Rampin’ It Up In Spring



The ramp is an early spring vegetable, and one you might never had heard about. A perennial wild onion with a strong garlic-like odor , it has a pronounced onion flavor. It’s horticultural title is Allium tricoccum and a.k.a. spring onion, wild leek, wood leek, and wild garlic. It grows wild in the Appalachian forest beds, and the North Georgia Mountains is about as far south as you’ll find them. Quebec is the northernmost vicinity where these delicacies can be found roaming the Canadian countryside.

History Lesson

Ramps were first introduced to Britain in 1770 and to Appalachia in the 19th century. Their high vitamin content and blood-cleansing properties meant that the ramps were highly prized by the American Indians for their nutritional value. Native American tribes such as the Iroquois and Cherokee have traditionally used ramps to treat cold symptoms .  Because they were one of the first greens to appear in spring, ramps were considered an important “tonic” by providing vitamins and minerals that had not been available during the winter. Both the Ojibwa and Menominee dried and stored parts of the ramp to be used in the winter months. The Chippewa decocted the root to induce vomiting, while the Cherokee consumed the ramp to treat colds and made a juice from the plant to treat earaches. 

Modern Day Uses

Two centuries later this amazing spring vegetable has emerged in the nouveau culinary scene with even more gusto than pungency. Yet, there’s the distinct possibility you’ve gotten to this stage of your life never even having heard of a “ramp”.

Their harvest season is short — just a few weeks from late April to early June. You won’t find ramps at the grocery store. Though growing ramps from seed are possible, it can take five to seven years until harvest time, too long to tie up land by commercial farmers.  That’s not to say that you can’t find it to harvest yourself. Put on your hiking boots in search of this green leafed perennial and head out into almost any forested area up here in our spring green mountains. 

A Foraging Adventure

Ramps are easily recognized by their 1 or 2 broad leaves measuring 1 to 2 1/2 inches wide and 4 to 12 inches long. Because deer avoid eating ramps you will find these plants in large clusters, with the surrounding area already chewed down.  Ramps like shade and being covered up with leaves, but they don’t like pine, for some reason, so you won’t find them at the base of pine scrub. The plants favor sandy, moist soils and are often found near streams, though you might also find them carpeting the forest floor where poplar and maple trees are found.

Eve Fox writes in her blog The Garden of Eating, “Ramps are such beautiful plants. I think they look just like a cross between a Lily of the Valley and an onion. Strong but slender with green leaves and a beautiful purple stem, they have a “seam” that runs partway up the leaves.”  If you see such a plant and you are still not sure, pull a leaf and tear it. Take a sniff. Debating if it is onion or garlic? You most likely have found a ramp.

Taste Test

If your hike has produced a bounty of ramps, you might just be wondering how to best prepare them. Historically, the Cherokee boiled or fried the young plants, while the Iroquois consumed them seasoned with salt and pepper. The ramp’s bulb and its leaves are consumed when the plant is still young.  The ramp is similar in taste to the spring onion, but with an aromatic pungency closer to garlic. Here in these Appalachian hills, they are commonly consumed by frying them in butter or animal fat, though they are also consumed raw in salads. They can be pickled and are delicious just beer-battered and fried, similar to an onion ring. They are frequently consumed with potatoes or scrambled eggs and used in soups and other savory dishes. 

Make It!

Here are three easy recipes that we think you might enjoy, using your foraged plants. 

Ramp and Apple Quesadilla

8 six inch flour tortillas
2 Granny Smith apples – thinly sliced
1 ½ cups of sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated
1 cup of chopped ramps
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of butter – room temperature

Butter one side of each tortilla and set aside. Heat olive oil in pan. Sauté the ramps until they are tender, even caramelized. Place 4 tortillas butter side down on a cold grill pan. Next spread ¼ of the apple slices on each one. Top each with ¼ of the ramps. Cover each with ¼ of cheese, then place a tortilla, butter side up over each. Turn the heat on to medium and cook till side one is nicely toasted and then flip and do the same to other side. Cut in four to serve as a lunch portion and cut into eight pieces to serve as an appetizer.

Black Bean and Ham Ramp Chili

1 cup shredded carrots
½ cup of chopped celery
1 large sweet onion chopped
1 cup of ramps chopped
¼ cup of olive oil
1 ½ lbs of ham, chopped
3 cans of black beans
2 can of diced tomatoes with peppers
1 packet of McCormick original Chili mix
Sour cream for serving

Heat olive oil in large saucepan. Add ramps, carrots and celery and sauté until tender, stirring often. Add chopped ham and sauté till ham is heated through. Add beans, tomatoes and chili powder and stir all together, well. Simmer for 30 mins. Serve with a healthy size dab of sour cream (not low fat) in each bowl.

Spring Salad

1 lb of fresh asparagus, washed, trimmed and cut into two inch pieces
½ cups of ramps, finely chopped
1 lb of fresh snap peas
¼ cup of dried cranberries
¼ cup of chopped walnuts
1 bag of fresh spinach and baby kale mix
¼ cup of your favorite vinaigrette

Steam the asparagus and snap peas. Run cold water over them to cool them before tossing in your salad. Add them to all your other ingredients, salt and pepper to taste. Toss well with the dressing. Serve immediately.

7 Family Friendly Diners



In Blue Ridge there is an amazingly diverse, reasonably priced, restaurants designed with families in mind. It’s not all just chicken fingers, tater tots, and buffet lines. Dining out with children, especially if you’re on a budget, is tough. But if you approach things differently, and look at it more as a family outing, you will be much more satisfied, and to be honest, so will the kids.

You might be surprised by the variety. You might also be surprised at the way in which many restaurants have managed to cater to families’ needs, including recognizing that, with all there is to do in Blue Ridge, dining out is an important part. So, in addition to providing good food at a good price, their approach is more – “ya’ll take your time, enjoy your meal and plan your day”; or “don’t worry about a thing, we can move things along quickly to get you out there enjoying your day”.

In the end, it all comes down preferences and choices, and Blue Ridge has many choices to choose from. Sample traditional Southern cuisine, classic barbecue, or everyone’s favorite – pizza! The following is a list of tried & true places to go that your kids (and Mom) will like, but that won’t break the bank.

Southern Charm

Photo Courtesy of Southern Charm

What’s in a name? Well, quite a lot actually, when you can simply say what you are. Southern Charm is Southern and it is charming! But it’s location, in the heart of Blue Ridge, makes this a great starting spot that will appeal to all members of the family.

This is traditional family style dining, featuring Southern cooking in a casual setting. Biscuits and apple butter? Yup. Fried chicken? Of course. Collards? Need you ask? Expect to be called “honey” or “darlin” by the attentive staff. Reasonably priced and worth every penny!

