Labor Day in the Mountains



Labor Day weekend is typically summer’s last hurrah. Visitors flock to the mountains to escape the southern city heat, hoping to “chill” before the final quarter of the year kicks into full gear. (Yikes, only 12 weeks till Christmas? Say it isn’t so!)

Whether you came to be entertained, experience the great outdoors or just eat and drink your way through these three days, we wanted to give you a heads up on what’s happening over this holiday weekend. If the event is kid-friendly we’ve noted it with a KF seal.

Grape Stomp Festival

One of the most iconic episodes of the I Love Lucy Show was the show where Lucy and Ethel take a job in a vineyard stomping grapes. It is impossible not to belly laugh your way through this episode, and Paradise Hills Winery Resort in Blairsville, offers you an opportunity to experience this adventure at their 6th Annual Grape Fest, Saturday, August 31st.

Photo Courtesy of Paradise Hills

Join the fun staff at this mountain top winery for live music all day, grape stomping at 2pm & 4pm, a kid’s craft corner, local craft vendors and delicious wine & craft beer, too. Local BBQ food will be available for purchase. They’ll be having an “I LOVE LUCY – Look-alike Contest” at 2pm and 4pm. Wine Prizes for best costume! You don’t want to miss this fun time (KF). Admission is just $25 per person includes a souvenir glass and a basic tasting. Click here for tickets.

Everybody Loves Opal

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Community Theater

It’s not just Lucy that everyone loves. Opal is a middle-aged recluse living in a tumbledown mansion in the edge of a municipal dump. Enter three vagabonds who try to swindle this kind-hearted optimist. The laughs are plenty and the joyfulness of this cast will make for one of your fondest theatrical experiences. Presented all weekend long at the Blue Ridge Community Theater, Blue Ridge GA. Click here for tickets.

U-Pick Apples

Photo Courtesy of Mercier Orchards

Enjoying the fresh air and summer breezes in the mountains is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Labor Day Weekend is the start of one of our annual visitors favorite family traditions and outdoor activities, Mercier’s Orchards U Pick  Apple season. For more details, visit their website here. (KF)

5K & Fun Run

Photo Courtesy of the Boys & Girls Club of North Georgia

If you are looking for a more challenging outdoor time before the summer ends, than you might want to rise very early on Labor Day and participate in the 3rd Annual River Run 5K and Fun Run at Horseshoe Bend Park in Mineral Bluff, GA. Sponsored by the Boys & Girls Club of North Georgia, Race Day Registration and Packet Pickup begins at 7am with the 5K race starting at 8am and the fun race at 8:30am. Bring the kids to participate, too! Awards will be presented to Overall Male/Female and top three male/female runners in 5 year age groups beginning at 10 years old and under through 75 and over. Click here for registration information. (KF)

Race Time

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Motorsports Park

If you like your outdoor entertainment to be loud and dirty, then you might want to head over to the Blue Ridge Motorsports Park on Saturday night, Aug 31 for the UCRA 3K to Win. A night at the racetrack is fun for the whole family! (KF)

Live Music

Photo Courtesy of Southern Vantage

If you love live music then you have some exceptional options this long weekend. Saturday night the Copperhead Lodge in Blairsville is throwing a party and they’ve invited Southern Vantage to headline. Join this amazing southern rock cover band on the huge veranda/porch at the lodge for drinks, grub, and dance.  They cover a variety of genres and hit songs from artists like Haggard, Cash, Waylon, Willie, Skynyrd, CCR, Seger, Blackberry Smoke, Hank Jr., Brooks and Dunn, Garth Brooks, Toby Kieth, Alan Jackson, Chris Stapleton, Luke Combs, Stone Temple Pilots, Sublime, Uncle Cracker and much more. Music begins at 7 pm. Come early, grab a seat and some great grub from the Lodge’s award-winning restaurant, The Flying Trout

BBQ & Gospel Music

Photo Courtesy of the Good Samaritans of Fannin County

Though Southern BBQ is good twelve months a year, there’s something special about smellin’ that smoker cooking some tender butts for hours on end. If it’s BBQ and good southern gospel that you are yearnin’ for, then head into the heart of Blue Ridge for the 39th Annual Labor Day BBQ & Gospel Music Show.  If it has thrived for nearly four decades, you know it has to offer the best in music and in BBQ.  It’s a 3-day event and the public is invited to enjoy all or part of it. On Monday, Sept. 2  from 11:30-6, enjoy the annual Labor Day Bar-B-Q with all the fixings served with Gospel and Blue Grass by tri-state area groups.  Presale tickets are available from participating churches, Fannin Chamber of Commerce, and American Wholesale Print Shop. (KF)

