Posted on 3/31/2024

9 FUN DAY TRIPS FROM BLUE RIDGE

There’s so much to experience in Blue Ridge; but if you’re up for a bit of driving these North Georgia towns have even more to offer you! We’ve put together a list of 9 of our favorite day trips, within an hour or less, outside of Blue Ridge:

*Cover Photo Courtesy of helenga.org

ELLIJAY,GA

20+ Minutes Outside of Blue Ridge

Photo Courtesy of Pick Ellijay

Not far from Blue Ridge, sits the lovely town of Ellijay, known for its wonderful apple orchards, fantastic mountain biking trails, inviting wineries, and vibrant downtown area. Since Ellijay is known as the Apple Capital of Georgia we recommend checking out their local orchards in the fall; some of our favorites include Hillcrest OrchardsB.J. Reece Orchards, and R & A Orchards. And in October you can celebrate Ellijay’s famous apples at their annual Georgia Apple Festival.

On top of apples Ellijay is known for its wonderful mountain biking trails and a plethora of outdoor activities! Ride your bike through hundreds of miles of diverse biking trails from beginner to expert on Ellijay’s winding mountain trails or hike through Fort Mountain State Park where you can take in the sunset from the old fire tower or from the mountain peak. Along with hiking, Fort Mountain Park includes other outdoor activities like horseback riding, kayaking, and of course mountain biking. And when you’re done with your exciting outdoor adventures head to one of Ellijay’s famous wineries for a refreshing glass of wine after your busy day. For more things to do in Ellijay check out our Ellijay blog: https://www.escapetoblueridge.com/blog/top-things-to-do-in-ellijay/

bLAIRSVILLE,GA

30+ Minutes Outside of Blue Ridge

Photo Courtesy of Visit Blairsville GA

Blairsville is all about the great outdoors with its great hiking trails, state parks, and mountain peaks to explore. Some of our favorite Blairsville hikes include Vogel State ParkHelton Creek FallsBlood Mountain, and of course Brasstown Bald, the tallest mountain peak in the state of Georgia. Brasstown Bald sits 4,784 feet above sea level and offers exceptional views of the surrounding mountains. You can even see four different states from the observation deck.

And don’t forget the moonshine! Blairsville is also home to Grandaddy Mimm’s Distilling Co. a local favorite in the area. Stop by for a sampling of their best moonshine or take a tour of the distillery itself! Inside you’ll find many eclectic relics, as well as a wide array of music memorabilia and instruments collected by owner Tommy Townsend over the years.

MURPHY,NC

30+ Minutes Outside of Blue Ridge

Photo Courtesy of Fields of the Wood

Not too far from Blue Ridge in Murphy, NC is a one-of-a-kind hidden bible theme park that will take your breath away! Fields of the Wood covers a total area of 220 beautiful acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains. From Prayer Mountain to the gigantic Ten Commandments, there’s so much to experience here. After taking in the beauty of Fields of the Wood, pay a visit to the Charter of Freedom Monument which pays homage to our American ideals & democracy. Keep the American spirit going with a trip to the Cherokee County Historical Museum, which dives into the rich history of the Cherokee Indians who called Murphy home. And if you’re looking for a little late night entertainment Murphy, NC is even home to Harrah’s Cherokee River Valley Casino where you can try your luck at the craps table or at the slots machine. Learn a little and have some fun in the beautiful town of Murphy!

jASPER,GA

40+ Minutes Outside of Blue Ridge

Photo Courtesy of Gibbs Gardens

Known as “The First Mountain City” and the Marble Capital of Georgia, Jasper is home to incredible long range mountain views, charming wineries, beautiful gardens, and a fascinating Cherokee history. We love grabbing a glass of wine from local wineries, Fainting Goat Vineyards and Sharp Mountain Vineyards. And the Old Pickens County Jail, with it’s marble jail front, is a unique and fascinating tour through the past, that history lovers should be sure to add to their list. But one of Jasper’s most popular spots is the beautiful Gibbs Gardens! Spanning over 220 acres, Gibbs Gardens is comprised of more than 16 distinct gardens, each with its own unique style like the Japanese gardens and the Manor House gardens. Some of it’s most remarkable features are it’s breathtaking display of over 20 million daffodils, it’s splendid array of over 40,000 tulips, numerous cherry blossoms, and hundreds of vibrant forsythias. Additionally, local Georgia flowers such as rhododendrons, dogwoods, azaleas, and other wildflowers grace these picturesque gardens.

HIAWASSEE, GA

45+ Minutes Outside of Blue Ridge

Photo Courtesy of Visit Lake Chatuge

Hiawassee, Georgia: A town where you can find stunning mountain peaks, recreational fun on Lake Chatuge, and great live music & events all within a few minutes from each other! For both lake & mountain views, head to the top of Bell Mountain’s observation deck where you’ll be treated to stunning 360-degree panoramas of Lake Chatuge, the surrounding mountains, and the quaint little town of Hiawassee below. Standing at over 3,400 feet above sea level, you’ll feel as though you’re on top of the world!

