Shining the Spotlight on Mercier Orchards



Farmers in the state of Georgia produce more than 26 million pounds of apples annually with nearly all the orchards concentrated in the North Georgia Mountains. Distinguishing oneself from the other apple orchards might be a large task for some. But Adele Mercier was never easily daunted by the business challenges of competition presented to her and her husband Bill and their 27-acre family orchard they started together in 1943. She had big plans for this little orchard in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Little did she know that it would take her to the dawn of the next century to execute her plan.

In 1999, Adele presented her vision for the Mercier Orchards to the regional tourism association. She shared with them her dream that Mercier’s was going to become an international tourist attraction, right along with her friends from the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway who had just started running scenic excursions to McCaysville and back. That afternoon, the tourism professionals chuckled at the naiveté of this eighty-year-old with such outlandish pipe dreams. Over the past two decades since, many of those in attendance that day have eaten their fair share of humble pie (or maybe apple fried pies?).

Mercier Orchards has grown ten times its original size, with 300 acres of apples, peaches, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries. The farm market that once boasted just bins of apples from July till December is now open seven days a week from 7 am till 6 pm, 361 days a year.  The Market Store has enlarged to several thousand square feet with outstanding food products, fresh, frozen and canned, with the majority locally sourced. If you are planning on preparing meals during your cabin stay with us, you must visit Merciers. Don’t bother with a shopping list. Every item will take you on a new culinary journey.

The Market has also grown to include a bakery boasting several varieties of fried pies, as well as apple cider donuts, and a large variety of bread, cookies and many other delectable baked goods.  The bakery also supplies the recently enlarged Market Café (open 7am-6pm daily) with award-winning biscuits, bread and rolls served at breakfast each day till 11 am. Breakfast buffet on Saturdays and Sundays is a great place to gather with family and friends, with buffet hours extended to noon.  After a morning in the orchards, picking your own fruit, lunch at the Market is the best place to hydrate, chill and nourish.

Yes, part of Adele’s dream was to bring multi-generational families in to enjoy the seasonal harvests of the orchards. Adults of all ages will enjoy the memories of their childhood days while picking apples, and the children will enjoy every moment, from the wagon ride out to the u-pick them area to delighting as they fill their buckets with berries, peaches or over 30 varieties of apples. U-Pick is subject to availability and the weather. For current picking dates, click here.

Maybe choosing your fruit at the Market is more to your liking than picking your own in the field. That doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the Orchard experience. From 10 am till 4 pm on Saturdays and Sundays, indulge yourself with a $5 tractor ride and tour of the 300-acre orchard. The Mercier family loves to share all there is to see and know about their orchard with their guests.

The fruits of the orchard are best enjoyed fresh, but for some, pressed and fermented fruit has as much allure. Mercier’s knows this first hand and would like to invite you to their Tasting Room at the Market. A variety of delicious hard ciders and wines, made with all “Georgia Grown” fruits can be sampled and purchased. “We are currently the only apple orchard in Georgia that can say they grow, press, ferment, and bottle their own product.” avowals their website.

As for Adele’s vision? Late last November, this writer visited the orchard with a friend to purchase a couple of bags of apples. It was late on a Sunday afternoon, three weeks past the high volume tourist season and we expected to be able to run in and out with our fruit purchase. We found the enormous parking lot to be nearly full. Walking into the Market, we discovered every cash register manned and customers were five plus deep waiting in those lines. My friend and I counted six different languages being spoken around us while we patiently waited our turn to pay for our purchases.

Adele Mercier passed away in 2013, leaving her internationally known Market in the very capable hands of second, third and fourth generations of the Mercier Family. They strive to bring to every visitor an experience that they will soon not forget. To learn more about Mercier Orchards and to see their event calendar, visit them at www.mercier-orchards.com.

Finding Bigfoot on a Rainy Day



A vacation usually means a bit of sightseeing and possibly seeking that one celebrity spotting you always associated with your destination. If visiting the Palm Beaches you might be hoping to catch a glimpse of the Presidential motorcade, where on LA’s famous Rodeo Drive, a glimpse of Brad sipping an iced Caramel Macchiato at Starbucks might be your quest. And what (or whom) are some tourists visiting the Northeast Georgia Mountains yearning to see?  Well, Bigfoot, of course!

