The Drive: Athens, Ohio Miles: 215 See Something: Through November, the Dairy Barn is hosting “The Lyrical Landscape,” featuring various photography techniques and artists’ interpretations of “landscape.” www.dairybarn.org
In the fall, thousands of returning Ohio University students fill Athens’ brick streets with an energy as invigorating as the crisp air and crunching leaves. Just across the Hocking River, one of those brick streets will skirt you past the sprawling campus of the former Athens Lunatic Asylum. The Dairy Barn, where the hospital used to house its cows, is now a spacious art gallery renowned for its avant-garde take on art.
Equally unusual, and quintessentially Athens, is the 60-seat Casa Nueva and Cantina, near the end of Athens’ main drag, Court Street. While the restaurant-slash-bar is often full of college students, you won’t find anyone doing rounds of shots or staggering through a pub crawl. Casa, owned jointly by 15 people who trace their roots back to the original eight worker-founders who opened it in 1985, is a haven for artists, musicians and foodies in the know.
The co-op relies on producers from the adjacent counties and, on the first day of each season, changes its menu to reflect a seasonal trinity — three ingredients that will feature prominently across the entire menu.
The best place to sample the season’s trio is the salsa menu — six year-round choices are supplemented by two that change seasonally. Until Sept. 23, get the pico de gallo, and in the fall, hope for the butternut squash. Wash them down with an organic Sun Village Wheat beer brewed just two blocks away, at Jackie O’s Pub and Brewery on West Union Street. www.dairybarn.org, www.casanueva.com