Mountain Heritage Festival

Photo Courtesy of Visit Downtown Blairsville

Every Saturday and Sunday of  Labor Day weekend downtown Blairsville hosts, the Mountain Heritage Festival. Presented by the Union County Historical Society, the festival celebrates the history and mountain culture of these hills and valleys.  Mountain arts/crafts, music, living history activities, demonstrations on quilting, spinning, basket making, chair caning, farm animals, and gold panning, along with activities for children. The activities will be centered around the restored 1861 Payne family log cabin, the Mauney family barn, the Duncan family cabin, and other structures from Union County’s past. Festival hours are 9 am to 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free and there’s plenty of free parking around the Square. (KF)

Summer’s Last Hurrah

Photo Courtesy of Heather Drones

William Shakespeare penned “Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.” We couldn’t agree more. We look forward to seeing you here in the mountains this Labor Day weekend for summer’s last hurrah!

Trail Trees and Fairy Crosses



For most American kids, our first introduction to the concept of trail markers is Hansel and Gretel’s attempt at leaving crumbs on their venture into the woods. The birds thwarted their efforts and that’s where their fictional journey begins. First published in 1812, their story was read to children in Germany at the same time the Cherokee Indians were creating their own trail markers here in the North Georgia Mountains. Or are Trail trees just folklore?

Trail Marker Trees

Trail trees, trail marker trees, crooked trees, prayer trees, thong trees, or culturally modified trees are hardwood trees throughout North America. One unique characteristic of the trail marker tree is a horizontal bend several feet off the ground, which makes it visible at greater distances, even in snow. These distinctive characteristics convey that the tree was shaped by human activity rather than deformed by nature or disease. The legend is that Native Americans intentionally shaped these trees for navigational purposes or to mark important places, such as sacred burial grounds.

Photo Courtesy of Donna O’Neal

Throughout the North Georgia Mountains, a day of hiking can find you encountering one or more of these gentle bent giants in our forests. As you hike through one of the twenty four top forests in our area you’ll stumble upon some of the most incredible shaped trees and wonder if they are the work of Mother Nature or did an American Indians walk these same trails 200 years ago. It is both highly possible and very likely that the tree was there marking a specific direction or possibly an area where a plant grew at its base that was used for healing.

Fairy Crosses

For many, a hike in the woods is an adventure you remember from your childhood days. It is a child’s foray into uncharted territory, a field or a wooded area close to home where they might discover an old unidentifiable bone, a creek filled with crayfish, or a cluster of butterflies on a floral bush they’ve never seen the likes of before. They come back from these walking expeditions with pockets filled with pretty leaves, unusual shaped stones and always a bird feather or two. As adults we reawaken that lust for exploration and here on these mountain trails, there seems to be one treasure that many are hunting: Fairy Crosses

The Legend of the Fairy Cross derives from the Cherokee Indians and thought to be over 2000 years old! It is said that long, long, ago fairies inhabited a certain quiet and remote region in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The fairies roamed freely, enjoying the beauty and serenity of that enchanted place. One day, the fairies were playing in a sunny dell when an elfin courier arrived from a far-away city bearing the sad news of Christ’s death. When they heard the terrible details of the crucifixion, the fairies wept. As their tears fell to the earth, they crystallized into little stone crosses. Though the fairies have long since disappeared, the little stone crosses, known as “fairy stones,” still remain as vestiges in that enchanted spot. There was a belief among the Cherokee that the crosses had the power to reduce the owner invisible at will. In some instances, the tiny crosses were supposed to give the owner the power of diving into the ground and coming up again among the enemy to scalp and kill with unexpected terror.

The Scientific Side

Fairy crosses (aka fairy stones) are small bricks originally formed seven miles underground of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Staurolite crystals form into little tiny “bricks” that, under pressure, twist in 60 degree or 90 degree angles, forming crosses. As they push their way up to the earth’s surface, the action of wind and rain dissolve the softer surrounding stone called schist to reveal the precious cross-shaped minerals within. 

The good fortune of finding fairy stones is best after a heavy rain. Dig with your hands along the soft dirt at the base of the trees. The cross stones are the same color as the dirt, so use your hands to sift the stones from the soil until you find a cross shaped stone about the size of a small marble, usually less than an inch in length. They are wonderful keepsakes when found, and can be polished and used as a lucky pocket token, or designed into a necklace, bracelet, or earrings.

