This week we face an opponent only a few minutes up the interstate. Instead of going straight back to Atlanta I’d like to look at our frenemies in Kennesaw and what the college campus for the Owls is like.
Travel How To: Getting from Atlanta to Kennesaw or Vice Versa
Kennesaw State has come a long way from its humble origins as a junior college established in 1963. Kennesaw State is now recognized as a public research university with 2 major campuses. The original campus is located near Kennesaw, Georgia (hence the name) and only a few miles (if that) from Town Center Mall. The second campus is comprised of what used to be the Southern Polytechnic Institute, located near the Marietta perimeter.
Both of these campuses are pretty easy to get to, you just drive up I-75 North and follow the signs. I could go into more detail, but if you’re reading this you probably know how to work Google Maps. Marta doesn’t run that far up I-75 North, and I wouldn’t recommend spending the money to rent a helicopter unless you really hate traffic, so driving or Uber is your best option. Parking is not nearly as bad in Marietta or Kennesaw as it is in Atlanta, so if you have a car I suggest driving. There is an airport near the original Kennesaw campus, so I guess that’s an option if you live outside of Atlanta.
Google Maps says that the drive from Kennesaw State’s original campus to Georgia Tech is about 30 minutes. If you live in Atlanta, you know this is a lie and traffic will almost certainly double the drive time, but that should give you a rough estimate of the travel time to Kennesaw State.
Places to Stay
If you live in the Atlanta area, this shouldn’t be an issue. Just drive from home.
If you don’t, there are a few hotels, but I would actually recommend Airbnb in this case. Unlike Midtown Atlanta, both Kennesaw State campuses are within a short drive of large suburban areas. This means there are many cheap options for houses to stay at short term.
If you absolutely have to have a hotel, I’ll just tell you that you probably won’t find anything that fancy. With that in mind, just try to find a 3 star or better hotel for the cheapest deal. The closest hotel to the original campus is the SpringHill Suites across the street from campus, although there are other cheaper hotels slightly farther down the road or across the interstate.
The Marietta Campus has slightly less options. There are some low rate motels near campus, but the closest hotel is the “Metro Extended Stay Hotel” which does not have great reviews. There is Days Inn by Wyndham up the road on Cobb Parkway with better ratings. Just be sure to read reviews on the hotels/motels. Unlike the main campus, the Marietta Campus is not in the nicest part of town. Things have come a long way, but its best to be aware of your surroundings in the area before booking your Hotel
Things to See near Kennesaw State Campus(es)
Come on Kennesaw, you gonna make me talk about things at both campuses? Ugh, why can’t things be simple? Well let’s get to it. I’ll start with the main campus.
The main Kennesaw campus has grown significantly over the past few years. It has more green space (although they need to replant the grass in the parking lot across from the baseball field), plenty of the newer dorms and is generally a fun place to be for a student, but there isn’t much to see for guests.
The Marietta campus, at least the last time I went, is more comprised of unique buildings with plenty of parking and concrete sidewalks. It has its own charm, and the more technical classes and equipment can generally be found here, but as far as visiting goes, the main campus is more appealing.
I’m gonna ignore the Town Center Mall area near the Main Campus for the most part, even though it is technically the closest thing to the Main Campus. Town Center is a nice area with multiple movie theaters and plenty of shopping, but at the end of the day it’s a mall. If you’ve been to any other mall area, you’re not going to see much different at Town Center.
The city of Kennesaw itself is a short drive away from campus. Despite spending most of my life living in Marietta, I’ve only been to the city of Kennesaw twice. It’s a nice small town area. It has many parks and nature trails including the one for Kennesaw Mountain and the Battlefield on the Mountain. There are breweries and a local creamery to experience and plenty of individual shopping centers, but since I have not been to these spots I cannot give specifics. Be sure to check them out and make your own determinations on their quality.
The Southern Museum of Civil War/Locomotive History (which I remember as being in Marietta, but Google Maps says it is in Kennesaw, so I put it here) is a must see. If you haven’t heard the story of the great Chattanooga Locomotive Chase, this museum is a fun place to learn about some of the more fun Civil War history.