Photo Courtesy of Patterson-Gimlin Footage

A legend or not?

To many in this neck of the woods, Bigfoot (aka Sasquatch, Yowie and Yedi) isn’t just a 20th-century folk legend. The first recorded sighting of him here in Fannin County was June 26, 1873. Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest has long been known as a hotbed for Bigfoot activity amongst the Bigfoot research community. And if you think that those who have an interest in this mysterious creature are just a little bit left of center, take into consideration that the famed anthropologist and highly regarded scientist Jane Goodall has said of Sasquatch beings, “I’m fascinated by them and would actually love them to exist”.

This reddish-brown hairy creature is reportedly about 8 feet in height and his alleged footprints that have been found all across the globe suggesting he has a 24-inch long foot that measures 8 inches across. To put that into some perspective, NBA giant  Shaquille O’Neal is 7’1” and the length of his foot measures 15 inches.

Photo Courtesy of Expedition: Bigfoot

Blue Ridge Museum

If taking a hike out into the forest after the sun sets, night vision glasses in place, to snap your photo op with Bigfoot is too much effort, don’t let that deter you from finding out all you can about him. While here in Blue Ridge, plan to visit EXPEDITION: BIGFOOT! The Sasquatch Museum, located just east of the city. This museum may have you giggling on the way in the door, but you will leave with a new appreciation for your next walk in the woods. You’ll discover why Bigfooters from around the globe make the pilgrimage to Blue Ridge just to explore this museum and its many relics.

Photo Courtesy of Expedition: Bigfoot

See For Yourself

The quality of the displays and the huge amount of content are most impressive. In addition to the extensive collection of artifacts, the museum has interactive exhibits, lots of scientific analysis making the credible case that there are Sasquatches roaming the earth, and audio-video presentations that captivate even the least likely believers, young and old. Yes, kids are fascinated with this self-guided tour that usually lasts 90 mins to two hours. We highly recommend this as a Plan B family destination when a rainy mountain day messes up your original outdoor intentions.

Photo Courtesy of Expedition: Bigfoot

The museum, located at 1934 GA-515, Cherry Log, GA, is open Wednesday through Monday from 10 am till 5 pm. Admission is $8 for adults and $6 for children age 5 to 12. Kids under 5 and Active Military (with ID) are free! It’s more than a fair price for an educational and entertaining museum of this quality, with such fun opportunities for photo ops that will sure to bring gasps to your friends back home. And though you will be welcomed by a super cool staff that is known for sharing free coffee and cookies to their guests, you might want to be prepared to drop a few bucks on souvenirs at the museum’s bountiful gift shop, where Bigfoot really comes to life.

Calgon, Take Me to the Mountains…What Moms Really Want



What Mom really wants for Mother’s Day might surprise you. It rarely has to do with those lovely wrapped little boxes from the jewelry store. And it has less to do with gift certificates to get body maintenance done, like massages and manicures.

It was 50 years ago that this iconic ad first ran. “Calgon, take me away”.  It still epitomizes what every Mom wants and needs – time away from the daily grind, if even for just time for a private, quiet bath. So, this Mother’s Day we think we can help you with giving Mom that Calgon moment she’ll remember for many years to come.

Mom with Little Ones

Daddy Daycare!

Mom is rising close to noon and not hearing a peep. As she clears the cobwebs from her sleep, she realizes that she woke in the cabin they came to last night. Oh, the bed felt so luxurious, and somehow, she was the only one in it. Next to the bed is a note from hubby. “The kids and I are gone for the day. White wine in the fridge with brie, apple, and crackers. The hot tub is waiting for you. Don’t forget your book at the bottom of the suitcase.  We’ll see you at 6. Bringing dinner with us. Relax and enjoy the solitude.  You deserve this. You’re the best Mom in the world. We love you.”  She looks out over the magnificent view of the mountains from her bedroom window. This is the best gift I could ever imagine, she thought. Six hours later the gang rolls in, running into her arms to tell her all about their visit to Lilly Pad Village, where they gem mined and went trout fishing.  After a great boxed dinner from Blue Ridge Mountain BBQ was consumed, they all packed up to head to the Swan Drive-in Theater for a nostalgic experience watching the 21st-century Avengers on the outdoor screen. (Did you know that you can choose from 177 of our properties that have at least two bedrooms and a hot tub?)