Pezrok

If you haven’t had the good fortune to find a fairy stone on your hiking trip, you can still find a wonderful collection of fairy crosses at Pezrok in downtown Blue Ridge, a gallery full of artistic creations of exquisite minerals, fossils, gems and carved driftwood.

Photo Courtesy of Jim Korzep

There are countless numbers of adventures to be had on your visit to these mountains. You’ll want to capture many of your explorations in pictures to take home and share with us, your family, and your friends. Oh, and while you are taking a cell phone selfie at one of the bent trees you are likely to encounter, remember your phone is also equipped with GPS, which will assure your chances of getting back to your car in the parking lot. As we already know from 19th century literature, leaving a trail of breadcrumbs will not suffice.

Hit the Rapids



Photo courtesy of Ocoee Rafting

The Southeastern United States is known for having some of the best whitewater around. Here in Blue Ridge we are within 1 hour of 3 action packed, exciting rivers and 2 hours away from one of the most challenging rivers in the state! Our cabins make the perfect Home Base for day trips, exploring the beauty of Mother Nature and soaking up the Appalachian Lifestyle.

Cartecay River

Photo Courtesy of Ellijay River Outfitters

Just thirty minutes from downtown Blue Ridge, you can access the put-in to the 91-mile Cartecay River off Highway 52. This class I-II river starts in foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and runs West and if you follow it pass the common commercial takeout, you’ll float right through the center of town! The river begins with a nice, calm current as it meanders through the valley. About halfway through your float, the rapids begin to increase in frequency and in fun! The last quarter of the river offers some fun rapids that aren’t too terribly technical and end in a last hurrah at Blackberry Falls. This intimidating looking rapid is really just a big slide and is tons of fun to run down regardless of the your water vessel. There are two outfitters, Cartecay River Experience or Ellijay River Outfitters, to help you with shuttle assistance or to rent you a tube, kayak, or canoe.

Bonus: Since Ellijay is the Apple Capital of Georgia, there are plenty of Apple Houses around to stock up on cider, breads, and of course a wide variety of apples!  

Nantahala River

Photo courtesy of Nantahala Outdoor Center

About an hour Northeast of Blue Ridge after passing through the mountain towns of Murphy and Andrews in Western North Carolina the road will narrow up and you will begin to drop down into the Nantahala Gorge. There’s just something about this gorge that’s special. You can hang a right on old river road and watch the pro kayakers take on the Cascades and Upper Nantahala or continue straight to the lower Nantahala and stop at one of many outfitters that offer guided and non-guided rafting adventures.

The 8-mile Nantahala River is a Class II-III River that runs right along US HWY 76 deep through the Nantahala National Forest. There is no shortage of fun on this exciting river! The opening rapid Pattons Run is a good class III rapid to get your blood pumping right off the bat! After that enjoy a good hour or two of fun, fast, cold water and about 20 named rapids. The river ends with the Grand Finale of The Falls. This class III rapid has an observation deck for passerby’s to stop and watch as the kayaks, canoes, and rafts navigate the technical section of fast white water as they try to pick the perfect line to conquer The Falls!

Bonus: Eat at River’s End after a fun day on the water. Enjoy delicious food, friendly service, and a spectacular view of the river below.

Ocoee River

Photo Courtesy of Ocoee Rafting

Traveling a little less than an hour Northwest from Blue Ridge the Ocoee River, home of the 1996 Olympics is 10 miles of Whitewater fun! The aforementioned Olympic competition took place on the upper section of the Ocoee River. This super technical section of the river features some of the biggest most challenging rapids and is only able to be experienced for 34 days per year. The Middle Ocoee is 5 miles of class III and IV rapids. Hop on Mother Nature’s natural roller coaster and squeal with delightment as your trusty raft guide navigates you and your party down the river with great care to maximize the fun! From the put in at Grumpy’s to the ending rapid at Hell’s Hole, you will never forget the fun and excitement of a trip down the Ocoee!

Bonus: Love to mountain bike? The Cherokee National Forest features miles of mountain biking trails.

Chattooga River

Photo Courtesy of Wildwater

Made famous after the filming of the movie Deliverence, the Chattooga River is about two hours from Blue Ridge. Flowing across both Georgia and South Carolina, the Chattooga River is divided into 4 sections with section 4 being probably the hardest in the Southeast. The class III section increases in difficulty from a mild beginning to a challenging final rapid at Bull Sluice. Being that section 4 of the Chattooga begins at the hardest rapid on section 3 should lead you to believe that this will be a much more challenging run, and you’d be absolutely right about that. The crux of section 4 is at the Five Falls Section of the river. These Class IV rapids are no joke with a 75 foot drop from the beginning to end.