Kennesaw Mountain is a beautiful nature trail with many monuments to Civil War history. From the top of the mountain you can see one of the best views of the Atlanta skyline that you can find in Georgia. Overall this is a great area to plan a picnic and spend a nice fall weekend relaxing.
For the Marietta campus, you get closer to downtown Marietta which is a old school southern town square. The Marietta square has not changed much with time so you should be able to get a good feel for southern architecture. The businesses in the area often rotate, but there are many restaurants and antique shops.
Also there is the Big Chicken, a KFC with a giant wooden chicken built on top… Honestly I don’t have much to say about that, it is a famous landmark but it is just a KFC. Don’t be surprised when you show up and all there is for you to enjoy is the KFC at the base. Your kids will enjoy it though.
Food in the Area
Town Center mostly has chain restaurants, but there are a few unique spots in the area. There is another Varsity if you want something familiar from GT. My family has always been a fan of Provino’s Italian Restaurant for big events, but that place is always super crowded. There are a ton of sushi places in the area, for some reason, so if you enjoy that type of food you will have plenty of choices. My personal favorite is Sushi Yu, but I think most people will have their own favorite. There is also an Iron Age Korean BBQ, which if you have a large group, you have to experience once. To simplify it, essentially you get all the meat you want and cook it on a grill built into the table, it’s a fun experience with friends.
Kennesaw and Marietta square have more generic foods. Kennesaw has the Honeysuckle Biscuits and Bakery, Gus’s World Famous Chicken (although I cannot verify how world famous they are since I had never heard of them), and Bernie’s. I cannot vouch for these places specifically since I have not been there but they have great reviews and more traditional southern food on the menus. Horned Owl Brewing and Frozen Cow Creamery are the places I mentioned earlier, again haven’t been to those places but they have great reviews.
Marietta is hard to review because their small shops on the square tend to rotate so often that places you might have enjoyed a year ago will no longer exist when you try to come back. 2 consistent places over the year have been Marietta Pizza and the Australian Bakery. Both places are charming small restaurants with good food. Red Hare Brewing and the Tiny Bubbles Tea Bar are fun places and offer you venues for both alcoholic and non-alcoholic bar experiences. There are also many BBQ places in the area, but I’m not touching that. People get really sensitive about which BBQ joint is best so I’m just staying out of that, y’all try them out and fight over it.
I’ve never been to an actual gameday experience at Kennesaw State, so instead I’m going to talk about the fan base for Kennesaw State.
Kennesaw State is in a unique position for their football program. The Program got started in 2015, and has seen much early success winning the Big South Conference in 2017 and 2018. For such a young program though this means that there aren’t a ton of Owl alumni who were on campus for the founding of the program.
Even prior to the success, fans began flocking to the program. I can recall when the program first started, many fans of other football teams which were difficult to travel for became fans of KSU as a “secondary” team. In particular, I know many Alabama, LSU, and dwag fans who jumped on the bandwagon for the Owls early. Once it became clear that KSU was going to be a successful program many of these bandwagon fans quickly made the Owls their primary program to cheer for.
Even though the Owls have only had football for 6 years they have already developed many unique traditions such as the turnover plank (Plank from Ed, Edd, and Eddy). The students love the atmosphere, and the alumni are drawn to how fun and unique the on field performances can be. They’re a fun loving group which have slowly been developing a more hardcore following. This has led to the university investing more in the program, so expect the Owls to keep getting better in the future.
The Owls fans, from my experience, are all about having a good time. They don’t look down on others and are willing to treat people like neighbors… at least until the game gets started. They are also very optimistic since the program has not yet seen any real struggles, which is unique for a fanbase from Georgia. I think this is one of the better fanbases in college football right now, and if the last performance on the field by GT has you torn up inside you could find worse backup teams to follow than the Owls.
Overall, despite Georgia Tech’s troubles from last week, I’m looking forward to this game and spending time the KSU fanbase. If you feel like you can’t be present on GT campus because of what happened with NIU, feel free to go north and check out the things near Kennesaw State. Whatever you end up doing on Saturday, just make sure you can find something to enjoy.