When you head out on vacation for a stay in the North Georgia Mountains, you’re often leaving behind family, friends, and the community you’re comfortable in. But when you get away to Blue Ridge, you’ll have the chance to take a road trip to some charming North Georgia mountain communities, just a few hours away from Atlanta, that will make you feel a little like home!
Whether you’re traveling as a couple, with family, with a team, or with friends, you’ll find plenty to do in these wonderful mountain towns. Plug into these local communities with annual events, charming local shops, great farm-to-table restaurants, and welcoming people. Add a stay in a cozy North Georgia cabin, and you’ll feel right at home!
First on the list is Ellijay. Located at the center of Gilmer County, the town provides amazing access to scenic routes through the North Georgia Mountains. One of the most unique things is its combination of a small-town feeling and its abundance of things to do. Some of the more popular places to visit are R&A Orchards, Mountain Valley Farm, Engelheim Vineyard, Hillcrest Orchards, and Reece Apple House. The common theme there is the ability to get in touch with nature. The name, Ellijay, is derived from the Cherokee work Elatseyi. It means green place or new ground.
R&A Orchards has approximately 60 acres of apple trees and approximately 10 acres of peaches and nectarines. You can pick peaches there around June 1 and apples beginning August 1st, usually running through December 1. The vegetables there can be picked through frost. Even if you cannot make it in person while you are in North Georgia, they even have an online store, so you can purchase their products and keep up with events.
For the adults, Engelheim Vineyards, Georgia’s 2018 Winery of the Year, is a great place to buy wine and go on a wine tour. The Engel family planted their first vines in 2009 and harvested their first vintage in 2011. They are home to over 20+ awards for their outstanding lineup of wines, including many double gold and silver medals from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine. Some of the wines you can find there are 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2017 Trillium, 2020 Petit Manseng, Franconia Dessert Wine, and Coco Wein. This place is a must for wine lovers!
One of the better times of the year to visit is in October when they hold the world-famous Georgia Apple Festival. It offers an abundance of activities that are perfect for couples and families alike, from handcrafted items and on-site craft demonstrations to parades and antique car shows. Just like there is truly something for everyone at Ellijay’s annual festival, there’s something for everyone in Ellijay year-round.
The next mountain community is Blue Ridge. It is known for its picturesque Main Street and its train ride along the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. Many consider Blue Ridge to be their favorite mountain town in Georgia for a getaway. It is located in the heart of Chattahoochee National Forest, so it’s easy for visitors to hike to local waterfalls, go horseback riding, and even kayak along the beautiful Lake Blue Ridge.
Blue Ridge also has a rich history. It is rooted in pure mineral waters and its railroad. Back in the day, many believed that it was an elite health resort due to the mineral springs. The county even benefited from the opportunity to sell and trade their agricultural products when Blue Ridge was established as a railroad town. This was due to its proximity to the flat Toccoa River Valley.
Blue Ridge doesn’t just boast a rich history, though. Today it offers tons for families, couples, groups, and more to do. Walk along the Toccoa River Swinging Bridge, hike to Long Creek Falls, go ziplining, sip at Fannin Brewing Company and area breweries, enjoy fried pies at Mercier Orchards, check out historic sites, spend the day on the Chattahoochee River, and check out all the outdoor activities.
Mercier Orchards is a family & veteran-owned and operated apple orchard, which is now in its 4th generation. They are celebrating over 75 years of fruitful harvest! It’s a great day trip choice from the combination of their U-PICK events, Bakery & Market Cafe, Market Store, and Farm Winery. They grow various things but specifically strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, and apples. They are one of the top tourist attractions in the state of Georgia, so it is definitely on the top of a lot of tourists’ lists.
Toccoa River Swinging Bridge
If you find yourself an avid hiker, you should check out the swinging bridge on the Toccoa. The 270-foot -long bridge is the longest swinging bridge east of the Mississippi River. It’s located on the Benton MacKaye Trail and the Duncan Ridge National Recreation Trail in Fannin County. It was built by the USDA Forest Service in 1977.