Bonus: Add to your adrenaline rush by booking a Zipline trip where you fly through the sky, over lakes, and among nature!

Blue Ridge Unplugged



In today’s world, we spend more time staring at screens than with each other. It’s important to take a break every now and then and reconnect with the ones you love most, especially the youngest members of your family. One of the benefits of getting away for vacation on an Escape To Blue Ridge you can take the time to enjoy each other’s company, tell stories, and laugh a lot. 

Whether you are playing board games, going on a hiking adventure, or roasting marshmallows by the fire pit, when you make an effort to unplug and spend quality time together, you will make memories to last a lifetime!

Get Adventurous

Long Creek Falls

Getting kids outdoors and into nature is one of the best things you can do for them. Not only is it good for their health, and yours, but it will also help build their confidence. What better feeling is there than to look back at how far you’ve come and be proud of that journey? Whether your taking the stairs at Amicalola State Park, bouncing along the swinging bridge, or taking a hike down to Long Creek Falls, your kids will feel so proud when they get to your destination. The best part? Since cell service rarely works out in the woods, you get to talk and observe nature along your route!

Learn Something Together

Children’s brains are like little sponges. They absorb absolutely everything they can from everywhere they can. One way to help encourage knowledge through learning is taking in a museum or two. Who knows, you might even learn something! For a light hearted and fun afternoon, you and your mini-me’s can try to determine whether the legendary Big Foot is indeed fiction or non-fiction at EXPEDITION: BIGFOOT! The Sasquatch Museum.

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Tourism

For a more classic approach, there is plenty to see and do at the Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association. Their gallery features a plethora of art pieces in various mediums. Each month a new Artist in Residence is featured, and their art exhibits are switched out every four to six weeks so there is always something new to see. The Arts Center also offers classes for both adults and children alike to encourage your creativity and hone your artistic skills. Like scavenger hunts? The Art Center has been instrumental in creating the one and only Trout Art Trail! Take a stroll around town and find each of the colorful trout placed throughout town. After  you’ve found them all, head to the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center for a prize!

Rainy Day Fun

2nd Story Entertainment

Oh, we know, sometimes rainy days are the most challenging days to be locked up with your kids with nothing to do. Fortunately, there is a great solution right in Downtown Blue Ridge – 2nd Story Entertainment. This kid friendly and fun business is located upstairs, on the second floor, from Chester Brunnenmeyer’s Bar & Grill. Inside you find a full eighteen holes of challenging putt putt obstacles and fun games to play in between golf rounds. The course is spread out through nine different rooms with each featuring its own theme like a red-carpet room with movie stars, a western room, and a throw back to classic games room.

Channel Your Inner Child

Photo Courtesy of Weird Oh!

The communities of McCaysville, GA and Copperhill, TN have recently seen a great revitalization which means there are some great new shops to explore and restaurant to try. We highly recommend you channeling your inner child and checking out a fun little shop called “Weird Oh!”. So, what exactly is Weird Oh!? Well, it’s a magical emporium of fun! Better known as an unusual place for unusual people, inside you will find peculiar treasures and trinkets. It’s a place where kids can be kids and adults can be kids too! Everything can be touched, moved, and you can even write on the walls and not get in trouble! The only rule that you will encounter is that laughter is a must! No matter what. Laugh, have fun, pick up a toy, purchase a gag gift that will make someone laugh. Giggle a little, chuckle a lot, let out a guffaw if something strikes your funny bone. You won’t be judged, because Weird Oh is all about fun!

What trip is complete without a little something to satisfy your sweet tooth? At Sweet & Southern Sugar Company you will be delighted with all the fun treats from delicious ice cream to decadent desserts. You will definitely feel like a kid again trying to pick out a treat. We highly recommend the Sin Shakes and their to-die-for cinnamon buns! Just across the street, you absolutely MUST take a selfie while standing in two states. That’s right. You can stand in Georgia and Tennessee at the same exact time!

If you really want to feel like a kid again, you should plan your trip to McCaysville via the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. Who doesn’t love a train ride? Come on, admit it, we’ve all played “conductor” with our best sounding “All Aboard” and attempts at a train whistle. This relaxing and enjoyable ride begins in downtown Blue Ridge and the tracks meander through the countryside on a twenty-six-mile round trip journey. There is a two hour layover in McCaysville which gives you plenty of time to check out all the shops and load up on sweets!

