Provisions for Your Great Escape!



I’m not sure if I was in my right mind when I let my two cousins convince me to spend a week with them in the cabin they rented in Blue Ridge last September. It started as friendly banter between us at the annual 4th of July family reunion. My Aunt asked me about my love life, and my cousins snickered. They accused me of being a workaholic. I assured them that was not the case. They asked me how much vacation time I had accrued at my job. I admitted to three weeks (It was actually 5). They challenged me to join them on their annual fall fishing trip, promised me the master bedroom, and said that if I’d agree to cook the fish they caught, they’d foot the bill for everything, all week. That included my choice of wines.

I contemplated.
I made them pinky swear to the wines of my choice.
My Aunt chided me when she kissed me goodbye that evening. “I look forward to hearing all about you great escape adventure”.

Happy friends travelling together by a car

Ten weeks later I was in the back seat of a jeep sans shock absorbers, my suitcase stuffed with ten books I had been collecting to read on the vacations I had never found time to take and my cast iron frying pan (because frying fresh trout in anything else would be a crime).

That evening when we arrived at Eagles Landing, all my trepidations about the “deliverance” experience were evaporated. This cabin was gorgeous. And true to their word, they dropped my bags in the upstairs master suite. I decided to explore the kitchen to see what might already be there to help me execute my “duties” in the next six days. I was impressed with the tools of the trade and took out my tablet to start to create my menu.

My cousins, Jake and Jeff are twins. My Aunt and her sister (my Mom) were pregnant at the same time. I was born a mere 34 hours after they were. At family reunions, we were referred to as the triplets. Growing up we lived just two blocks away from each other until we all left for college. Our families took summer trips together for as long as I can remember. Vacationing with these guys wasn’t going to be a new journey. In many ways, I was hoping it would be a rekindling of such joyful past adventures. While deciding on the culinary options, I knew what they’d eat, what they’d abhor, and what would make them gastronomically delirious.

The next morning I woke up to find the car keys on the counter and a credit card. The note from my cousins said their guide picked them up and I should feel free to take the jeep into town and shop for whatever was needed to keep us all well fed and hydrated.

I had done my internet research on possible provisions before our arrival. My first stop that morning: Out of the Blue. This is one of the finest gourmet shops I’ve ever had the pleasure of shopping, and now, on my cousin’s tab, I was going to indulge for all three of us.

Photo Courtesy of Out of the Blue

Sara, Out of the Blue’s founder, who travels all over the world to select wines from small producers, asked me my vin likes and dislikes. We also discussed my menu ideas for the next week. I settled on wines from three countries, craft beer for the boys from the region as well as from Europe, and a selection of cheeses that she packed on ice for me so I could continue on my shopping adventure. I left feeling accomplished and I also bid farewell with a promise to revisit before heading back to the city.

My next stops were Blue Ridge Olive Oil Co. and Tupelo Tea, two sister stores that abut one another. My morning rituals are always accompanied by at least one cup of freshly brewed tea so the first door I chose was Tupelo Tea. It was amazing; a “candy store” for tea drinkers. I browsed and sniffed and tasted. After having indulged in a cup of MOCHA NUT MATE, I left with pouches of PU-ERH HAZELBERRY and CHINA MILKY OOLONG, as well as a pump jar of honey. 

Photo Courtesy of Tupelo Tea

Next door, I found the Blue Ridge Olive Oil Co. to be more than irresistible. I wanted to taste-test every one of their 65+ olive oils and balsamic vinegar from around the world, but alas, the day was short and my palette overwhelmed. I had two salads and two appetizers on my menu that needed the right dressings. Two bottles of olive oil and two of balsamic seemed a bit excessive, but it was my cousins’ nickel. I added a small bottle of blood orange olive oil to the purchase and made a note that I was going to have to make a dessert with this that both of the guys would adore (recipe below).

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Olive Oil Company

While downtown, I found my way over to Huck’s General Store. I nearly didn’t find my way back out of there. This is the kind of place that our parents would find on past summer trips, knowing that we kids would be occupied for at least an hour deciding on how we were going to spend the five dollars they gave each of us. Then we’d negotiate with each other for the rest of the trip, swapping pieces of candy and taking turns wearing the raccoon hat.  Even though the barrels of candy were overwhelmingly nostalgic, my adult tastes led me to the outstanding selection of rubs, sauces, jellies, pickles, and other canned delicacies. I took a long time deliberating before making my choices: pickled okra, habanero pickled garlic, and Huck’s sweet potato pecan butter. (recipes below).

