Are you wondering why it took me so long to discover the awe-inspiring North Georgia mountain towns? Me, too. Take a break from the sweltering heat and humidity of the south and indulge yourself in this picturesque region, filled with charming small towns that each have their own unique flavor. Brace yourself for an enchanting adventure amidst the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains. Let me unveil a few enticing activities for your unforgettable journey.
Did You Know? I’ve now visited the North Georgia mountain towns, including Young Harris, Hiawassee, Blue Ridge, Ellijay, Blairsville, Dawsonville, and Helen a few times and found so much fun and beauty that I couldn’t wait to share it with you.
Where are the North Georgia Mountains? They start in the northeast corner of the state and spread westerly, about an hour thirty minutes from Atlanta. This is Blue Ridge Mountain territory. Scenic State 515 connects most of the towns, and is perfect for a southern road trip.
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Young Harris was the starting point for two of my North Georgia mountain trips. I’ve found that the Brasstown Valley Resort and Spa is the ultimate lodging choice, with luxury rooms, an 18-hole championship golf course, tennis, spa, hiking trails, and a plethora of amenities.
Lodging choices run the gamut from the main lodge to cottages and a unique spa suite.
Experience the joy of horseback riding in a charming country setting at Brasstown Stables. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned rider, they offer the perfect horse and guide for your adventure. Choose from one- or two-hour rides, or opt for a hand-led ride, specially designed for children under seven.
Immerse yourself in the lovely facility where you are free to interact with and capture beautiful moments with the horses. Although I couldn’t ride due to a back issue, I delighted in witnessing my daughter’s first horse ride and basking in the exquisite surroundings.
Don’t miss out on the amusement provided by Sassy Susan and Rockin’ Ronnie, two rocking barrel (wooden) horses, offering a delightful experience for those seeking a gentler ride.
For a delicious Italian food dining experience, visit Enrico’s Italian Restaurant where the pasta dishes are luscious and filled with ooey-gooey cheeses and a bold, flavorful red sauce. It would be a crime to not start with the warm garlic knots, and end with a tasty slice of pie or cheesecake.
Indulge in the exquisite wines of Crane Creek Vineyards, home to award-winning varietals such as Hellbender Red, Seyval Blanc, and Villard Noir Rosé. Discover the art of wine tasting as my husband and I savored a flight of these exceptional wines, accompanied by a leisurely moment on the gorgeous outdoor patio.
Enhancing our experience, we paired the flight with award-winning cheeses and crackers sourced from the well-stocked tasting room store.
Brasstown Valley Resort
Hello, Brasstown Valley Resort, where an incredible lobby awaits you with a sky-high stone fireplace and abundant seating arrangements, allowing you to indulge in breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The rustic lodge offers cozy nooks perfect for snuggling up with a good book, solving puzzles, and playing games with loved ones, as I did for countless hours. It’s a haven for catching up on social media and people-watching. Rooms are somewhat typical, but comfortable and clean.
Step outside and discover equally inviting outdoor seating areas, some adorned with rocking chairs and a mesmerizing fire pit.
I absolutely loved my stay at Brasstown Valley Resort, partially because of the captivating art gallery and small museum on the lower level, conveniently adjacent to the first-class sundries and golf shop. The wide array of options available for shopping was simply superb.
From must-have golf items to a delightful variety of kid’s clothing, toys, elegant home decor, trendy accessories, and stylish apparel, there was something for everyone.
And there is no denying the indoor and outdoor pools at Brasstown Valley Resort are fantastic.
Brasstown Valley Resort Dining Options
Brasstown Valley has two nice onsite restaurants: The Dining Room and Brassies Grill. The food is tasty and reasonably priced, and the waitstaff is attentive and good at their jobs.
I’ve enjoyed breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the Dining Room at Brasstown Valley Resort and never had less than a 10/10 meal. For breakfast, indulge in the southern breakfast buffet, which will most likely have everything you could want to start your day, or the Chef’s Skillet is darned tasty.
For lunch, we kept it light with a Brasstown Club one day and heavy with a Chicken Broccoli Alfredo another. Dinner called for juicy Steak Frittes and a chef specialty, Brasstown Meatloaf. The dish is bursting with flavors from a three-meat combination (bison, ground veal, and Wagyu beef) and is covered with luscious mushroom gravy.