Sue’s Burgers

Photo Courtesy of Sue’s Burgers

How can you be so bold as to pronounce, in large block letters, on the front and side of your building, on your website, and in your advertising that you have the “Best Burgers in Town”? Well, it seems when you have testimonial confirmations online, in local “best-ofs” and random people-on-the-street recommendations for where to go for a great burger, and it all comes back to “Sue’s Best Burgers in Town”. Sue’s is most loved for their crispy, crinkly fries and fabulous desserts.

Affordable? Yes. Fast food burger prices? Sue’s Burgers is the oldest restaurant in town, family owned and operated since 1976, and will settle for nothing less than the best in food quality, service, and friendliness!

The Trailer Drive-In

Photo Courtesy of the Trailer Drive-In

When was the last time you ate at a place that accepted cash-only? Now that is indeed old school. And this throwback Trailer Drive-In diner is old school. It’s actually exactly what you expect – delicious food, large portions, outdoor picnic table seating, monstrous breakfast biscuits, a chicken sandwich that can’t be beat, and ridiculously good sweet tea! This is one of those under-the-radar kind of places, but your kids will love it! They can be sloppy outside, if you decide to dine outside, and it’s decidedly dog-friendly.

Mystic Mountain Pizza

Photo Courtesy of Mystic Mountain Pizza

No list of family-oriented, affordable restaurants would be complete without the obligatory entry from the pizza category. In this case, Mystic Mountain is not your ordinary pizza joint. It comes with extra sauce – live music! Plus it’s Blue Ridge’s “grooviest pizza parlor”. But seriously, folks, Mystic Mountain is family-friendly, relaxed, trendy, and colorful. Oh, and by the way, they also have great pizza, cooked in oak-fired brick ovens, unique hot dogs (like a Deep South Texas Dog), and crazy tasty wings, plus sandwiches and salads. It’s a great place for a family to be laid back. Like totally, man.

Mike’s Trackside BBQ

Photo Courtesy of Mike’s Trackside BBQ

You knew we’d get there. You just knew it! After all, who doesn’t like barbecue? You are in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Georgia!! And you deserve some great barbecue. Which is why we are recommending Mike’s Trackside BBQ. Mike’s is another one of those tiny places with a big heart for food and great service. Although barbecue is in the name, you might want to be adventurous and try their extraordinary, fall-off-the-bone ribs or the chunked smoked chicken.

Mike’s is located exactly where it says it is – trackside. That doesn’t mean you can bet on the ponies from there. It means you’ll hear that lonely train whistle loud and clear, and you might even be inspired to load the family onto the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway after lunch for a ride that will be long-remembered.

Pete’s Place

This is an American-styled restaurant that’s rustic and homey, and it’s Southern enough to have great grits. We recommend you trying the delicious, locally-caught, and freshly-prepared trout, but any of their classic choices like chicken parmesan or pecan chicken salad will delight your palate. At Pete’s Place the prices are reasonable, the service is great, and not only do they welcome your children, but they also welcome your furbabies to dine on the patio!

Rum Cake Lady Cuban Café

Photo Courtesy of @gluten.freed

And now for something completely different. Okay, calm the kids. We’re gonna get a little crazy here. We’re moving off into something far, far away from hot dogs and brown beans. But we will survive, and maybe even thrive. Besides, the name of this restaurant has “cake” in it so that, kids, is a good thing, because, very likely, there is dessert at the end of this meal!

Indeed, the Blue Ridge rum cakes are amazingly delicious. But so are the sandwiches, plantain chips, and the Cuban food bowls. This is called adventure. Striking off into the wild Cuban yonder to discover new foods. Try it. You’ll like it!

High Class in the High Hills²



(If you haven’t had the chance to read our Part I blog, we encourage you to click here and see what indulgent amenities the North Georgia Mountains has to offer in the way of pampering services and adventure experiences! Now we’d like to take you to other areas of resort vacationing that you might not expect to find here in a 30-mile radius of your luxurious cabin rental. )

Outdoor Fun and Entertainment (Including Spirits)

“Wine is the only artwork you can drink” 


Luis Fernando Oliverri
Photo Courtesy of Bear Claw Vineyards

If this quote is accurate than the North Georgia mountains boasts over 20 “museums” or vineyards. With its high elevation, warm temperatures, sandy red clay and aged granite soil (which soaks up extra moisture that could potentially affect proper grape ripening), this region is ideally suited for producing varietals more often associated with France – Cabernet Franc, Viognier, Malbec – and other parts of Europe (Touriga, Sangiovese).

Nearly every one of these vineyards has a tasting room, and all are picturesque. Yet the disadvantage of visiting these wineries on your own is the need for a “designated driver”.  Now everyone in your party can partake with the lavish way to tour and taste your way through some of the region’s finest vineyards and wineries. VIP Southern Tours has different wine tours available to their clients, but they also will help you build your own personal winery tour based on your vino preferences coupled with their years of experience touring North Georgia’s wine country.

Mountain High

Photo Courtesy of Wing-N-It Seasplane Tours

In Part 1 of our High-Class blog we covered adventure by land and by sea, but we didn’t mention the thrilling adventure of seeing the mountaintops by air! It was 60 years ago when TV’s Lloyd Bridges took his seaplane up in every episode in the 1960’s show “Sea Hunt”.  More than a half-century later you can charter your own Seaplane just 30 miles up the highway in Hiawaseee on Lake Chatuge. Wing-N-It Seaplane Tours has air tours of all the regional lakes, including Lake Blue Ridge. We suggest you also sample the mountainscape tours which are particularly breathtaking in the peak of Autumn or customize your own tour package.

Par!

Photo Courtesy of Old Toccoa Farm

Is it the trails or the links for your vacation? Old Toccoa Farm , in neighboring Mineral Bluff, GA, is one of the courses that has shaped the golf world in 2019. This 18 hole course is the most attractive and challenging course in the North Georgia Mountains and selected as the 4th Best Golf Course in Georgia by Golf Advisor! The course winds through 125 acres of ridges and meadows, featuring over 280 feet of elevation change with spectacular views of the Chattahoochee and Cherokee National Forests and surrounding valleys. You’ll be more than smitten with the spectacular views, lush fairways and the immaculate condition of the greens and bunkers. Oh, and did we mention we have a cabin rental located between the 6th and 7th holes? Ambleside is a 5-bedroom cabin that looks like the elegant homes in “Southern Living” magazine!

Trail

Photo Courtesy of Appalachian Trail Rides at S&T Stables

If you feel more like donning Hoss’s 10 Gallon cap than Payne Stewart’s scally cap, then a trail ride on horseback is in order. And there are no friendlier and knowledgeable trail guides than the staff at Appalachian Trail Rides at S&T Stables.   This 250 acre privately owned mountainous farm features a large stable facility, pasture, scenic trails, private lakes, and creeks.  There is a full menu of trail rides to take advantage of, but they also will provide a private trail ride for just you and your guests. 