Be Nostalgic

Swan Drive-In

If you haven’t been to a drive-in movie since you were a kid, we encourage you to make plans to go to the Swan Drive In Theater and take in a show or a double feature! A throwback to yesteryears, there is just something so fun about watching a movie outdoors. Plan to arrive early and have a little picnic while you wait on the movie to begin. Trust us, it fills up fast, so you’ll want to be there early! There is a grassy knoll to throw a football, play some corn hole, or just enjoy an old-fashioned game of tag. Whether you choose to watch the show in camp chairs behind your car or on blankets in the bed of your truck, there will be no shortage of smiles from every member of the family. Local tip – bring a portable radio/boombox. You don’t want to be the one who’s battery dies from running the radio!

Keep It Simple

Photo Courtesy of Huck’s General Store

Kids don’t need anything to entertain them except for your attention. Well, maybe a little ice cream! Seriously though, keep it simple, unplug, and give them your undivided attention. Take a stroll through downtown Blue Ridge. There are some adorable shops that both you and your children will find interesting like Huck’s General Store. There are plenty of places along the strip to stop and grab a scoop or two like The Chocolate Express. At the end of Main Street there is an awesome playground (and restrooms) for the kids to burn off some energy before you decide on a fabulous restaurant for dinner.

Back at the cabin go on a family stick hunt to get kindling for the fire. Once the sun sets, and the fire is lit, break out the marshmallows and show them how to roast them. Do you like your marshmallows burnt too? Better yet, add graham crackers and chocolate for some campfire s’mores! The firepit is a good time to tell stories about when you were young or when your kids were young. This writer must have told her child the story of her birth no less than a million times! Break out the guitar, sing some songs, make wishes on stars, and enjoy every moment you have together. Regardless how you spend your time in Blue Ridge, be content in knowing that you are creating memories your children will hold on to and cherish forever. After all, that’s what life is all about.

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!

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!

Dog Friendly Hikes



Hiking with your dog can be fun for both you and your furry friend. Not only does it provide a great source of exercise for you and your dog, but it’s also one of the best ways to have amazing adventures while creating memories that will last a lifetime. It’s a win-win for everyone!

While we’d all love to be able to take our dogs with us on every trail we venture down, we can’t always do that. Sometimes the trails are too steep or the terrain is too rough for our four-legged friends to maneuver, or sometimes they simply aren’t allowed in that area because of other critters that may be dangerous for our dogs to encounter.

To make things a little easier for you and your furry companion, here’s a list of a few trails around the Blue Ridge area that are sure to bring tons of fun for both and your favorite adventure buddy!

Duncan Ridge Trail

Easily accessible by both the Appalachian Trail and the Benton MacKaye Trail, the Duncan Ridge Trail is one of the more difficult trails in the Northeast Georgia Mountains, spanning a total of around 30.1 miles. While the trail is  labeled as moderate to strenuous by most experienced hikers and backpackers out there (mainly because of the low usage and steep climbs), don’t let that discourage you from taking on this gorgeous trek back into the Chattahoochee National Forest! You don’t have to hike the whole 30.1 miles and for those with pups that aren’t too keen on making friends with other hikers/dogs, this trail will let you have the outdoor experience you always wanted without the anxiety of other dogs and hikers.

Lupa on the Duncan Ridge Trail

The Duncan Ridge Trail begins at Three Forks on the Appalachian Trail/Benton MacKaye Trail. Beginning at Three Forks, you’ll hop on the AT and walk the beautiful mile stretch out toward Long Creek Falls, following the soft sounds of the creek that runs alongside the trail. Hiking toward the falls, the Benton MacKaye Trail (BMT) and the Duncan Ridge Trail veer off to the right less than 0.1 miles after the short path down to the falls begins. There will be markers present that identifies which trail is the BMT and which is the Duncan Ridge Trail but just in case, follow the blue vertical blazes (marks on the trees) for the Duncan Ridge and the white diamond blazes for the BMT.

From there, hikers will follow the trail through a tunnel of laurels and rhododendrons during the spring and summer months deep into the Chattahoochee National Forest before reaching the swinging bridge over the Toccoa River. Hikers can choose to push on and make the climb up Tooni Mountain, or call it a day a hike back toward Three Forks. Regardless of what you decide, just remember to have fun and hike your own hike!

