In 1828, the town of Dahlonega, Georgia took center stage as more than just a dot on the map, thanks to the discovery of gold. While the Gold Rush may have been short-lived and the closure of the US Mint, Dahlonega’s treasures remain abundant. Prepare yourself for an enchanting journey as you explore the wonders of this charming town during a road trip or day excursion. Discover the myriad of delightful attractions that Downtown Dahlonega has to offer.
Dahlonega, a name that translates to “Yellow or Gold” in the Cherokee language, has been a hub of prosperity, bringing wealth to many and even necessitating the establishment of a US Mint. The town was officially renamed Dahlonega in 1837, and just a few years later, in 1861, the esteemed US Mint began its operations.
In the span of its existence, this mint generated an impressive sum of over six million dollars through the production of coins.
Dahlonega’s Tasty Restaurants
Dahlonega is slightly limited in restaurants that can hold the crowds for a bustling and thriving town. A restauranteur echoed this, but rest assured that what they have is pretty sensational.
If you’re craving Italian and pizza, Gustavo’s is the place to be. You can’t miss their garlic rolls! And for a taste of German cuisine, look no further than Reens’ Bratzeit & Biergarten. They’re famous for their Jaegerschnitzel and surprisingly, their cheesecake.
Try Shenanigan’s Restaurant and Irish Pub, a locals’ favorite for elevated bar classics.
Indulge in delightful desserts at Connie’s Ice Cream Parlor, where you can savor a slice of homemade fudge from the Fudge Factory (don’t miss the pralines and divinity!) or treat yourself to some decadent cookies from Picnic Cafe & Dessertery.
During our visit, my husband Eddie and I went to Spirits Tavern for a gourmet lunch, and boy, were we fully satisfied. The ambiance is delightfully kitschy, with eye-catching decor that adds to the overall experience. The service was attentive and friendly, and the appetizer menu was truly unique.
I indulged in the Augusta burger, with a dollop of white cheddar pimento cheese and tangy green tomato chow-chow. The flavors were a match made in heaven. Meanwhile, Eddie opted for a healthier option—a grilled chicken sandwich with cucumbers, tzatziki, and feta cheese. Divine!
One of the highlights of Spirits Tavern is the live music and trivia nights they host on certain weekdays. It adds an extra layer of enjoyment to an already fantastic dining experience.
For more on where to eat in North Georgia, this post should be helpful.
Dahlonega’s Local Boutiques
Downtown Dahlonega boasts a charming ambiance that invites leisurely strolls, enticing visitors with its captivating architecture, street musicians, decorative flags, and eye-catching flowers. Abundant benches offer perfect spots to unwind while indulging in the art of people-watching.
Shopping plays a pivotal role in the downtown Dahlonega culture. My time was well spent exploring the locally-owned shops, each loaded with fun treasures.
Here are some of my favorites for home decor, seasonal goods, clothing, and accessories: Giggle Monkey Toys, Branding Iron, J.R. Crider’s, and the Dahlonega General Store. Alpine Olive Tree is excellent if you’re looking for flavored oils and vinegar or want to sample them.
And remember to visit the Spice & Tea Exchange for a nice selection of loose and packaged teas.
The mother of all shops in downtown Dahlonega is easily Cranberry Corners, a mercantile of sorts that will keep your interest up. Take your time with this one; it is all too interesting.
Paul Thomas Chocolates
One cannot miss the opportunity to indulge in the delectable offerings of Paul Thomas Chocolates in Dahlonega. The sinfully good chocolate-dipped apples, Dahlonega gold bars, turtles, and chocolate barks are absolute must-tries.
North Georgia Spirits and Wine Sampling
During the 1990s, vineyards were established in Dahlonega, giving rise to the emergence of the North Georgia Mountains wine scene. Presently, visitors have the opportunity to indulge in the exquisite taste of award-winning wines across various small towns, including Dahlonega.
You can explore a delightful wine flight featuring five samples for $12 at the Dahlonega Tasting Room. Moreover, this establishment offers an exceptional selection of Habersham wines.
You can also enjoy a gorgeous 1880s grand setting with the new satellite tasting room for Kaya Estate Wines inside the Dahlonega Square Hotel and McGuire House hotel lobby.
Gold City Growlers is the place for fine wine and craft beer, plus a record and gift shop. The taps feature 20 rotating beers from around the country, plus regional choices.
For more about what to do in this region, check out my Travel Awaits article about Dawsonville and the surrounding area.
Dahlonega Gold Rush Museum
The Dahlonega’s Gold Rush Museum is an absolute must-visit. This captivating museum takes you on a fascinating journey back to the gold rush era in the North Georgia Mountains that drew ambitious individuals from all corners of the country in search of fortune.
Step inside the remarkable two-story Lumpkin County Courthouse, built in 1836, where you’ll begin your educational experience with an enlightening film that immerses you in the gold rush narrative. Following that, you can embark on a self-guided tour of the exhibits, with the tools and the progression of the gold rush being particularly intriguing.
Make sure not to overlook the remarkable collection of artifacts from Dahlonega’s U.S. Branch Mint, indeed a sight to behold.
And if you’re eager to witness pure beauty, don’t miss the incredible five-plus ounce gold nugget displayed for all to marvel at. Experience the wonders of the Gold Rush Museum for a nominal admission fee of $8.50 for adults and $6 for children 7 to 17.
Crisson Gold Mine
My husband and I tried something new in Dahlonega, Georgia, which was like love at first sight. Gold panning and gemstone mining at the Crisson Gold Mine were a blast! Here, you sift through packed dirt and rock sediments for treasures like emeralds, rubies, sapphires, garnets, blue topaz, jasper, fluorite, apatite, tigers eye, and sodalite.
You can buy different quantities of ore ranging from a bucket to a tractor scoop.
I was a skeptic before doing it, but this is the real deal. Our buckets contained two baggies full of treasures, though the rocks must be polished and cut to get the full benefit. Luckily, Crisson Gold Mine has an on-site lapidary to do that and turn the pieces into jewelry. We had a ruby necklace made for our daughters, and I got a garnet slide for my chain.
Gold panning is fun but less fun. It is very tedious, and I didn’t have the patience for it, but the staff gave us great direction and tools to use. By the way, this is one of the original Dahlonega gold mines. The mining is done by hand and hydraulics, and now open-pit mining. You can see the process and artifacts at an onsite museum.
Dahlonega is a place to fall in love with the Georgia mountains and unique offerings in the region. We had no problem falling completely head over heels for it.