Epicurean Fantasies Become Reality

“A great meal is an experience that nourishes more than your body. “


Ruth Reichl
Photo Courtesy of Treo

When the sign suggests “steaks, seafood and pasta served here”, in a small downtown underground tuck-away, one doesn’t expect too much more than average. Treo is anything but average! Though they say they are casual dining, you might want to dress in something that makes you feel as special as the wait staff is going to treat you. There’s your choice of seating in the main dining room, outside patio, or the old cellar. Even if you don’t choose the cellar, be sure to ask for a tour, for here is where the finest wines and the most amazing bourbons are kept, waiting for the next indulgent guest to order up. A bourbon flight includes a choice of three from a list of 35 of the world’s best bourbons.  Wine flights are four samplings, with a choice from an international wine list you’ll be hard-pressed to find at most five-star restaurants. Sit back and enjoy your flights with a charcuterie and artisan cheese board while you contemplate your next move. Will it be the Lobster Mac and Cheese?

You can also choose to eat at higher elevations. Cucina Rustica is located just down the road and up a wooded hill in neighboring Morganton. Upon entering this rustic dining experience you will find yourself transported to an established trattoria on a Tuscan hillside. The finest of dining experiences features the Italian cuisine of Chef Danny Mellman. This highly reviewed establishment is a true farm-to-table experience, with Chef Mellman growing many of the vegetables and herbs on his own organic farm. His interpretation of Old World Italian foods range from Sicilian fish dishes to Northern Italian pasta and succulent roasted meat dishes has a bountiful loyal patronage, so be sure to call or make online reservations. 

Concierge Services at Your Fingertips

Part of our amazing Escape to Blue Ridge team

We hope we’ve helped you consider another opulent option to that oceanfront resort you head to each year. When booking your cabin with Escape of Blue Ridge you also have available to you our knowledgeable concierge team.

We can connect you with most any experience you want to try (i.e. fly fishing guide, whitewater rafting etc).  Share with us the type of experience that you are looking for and we will offer suggestions on where to go and what to do, and then enlist us to book the experience.

Fine Dining in the Mountains



Fine dining is different at every restaurant, but there are common threads woven through all of them. First, there is a Chef-inspired menu, with his or her signature, stamped on each offering. Unlike casual restaurants, fine dining service usually includes eating utensils that are a matched set, and have more weight than your summer camp mess hall offered you. Generally, there is a linen napkin to lay across your lap, water served in a glass vessel sans the local bank logo and the table legs have been leveled to assure your plate doesn’t travel across the tabletop each time someone rests against it. There’s also the expectations of the staff. When visiting a fine dining establishment you expect the staff to deliver you a  higher standard of service, where they understand the menu and can assist you with accurate answers and solutions to your dietary concerns and preferences. Blue Ridge is proud to be home to many of such dining establishments. Let us introduce you to a small plate offering of eight of our favorites.

Bin 322 Wine and Tapas Bar

116 W. Main St. Suite 1-D – Blue Ridge, GA  

Photo Courtesy of Bin 322 Wine and Tapas Bar

We choose this as one of our favorite “wining” experiences.  Bin 322 isn’t your richest of decor settings, but it’s charm lies in it’s comfy, cozy atmosphere with many choices of seating including wing back stuffed chairs or around a game table playing checkers. You pick your ideal spot before choosing your sips from an exceptional wine menu. If you like to accompany your spirits with well prepared and incredibly tasty food, you will find just that at Binn 322. The menu includes tapas (salmon nduja), platters (Italian, French, Spanish or Mediterranean), salads, sandwiches, entrees (duck confit) and indulgent desserts (Crème Brulee) that team up perfectly with a sweet wine to complete a choice encounter with your lunch or dinner companion.

The Black Sheep Restaurant

480 W. Main St., Blue Ridge GA 

Photo Courtesy of The Black Sheep Restaurant

This stylish, and classy restaurant believes in fresh food that’s locally sourced and artfully prepared. Set in a historic house (circa 1814) you have your choice of pet-friendly patio seating under a 200-year-old oak tree, the enclosed porch with its flaming heaters, up at the beautifully appointed bar or in the main dining room, where service is second to none.  Start with an appetizer of pork belly and marmalade, add a perfect beet salad and eventually savor the lamb pappardelle. We can’t forget to mention that The Black Sheep offers a killer Brunch menu every Saturday and Sunday from 12 noon to 4pm. The Sunday paper, an inspired Bloody Mary and a chicken & red velvet waffle. Who can resist? Reservations are recommended.

Chester Brunnemeyer’s Bar & Grill

733 E. Main St. Blue Ridge, GA 

Photo Courtesy of Chester Brunnemeyer’s Bar & Grill

Everyone just refers to it as “Chester’s”, and it’s Blue Ridge’s answer to “Cheer’s”, where everyone knows your name, or at least it feels like they do. But don’t let this friendly bar atmosphere fool you. The dining experience at Chester’s is so noteworthy. The amazing craft beer selection shakes hands nicely with signature appetizers like chili and beer cheese nachos or deep-fried sticky ribs. The soup, salad and sandwich menu all have a plethora of delicious, inspired choices, but if you have a heartier appetite, dig into the entrees like the 14 oz blackened ribeye, cooked to perfection and served with herb roasted fingerling potatoes, garlic broccolini and finished with fresh herb butter. This is fine……real fine.

Cucina Rustica

76 Forge Mill Rd, Morganton, GA 

Photo Courtesy of Amy Walker Price

Chef Danny Mellman takes Italian fare to a new level at this fine-dining Ristorante. This is the perfect place to spend an evening with friends. Start out with a plate of Frito Misto (flash-fried calamari and fish with artichokes and lemon and charred tomato-lemon aioli). The salads are shareable in size. The Treviso is a patron favorite, w/ bacon, balsamic, fresh pear, walnuts, and Gorgonzola. A myriad of pasta, risottos, and polentas, with fresh roasted vegetables, compliment delectable fresh sauces, meat entrees, and the finest of seafood. This is Old World Italian cuisine served mountainside. On Friday and Saturday nights the chef offers a veal Osso Bucco that will transport you across the Mediterranean Sea without the jet lag. Reservations are recommended.

Harvest on Main

576 East Main Street, Blue Ridge, GA 

Photo Courtesy of Harvest on Main

This is the second of three Chef Danny Mellman eateries to make our list of eight. This was his first establishment in Blue Ridge and it has become what all its competition aspires to be.  You might think that it would be the service, the menu, the wine and beer selections that would put this place over the top. Not to minimize any of these, because they are all worthy of five stars, but it’s the rustic appointments of the décor that nails it. Every moment you are being treated to a dining experience at Harvest on Main you are made to feel you are dining at the most affluent of ski resorts, high up in the Grand Tetons when actually you are smack in the middle of downtown Blue Ridge. Make a reservation. Spend the evening. Know that you’ll be back to try every item on the menu. It’s that good.