Long Creek Falls
Long Creek Falls is another amazing spot if you love nature and hiking. It is a waterfall located in Fannin County as well as in Chattahoochee National Forest near Three Forks. The falls are accessible from the Appalachian Trail, the Benton MacKaye Trail (near the swinging bridge), and the Duncan Ridge Trail.
Hiking Tips for YOU
Here are some quick useful tips for hikers in the Blue Ridge Mountains:
- You’re in the wilderness, so be prepared to come across bugs, wildlife, and changing weather.
- “Leave no trace.” Let’s keep our environment clean like the way we found it.
- Never leave a fire unattended.
- Use good judgment – follow all hiking trail signs and safety rules.
- Prevent mishaps by preparing for your trip.
If those activities are not for you, you can never go wrong spending the day downtown. There is an abundance of Southern food restaurants, quaint coffee shops, antique stores, and vintage markets in this beloved North Georgia town. The area provides the perfect place for visitors to relax after a long day full of excitement.
The last community on our list is Blairsville. It is known as the City of Mountains and is named after James Blair. Blair was a Revolutionary War veteran. The start of the community originated from its stash of gold, which was considered to be the purest in the North Georgia Mountains. One of the best things about Blairsville is the closeness to tons of top-rated destinations and activities. The area holds their original courthouse, Hole in the Wall Diner, Lake Nottely, Vogel State Park, Brasstown Bald, and Butternut Creek Golf Course.
Hole in the Wall
Sometimes, you have the urge to have breakfast for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. If that’s the case, you need to go to Hole in the Wall. It is a local staple serving breakfast all day, every day. It’s Union County’s oldest diner located in the heart of beautiful downtown Blairsville. They hold themselves highly to the quote, “The food is so good, you’ll swear your grandma made it.” Their menu consists of eggs, bacon, sausage, grits, french toast, biscuits, ham, cake, pancakes, and so much more.
Butternut Creek Golf Course
What’s better than a day at the golf course? Well, not much. Butternut Creek Golf Course is rated 4.5 stars, and it plays through rolling valleys and up challenging slopes with mountain views from all 18 holes. Not a single hole is similar! The course plays to a modest 6,500+ yards. The best part is they are equipped for all types of golfers. They have 4 to 6 tee boxes making it challenging or easy for every player. Water comes into play on 13 holes and mounds. Undulating greens and elevation changes are also found throughout the game. They boast Penncross Bent Grass greens and Tifton 419 Bermuda fairways and tees.
The kids, or you, might be itching to go swim and have fun somewhere. Lake Nottely is perfect for that. It is a 4,180 acre TVA lake with 106 miles of shoreline. It’s great for those who love boating, fishing, and jet skiing. There are 2 marinas and several public boat ramps that offer access at different points. Make sure to soak up the sun and enjoy a day out on the water!
Sometimes you just need to get out and exercise. Luckily, Blairsville has plenty of options. Visitors can check out Helton Creek Falls, go on a local horseback riding tour, walk through Odom Springs Vineyards, paddleboard on multiple lakes, or even shop at the Union County Farmers Market.
More North Georgia Mountain Communities
Want more of North Georgia? Head over to Dahlonega to visit the Dahlonega Gold Museum, the Dahlonega Butterfly Farm, Frogtown Cellars, B.J. Reece Orchards, and many great outdoor attractions, wineries, and distilleries. In Hiawassee, go rafting, tubing, and kayaking. Take a drive to Tallulah Falls in the Tallulah Gorge State Park for a walk along the suspension bridge, or spend a day in Helen, an Alpine-style Bavarian town that hosts Oktoberfest each year.
Now you are well equipped with vast knowledge of the 3 of the best mountain communities in North Georgia. Whether you go up there to visit the communities only or stay in a cabin nearby, we hope that you have the best possible experience and come back to stay with us at Georgia Cabins for YOU. We work hard so you can do what you came to do – make lasting memories!