Hiawassee is also home to the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds and the Hamilton Rhododendron Gardens, two great spots where there’s always something going on! At the Fairgrounds you’ll find monthly concerts from some of the best country, gospel, and rock artists in the business, as well as exciting festivals & events. And every summer they host their biggest event of the year, the Georgia Mountain Fair where thousands of guests come to the Fairgrounds to experience carnival rides, fair food, live entertainment & music acts, craft vendors, and more! The charming Hamilton Gardens, also on the property, holds the largest collection of rhododendrons and azaleas in the Southeast. As you explore the peaceful garden trails, you’ll learn all about North Georgia’s native flora, while enjoying distant views of Lake Chatuge.

DAWSONVILLE, GA

50+ Minutes Outside of Blue Ridge

Photo Courtesy of Visit Dawsonville, Georgia

Dawsonville, GA is widely regarded as the birthplace of NASCAR so it seems only fitting that the town is home to the incredible Georgia Racing Hall of Fame! At the museum you can learn all about the history of motorsports in Georgia, and check out their special exhibit featuring Daswonville’s own NASCAR champion, Chase Elliot! Race cars not your thing? No problem! Get some shopping done at the North Georgia Premium Outlets, which holds more than 140 designer and name brand stores. And in the fall you’ll want to check out Burts Farm and Uncle Shuck’s Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch for pumpkin patches, corn mazes, hayrides and more!

Dawsonville is also home to the tallest waterfall in the state of Georgia! Amicalola Falls claims the title with a towering height of 729 feet. You can access these breathtaking falls from three different routes, each varying in difficulty: a straightforward drive to the top of the falls, a steep yet brief hike along the 2.1-mile loop, or on the 7.5-mile hike along the Appalachian Trail.

HELEN, GA

1 Hour Outside of Blue Ridge

Photo Courtesy of Explore Georgia

This beautiful mountain town is straight out of a storybook with its German influences and architecture. Stroll the charming village streets and take in the shops & restaurants, like Hansel and Gretel Candy KitchenLindenhaus Imports, and Hofbrauhaus Restaurant. In the fall Helen celebrates Oktoberfest like no other town in Georgia with all the pretzels and beer you can imagine, and in the winter this lovely town transforms into a Hallmark movie, and was even named the #1 Christmas Town in America by Southern Living.

If you’re looking for thrills then check out the Georgia Mountain Coaster– the first and only alpine coaster in the state of Georgia! You’ll zoom past breathtaking mountain vistas and lush forests at your own pace, as you have full control over the speed of the ride. Helen is also a great place for hikers & waterfall lovers because it’s home to four stunning waterfalls; Anna Ruby FallsDukes Creek FallsHorse Trough Falls, and Raven Creek Falls.

And for the history lovers out there, you’ll have the opportunity to learn all about the Cherokee Indian Tribe with a trip to the Sautee Nacoochee Indian Mound. The site serves as not only a peaceful resting site for many Cherokee Indians but is also home to the Hardman Farm & Estate, home of Georgia governor Dr. Lamartine Hardman.

DAHLONEGA, GA

1 Hour Outside of Blue Ridge

Photo Courtesy of Dahlonega Gold Museum State Historic Site

You’ve struck gold with a visit to Dahlonega, GA and that’s because this charming mountain town is a historic gold mining town. While Dahlonega is no longer a mining town you can still tour and experience the old mines where Americans first struck gold in 1828, 20 years before the California gold rush! Learn about the history of the Dahlonega gold rush at the Dahlonega Gold Museum, tour the old mines at Consolidated Gold Mines Inc, or pan for your own gold treasures at Crisson Gold Mine. And every October you can celebrate the 1828 gold discovery at the Gold Rush Days Festival, with hundreds of food & craft vendors and over 200,000 attendees every year!

bRYSON, NC

1 Hour Outside of Blue Ridge

Photo Courtesy of Nantahala Outdoor Center

If you’re ready for the outdoor adventure of a lifetime then plan a rafting trip to the Nantahala River in Bryson City, NC. For over 50 years, the Nantahala Outdoor Center has established itself as a pioneer in the whitewater rafting community, and has taken more families on whitewater adventures than any other adventure company in the Southeast. With over 6 rivers to choose from and both full & half day experiences available, you’ll find no shortage of adventures to be had on the water! And on top of world-class whitewater rafting the Nantahala Outdoor Center has even more opportunities for outdoor fun with mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, ziplining & ropes courses, and much more. Combine one of these thrilling activities with a rafting package for the ultimate day trip in the great outdoors!

Some other must-sees in Bryson, NC include elk watching at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a walk through the tunnel on “The Road to Nowhere,” and a ride on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.

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