Masseria Kitchen + Bar

67 Roberts Way, Blue Ridge, GA 

Photo Courtesy of Masseria – Kitchen & Bar

The third of Mellman’s family of restaurants to make our list, Masseria mashes together Mediterranean countryside food and infuses Appalachian sensitivities into the recipes to share food so fresh, so earthy, so flavorful and dare we say, healthy, that you will feel like you are eating in a Grecian farmhouse the evening of their best harvest.  Is pizza fine dining? Absolutely when it is topped with baked bourbon apples, raisins, gorgonzola cheese and ricotta. Couple that with a salad of kale, grilled chicken, couscous, quinoa, lemon vinaigrette, craisins and walnuts and you can see why they made our list.

South of North

257 East Main Street, Suite A Blue Ridge,GA 

Photo Courtesy of South of North

Forget your past Asian experiences when you ordered by the number next to the dish pictured on your giant menu. South of North dubs itself as “a counter casual establishment serving up a chef-driven twist on classic Vietnamese fare”. If you think that description is a mouthful, wait till you taste the Bún Chả (meatball)  with Snake River Kurobuta pork belly blende with a Joyce Farms filet mignon, house fermented mustard and infused chili oil. Menu items such as sticky buns, shrimp rolls, spicy noodle bowls , steamy buns, lettuce wraps – all elevated to a culinary height you’ve never quite experienced before. We carnivores love this place, but you vegans will be particularly in awe of this gastronomical voyage.

Treo Blue Ridge

588 E. Main Street, Blue Ridge, GA 

Photo Courtesy of Treo

When the sign suggests “steaks, seafood and pasta served here”, in a small downtown underground tuck-away, one doesn’t expect too much more than average. Treo is anything but average. Though they say they are casual dining, you might want to dress in something that makes you feel as special as the wait staff is going to treat you. There’s your choice of seating in the main dining room, outside patio, or the old cellar. Even if you don’t choose the cellar, be sure to ask for a tour, for here is where the finest wines and the most amazing bourbons are kept, waiting for the next indulgent guest to order up. A bourbon flight includes a choice of three from a list of 35 of the world’s best bourbons.  Wine flights are four samplings, with a choice from an international wine list you’ll be hard-pressed to find at most five-star restaurants. Sit back and enjoy your flights with a charcuterie and artisan cheese board while you contemplate your next move. Will it be the Lobster Mac and Cheese?

That wraps up our Top 8 Fine dining reviews. Did you really think that Blue Ridge was just about train rides and waterfalls? We are happy to share that we are fast becoming the culinary capital of the Appalachian mountains.

Escape to the Blue Ridge Mountains



Guest Blog by Forever Freckled.

If you haven’t already experienced the Blue Ridge Mountains in Georgia, you should! Our families have been visiting this area for the last 6 years. Each time we return, it becomes even more special. There is something so incredibly quaint and peaceful about the small town of Blue Ridge.

Growing up in South Florida, we do not get to experience the amazing change in seasons. If you know us sisters, we are always talking about “sweater weather” and how badly we want to see the leaves change colors.

Well, we’ve teamed up again with Escape To Blue Ridge who always help us experience incredible family trips in the Blue Ridge Mountains! As we gear up for our next trip, we are excited to share information about Escape to Blue Ridge, the company we rent the cabins from, as well as some of the best activities and spots to hit up on your journey. If you love a vacation with a small town feel and views to die for, this trip is one for you.

We also want to lend you some pointers for traveling with a ton of kids! You may deal with plenty of tantrums, tears, accidents, and fights along with the fun. But if you’re well prepared, you’ll make it out in one piece.

Escape to Blue Ridge

For the past 6 years, we have reserved our mountain family cabin with Escape to Blue Ridge. The most amazing part about this company is that they have hundreds of homes you can reserve, making it easy to choose the cabin that best suits the needs and preferences of your family.

The trip we took a couple of years ago was AMAZING! We want to share those adventures with you again, so let’s get started!

The Cabin

We love a cabin with mountain views and a great outdoor space that’s big enough for our three families. We could not believe our eyes when we arrived on this trip. The kids were in heaven, and the views were spectacular!

There are no words to describe this place.

The name of our cabin was Falling Waters Lodge, named after the two small waterfalls running down the front yard. Let me tell you, the house was spotless, at least in the moment we all arrived. The details and decor that went into creating this home were unlike anything we’ve ever seen. The cabin had a large open kitchen with top-of-line appliances and large windows to look out over the Blue Ridge Mountains while you cook.

There was also a hot tub on the downstairs patio to enjoy the few cold mountain nights. The bottom floor had a media room for movie nights with the kids and a play room with ping pong, billiards, and air hockey. There was a large open fire pit in the front next to the waterfalls where we made s’mores every night.

And even with all that, the most incredible part of this home was being able to wake up at 7am (before the kids) to enjoy a cup of coffee while watching the sunrise and seeing the most amazing fog spread across the mountain tops.

That view was worth the entire trip for us!

Things to Do in the Blue Ridge Mountains

On this particular trip, we spent 6 event filled days in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Here are some of our favorite activities from the trip and our top must do activities when visiting the Blue Ridge Mountains!

Atlanta Aquarium

This aquarium is amazing, and the kids will love it. Take some extra time after flying into Atlanta before heading to Blue Ridge, or before you head home, check out this great aquarium.

Mercier Orchards

For us, this stop is one of the most memorable stops in Blue Ridge. There is something so special about visiting an orchard. We took a hay ride with the kiddos up to the orchard fields where they let you roam around picking and eating apples. The kids had a blast, and Mason even lost a tooth biting into an apple!

After picking apples, we walked around their enormous shop trying homemade foods and buying tons of their famous maple syrup and homemade fried apple pies. The fried apple pies disappeared before we even made it back to the car!

Burt’s Farm

What is fall without a pumpkin patch? This day was so much fun! Besides a few major temper tantrums, we managed to have a really great time. The ride around this property on the tractor was so much fun, and the kids had a blast. We got to see how the pumpkins grow and some of the biggest pumpkins we have ever seen! And of course, they had fun Halloween decorations to give us some good decorating ideas for home!

Hiking

The parents decided that one afternoon the guys would get some alone time, and the ladies would get to do the same the next day. Our husbands went fly fishing in the Toccoa River (please see the hilarious, yet handsome, photo below), and we went hiking.

We made videos on toddler bathroom accidents and literally almost peed our pants laughing so hard!

Everyone was in full hiking gear, but we were probably the least prepared on our trail! We hiked at Springer Mountain, which is the very beginning of the Appalachian trail that leads north all the way up to Maine. There are so many great hikes and waterfalls around the Blue Ridge Mountains, even ones that are less challenging and more kid friendly.

