Our last stop was Bravada Interiors, a lovely house where you can visit with interior designer Lynne Dougherty. Lynne has furnished the rooms with the type of elegant decor she offers her clients. Everything is for sale, and Bravada also stocks shelves of wallpaper books and furniture catalogs. If you like what you see, you can purchase a little of Lynne's South Lumpkin style to enhance your own home.

For more information: Athens Welcome Center, 280 East Dougherty (entrance on Thomas Street), Athens, GA 30601; (706) 353-1820.

Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.