Appalachian Approach Trail

Roughly 75 percent of Appalachian Trail hikers, thru-hikers and sectioners alike, decide to take the Appalachian Approach Trail to begin the trail while the other 25 percent simply take off at the base of Springer Mountain as they start the 2,192 mile (or less) journey. But for those who want to join the majority, the 8-mile trail starts off from Amicalola Falls State Park, beginning the 78-mile Georgia portion of this famous hiking trail to Maine. Not planning on walking to Maine? Then just hop on the Appalachian Approach Trail with your favorite furry pal and enjoy one of the best day hikes in the North Georgia Mountains.


Princess Lupa on the AT Approach

Just above the top of Amicalola Falls (you can hike up the falls or just enjoy the view from the parking lot at the top), the trailhead begins. For the first ⅓ mile, the trail will coincide with the Len Foote Hike Inn. When the trail forks, follow the blue blazes, veer left, and head toward Springer Mountain.

Soon enough the trail will leave Amicalola State Park, climbing its way through the Chattahoochee National Forest and onward toward the Appalachian Trail. Though not strenuous, this trail is rated at moderate, so this might prove a challenge for some at certain parts of the trail. Elevation gain is steady over the eight miles, climbing gradually through the thick Chattahoochee Forest. During the spring and summer months, the trail beams with lush greenery and vibrant native wildflowers. In the fall, the trail is a technicolor of bright orange, yellow, and red. Regardless of the time of year, the trail promises spectacular scenery.

While much of the eight-mile stretch is shaded and covered with thicket, the last 1.5 miles will provide close to 500-ft elevation gain and thinning treeline as you make the final climb up Springer. And once you get to the summit, the blue blazes will fade to white, marking the Southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail and a gorgeous view of the rolling mountains and valleys of the Blue Ridge.

Stanley Gap Trail

If you’re looking for the typical North Georgia hiking experience for you and your furry friend, look no further than the Stanley Gap Trail. Full of bright red Georgia clay and plenty of white mountain granite and large roots, you’re in for an adventurous afternoon out in the Chattahoochee National Forest. Now, be forewarned, this trail doesn’t offer up any waterfalls or stunning summit views, but it’s great for those who just want to get out and enjoy the beauty of the North Georgia Mountains. Plus, you’ll have plenty of protection from the sun on hot, humid days.

Lupa ready to take on Stanley Gap Trail

Coming in at just under 5 miles — around 4.8 mi — the Stanley Gap Trail is rated at moderated, but those used to hiking easier trails shouldn’t find this one too difficult either. It’s fairly forgiving, with breaks in the upward climb every 50- 100 ft  along the way. The main thing hikers should watch out for are large upturned roots and rocks that can be a bit tricky to manage if you’re not careful. But as long as you are being mindful of them, the hike shouldn’t pose any problems whatsoever.

The highest point on the trail comes around Rocky Mountain, just below the summit, near the trail’s halfway point.  After reaching that point, you’ll have to scamper up one last incline before winding back down for 1,000 ft descent toward Deep Gap. If you’re not wanting to hike all the way back to the trailhead, you can always make arrangements ahead of time for someone to pick you up at the Deep Gap parking lot or even catch a ride with a trail system shuttle driver back to you (and your dog!) back to your car.

Where are your favorite places to hike with your favorite 4-legged family member? Be sure to share your pictures of your journeys with us on Facebook or Instagram. We’d love to see where your Escape to Blue Ridge takes you!

Destination: Long Creek Falls



If you’re looking for a scenic trail with beautiful falls at the end, and to check off a couple high profile hiking trails while you’re at it, Long Creek Falls in the Chattahoochee National Forest in Blue Ridge, Georgia should make it to the top of your list.

An easy to moderate difficulty rating, Long Creek Falls is a two-mile round trip “out-and-back trail” that sits directly on the Appalachian Trail (AT), with access to both the Benton McKaye Trail and the Duncan Ridge Trail. Uniquely, the Appalachian Trail and Benton McKaye Trail run together as one route during this particular section of the footpath.

With full falls, even in the middle of summer, Long Creek Falls is one of the first attractions along the Appalachian Trail and one of the prettiest you’ll find not only in Fannin County, but also throughout all of the North Georgia Mountains! Exposed rock frames the cascading water, allowing for optimum sitting spots along the bank of the falls and the creek that it feeds. Before tumbling over one large rock face, Long Creek runs over smaller rocks, making the final drop into a shallow pool at the base of the falls even that much more impressive. Since the falls are only a short walk off of the AT, it’s a hot spot for thru-hikers who want a quiet place to rest their feet, take a nap alongside the river, or simply sit and take in the beauty of the falls.