Lily Pad Village

This spot has the cutest little fishing pond and gem mining spot that you ever did see! The kids loved spending the morning here. They sorted through their rock buckets full of soil, mining for gems and keeping some of the cool rocks and gems they found. We spent some time fishing by the pond using live bait. They also have a mini-golf course built into the side of the mountain!

Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

This trip was very cool for the kids and great for the parents, especially if you go during the fall when the leaves are changing. The scenery on the ride is beautiful. The hour-long train ride on Blue Ridge’s old train cars takes you to a quaint town in Tennessee where you can shop the general stores and enjoy some southern food.

Our kids enjoyed riding the train and sitting in the open cart! Also, close to the train station in Blue Ridge is an amazing public park for the kids. We spent a lot of time there, until one of the kids had an accident in his pants, and we had to leave!

Three Sisters Fudge & Das Kauffee Haus

All day, every day! We ate so much fudge and drank so much coffee, and I am not upset about it! These are just two of the many perfect little shops you can stop at for fudge and coffee in downtown Blue Ridge.

We are obsessed with walking around main street going in and out of all their great shops.

BBQ and S’mores

Do not miss out on BBQ and s’mores – you don’t even have to leave your cabin! Yes, going out to dinner is fun but not always with 6 kids in tow. So we cooked at the cabin most of the time, and it made things a lot easier. We ate dinner outside and built a fire for the kids to make s’mores.

Some of our best memories from this trip were made staying home at the cabin!

Once the kids were in bed by 8:30pm, the parents enjoyed alone time and even some of our own s’mores, too!

Black Sheep Restaurant

Hands down, Black Sheep is the restaurant you want to visit in Blue Ridge. We were lucky enough to have one parent’s night out during the trip and decided to head to the main street of Blue Ridge and try this raved about dinner spot. This place is an historical home converted into one of the coolest restaurants we have ever seen. In the past when we visited Blue Ridge, we heard about this place but we didn’t feel like it would be family friendly.

But on this trip, new owners had completely revamped the restaurant in the best way possible. The ambiance and atmosphere are comfortable and casual, but it still has that fine dining feel we were craving.

We were lucky to be seated outside on the patio where the guys could watch their football during the meal. They even have an old-school movie night on the front lawn, which is such a great touch for bringing families and children to the restaurant!

Our meal was amazing, and the food was top notch. Seriously, everything was delicious, but we must say the crab cakes and the lamb bolognese were our favorites. For dessert, we had the most amazing pumpkin cheesecake ever…a slice of heaven.

Tips on Traveling with Kids

Oh man…before you do anything else, read this article Katie wrote on traveling with kids.

Now, for the tips. Our first tip is simple – just don’t take the kids with you!

Just kidding!

We were all nervous before we left, but I have to say, the kids were great. We had a few tantrums and one nasty cold that spread around fast, but we did well. The one thing that helped us immensely was preparation!

For the airport, make sure you stock snacks, iPads, movies, games, and whatever you can stuff in your bag. Entertainment and distraction are key! We had some really fun travel games that the kids LOVED playing.

The looks we got boarding a plane with 6 kids were laughable. But never say you’re sorry as a mom. We realized we were apologizing for having kids on the plane…that’s ridiculous, right? This is life. Kids fly, and we will do our very best to keep them happy, but sometimes, kids will be kids. Luckily, ours all behaved pretty well, and we didn’t get too many dirty looks.

A great tip to keep your kid busy and interested is to let them oversee their own suitcase. Each kid had their own personalized suitcase that they were responsible for. It was so cute how much they loved having matching luggage with their cousins, and they were proud to show off their bags!

We also brought nap mats which the kids used for movie nights in the media room. Sleeping bags would be fun, too!

Final Thoughts on Traveling to the Blue Ridge Mountains

All we can say is that Blue Ridge is a magical escape that takes you to a different world. It’s a great place for families or for couples.

Blue Ridge has it all!

We are so happy we discovered this amazing vacation spot, so we can create more memories over the years. All the cabins from Escape to Blue Ridge are incredible. We have stayed in a few cabins now, but if you need a 4+ bedroom home, and it is available, we highly recommend you book the cabin Falling Waters Lodge. It has that special, warm feeling of home you long for on family vacations. We most certainly will go back!

Thanks Escape to Blue Ridge for having us and letting us experience this amazing trip with our families!

Love,

Carrie, Katie, and Alison

*This trip was sponsored but all opinions are our own! We mean it!

Isn’t it Romantic



A few years ago, you and your spouse promised each other a weekly date, knowing that it would be good (maybe even great) for your relationship. You’ve still been trying to find time for that first date. “Life” somehow always seems to take precedence, and finding time away from the merry –go-round we ride day in and day out has been nearly impossible.  Maybe it’s time to jump off that ride for just a few days. It’s time to come to the mountains and re-discover each other.  

Let’s start by renting a cabin in Blue Ridge for a romantic weekend for two. You arrive on Friday night. You enjoy an evening of sipping champagne in the hot tub and….. well, you know the rest of that evening …. 

Falling Waters Lodge

When you wake up on Saturday at noon,  feeling more connected than you have in a while, it’s time to share even more time together.

And then you realize you have nearly forgotten how to just spend time together.

Here are some suggestions to help open up the gateway to re-discovery. 

A Walk in the Woods of a Poet

You know what your heart feels, but you’ve never been able to put it to prose like a poet. The Byron Herbert Reece Farm and Heritage Center will cover that for you. Located in Union County, just a stone’s throw from Blue Ridge, this 9+ acre parcel is where Reece, a celebrated 20th Century Pulitzer Prize-nominated poet was born and raised. Now restored into a beautiful public park, with lovely walking trails cradled along Wolf’s Creek, you can take an easy stroll to our favorite romantic stop simply known as the Poetry Trail. Here you’ll discover four small islands of stone with seating at each slab that has been carved with a different poem from the Reece collection. Pick a poem, read it together and talk about your life shared, there in the stillness of the moment.

Keeping it Spa-cial

One of the most popular services our cabin couples like to take advantage of at local Serenity in the Mountains Spa is the Couples Massage. With cozy, heated tables, in a beautifully appointed private room, two therapists will give you the massage style you each prefer. Then afterward, you both can relax alone in front of the fireplace, making this a totally romantic experience.

Over a Cocktail

Maybe it’s a little later than noon before you both want to get going. You both decide you need a little nourishment but you really aren’t ready for dinner, but a great conversation over a good cocktail or two is what you’re feeling for this afternoon. We highly recommend you find a seat on the patio or on the porch at The Black Sheep. Their bartenders are highly skilled, their $5 bar menu (served from 2 till 5) is an outrageously cheap gourmet delight and the atmosphere is divine. 

