Northern Georgia is likely one of the most beautiful, relaxing regions in the state. The wine scene is growing, lodging ranges from quaint inns, hotels, cabins to resorts and outdoor recreation possibilities are endless. All of this makes finding a vacation destination in the mountains pretty easy, but if you need help, these are some of the best towns to choose for your getaway needs.
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Housing three national parks, Dillard is a natural escape under 100 miles away from Atlanta. Historic cabins and simplistic places to bunk up fill the area, but the Dillard House is a favorite. Traditional country digs pair with an onsite restaurant cooking up true southern food.
This is probably the first town that comes to mind if you know anything about North Georgia. Sure, it’s touristy, but in a good way, because there are a lot of things tourists would want to see. The gold mining history is certainly intriguing, and remnants of the bustling time, such as old shafts, artifacts and buildings enrich the city.
At the very tip-top of the state you’ll find Blairsville, which also houses the highest point in Georgia, Brasstown Bald. From here you can even see into other states, and it’s an ideal place to drink in the specific foliage and landscape of the area. Vogel State Park’s unbeatable natural wonders such as mirroring lakes and cascading waterfalls draw loads of campers and hikers every year—don’t worry, there’s enough room to spread out to experience much-needed seclusion. Stop by the Union County Farmer’s Market for in season produce and fresh made mountain goodies, or pop into one of the farms to see fluffy alpacas.
From here the most gorgeous train ride in Georgia departs, the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, taking passengers on an in-depth tour of the mountains. You’ll traverse over rivers and through other cute towns while riding in open air carts. Downtown is lovely with restaurants and little shops, while the views of the bluish tinged range—hence the name—are breathtaking. Luxury cabins are dotted through the woodlands and surpass any hotel when it comes to privacy and serenity. Imagine, sitting in your own cozy cabin by the roaring fire, and soaking in the hot tub while breathing the fresh air.
Ellijay is highly popular for the annual apple festival that rolls around every fall—you’ll taste a range of mouthwatering concoctions derived from mountain grown apples, while the apples by themselves are just as much a treat. Be sure to stop by The Red Apple Barn for a crispy hand pie filled with a gooey, spiced warm center. In April, you can further the apple experience by coming to town for the blossom tour. While here, hit the rustic antique shops, dine on southern cuisine and taste wine at the vineyards.
Front and center is the gorge, which the park takes its name from as well—Tallulah Gorge State Park. There’s much hiking to be done, and you can even work your way to the floor of the gorge for up-close views of the devastatingly gorgeous river and falls. However, the best way to take it all in is from Tallulah Point Overlook, a quaint country store with loads of authentic old-school treats, and a massive covered porch that extends into the open space over the crevice. While the minusculely equipped area doesn’t provide much in lodging, nearby Clayton has several options in addition to shopping and dining.
Hiawassee is a simple place, well known for its cozy fair in the fall. But waterfalls, hiking trails, and views from the top of Bell Mountain will give the family plenty to do. Snuggle up at the Lake Chatuge Lodge with stunning water views and proximity to all the fun things to do. An adequate food scene with variety is in town, and the lodge serves up a good, complimentary breakfast.
Largely known for the quirky attraction Goats on the Roof, Tiger is a beautiful area that’s also part of the Georgia wine scene. The rolling hills are ideal for growing certain types of grapes, and Tiger Mountain Vineyards has a wonderful ambiance and a great selection of reds and whites. Stonewall Creek Vineyards also cultivates well-balanced wines and offers diverse tastings. So basically, you can visit roof trotting goats while indulging in onsite crafted wine while in Tiger—sounds like a darn good vacation.
Aside from the fact that this precious little town is one of the fun shopping stops along the Blue Ridge Railway train ride, it’s a quiet place to retreat to the outdoors. Rolling Thunder River Company allows you to hit the river via kayak, rafts or tubes. You’ll be embarking on the voyage down the Ocoee River, where there’s abundant foliage and some wildlife here and there. Surprisingly you will find a lot of great food packed into this small place—the Cider House Cafe is a great place to excite those taste buds.
It’s not a North Georgia roundup without mentioning Helen. The town has an adorable gimmick as a precious Bavarian alpine village. Horse-drawn carriages click down the pathways, authentic German food is served at many of the restaurants, there’s the best candy shop with the best fudge and a beautiful river wraps around it all. Side note—you can tube the river during the warmer months, while a waterpark offers slides and pools. Helen is close to neutral hiking trails easy enough to take the family along on, and there are other things to do like mini golf.