Photo Courtesy of Huck’s General Store

Man (or in this case “men”) can not live on just fish alone, so it was off to find some scrumptious protein. I knew that easy grill meats were in order this week. These guys were going to want to just kick back with a beer (or 3) after trolling the fishline all day. I needed to keep it simple but succulent. I wanted a variety of sausages so my research took me to Margo’s Gourmet Polish Kitchen. Not only did I find a great selection of European weiners and sausages, but she also carried locally raised beef, pork. chicken and free-range eggs.

Photo Courtesy of Margo’s Bistro & Deli Polish Restaurant

Now it was time to take a lovely drive out to Mercier’s Orchard. Mercier’s started over 40 years ago as an apple orchard, but the second and third generations of the Mercier family have developed an amazing farm to table experience that draws visitors twelve months of the year, seven days a week, and from all over the world. I decided that I would have lunch in their café, and stuffed myself with a delicious salad and a fried peach pie. That gave me all the energy boost I needed to continue on my shopping throughout their huge market for the best of provisions.

Photo Courtesy of Mercier Orchard

Ladened with Mercier’s fresh produce, homemade cheese spreads, and a hefty selection of hard cider, I had just left myself enough time for my last stop of the day, Ingles Supermarket, Blue Ridge’s large grocery chain store. Trip Advisor reviews gave Ingle’s nearly 5 stars. It didn’t disappoint. I found all the rest of the staples on my list and made it home in time to sip a glass of fine wine while I read three chapters of my first vacation book before starting dinner.

The First Night’s Menu

Hordourves and Spirits

Snakebite Cocktail: Mix the following in a chilled mug: Six ounces of a dark German Guinness ale from Out of the Blue. A pinch of salt. A tablespoon of liquid from the jar of  Huck’s General Store pickled Okra. Stir.
Now pour six ounces of Mercier’s Sneaky Jack Hard Cider over the beer mixture. Serve with Huck’s Pickled Okra, (slit down the middle and scoop out the seeds)  stuffed with Mercier’s Pimento Cheese Spread. Shake a dash of Cayenne pepper over each filled okra.

Dinner

Garlic Mashed Potatoes: I cheated and bought Bob Evans family size at Ingles. You can’t tell the difference after I spiced them up with three minced cloves of habanero pickled garlic from Hucks and drizzled with Garlic Olive Oil from Blue Ridge Olive Oil.

Trout: What can one do to fresh trout besides adding a light dusting of flour, salt, and pepper then pan-fry in a hot cast-iron skillet and a large slab of Amish Butter? Well, I topped each filet with a tablespoon of Sweet Potato Pecan Butter from Huck’s General store. The guys devoured it all.

Vegetable: Steamed shredded red cabbage with a side of  Spice Apple Chutney from Mercier’s.

Dessert

Blood Orange Olive Oil Pound Cake

INGREDIENTS (Makes one 9 inch loaf)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, for the pan
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
3 large eggs
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of Blood Orange olive oil
1/2 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons brandy (or bourbon)
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup of grenadine (maraschino cherry juice)
Frosting Ingredients:
¼ cup of sugar
¼ cup of orange juice

PREPARATION
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter a 9 × 5-inch loaf pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and 1 cup of the sugar. Whisk in the olive oil, milk, brandy, lemon zest, orange zest, and 1/4 cup of the orange juice. Add the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. The batter is wet. It’s okay.
Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the cake comes out clean. You will smell the cake when it is done. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool enough to handle, then flip over onto a rack to cool thoroughly.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup orange juice. Turn the cake right side up. Using a pastry brush, brush the glaze all over the cake. Allow the glaze to harden some before serving.

Not a cook? Call the Chef!

Local area professional chefs will come to your cabin, prepare an incredible meal suited to your tastes and dietary needs, and the best part is they clean up all the mess! We recommend you consider one of these amazing options (listed alphabetically because we love all 3!):

Blue Duck Eats

Photo Courtesy of Blue Duck Eats

Steven Lash is a veteran of the the restaurant world having worked in some of the top kitchens in Atlanta for over 15 years. Steven’s food is best described as “inspired American cuisine” combining fine dining with local influence inspired by his extensive travel, passion for the outdoors, and hunger for understanding cultures.

Chef Jeff Servin

Photo Courtesy of Chef Jeff Servin

With over 15 years of restaurant experience, this 33 year old Executive Chef takes pride in sourcing his produce from local farmers, and bringing the best quality to the table for every plate he delivers, so you know it’s fresh!