Keep It Moving

Your lives seem like they are in perpetual motion, and you aren’t always on the same ride. This is a great time to move in the same direction sharing the jaunt, whether by land or by sea.  For a romantic evening on the lake, contact Capt’n Joe and book an evening sunset pontoon boat ride on Lake Blue Ridge. Enjoy cuddling under the moon as the lake laps in a soothing motion, getting your heart beats to synchronize once again.

Would you like to propose all over again to the love of your life? Appalachian Trail Rides has the “horse” power you need to do it in style. Their “Proposal Ride”  is a 1.5 Hour reserved guided ride (includes a bottle of sparkling cider) on a private trail to a secluded romantic gazebo in the woods by a stream and lake.

Bring Back the Memories

Remember the good old fashion make out sessions you had at the Drive-in movie? Well, you can rekindle those sparks just around the bend at the Swan Drive-in here in Blue Ridge. This historic drive-in theater was established in 1955. It shows first-run movies, has great popcorn and hot dogs and they promise to not shine a light inside your car because they got a call from your concerned parents.  

Star Gazing

Sometimes relationships need perspective. We are so busy, day in and day out, each fighting the challenges presented to us, we forget the big picture. There’s no better reminder of our place in the universe than to stare up at the starlit night. Away from the glare of the city lights, there is nowhere better to observe the galaxy than here in the mountains. Grab a blanket and take a ride out to Cooper’s Creek Wildlife Management Area. Part of the US Forest Service, the Wildlife area is open 24 hours a day. It is just the perfect place to share a romantic evening, together, under the stars.

Fire Pit Fixings



Last week this blog featured a tremendous round up of cabins with great firepits. One of our favorite things about the weather changing is sitting around the fire pit with a chill in the air, but you are completely warm, not just by the heat of the fire but by the company you are so enjoying.  Adding to the ambiance of the evening includes singing songs, swapping tall tales, and of course fire pit cooking!

It’s so fun if someone in your group has a guitar or harmonica, they could play for everyone to sing and clap along, but you don’t even need music to sing your favorite campfire songs! Telling ghost stories always proves to be a good time too. Although the ghost stories typically end up in squeals of laughter because you know that one person that is SUPER scared and they end up falling out of the chair, jumping & panicking, or making funny noises as they try to tame their heebee geebies. Oh yes, good times! Most importantly, you can’t forget about marshmallows!

Who doesn’t love to roast marshmallows? This might be the best and most memorable part about having an outside fire. First, you go on a stick hunt to find that perfect length and sturdiness then roast your marshmallow to the perfect amount of burnt that you prefer. Or, take it to the next level and break out the chocolate and Graham crackers for a melt in your mouth, perfectly crafted s’mores! But s’mores aren’t the only thing you can cook over the fire. Try one (or all) of these “fire pit fixing” ideas next time you Escape to Blue Ridge!

The Healthy-ish Approach

Have you ever considered roasting fruit over an open fire? No? Well, you should because it is F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S! Choose from pineapple, bananas, watermelon, apples or peaches. The fruit sugars almost caramelize making for a divinely delicious guilt free treat. Of course, having a little caramel or chocolate on hand to dip your roasted fruit into never hurt anyone, and definitely adds more “pow” to your taste buds! Make ahead fruit kabobs or just place them on your stick like you would a marshmallow! Side note: strawberries dipped in marshmallow fluff and then roasted will make your mouth do a happy dance!

Go Fancy

Who says fire pit cooking has to be basic and boring? Impress your guests with fireside Shrimp Scampi! This meal is super easy to prepare, but even more divine to eat! All you need is foil, butter, peeled & deveined shrimp, a little lemon, and your favorite seasonings. We typically improvise with a little bit of this and a little bit of that, but for you by-the-bookers, here’s a simple go to recipe with exact measurements.

Classic

It may not be fancy, but there is something extra delicious about a roasted hot dog! It really doesn’t get any easier than this. Pick your favorite dog, we are partial to the Hebrew National all beef hot dogs, pierce it with your stick and roast away. You can even toast your hot dog bun on a stick for a well-rounded hot dog experience!

Kid Friendly

Fast, easy and delicious…that’s my kind of cooking!  You can prepare these French bread pizzas ahead of time or create a little make-your-own station on the picnic table. Slice your French bread, cover with marina sauce, add your favorite toppings (pepperoni, mushrooms, Canadian bacon, olives) and finish with mozzarella cheese. Wrap your creation in heavy duty aluminum foil and throw them on the fire!

Dare To Be Different

Super easy, but super delicious is campfire cinnamon rolls! Simply buy your favorite brand of refrigerated cinnamon rolls, we personally love Pillsbury Grands. All you have to do is unroll a cinnamon bun and divide the long pieces of dough into sections. Wrap a portion around your stick, careful not overlap for even cooking, and roast away!  

Next Level S’mores

Bacon. Yes, you read that right. A little graham cracker, a little marshmallow, a little chocolate, and a couple of pieces of bacon (which you could also roast over the fire) will have your tongue jump out and lick the eyebrows right off your head!

We also encourage you to mix up your chocolate options. Truth be told, it’s hard to beat a piece of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate, but have you ever thought of using a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup? What about a Kit Kat Bar? We suggest you try a York Peppermint Patty next time, you won’t regret it. In fact, you may never go back to the traditional s’mores again!

Adults Only

If you’re looking for a way to warm up from the inside out, a Hot Toddy is definitely in order and extra enjoyable sitting outside by the fire. Boil water over your fire and add a tea bag to your cup. Let your tea steep for about two minutes, then add a shot (or two) of whiskey, a little honey, a slice of lemon, and some cloves for extra spice. Bam! Now we are ready to make some fireside memories!

Pet Friendly Blue Ridge



As animal lovers ourselves, we understand that when you plan a vacation to Blue Ridge, Georgia that you want your four-legged family members to accompany you. Just as you love the fresh mountain air and seeing new places, so do pooches! There are so many new smells they’ve never sniffed, creeks to splash in, and they would much rather be with you than be kenneled!

Stay

Here at Escape to Blue Ridge we have over 100 cabins that are pet friendly! You can choose cabins by the lake or near a river. There are also pet friendly cabins in the middle of the woods with acres and acres for your puppers to run to their little heart’s content. Some properties are even fenced in like Black Dog of Blue Ridge.

Shop

Blue Ridge is a very pet friendly community. Whether you are bringing Fido with you or just want to bring home a souvenir for your best friend, Blue Ridge Cotton Company is both a pet and human friendly store! Here you will find great apparel, gifts, and of course doggie approved décor! The owner’s own pup, Watson Agee, can often be seen “working” at one of their two locations in Blue Ridge or Blairsville. Stop in, give him a pet on the head, and enjoy browsing all of their unique finds!

