From choo-choo to woo-hoo (as you zip along in-air obstacles), this North Georgia destination promises a family vacation to remember
About 90 minutes north of Atlanta via Interstate 575, Blue Ridge, Georgia, is destination: family. Read on to find the best way to spend five days in this cool North Georgia mountain town.
Start your trip with a visit to Mercier Orchards (8660 Blue Ridge Drive). No North Georgia mountain escape is complete without affordable fresh farm produce. U-pick begins in May, followed by apple picking in August. Stay for lunch or come early for a breakfast fit for a king, complete with local sausage, grits, apple fritters and more. The 21-and-over set will love the fact that this orchard is the only apple orchard in Georgia that grows and makes their own hard apple cider and farm wines, including Fall Harvest Apple, Blackberry Winter and Summer Sweet Peach. Mercier also has tastings of some of the best North Georgia regional wines. New to downtown Blue Ridge, the orchard added a location where visitors can savor breakfast and lunch (BR2-168).
Later in the day, rent a pontoon, stand-up paddleboard, kayak or canoe at Lake Blue Ridge Marina or charter a boat through Capt’n Joe’s Lake Adventures on Lake Blue Ridge and explore or fish Lake Blue Ridge.
For dinner, try Blue Jeans Blue Ridge where you’ll find everything you need for a family-pleasing feast, including hand-tossed pizzas, fresh, daily-made pastas, salads and more.
Rest easy. Try rustic tent camping at Toccoa River Sandy Bottoms Recreation Area, offering a beautiful spot on the river that is ideal for fishing and wading. Toccoa Valley Campground, also on the Toccoa River, offers RV and tent camping. Bonus: Expand the experience here and spend the next day on the river by taking advantage of onsite rental options for tubes, rafts and kayaks. For accommodations complete with kitchens, choices include lodges with stunning mountain views, creek-side hideaways, riverfront fishing lodges, cabins on the lake, cozy cabins, hotels and resorts–which range in price from $100 to $1,000 per night. Visit www.BlueRidgeMountains.com/where-to-stay for a complete listing.
Pack a picnic and try tubing, kayaking the Toccoa or an Ocoee River whitewater rafting adventure. Plenty of outfitters can provide everything you need, including transportation.
If you prefer dry land adventures, peruse the shops of downtown Blue Ridge before savoring Southern cooking served family-style at Southern Charm Restaurant (224 W Main Street). Afterwards, take a scenic drive on Aska Road for beautiful views of the Toccoa River Rapids. Check out this link to driving tours. Cross the historic Shallowford Bridge over the Toccoa to Sandy Bottoms Canoe Launch, for an up close view of the river. It’s the perfect place for a family selfie.
In the evening, talk about the day’s adventure over mouth-watering bites at Masseria Kitchen and Bar (67 Roberts Way), featuring Mediterranean fare, with a nod toward Southern Appalachian ingredients, including fresh vegetables, roasted chicken and seafood, handmade pastas and pizza, along with cocktails featuring crafted syrups.
Spend a refreshing day hiking or biking to local waterfalls on forested trails in the Chattahoochee National Forest–without making a dent in the budget. Find a hiking map here. Restock hunger-quelling supplies at Chester’s Provisions (733 East Main Street), which features unique food and beverages, including craft beers and wine, as well as an assortment of entertainment accessories. Hike to Fall Branch Falls, where the upper portion is a series of cascades that lead to a single major drop of some 30 feet, with the water plunging into a deep pool at the base of the falls. Mine for gems, go fishing, take a hike or play a round of mini-golf, all at Blue Ridge’s destination for family fun–The Lilly Pad Village (24 Adelaide Drive). Pets are welcome, too. Don’t let Mother Nature rain out your adventure. Check out Blue Ridge’s new indoor putt putt course at Second Story Entertainment (733 East Main Street), which features a variety of themes throughout nine rooms in addition to games like giant tic-tac-toe, darts and checkers that guests can play as they move throughout the course. End the night with a sweet treat from the famed Sweet Shoppe of the South (576 East Main Street). There you will find owners Nikki and Susan, who appeared on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. Ditch the diet and indulge on gourmet cupcakes, cheesecakes and Double Doozie cookies.
Go horseback riding at Blue Ridge Mountain Trail Rides (319 Hell’s Hollow Road). Also onsite, kids will love fishing in the pond, gem mining and wandering the nature trail. Or, get hearts pounding with two feet off the ground at Blue Ridge Adventure Park (2087 East First Street), featuring an in-air obstacle challenge course with suspended bridges, tight ropes, climbing walls and other fun obstacles for every age and ability. Make memories at Expedition Bigfoot (1934 GA-515, Cherry Log), a 4,000-square-foot family attraction featuring the country’s largest permanent display of genuine Bigfoot artifacts, life-sized exhibits, photos, sketches, large up-to-date sighting maps and the World’s only Bigfoot Research and Tech Vehicle on display. Discuss possible Bigfoot sitings over pizza at La Pizzaria at Cucina Rustica (76 Forge Mill Road), an extension of the popular Cucina Rustica, featuring New York-style pizza, calzones, wings, subs, draft beer, wine and more.
End the trip with a highlight! Take a train ride and chugga-chug down the 13-miles of rails comprising the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway (241 Depot Street). The 45-minute (each way) excursion is a generation-bonding adventure that starts at the historic 1905 depot in Downtown. Vintage climate-controlled rail cars or open air rail cars host more than 70,000 passengers each year for a ride that winds alongside the Toccoa River, with a stop in the twin border towns of McCaysville, Georgia, and Copperhill, Tennessee. Copperhill/McCaysville is one town with two names because it is split by the GA/TN state line. Here, visitors have a two hour layover (Note: layover is 1.5 hours on Sunday) with plenty of time to eat lunch, shop for unique crafts and antiques, snack on ice cream or walk around.
After returning to downtown Blue Ridge, take the kids to Huck’s General Store (500 E Main Street) to pick out a souvenir. Step back in time with an authentic general store experience in downtown Blue Ridge, complete with barrels of candy from yesteryear.
In the evening, catch a movie the old-fashioned way at the Swan Drive-In (651 Summit Street), one of Georgia’s four remaining drive-ins. Established in 1955, the Swan Drive-in features a full concession stand, including funnel cakes and fried Oreos.