Trey Griffith, cheftreygourmet

Photo Courtesy of Trey Griffith, cheftreygourmet

Using the freshest, often locally sourced ingredients, Chef Trey will create an imaginative menu for your family or fiends, all in your kitchen. Giving consideration to food allergies or dietary restrictions is something he takes into account when writing the menus.

Rampin’ It Up In Spring



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

History Lesson

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

Modern Day Uses

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

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

A Foraging Adventure

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

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

Taste Test

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

Make It!

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

Ramp and Apple Quesadilla

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

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

Black Bean and Ham Ramp Chili

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

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

Spring Salad

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

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

A Secluded Heaven



Here at Escape to Blue Ridge, we consider the current recommendation of “Social Distancing” a serious responsibility. Click HERE to learn more about what we’re doing to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus within our vacation homes.

We also believe our vacation homes provide a great resource for adapting to this new temporary way of life while still enjoying quality family time with your loved ones. In fact, providing incredible getaways in underpopulated areas is our specialty! Many of our cabins back up to National Forest service land making you feel like you are in your very own secluded heaven! Besides, last we heard, getting outdoors and spending time with family was not cancelled. So, let’s make the most of our situation and embrace the opportunities we do have.

Today, with many schools being closed and offices shutting down, there is not a better time to “seize the day” and take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy life a little. Here in Blue Ridge, we have an abundance of natural resources to experience, comfortable cabins to unwind in, and breathtaking views to enjoy your own secluded peace.

Take a Hike

There are few better places to hike than on the hundreds and hundreds of miles of trails that crisscross the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Georgia. Not only is this an area that speaks to the hiker in familiar terms – Appalachian Trail, Benton MacKaye Trail, Amicalola Falls – but it’s the wide variety of experiences, from the casual to the challenging, that make these hikes some of the most popular in America. Is Fido traveling with you? These hikes are perfect for your 4-legged adventure partner!

Ride a Horse

Photo Courtesy of @littlebitty87

There is nothing more enjoyable than unplugging form the digital world, saddling up on horseback, and heading out into the countryside. In Blue Ridge, forty percent of the county’s land is located within the Chattahoochee National Forest which means there are countless miles of trails to explore and enjoy. Fresh mountain air, beautiful scenery, abundant wildlife, and getting in touch with nature is what it’s all about. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced equestrian, one of the area’s local outfitters would love to show you our countryside and provide you with a rewarding, memorable, and exhilarating trip.

Chase Waterfalls

It’s hard to imagine anything more tranquil, peaceful, powerful and appealing than a waterfall. And if one is good, many are better. Fortunately, in Blue Ridge and Fannin County, there is an abundance of rushing water, and impressive elevations – and, thanks to gravity, it all inevitably leads to waterfalls in various forms or fashion – all about 30 minutes’ drive from town.

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. Don’t forget to bring your best friend. Dogs will enjoy the trail as much as their humans!

Scenic Drives

Photo Courtesy of @heatherdrones

Expand your horizons, pack up the family, and hit the road for a beautiful scenic drive! Here are our three favorites:

The Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway is a nationally designated Scenic Byway that is 40.64 miles in length and makes a loop through the heart of the Chattahoochee National Forest.

Brasstown Bald rises 4,784 feet above sea level and is Georgia’s tallest mountain. Visitors to this place on high find an observation deck which allows a spectacular 360-degree view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, exhibits, a film, hiking trails, and gift shop.

The Southern Highroads Trail can be traveled in its entirety or in sections.  This very scenic route travels through four national forests (Chattahoochee, Nantahala, Cherokee, and Sumter) and four states (North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia)

Isolate in Style

Black Dog of Blue Ridge Cabin

Escape to Blue Ridge cabins are equipped with every amenity you might look for in a home away from home. Complete with extraordinarily comfortable bedrooms, gourmet kitchens, and entertaining game rooms. With every rental home we provide hotel-style linens with spa-quality bath towels for each guest and exquisite bath soaps and shampoos from William Roam. Our kitchens are well-equipped with appliances including a stove, oven, refrigerator, coffeemaker and all the preparation and serving implements you’ll need to cook and serve your family. The majority of cabins feature games rooms to keep you entertained, but once you breathe in that fresh mountain air and gaze at the vastness of the mountains, your soul will already be satisfied.

Play Games

There is no shortage of entertainment when you Escape to Blue Ridge. Compete in classic board games, shuffle a deck of cards, or play charades. Some cabins feature foosball, ping pong tables or a pool table. And don’t worry. You’ll be able to keep up with current events, if you really want to, because high-speed internet is included with every one of our homes. 