Watson Agee working at Blue Ridge Cotton Company

For the outdoorsy canines, head to Blue Ridge Adventure Gear for the hottest trends, most delicious treats, and all the outdoor gear you might possibly need. Keep Rufus safe out on Lake Blue Ridge with life jackets, play fetch at Morganton Point with glow in the dark balls, or keep them safe in your car with a dog hammock. Oh, did we mention the treats? Well, they have plenty along with their sister store, Blue Ridge Adventure Wear. Your pup is going to get pawsitively excited when you buy him some of their most scrumptious looking doggie donut treats!

Doggie Donuts at Blue Ridge Adventure Wear

Love Dogs and Cats Too is a holistic pet supply shop that has everything you could ever need for your favorite family member. They carry collars, leashes, food, toys, and treats. Here you’ll find natural flea and tick soaps, pet friendly cbd oils, and even puppy clothes! Stop on in if you Love Dogs, they’ll be happy to see you!

Dine

It’s true. We have some incredible restaurants here in Blue Ridge. The best part is some of them allow pets to join their owners for delicious meals. Right in the heart of downtown Blue Ridge, you can sit on the inviting patio of Treo and enjoy an outstanding meal. This fine dining establishment features southern cuisine in a casual atmosphere. Their steaks are to-die-for, but really you’ll enjoy anything Chef Patrick prepares!

Coolest Pooch at Treo

Why does happy need to be limited to an hour when you get to vacation with your best friend? Well, it doesn’t have to be at Brew Ridge Brewery! Their “yappy” hour lasts from 4pm to 7pm. You get good deals on custom crafted brews and your BFF gets a special puppy treat! While you’re here you can also enjoy a delicious burger, meatloaf sandwich, or some good ol fashioned chicken wings. They often have live music and of course ice-cold beer!

Yappy Hour at Blue Ridge Brewery

Drink

How can you not love a business that broadcasts “Dogs are welcome, and people are tolerated!” Grumpy Old Men Brewing is a laid back, fun microbrewery is open Tuesday through Saturday and offers 18 beers on tap. They often have live music and they stand by their motto: If we don’t like it, we don’t drink it. If we don’t drink it, we don’t sell it. So, come out and feel like a local, have fun, and drink good beer!

Chilling at Grumpy Old Men Brewing

Best Friend Wanted

If you don’t already have a best friend or are looking to grow your furfamily, stop by the Humane Society of Blue Ridge. This no kill shelter often partners with local businesses to encourage pet adoptions and to support their non-profit work of supporting sick, injured, or abandoned animals. They run a Thrift Store to help offset operational costs, and they even have a dog park that’s open 24/7 that all are welcome to use!

Adopt a best friend at the Humane Society of Blue Ridge

Doggy Daycare

A lot of times our guests will make day trips from the cabin and not all towns are as pet friendly as Blue Ridge. If your planning an adventure and you can’t take Benji with you, make an appointment at Violet’s Doggy Daycare. Here your pup will be able to make friends, run around, and be safe and secure until you come retrieve them. While there you can even get your pooch a peticure or a full grooming session. Violet’s also offers homemade pet treats and jerky treats.  

Puppy Play Date at Violet’s Doggy Daycare

Emergency Services

While you are on vacation, sometimes things can happen. Maybe Rufus counter surfed and gobbled down some grapes and now he feels under the weather or maybe while he was out exploring in the yard, he tried to eat some berries that he shouldn’t have. We don’t like to think about these things happening and when you are away from home you don’t know who to use or where to go to when emergency services are needed. Fortunately, right here in Blue Ridge we have a highly rated and extremely respected emergency veterinary service that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year! Mountain Emergency Animal Center provides comprehensive emergency and urgent care and work closely with your primary veterinarian to provide the most complete care possible for your family pet. We hope that you won’t need to utilize their services, but in the event that you need to, know that you are in great hands!

Daddy-O: A Blue Ridge Father’s Day Guide



Our rock. Our protector. Our hardworking, sacrificing, Mr. Fix It, all around wonderful man. Often times the fathers in our life don’t always get the appreciation they deserve. However, you can change that this Father’s Day and honor the man in your life with a perfect Escape to Blue Ridge.

So how do we make Dad happy? Well, through his stomach of course! And boy, do we have some good eating right here in Blue Ridge.  Here are our top 3 picks that Daddy-O is sure to love:

Blue Smoke World Famous BBQ

I mean, if “World Famous” is in their name, how could you possibly deny Dad the most sacred of southern cuisines – BBQ! Whether he is a simple man and just wants some slow smoked pulled pork or he is a purist choosing the rib option, your Pops will LOVE the smoky and flavorful BBQ from Blue Smoke. This Father’s Day they are featuring a special: For $55 you can get 2 Racks of Ribs OR 2 lbs of Brisket AND 1 Pound of Pulled Pork or Chicken! You also get cole slaw, baked beans, Texas toast, BBQ sauce, and 1 gallon of Sweet Tea! You can’t beat that deal with a stick! Check them out in Downtown Blue Ridge at 3365 East 1st St.

Ribs at Blue Smoke BBQ

Fightingtown Tavern

You don’t actually have to get into a brawl to enjoy a meal at Fightingtown! Named after a nearby creek, Fightingtown brings you regionally-sourced comfort food with a pretty big twist. Known for their delicious yet unique burgers, Dad will flip over the Megadeath Burger: two 1/2lb burger patties, 2 fried eggs, 2 slices of cheddar, 2 slices of pepperjack, 4 slices of house cured bacon, grilled jalapenos, grilled onions, beer cheese & sriracha all separated by a Krispy Kreme glazed donut! Yep, you read that right, a donut in between all that meaty goodness! Sounds healthy right? Well, calories don’t count when you are celebrating the toughest man in your life! Go ahead and live a little. Don’t worry, they have plenty of beer to wash it all down!

Megadeath at Fightingtown Tavern

Boat Dock Bar & Grill

Take Dad to a sunny spot for shady people and enjoy a delicious meal, heavenly drinks and the most incredible view of Lake Blue Ridge and the surrounding mountains! Not only can you sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery, but you can fill your belly with favorites like fried grouper tacos or their smoked chicken wings. Before or after your meal, head next door to the Blue Ridge Marina and rent a pontoon boat to go explore all the coves around the lake. If you really want to make this a Fathers Day to remember, the folks at the Marina would be happy to sell you a new wave runner or boat.

The Bar at the Boat Dock Bar & Grill

Three Cheers for Dad!

Because Dads work so hard day in and day out, they deserve a reward and what better treat than a cold one? Here in Blue Ridge we have several craft breweries to choose from. We think Dad will be in heaven when he gets to enjoy a brewsky at one of these fine establishments:

Grumpy Old Men Brewery

Just like Dad, this is a no frill joint. They don’t mess around: “If they don’t like it, they don’t drink it, and if they don’t drink it, they don’t sell it.” Doesn’t get much simpler than that! At this micro-brewery you can enjoy nine different beers on tap like the Aska Pale Ale or Moon Over Blue Ridge Wheat Ale. So, if you are looking for a dog friendly business that tolerates people and specializes in delicious beer, this is a must stop for your best father figure.