Family & Pet Friendly

Over the years, Long Creek Falls has also become a destination for day hikers, particularly families and those with dogs who want a decent trail to visit on the weekends. In fact, it’s grown so much in popularity that the parking lot at Three Forks (the area you’ll drive to the start of the trail) is always packed, sprawling out down the dirt service road, especially on the weekends. So, if you’re wanting a less crowded view of the falls, going on the weekdays would give you more privacy to enjoy the trail and the falls once you get there.

For those with kids or grandkids, the falls are a huge hit since the shallow pool serves as the best spot to take a refreshing dip in the cool water, especially on those particularly sticky, southern summer days!

Take It Up a Notch

If you’re feeling especially ambitious after hiking Long Creek Falls, you can extend your hike another 8.6 miles and head toward Springer Mountain, the southern terminus for the Appalachian Trail. Though more difficult than Long Creek, the “out-and-back” from the trailhead at Long Creek to the peak of Springer Mountain offers one of the most diverse terrains on all of the Georgia section of the AT. Just follow the 2 x 6-inch white blaze north!

Are We There Yet?

You can hear that soft rustle of water from the start of the trail all the way through.

As far as getting to the trailhead goes, it isn’t a hard one to find. In fact, you can even plug the location into your GPS and it’ll take you right to the parking lot. From Blue Ridge, you’ll take Old Highway 76 and hop on Aska Road until it dead-ends into Newport Road. Take Newport Road until it ends and turn left onto Doublehead Gap Road. Doublehead Gap will turn into a dirt road, which you’ll follow until the three-way split. On the split, follow Forest Service Road 58 until you reach Three Forks, which is just over five miles.

Once you’ve made it, park your car, follow the trail across the road from the footbridge, and take in all the wonder and beauty of Long Creek Falls!

Be sure to share your pictures of your journeys with us on Facebook or Instagram. We’d love to see where your Escape to Blue Ridge takes you!

Blue Ridge – Fly Fishing Capital of Georgia



It has been said that if you are fishing to catch fish, you are fishing for the wrong reason. Now, don’t get me wrong, catching fish is a whole lot of fun and definitely the reward for all the effort you put forth, but what I’m talking about is the spiritual part of fishing. There is just something about being in the middle of the river, just you and your rod. The motion and the movement of your rod and line is like an artist painting a masterpiece. The subtlety of the line whipping back and forth until the fly ever so gently rests on the water just waiting for a trout to come take a taste. The quietness and the solitude of the rippling waters make you feel like you are one with nature. This is what fishing is all about.

Supple Waters

Blue Ridge, Georgia was designated the Fly Fishing Capital of Georgia because of the nature of our rivers, creeks, and streams. Here you can find large wild rainbow, brown and brook trout. Additionally, the Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery stocks our creeks with thousands of fish between March and July. Right now, in the coldest months of the year, is when you can put both your skill and knowledge to the test and fish for the native trout. They thrive in the most frigid of waters and are experts at hiding in eddie lines and behind rocks. If you are interested in fishing these plentiful waters, there are a multitude of outfitters in and around town that can provide instruction, equipment, and guiding services.

Meet Will Taylor

While the Toccoa River, Rock Creek, and Cooper’s Creek are popular fishing destinations, Will Taylor and his expert guides will take you to private locations where you can catch trout that you’ll want to write home about. At the very least, all of your friends will be jealous when they see the beauties you pull in and then of course release. Taylor and his family are longtime residents of Blue Ridge, Georgia. He has created a name for himself along with his wife, Lesa, with their native trout photography. Their shop, Fly Shop Co, specializes in locally tied flies, apparel, gear, and a large selection of made in the USA items. Conservation of our waters and the inhabitants of our creeks and streams are very important to the Taylors and they are taking steps to ensure that measures ahre set in place to not only protect the trout, but also the riverbanks themselves. Book a trip with Will and you will see for yourself. His passion and excitement for fly fishing is contagious and the fish you will catch will create special memories to last a lifetime.  

Trout Festival

On Saturday, April 27th the Blue Ridge Mountain Trout Unlimited #696 and the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce will host the 4th Annual  Blue Ridge Trout Festival & Outdoor Adventures event. Located in downtown Blue Ridge, you will have the opportunity to meet with local adventure outfitters and fishing guides. There will also be conservation information, clothing and fishing gear, home décor and gifts, along with fly making demonstrations. You don’t have to worry about being hungry or thirsty while at the festival. A food truck alley and beer garden will be available for you to enjoy if you don’t want to check out one of our wonderful downtown Blue Ridge restaurants. Admission is $5 per person and leashed dogs are welcome to join you as you learn more about the Blue Ridge fly fishing culture.