For dessert, the bread pudding is a winner!
Pro Tip: Enjoy the outdoor scenery up close and personal with the Dining Room’s outdoor porch seating.
Brassies is a sports bar-style eatery, featuring a wide array of games and TVs for your entertainment. Indulge in our onion rings and a delectable spinach & artichoke dip, guaranteed to tantalize your taste buds. The pretzels with beer cheese are an irresistible choice, too.
The enticing selection of main entrees, include Fish & Chips (the most popular dish on the menu), Fish Tacos, flavorful Chicken Quesadillas, and juicy burgers, just to name a few.
Experience the allure of Hiawassee, a haven for hiking enthusiasts, offering breathtaking scenic overlooks and thrilling outdoor lake activities. And what better way to immerse yourself in the wonders of the North Georgia mountains than by chasing waterfalls?
Discover hidden treasures as you embark on picturesque hikes, winding through awe-inspiring landscapes, where you’ll even have the opportunity to climb over tree trunks and duck under branches for primo photo opportunities. Hope you are more prepared than we were on our hike, meaning bring lots of water and wear appropriate hiking shoes.
Don’t miss the majestic Blue Hole Falls, tucked away along a one-mile trail, beckoning you with its beauty.
A swimming hole at the bottom of the falls provides a refreshing drink and cool-down spot at the bottom. On the same trail, you’ll find a second waterfall, High Shoals.
Do some shopping in Hiawassee, North Georgia at roadside antique shops (each loaded with treasures and trinkets), C&J Mountain Outfitters, TATA on Main, and Hometown Quilt Studio. One of the best Christmas stores you could imagine is Always Christmas, connected with other nice clothing, home decor, collectibles, and souvenir shops.
Hiawassee Dining and Adventures
Enjoy a delightful dining experience at Sundance Grill, offering a bounty of breakfast options to start your day right. Indulge in the Gyro Omelet, savor the flavorful breakfast sandwiches (with double sausage and cheese), or treat yourself to the irresistible Stuffed French Toast. Not only that, but Sundance Grill also serves lunch and dinner options.
Sand Bar is a sandy beach eatery with lake views, a food truck, live music, corn hole, and kid’s activities. It has a relaxing atmosphere and everyone appears to be having fun there. Try the Pimento Cheese Dip with tortilla chips or Boneless Wings, both tasty choices.
Get ready for an exciting adventure at Splash Island, located at Ridges Resort! This on-water obstacle course boasts inflatables, slides, swings, and bouncing platforms that will delight. Also consider exploring the nearby river tubing and zip line spots, especially in the direction of Helen, known as “Georgia’s Little Bavaria.”
Drop by Hiawassee Brew for a funky Cherry Cordial Stout or Hop Dang Diggity IPA. They have an inviting outdoor patio and serve food, as well.
My favorite attraction, maybe in the whole North Georgia mountains, is a trip to Bell Mountain. You will experience an exciting drive and amazing 360-degree panoramic views as you wind up to the rugged park and historic site in Hiawassee.
Once you park your car at the top, you can walk up the steep hill to the plateau for epic views of Lake Chatuge.
The landscape is surrounded by enormous rock formations that have been spray painted with graffiti over the years. While I read many complaints about “vandalism” online, I thought it looked pretty and interesting.
Blue Ridge is the jewel of the North Georgia mountain towns and the most visited of the cities. As bad as I want to cheer for the underdogs and lesser-known destinations, Blue Ridge is truly all that and a bag of chips.
Experience the elevated shopping scene in Blue Ridge, surpassing other mountain towns in sophistication and variety. Immerse yourself in the walkable downtown, where finding a convenient parking spot is a breeze. Discover endless delights as you leisurely explore the charming streets for hours on end.
Though I haven’t been to Toccoa River Swinging Bridge yet, it is on my list and a highly popular outdoor activity.
Indulge in a sensory journey with wine tastings, beer flights, and delectable gourmet fruit pies. Embark on a thrilling treetop canopy adventure or embark on a scenic ride aboard the renowned Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. The city of Blue Ridge is chock full of amazing things to see and do.