Mom with Teen-agers

Growing up too fast!

Mom marvels at how they are growing and maturing. She realizes that in just a few short years they will be leaving the nest. She wants to make these times away to the mountains something special for them all to remember.  They all agree that ziplining had been on their bucket list. But first, while the day was still cool, they’d challenge themselves to trek on the swinging bridge across the Toccoa River.  After an afternoon of adventure, they pull up to the Rum Cake Lady’s outdoor dining. Mom loves Cuban food, and they sit at the picnic tables all sharing their menu picks, joyful and tired. When they get back to the cabin, the fire pit is lit, the oldest son brings out his guitar, the youngest starts to make S’mores. Mom gazes at her family in the glow of the fire and wonders how she got to be the luckiest Mom in the whole world. (Thirty-eight of our rentals have either fire pits or outdoor fireplaces. Which one would your family choose?)

Mom with Grown Daughter

No matter how old you are, you’ll always be my baby.

Every Mom feels the same way once their chicks have grown and flown the coop. They yearn for one on one time with them again. When her daughter texts her to ask if she’d like to spend the weekend with her in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Mom searches to find an emoji that can express her excitement. She ends up sending 10 happy faces, and the words, “yes, yes, YES!”.  Saturday it’s a quick, trouble free keyless entry into their little lakefront cabin and off to the Himalayan Salt Caves for a 45-minute session of pure bliss, relaxing in zero gravity chairs, listening to soft music in a stress-free environment.  After, they head into downtown Blue Ridge and make a stop at Blue Ridge Booksellers. As different as they can be in many respects, Mom and daughter share a love for vintage bookstores. With just enough time, they make their reservation at Harvest on Main for a relaxing evening of fine dining. Back to the cottage, another glass of wine to top off the evening and a wonderful heart to heart chat on the porch overlooking the moonlit lake. They sleep in late, pack up their things, close the door behind them and take a lovely drive out to Mercier’s Orchards for brunch and then to pick strawberries together, a memory they share from a Mother’s Day trip 20 years before. Now, they head home and banter back in forth as to whether it’s biscuits or pound cake that will host these sweet, juicy berries.

We think everyday should be Mother’s Day! Thank you to all the wonderful Moms who celebrate their families with us throughout the year. We hope your Mother’s Day is a Calgon day for you!

Blue Ridge Bucket List



Top 10 Things To Do In Blue Ridge For 2019

As we ring in the New Year, 365 opportunities await you to get out and explore the beautiful North Georgia Mountains. Here are a few of our favorite ideas to enjoy your 2019 Escape to Blue Ridge!

1. Eat Collard Greens & Black-Eyed Peas

After all, it’s a southern tradition. Eat these as your first meal for the New Year and you will increase your luck and prosperity for the year ahead. The Village Restaurant will be open and ready to serve you the very best in Southern Cuisine

2. Experience the Lake Life

Beautiful Lake Blue Ridge offers 3,290-acres of crystal-clear water to explore. Bring your own water craft, rent a pontoon boat, or take a guided tour with Capt’n Joe. Whether you are kayaking, tubing, fishing, or just floating along, there is no prettier place in the world than where the mountains meet the water.

3. Take in a Festival or 5

There is always something happening in these here mountains. Festival season begins in February and ends in October, plus holiday activities are abundant in November and December. You will be blown away with the ice sculpting that takes place at the annual Fire and Ice Chili Cookoff. If music is more your style, you can shake your groove thing at both the Blue Ridge Wine & Jazz Festival and Blue Ridge Blues & Barbeque Festival. Blue Ridge festivals are family friendly, pet friendly, and extraordinarily fun!

4. Fly fish in the Trout Capital of Georgia

Brown trout, rainbow trout, and native trout are abundant in our freshwater mountain streams. Stop by and see Will Taylor at the Fly Shop Co. for some flies and a pole. Then head out to the headwaters of the Toccoa River, Noontootla Creek, or Rock Creek for premier trout fishing.