Hooked On Toccoa

Hooked on Toccoa is uniquely located with step-in entry directly into the river, giving you private access to world-class fly fishing and is also the perfect spot for tubing, kayaking or just splashing around in the refreshingly clear tailwaters of the Toccoa. With an expansive grassy waterfront, you can take your pick of places to unwind outdoors- on the sprawling screened-in porch, next to the fireplace under the pavilion or suspended right above the river on the large wooden dock. The cabin is located only minutes from the beautifully manicured Old Toccoa Farm golf course and a 10-minute drive directly into historic downtown Blue Ridge, which offers delicious dining and chic shopping options.

Noontootla Cottage

Noontootla Creek in the North Georgia Mountains is world-renowned for trophy trout fishing. Located in the highly desirable Aska Adventure area, Noontootla Cottage is a prize in and of itself. Noontootla Cottage is like stepping into a scene from classic American literature, but updated for this century. Sitting amongst the corn field with its sharp roofline angles, stacked stone chimney and open, front deck, the white farmhouse immediately sparks child-like enthusiasm. It sleeps seven and is perfect for a leisurely, fun-filled family getaway or for a couple of parents treating their kids’ to their first fishing excursion. This is the finest farmhouse in an anglers’ most prized location. Let Noontootla Cottage reward you, not just through great fishing, but through an entire experience that will reconnect you and your loved ones for a most memorable mountain vacation. 

River Run

River Run is aptly named— this stunning home is built right on the banks of the Toccoa River near the famed Shallowford Bridge in Blue Ridge. The views from this unique property are as close to the water as you can get, and the home is tucked into the corner of a lovely wooded lot. Here, life is about both the liveliness and calmness of the abundant river. You can cast your line to fish directly from the home’s huge deck, without moving from your comfortable rocking chair. Or, grab your inner tube to join the happy passersby on floating rides toward river’s end. The home’s level lot offers many vantage points to take in the plentiful views and activity whether from picnic tables, the charming outdoor swing, the huge hot tub or from around an outdoor horseshoe pit.

Blue Ridge Valentine



While we should always remember to love each other 365 days a year, it’s fun to make plans and get excited about going above and beyond for your special someone to celebrate Valentine’s Day. When you escape to Blue Ridge for a weekend or week-long getaway, there is always something to do, see or just take time to reinvigorate your passion for each other. Whether you want to stay cozied up by the fire or go out and live it up, these Valentine Day ideas will make you the cupid of the year!

Surprise! We’re Escaping

Leave a note for your main squeeze letting them know you are whisking them away on a romantic getaway. Depending upon your season in life, will determine how much notice your partner needs in case work arrangements are needed or schedules need to be rearranged, but don’t give too much info away to them, surprises are fun! Place it next to their coffee in the morning, under the pillow before bed, or if you get home before they do, on the table next to a single rose.

Home Away From Home

We make it easy for you to book a fabulous cabin and offer concierge services to help make your trip even more special, but most importantly that make you look like a Rockstar! Choose to have fresh flowers, chocolate dipped strawberries, a box of chocolates and a bottle of champagne waiting for you at the cabin. We can even stock the refrigerator so you can cook up a delicious breakfast in the morning and grill some fresh fish and steaks in the evening. When you arrive, they will be squealing with joy, not only at the beauty of the cabin you rented, but for the love and thought that you put into making this trip so special.

Celebrating Love

Spend the day time hiking along the Benton MacKaye Tail and go frolic on the swinging bridge. Test the trust in your love by standing in the middle and jumping up and down to see who panics first. Kidding, of course!  Maybe keep things a little more low key and detour down to Long Creek Falls or nearby Fall Branch Falls. Having a piece of jewelry in your pocket or a meaningful gift to give her while hearing the falls rush behind you will guarantee yourself a wonderful rest of the weekend! Come back and freshen up to hit the adorable shops in downtown Blue Ridge while waiting for your dinner reservation at one of the town’s fine dining establishments like The Black Sheep or Harvest on Main.

Hibernation

From a glorious sunrise in the morning to spectacular sunsets in the evenings, there is nothing wrong with staying put inside your cabin and enjoying all the glorious views and amenities they have to offer. Crackling fireplaces are abundant to sit by and share your hopes, goals, and dreams. Game rooms a great way to challenge each other and hear the sweet sound of your heart’s laughter. Take a relaxing dip in the hot tub while you make wishes on the first stars you see sparkle over the mountainside. Best of all at the end of the day you can retire to the comfortable Master Suite for a restful night of slumber. 😉