Pick your flavor at Grumpy Old Men Brewery

Blue Ridge Brewery

If the Dad in your life enjoys delicious food and some live music with his cold brews, he’ll love the ambiance and views of downtown Blue Ridge at the Blue Ridge Brewery. Here both the craft beers and scrumptious eats are created with only the finest of local ingredients. Grab some peanuts, pull up a bar stool, and enjoy the band!

Peanuts, brew, & Music at Blue Ridge Brewery

Fannin Brewing Company

Take a flight….of brews that is! This craft brewing company has grown like wildfire since inception, but they stick to their roots creating fresh beer, with fresh water, all while enjoying the fresh mountain air! Created in a German tradition, you’ll love lagers like the Blue Ridge or Black Bear lagers. If ales are more your Pop’s speed, sample the Toccoa Brown or the Hiawassee Golden. Music is as plentiful here as the brews are so be sure to mark this stop on your Blue Ridge escape!

Fresh Craft Beer at Fannin Brewing Company

Go Fish

Sometimes all a person needs to recharge their soul is time out in nature. Let Dad recharge his batteries along the banks of the Toccoa River with a rod, a reel, and a whole lot of fish! Being the Trout Capital of Georgia, the rivers and streams around Fannin County are plentiful with fish. Give him a day alone on the waters or treat him to a guided tour from Fly Fish Blue Ridge or Fly Shop Co. You can guarantee he will be talking about that experience for years to come!

Look at that trout caught with Fly Fish Blue Ridge!

Hit the Links

If the Dad in your life doesn’t feel like life is complete unless he’s on the golf course, well, he’ll be in for a treat when you take him for an afternoon at Old Toccoa Golf Course. Here he can practice chipping and putting on the greens or taking big swings on the driving range. There are currently nine holes on the Par 70 course available to play and an additional nine will be opening soon!

Old Toccoa Golf Course

Get Extreme!

Bring a little excitement into your Dad’s life by booking a Whitewater Rafting trip with the Ocoee Adventure Center. Here your main man will get the best adrenaline rush as you race down class three and four rapids in the Ocoee Gorge.  If he still wans more heart racing experience, try zipping through the Blue Ridge Mountains at Zipline Canopy Tours of Blue Ridge. Here you’ll get to see the mountains from the treetops, zip into the valley and then soar over pastures, and come in for a landing as you cross over Fighting Town Creek. Fun, fun!

A happy Dad at Zipline Canopy Tours of Blue Ridge

No matter how you choose to celebrate the best Dad in your life, be sure to tell him how much you care about him and how much you appreciate him. Happy Father’s Day!

Salsa or Sushi?



Even though a trip to the mountains hints at a hankering for sausage gravy slathered over big fluffy biscuits, with a side of smoked baby backs and a dish of collards with ham hocks, you will find lots of exceptional cuisines that aren’t best washed down with sweet tea and a to-go container of banana pudding.

Here are some of the restaurants that are within a 35 mile drive of Blue Ridge that will more than satisfy your craving for either salsa or sushi:

The Rum Cake Lady Cuban Café

Photo Courtesy of the Rum Cake Lady

Yes, Miss Elizabeth is best known for her four different varieties of Rum Cakes which she ships all across the globe from her mountain bakery. But those who are fortunate enough to have eaten at one of her two café establishments know that it’s just as much about the true Cuban cuisine, not just the cakes. With two locations to serve you, the downtown Blue Ridge Café is similar to a Cuban walk-up window, or “La Ventanita”. When after a morning of hiking or tubing, you are hungry and you don’t want to shower before a hearty lunch – this is the ideal place to visit. They offer fresh, authentic Cuban sandwiches, tamales, empanadas, plantains, rice, and beans.

Their Copperhill location includes indoor seating, dinner hours, the same great menu plus a Cuban grocery. Both locations boast the best Cuban coffee in the mountains. A guava and cheese pastelitos or a caramel flan with a café con leche is not a problem on your diet. After all,  you are on vacation. Oh, and grab a couple of rum cakes for those you left back at home. Located at: 205 First St. Blue Ridge GA & 111 Ocoee St. Copperhill TN.

Asiano

Images courtesy of Asiano

When the urge for Asian cuisine hits, there always seems to be an issue with which style will you treat yourself tonight. Will it be sushi or Thai? Japanese Steakhouse or Chinese? And rarely will two people agree, much less a family of four. This is when to head straight up the 515 corridor to the beautiful lakeside town of Hiawassee.

For the past two decades, Koo and his family have been serving great food and even entertainment, as the personable hibachi chefs show off their superior knife skills around the large griddles of the Japanese Steakhouse side of the restaurant. The menu for each style of Asian fare is quite extensive, with all food fresh and sauces made in house. Whether it’s their traditional sweet and sour soup or their untraditional Philly cheesesteak eggroll, you won’t be disappointed with the number of options to satisfy that Asian craving.  Located at 1382 Hwy 76 (515) Hiawassee, GA.

Las 2 Hustecas

Photo Courtesy of Las 2 Hustecas

You won’t need your passport, but this Mexican food is so authentic, you’ll have wondered if you crossed the border and stumbled into a small village cantina. There are often two sure signs that a Mexican restaurant serves top-notch authentic cuisine. Yes to both at Las 2 Hustecas. A good percentage of the clientele is Hispanic and the best chefs in the region are often seen eating here on their nights off.

Rated nearly five stars on every online review service, the reviewers consistently mention that they were served the BEST guacamole, the biggest burritos, the smallest seating (so expect to wait or opt for takeout) and the highest quality fresh food, all at ridiculously low prices (there’s a breakfast menu, too). In fact, the main complaint from out of town visitors is they don’t have Mexican food this good when they go back home. Located in a little strip center, no frills 4114 E. Main St.  Blue Ridge, GA.

Kizuna Sushi & Noodle

Photo Courtesy of Kizuna Sushi & Noodle

The newest restaurant to join the Blue Ridge culinary scene has opened to rave reviews. An authentic Japanese and Sushi House, Kizuna is an elegant restaurant that serves what one reviewer called “Japanese street food”. The sushi is raw and skillfully crafted. No California rolls here. This is true sashimi. Then they turn your idea of ramen noodles upside down with so many options to choose from for your Japanese bowls. The tempura is light with a variety of vegetables and seafood to tempt you to order fried. The pork dumplings have also won critical reviews.

Check out their menu before deciding to order take-out. The freshest items like sushi and Udon noodles will only be served in-house. Kizuna serves beer, wine and a nice selection of sake. Located at 140 Progress Cr. Suite 3 Blue Ridge GA