Relax in the Hot Tub

Green Pine Cabin

Feel your stress melt away as you step into the bubbling, steaming 102° hot tub. When you soak in the warm water your nervous system slows down causing relaxation throughout your body. As the jets beat on your tense, tight muscles your body begins to release endorphins that provide you with a sensation to improve your overall mood. A little glass a vino. An incredible view. This social seclusion isn’t too bad after all!

Ring Around the Fire

Adventure Us Cabin

As the sun begins to set, go on a family stick hunt to get kindling for the fire. Once the fire is lit, break out the marshmallows and show your kids 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 you and your family will hold on to and cherish forever. After all, that’s what life is all about.

7 Family Friendly Diners



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

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

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

Southern Charm

Photo Courtesy of Southern Charm

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

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

Sue’s Burgers

Photo Courtesy of Sue’s Burgers

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

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

The Trailer Drive-In

Photo Courtesy of the Trailer Drive-In

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

Mystic Mountain Pizza

Photo Courtesy of Mystic Mountain Pizza

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

Mike’s Trackside BBQ

Photo Courtesy of Mike’s Trackside BBQ

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

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

Pete’s Place

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

Rum Cake Lady Cuban Café

Photo Courtesy of @gluten.freed

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

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

High Class in the High Hills²



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

Outdoor Fun and Entertainment (Including Spirits)

“Wine is the only artwork you can drink” 


Luis Fernando Oliverri
Photo Courtesy of Bear Claw Vineyards

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

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

Mountain High

Photo Courtesy of Wing-N-It Seasplane Tours

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

Par!

Photo Courtesy of Old Toccoa Farm

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

Trail

Photo Courtesy of Appalachian Trail Rides at S&T Stables

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

Epicurean Fantasies Become Reality

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


Ruth Reichl
Photo Courtesy of Treo

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

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

Concierge Services at Your Fingertips

Part of our amazing Escape to Blue Ridge team

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

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

The Ides of March



March is when things start to come alive in North Georgia. After a winter that’s been warmer than normal, then colder than normal, then wetter than normal, and finally, just … normal! Now we have buds and early flowers, parades and green beer, and of course the wineries and brewpubs are waking up with tastings and special events.  What a great time of year! Let us help you plan your next getaway. Check out the events below and come stay with us this month!

UPCOMING EVENTS & ACTIVITIES

Music & Hops
March 3 – 28
LOCATION: Misty Mountain Hops

Photo Courtesy of Misty Mountain Hops

If you love eating and music then you will love the laid back vibes of Misty Mountain Hops. Good food and sweet tunes make this Vinyl Pub a must!

March 3 – Open Mic Night Hosted By Danny Rhea
March 6 – The Orange Walls (duo)
March 7 – Paul Constantine
March 13 – Quinn Leach
March 14 – Gopher Broke
March 20 – Travis Bowlin
March 21 – Danny Rhea
March 27 – Dave Dale
March 28 – Rivertown Road

Four Old Broads!
March 5 – 22
LOCATION: Blue Ridge Community Theater

Photo Courtesy of the Blue Ridge Community Theater

Forgive the name, but enjoy the play! This is one of those plays where the setting could be anywhere, like “Our Town”, but when you localize it (in this case, Helen, Georgia), it makes it all the more fun for those who know the places and the sometimes obscure references. For those who are not familiar with North Georgia’s little slice of Bavaria, just sit back and relax, you’ll get it soon enough!

Opening Day for Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
March 6
LOCATION: Downtown Blue Ridge

Photo Courtesy of the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

Starting from a historic rail station in downtown Blue Ridge, this classic ride of 26 miles, or about four hours, winds its way along the scenic Toccoa River, through small towns and along pastoral and dramatic topography. You have your choice of vintage, climate controlled or open-air cars, and there’s even time built in for lunch and shopping for unique gifts.

Live Music at Mystic Mountain Pizza
March 6
LOCATION: Mystic Mountain Pizza

Photo Courtesy of Mystic Mountain Pizza

Pizza, beer, tunes. It’s a perfect combination for relaxing, refreshing, rejuvenating. And it’s simply fun. The atmosphere in Mystic Mountain allows you to dine and delight with food, beverages, and live music! Every member of the family will enjoy this, and they serve soft drinks too!

March 6 – Gopher Broke
March 24 – The Foothill Brothers

Bracelet Trio
March 6
LOCATION: Blue Heaven Studio

Photo Courtesy of Blue Heaven Studio

You don’t have to be crafty to make crafts, especially when you have the care and guidance of accomplished artists. In this case, you’ll have a chance to make three macramé bracelets, and you choose your own focal pieces. Then take it easy, maintain attention to detail, get into a rhythm, and complete your piece at your own pace. It’s fun, and rewarding.