A Taste of Blue Ridge
If I had to mention the one place that all my readers and friends told me not to miss, it would be Mercier Orchards, where savoring mouthwatering fruit pies will leave you speechless. From cherries to peaches, the flavors will transport you to a world of bliss. And let’s not forget, Blue Ridge proudly holds the title of the Trout Fishing Capital of Georgia.
Harvest on Main and Chester Brunnenmeyer’s Bar & Grill are two restaurants you should not miss. I recommend lunch at Harvest on Main for the Blue Ridge Hot Brown (the cheesy mornay sauce is fabulous!) and Chester B’s for dinner.
Chester Brunnenmeyer’s is a rustic American establishment with a lively atmosphere, professional waitstaff, and hard-hitting hand-crafted cocktails. Reservations are recommended, especially on weekends.
I had the pleasure of meeting up with a dear friend, Karon, who resides in the charming town of Ellijay, just an hour north of Atlanta. Karon is the author of 100 Things to Do in the North Georgia Mountains Before You Die, part of a national book series by Reedy Press.
She graciously gave me a delightful tour of her beloved hometown, where I discovered a vibrant downtown area brimming with quaint shops and a handful of exceptional restaurants. Let me entice you with a preview of my two personal faves: Country Corner Kitchen, where you can savor delectable Cuban breakfast dishes alongside a comforting cup of Cuban coffee, and Ellijay Wood-Fired Pizza, renowned for mouthwatering pies and a daily fondue special that is simply irresistible.
Learn more about these culinary gems in this captivating post.
Ellijay has a darling coffee shop and a popular biking scene. The bike shop has top-notch bicycles and accessories, so if you are in the market for an upgrade, look no further.
Ellijay also has primo wineries, with Engelheim, Cartecay, and Ott Farms Vineyards, to mention a few. My husband and I had wine tastings at a couple, and the setting and interior decor made you want to be there and feel like family. While I’m not typically a sweet wine fan, I really loved Sweet Molly at Engelheim, made from Traminette grapes.
The Fried Pies of the North Georgia Mountains
You absolutely can’t miss out on the hand-held fried pies in Ellijay. This charming town takes pride in being a leader of apple houses in the country, with many of them open all year round. Trust me, they are all worth a visit, but if I had to choose, R & A Orchards would be my top pick.
It’s no wonder that Ellijay holds the prestigious title of “Apple Capital of Georgia”.
While fried apple pies are the ultimate crowd-pleaser, keep an eye out for the delightful flavors of pumpkin, peach, and pecan during the fall season. And if deep-fried pastries aren’t your thing, don’t worry! There are plenty of other mouthwatering treats to choose from, like homemade fudge, mini pies, and the ever-popular cider donuts. I may or may not have sampled all of the above.
Check out the Airbnb offerings for mountain house rustic retreats like the one we stayed at shown below. I will warn you that they are sometimes 20 minutes or so out of town, so know before you go.
I had the pleasure of meeting up with my friend Howard, who has owned a charming cabin nestled in the peaceful woods of Blairsville for the past two decades. Blairsville, an authentic pre-Civil War mountain community, is nestled deep in the breathtaking Chattahoochee National Forest. Let me tell you, it’s as adorable as can be!
Howard and I chased waterfalls, some easily viewed from the backroads, shopped, and had lunch in another adorable downtown square. The Sawmill Place, serving breakfast and lunch, was excellent for juicy burgers with comfort food sides. Blairsville has some awesome murals you will want to check out.
If you enjoy shopping, Alexander’s, in Blairsville, is an absolute must. The journey to this hidden gem may be winding and picturesque, but the real excitement begins once you step inside their expansive 50,000 square feet retail space.
Prepare to be amazed by the wide range of goods available, from stylish home decor to exquisite furniture, fashionable Vera Bradley products to top-notch sporting goods and hunting supplies. The surprises never end!
Since its establishment in 1953, this small yet mighty general store has become a true force in the retail world. Missing out on this shopping haven would simply be a shame. After all, they didn’t earn the tagline “everything under the sun” for nothing.
If you want to get outdoors and enjoy some hiking, fishing, or leaf-peeing in the fall, Vogel State Park at the base of Blood Mountain is where to go. You can also camp and park your RV here, something I filed away for my next trip through the North Georgia mountains.