5. Wine, Beer and Hard Cider, Oh My!

You can’t visit the mountains without trying the refreshing flavors of Hard Cider at Mercier Orchards. While you are there, pick up a peck of apples and some of their fruit infused wines as well. If you are more of a purist, both Bear Claw Vineyards and Serenberry Vineyards have classic Chardonnays, Sauvignons, and more. If Craft beer is more your style, don’t fret, there are many options to choose from like Grumpy Old Men Brewing and Fannin Brewing Company.

6. Jump on the Swinging Bridge

Pack up a picnic and hit either the Benton MacKaye Trail or the Duncan Ridge National Recreation Trail to the Swinging Bridge. This 270-foot-long suspension bridge is the longest swinging bride east of the Mississippi River! If you do decide to jump in the middle, make sure you are faster than your travel buddies or you might get thrown off!

7. Get wet at Fall Branch Falls

A short, family friendly hike makes Fall Branch Falls a must do activity for the young and young at heart. Explore both the upper and lower area of the falls and take time to relax on the rocks and enjoy the views. Don’t forget to bring your best friend. Dogs will enjoy the trail as much as their humans.

8. Come on Ride That Train

The iconic Blue Ridge Scenic Railway is a must do when in town. Enjoy the scenery every season of the year as the train departs from Downtown Blue Ridge and travels the countryside to the revitalized towns of Copperhill, TN and McCaysville, GA

9. Find a Fairy Cross

Legend has is that as the Native Americans embarked on the Trail of Tears, they shed tears of sorrow that fell to the ground and formed tiny crosses of stone. Commonly known as staurolite crystals, these minerals are abundant in Fannin County.

10. Book an Escape to Blue Ridge

There is just something about these mountains that is so good for the soul. Whether you want to come for a romantic getaway, to reconnect with friends and family, or to enjoy the abundant outdoor adventures, we have the perfect cabin for you!

We wish each of you and yours a prosperous year ahead filled with lots of love, exciting adventures, and many opportunities to make heartfelt memories. Happy New Year!

The Colin Family Takes on Blue Ridge



We have some of the coolest guests that adventure up into the Blue Ridge Mountains for some good quality R&R. Earlier this fall, a beautiful family from the Southwest region of Florida knew they wanted to come up the mountains and experience the spectacular fall season. Fortunately for them, the 2018 season proved to be one of the most colorful seasons we’ve enjoyed in a while! Fortunately for us, they made this awesome vlog about their journey.

The Players

The Patriarch, Andres Colin, is a talented singer-songwriter in and around the Sarasota area. His lovely wife, Kristen, is an equally talented photographer. Together they have one beautiful little girl, Aria, and another bundle of joy on the way. So, needless to say, life is pretty busy for the Colin family, but that wasn’t going to stop them from getting away. A local Sarasota artist, Jay Tyler of Steel View Art, recommend the family Escape to Blue Ridge and stay in a cabin called Woolly Bugger.

The Adventure

Have you driven eight hours with a toddler before? Well, lets just say the eight hour drive from Sarasota took more like twelve hours, but their reward was coming! Alas, they arrived in the mountains along a quiet dirt road and stepped out of the car to experience the crisp mountain air and check out their home away from home.

You will delight when you watch the family explore the lakes and mountains of the Appalachian region, your heart will melt when you hear Andres sing Happy Birthday to Kristen, and you will thoroughly enjoy Andres singing Una Guitarra by Gerardo Pena.

With any good road trip, food is a critical factor. Luckily for the Colin Family, there are no shortage of good restaurants in the Blue Ridge area. You may think a little mountain town only survives on bbq, cornbread, biscuits, and sweet tea. While that is absolutely 100% true, but we also have a taste for the finer things in life including healthy options offering gluten free and vegan selections.

With memory cards filled with pictures and hearts full of family memories, the Colin Family has to begin their journey back to their regular lives.  One last stop in Georgia finds the family in Valdosta at the most delightful downtown market and café, Birdie’s. That’s when the Colin’s knew. They’ve been bitten by the Travel Bug and they will make a point to get out and travel more. There is just too much in life to experience.

Take about six minutes and enjoy this very well done and beautiful vlog by Andres Colin and his family’s Escape to Blue Ridge!