So the #1 Question asked by travelers in all of the Blue Ridge Facebook groups and forums I frequent is, What is there to do in Blue Ridge?
So that is going to be a big focus of this blog, so hopefully I can help out not only my guests but be a source of information for other guests. I will start by saying, I am not a Blue Ridge resident by any means. However, we do travel there at least once a quarter to perform maintenance on our property. And while visiting we always try to take in at least one new site, or eat at one new restaurant. So eventually I will be posting my own reviews to individual locations based on our personal experiences. However, this post will just be kind of a high level overview of things to do, and places where you can potentially research things further for yourself.
Hiking / Waterfalls
Most people choose a vacation in the North Ga mountains as a chance to escape from the hustle and bustle of their busy lifestyles back in the city. I feel there is no better way to relax then getting out and taking a walk and viewing the beautiful scenery that the Ga mountains has to offer.
Blue Ridge, Ga is located in Fannin Co. Which is located right in the middle of the Chattahoochee National Forest. According to the USDA Forest Service webpage,
One of the favorites, for my family at least, about hiking in the area is the various locations with Waterfalls. It is awesome to take a 30min to an hour walk and be rewarded at the end of the trail with a view of such majestic power and beauty.
Here is a list our favorite nearby waterfalls so far:
Falls Branch Falls – Near Cherry Log (.25hr drive from Blue Ridge area). Less than a 1 mile Short 30min hike, but access to much longer trails available for those who wish to adventure further
DeSoto Falls – On the way to Dahlonga, Ga (1hr Drive) – Overall we love that this recreation area is well maintained and doesn’t seem as busy most days as some of the other ones we have been to. And the waterfalls are just wonderful.
Anna Ruby Falls – Near Helen, Ga (1.25 Hr Drive from Blue Ridge area) This park is the most “commercial” of the three. The trail to the falls is actually paved. But for beginners it does have handrails and lots of signage to explain the local flora and fauna. So still recommended if you are taking a day trip to Helen, but definitely a little more crowded than other falls.
Small Town Shopping / Site-seeing
When you are done communing with nature you may find it time to head back to civilization to get something to eat. The wonderful thing about this area is most of the towns are not yet riddled with Big Box stores (although Blue Ridge has a WalMart and Home Depot if needed) and Chain restaurants. So head to some of our favorite towns to grab a bit to eat and search for treasures in one of the many Mom and Pop local stores.
Here are some of our Favorite towns we have visited so far:
This is probably the most touristy of the towns in the area. However the downtown area is still quite nice, and while it can get busy in peak seasons, there is a little bit of everything for everyone. As you can see in the picture one of the big attractions is the Blue Ridge Scenic Train.
Some notable locations downtown that my family has enjoyed:
- Hucks General Store – What kid doesn’t like picking out their own candy. Lots of other souvenirs and treats
- 2nd Story Entertainment – A truly unique indoor mini-golf experience. Used to be an old hotel. Must see and a lot of fun!
- Chester’s – Just downstairs from the minigolf. Described as a Rustic American Bar & grill. Nice Restaurant with good selection of cocktails.
- Much much more…. I could go on and on but will save that for a Blue Ridge specific post
McCaysville is a small old town America with most everything on just one street. This town is the other stop on the Blue Ridge train ride. We generally plan on heading here for a lunch and spend 3 hours or so just perusing various shops. Just recently they have built the Riverwalk shops which is kind of like an indoor mall, with both shopping and restaurants right on the Toccoa River. Speaking of the Toccoa River, you can feed ducks here, or just down the road is 2 or 3 different companies that provide River Tubing. Also a great place to hire a fishing guide.
Here are some of our favorite places in town:
- Pic ‘N’ Vine – As the name suggests, in this little shop you can take a Pic in old time clothing, or just snap a picture of yourself standing on the GA/TN state line which runs right through the store! And the Vine alludes to Kudzu Vine, a plant of chinese origin that has taken over the local countryside. This shop owner harvests that vine to make wonderful wreaths, teas, jellies all sorts of things. The owner of the store loves to talk about Kudzu and the local history. For $5 kids can make their own basket out of Kudzu. My daughter begs to come back to this store everytime we are in town.
- Twisted Tomato – Great little pizza place in the Riverwalk shops with Riverfront dining available.
- Happy Bear Ice Cream and Cafe – Right next to Twisted Tomato, get dessert at Happy Bear. Serves Hersheys Ice Cream by the scoop. Perfect way to cool off before heading back on your adventures
Helen, is little over an hour drive from the Blue Ridge area, but it is the perfect destination for a day trip. The town is very unique with all the architecture making it look like it is a Bavarian town not in the middle of Georgia. Lots of wonderful food choices and shops. Also has a river that flows through town if you want to rent a tube and go on a lazy float. Can get busy at times, a definite tourist destination.
Here are some of our favorites in town:
The Heidelberg German Restaurant – Authentic German food and beer with it own Beer Hall. Not much more needs to be said. If you want the full experience you need to stop here.
Georgia Mountain Coaster – After a short ride up the hillside, gravity takes over as you whoosh down the mountain. Lots of thrills for adults and children alike!
Once again I could go on and on with all the cool towns to check out. Place like Dahlonega, Ellijay, Cherry Log, Hiawassee, Stone Mountain, Murphy SC, Chattanooga, TN. There are just so many cool destinations within a two hour drive from our cabin in Mineral Bluff, Ga. I will leave those for future posts.
In the meantime if you want to research yourself, here are some good websites with much more information!
Blue Ridge Highlander
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What are your favorite North Georgia destinations? Leave a comment below and maybe I will write an article on your destination in the future!!