Pro Tip: Just two miles away is Sunrise Grocery, a roadside attraction and market with fresh boiled peanuts, locally made jam, jellies, candies, and soaps, plus the freshest vegetables and fruit around. Sunrise Grocery first opened in 1920 and has been featured in Southern Living Magazine.
Discover the ultimate allure of Blairsville – Brasstown Bald Mountain. As the highest peak in Georgia, it offers breathtaking overlooks and panoramic 360-degree views.
From the observation deck, you’ll be treated to captivating sights of four states: Georgia (sometimes even catching a glimpse of Atlanta’s skyline), Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Let the onsite markers guide you on this remarkable journey. Prepare to be enraptured by the enchanting beauty that awaits you.
Pro Tip: You can bring your dog, but they must be leashed at all times.
Discover the enchanting Amicalola Falls State Park, where you can embark on a breathtaking journey down the awe-inspiring 600+ step walk, surrounded by the magnificent waterfall. My legs were sore for days, but it was a challenge I graciously accepted.
Nestled in Dawsonville, known as the “Moonshine Capital of the World,” this park offers an array of thrilling hiking trails that will captivate your senses.
Amicalola stands as one of Georgia’s premier state park resorts, boasting stylish rooms that provide sweeping views of the majestic mountains. Unwind and soak up the mesmerizing sunset on the expansive deck, or find comfort in the beautiful lobby with its warm ambiance, complete with a cozy stone fireplace and an onsite restaurant serving delectable cuisine.
For an extraordinary experience, indulge in the glamping options available at the state park. With a plethora of amenities and activities to keep you enthralled for days on end, you’ll be transported to a world of relaxation and adventure.
Pro Tip: Always be alert for bears in this state park.
Back at the adventure lodge, enjoy 3-D archery, hatchet-throwing, and zip lining options if you need add-on activities. However, Amicalola Falls is by far the main draw. This magnificent 729-foot cascading waterfall is one of the highest east of the Mississippi and one you’ll want to take hundreds of photos at.
There are hiking options for different views of the falls. Those who are physically challenged or unable to hike can take advantage of the strategically placed accessible platforms offering stellar postcard-worthy views and even a mist from the proximity of the mighty falls.
Grab tasty bbq from Big D’s BBQ, with multiple locations. I loved their Southern-style smoked barbecue pork and chicken, while the side dishes of green beans and mac & cheese were great accompaniments.
Then, have a free moonshine tasting at Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery, creating small-batch, hand-crafted spirits from 150-year-old recipes.
A super fun fall activity in Dawsonville is to stop by Uncle Shucks Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch, where you can pick your own pumpkins and enjoy the jumping pillow, tire mountain, and kids maze. Concessions run Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, featuring turkey legs, hotdogs and corndogs, roasted corn, fried Oreos, and funnel cakes.
Helen is the mountain town with an identity problem—it looks like and feels like Bavaria. Step across the continent and experience German culture, food, and fun in Helen’s quaint and charming town, lined with cobblestone streets.
I like to think of this town as a mini-Gatlinburg, without as many cheesy family-friendly attractions. You’ll still find a plethora of things to do, but the wine tasting and river tubing the Chattahoochee seemed to be the most popular to me.
If you’re looking to experience the off-the-hook food scene in Helen, you’re in for a treat! Indulge in the delectable delights at the charming German specialty restaurants scattered throughout town. Among them, The Heidelberg beckons with its stunning three-story building, while Muller’s Famous Fried Cheese Cafe entices you with mouthwatering Czech bread dumplings and classic Hungarian cuisine.
Prepare to be won over by the irresistible flavors that await you in Helen’s culinary paradise!
Experience the charm of Helen, Georgia, with two cool and thriving attractions. Ride on the mountain roller coaster, a thrilling adventure unique to the area. And don’t miss the opportunity to discover precious gemstones while panning at Dukes Creek Mines. Uncover rubies, sapphires, and more as you delve into this gem-filled treasure trove.
But that’s not all! If you’re still craving adventure, make your way to Anna Ruby Falls. For just a $5 admission fee (16 years old and older), embark on a half-mile journey along a paved trail to witness the breathtaking 150-ft tall cascading twin falls in all their splendor.
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