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.

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!

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.

Shining the Spotlight on Mercier Orchards



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finding Bigfoot on a Rainy Day



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

Photo Courtesy of Patterson-Gimlin Footage

A legend or not?

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

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

Photo Courtesy of Expedition: Bigfoot

Blue Ridge Museum

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

Photo Courtesy of Expedition: Bigfoot

See For Yourself

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

Photo Courtesy of Expedition: Bigfoot

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

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



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

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

Mom with Little Ones

Daddy Daycare!

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

Mom with Teen-agers

Growing up too fast!

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

Mom with Grown Daughter

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

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

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

Where Do I Find Souvenirs?



This is often the toughest chore on any vacation.  There will be someone who was left at home that wishes they had been able to escape to the mountains with you. Bringing them home a little something special might just take the sting out of having been left behind. Here are a few downtown shops that make this task a pleasure, though they can’t be held responsible if you should purchase trinkets for yourself, as well!

Shopping for the Outdoor Enthusiast?

If a river runs through the heart of your special someone, then they might be (or wish they were) a fly fisherman. Fly Shop Co. of Blue Ridge has a sizeable collection of locally tied flies, as well as all the enviable apparel and gear. This shop knows how to bait you, now it is up to you to decide what you want to net. Visit their retail shop at 11 Mountain St. #4.

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Knife Company

The art of bladesmithing was developed thousands of centuries ago. The Egyptians used wrought iron in the production of swords and knife blades as early as 3000 BC. Blue Ridge Knife Company has one of the largest and finest selections of artisan and utility knives that can be found in the southeastern United States. Whether you are shopping for a hunter or fisherman, a steak lover, a bread baker or a savvy collector, you must not miss a visit to this shop located at 497 East Main St.

What to Buy the Artist or Art Connoisseur….

There are art galleries that display breathtaking works that go far beyond your souvenir budget, but Multitudes Gallery is not one of them. This eclectic shop, at 723 E. Main St., retails the works of many local and regional award-winning and collectible artists, yet everything you begin to covet is actually affordable. A hand-blown wine glass, a mosaic serving plate, a fabric covered lamp, a giant metal sculptured red ant or an antique jeweled photo frame are part of an incredible collection of works that will have you asking what their shipping policy might be, for you may not have enough trunk space to take all these works of art back home with you.

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association

So many of the artists featured in the local galleries are members and contributors to the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association, located at 420 W. Main St. The Arts Center has a wonderful collection of original works for sale, as well as prints, cards, and an art book library. If you are shopping for an aspiring artist, the center also has a wonderful selection of fine art supplies, the ideal gift to encourage someone to pursue their talents.

Shopping for the Porch Sitters can be a challenge.

Not everyone in your life wants to paint like Monet or fish for Moby Dick. Some of them just like to sit on the porch and observe Mother Nature at her finest, or read about the wonders of the world and the people who have evolved around it.

Blue Ridge Booksellers is what book stores should always be about. Allow yourself plenty of time to peruse this remarkable inventory of collectible, rare and antiquarian books for sale. In addition, there are great books that kids will love. The Booksellers, at 691 E. Main St., also has a unique inventory of militaria and maps.

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Bird Seep Company

One doesn’t have to be a life long member of the Audubon Society to enjoy birdwatching. When doing it from the porch, it does help to entice these feathered friends with food, lodging and a place to bathe. Blue Ridge Bird Seed Company is second to no other mercantile in this region when it comes to such an inventory.  You can visit the Bird Seed Company at 611 E Main St. They are open 7 days a week.

And for the “just bring me a t-shirt” person on your list…

Well, not just any t-shirt will do, right?  If you want it to say, Blue Ridge, you want to make a trip to The Blue Ridge Cotton Co. There you will be surrounded by high-quality cotton items including sweatshirts, hats, home accessories, and unique gifts. They also donate 1% of every purchase, every day, to a local charity. They are conveniently located at 550 East Main Street.

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Cotton Company

One of the first questions everyone will ask you when you return home from your cabin stay is, “did you see a bear?” We hope you have experienced a sighting or two, but to ensure that you don’t disappoint anyone, visit The Bear Store, (601 E. Main St. Suite 1) where everything is about the bears. Cute, friendly adorable and wearable ones, of course.

When you get home with your souvenir stash, we are sure you’ll be greeted with hugs of appreciation. They may also suggest you plan to bring them with you on your next visit. Here is a link to our larger cabins!   

Weird Oh!



There has been quite the buzz of late regarding the revitalization happening in the twin cities of McCaysville, GA and Copperhill, TN. Word is there is an investor that has been helping to spur along the progress where the state lines meet. So, we decided to go check it out. And Wow! What a turnaround!  Things are definitely changing for the better in these two little towns, but our favorite stop of the trip was this obscure little shop, right on the corner as you come into McCaysville called Weird Oh!

Weird Oh! is not a product of the fancy investor. Weird Oh! is the brainchild of a very special lady with a gigantic heart. Once upon a time, proprietor Erin Hawley, earned a living as a comedian on the coast of North Carolina. Her favorite destination to vacation was in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia. As her life progressed and her three children grew in age, she decided it was time for a change and she relocated to her vacation spot.

McCaysville, Ga

Since there were no comedy clubs in Blue Ridge, she thought maybe that would be a great business venture. However, space in downtown Blue Ridge is hard to come by. One day Erin and her eight-year-old son were walking around the McCaysville area and she thought “what do children do here for fun?” So, for the next few days, they walked the area, mother and son, back and forth, thinking and talking. Then one day on their regular walk, a for sale signed appeared in the window of the ugliest building you have ever seen. It was red and orange and just an eye sore.

As a creative artist, Erin saw a diamond in the rough and contacted the owner. For weeks she single handedly, with only the help of her youngest child, worked tirelessly to give a major facelift to this corner building. There may have been some gawking of townsfolk as Erin worked. You see, Ms. Hawley does not look like your typical business owner. Tall and gorgeous? Yes! Conservative and formal? No! Erin loves her makeup, her fashion, and it is very unlikely to catch her in any shoe other than high heels. And since she is an artist, you should expect that her body has been used as a canvas so don’t be surprised by her colorful expressions.

The Deets

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!

Like we told you in the beginning, Erin has a very big heart. Her whole purpose in opening Weird Oh! was to have a place for kids to come in and be kids. She gives gifts to almost every little one that opens the “Alice in Wonderland” door. Additionally, she supports Shop with a Cop, little league teams, and every opportunity for a child to get a toy that makes them happy. Being called a weirdo her whole life, Erin embraces her uniqueness and uses it in a way to positively impact the youth of the area.

Stop in next time you ride the Blue Ridge train or when you just find yourself exploring the twin cities of Georgia and Tennessee. Bonus tip: If you yell out “Dang, You’re Beautiful!” you get 10% off your whole order!