Grumpy Old Men Brewing
March 6 – 27
LOCATION: Grumpy Old Men Brewing

Photo Courtesy of Grumpy Old Men Brewing

Great beer (18 beers on tap), a fun atmosphere and a stellar philosophy (delicious beer, dog-friendly, people tolerated). Plenty of craft beers, including those brewed in the brewery, and lots of live music. It’s one of those places that locals like!

March 6 – Travis Bowlin
March 13 – Captain John
March 14 – Steve Baskin
March 20 – Hunter Lyons
March 27 – Trailer Hippies

Music at The Blue Coyote
March 6 – 28
LOCATION: The Blue Coyote

Photo Courtesy of the Blue Coyote

The Blue Coyote is known for their live music and entertainment. While you’re there you can enjoy their tasty bar food and a whole bunch of beer! They even have a dog-friendly patio! Stop by, check it out, and enjoy the music!

March 6 – Bad Ju Ju and the Ems
March 7 – Adrian Stover
March 13 – Natti Lovejoys
March 14 – Gregg Erwin
March 20 – Topper
March 21 – Mind the Stepchildren
March 27 – Donnie Hammonds
March 28 – Breaking Point

Live at The Bin
March 7 – 20
Location: Bin 322

Photo Courtesy of Bin 322

It’s hard to beat a relaxed setting for live music and Bin 322 Tasting room and Tapas Bar has managed to accomplish that with comfy, family style furniture in a restaurant so you don’t have to cook or even walk to the fridge. Relax. Take your shoes off. Well…at least relax!

March 7 – Chip McCain
March 14 – Robbie Litt
March 20 – Loose Shoes Duo

Cork and Canvas
March 7
LOCATION: Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association

Photo Courtesy of the Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association

This should be obvious – cork=wine; canvas=art. Put the two together and you have the perfect combination for some fun and fundraising. Wine, a silent auction, a count-the-corks raffle, live music and tasty delectables all contribute to a fine event each year.

Kudzu Vine Shamrock Class
March 7
LOCATION: Pic ‘N Vine

Photo Courtesy of Pic ‘N Vine

It’s not like there’s any shortage of kudzu. So, what do you do with it? Well, it’s rumored that goats eat it, but what fun is that? Much better to get all crafty and artistic with it. Weave it, along with some nice green ribbon, into a kudzu vine shamrock! A perfect gift for your favorite leprechaun.

Live Music at Cartecay Vineyards
March 7 – 29
LOCATION: Cartecay Vineyards

Photo Courtesy of Cartecay Vineyards

A beautiful vineyard and winery set in pastoral farmlands in the heart of the Southern Appalachians. Cartacay’s wine history dates to 2007, but it’s heritage is comprised of Cherokee roots (in fact, Cartecay translates to “bread valley”). The winery features plenty of locally sourced wines, tastings and special events, plus live music on most weekends.

March 7 – Craig Hendricks
March 8 – Camille Rae
March 14 – Gregg Erwin
March 15 – Cagle Pitts Duo Review
March 21 – April Cummings
March 22 – Thomas Hinds
March 28 – Adrian Stover
March 29 – Travis Bowlin

St. Patrick’s Day Parade
March 14
LOCATION: Downtown Blue Ridge

Photo Courtesy of The Boro Inn Irish Pub

This is a day when you’re encouraged to act a little nuts! Dress up in green, maybe even dress your dog up in green. Starting at about 11 am, put on funny hats, pants and shoes, maybe some green sunglasses, and join in a parade down Main Street in Blue Ridge with a couple hundred of your new best friends. Then stay in costume if you like, do a little shopping, eat some cabbage, and maybe drink a bit of green beer. It’s a party, ya’ll!

St. Patrick’s Day Parade
March 14
LOCATION: East Ellijay

Photo Courtesy of the Friends of Gilmer Animal Shelter

There are discernable differences in how different towns celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in these parts. For Ellijay, it includes all the usual green stuff. Dress in green, eat green muffins, drink green beer, but add to that, green pets. A pet parade is a big part of Ellijay’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. So, get your dog, or cat, or turtle ready to have fun!

St. Patrick’s Day Baking Class
March 14
LOCATION: Mercier Orchards

Photo Courtesy of Mercier Orchards

Forget Green Eggs and Ham! Despite the urgings of “Sam I Am, this unique event is a chance to eat green stuff that tastes GREAT! It’s mostly for kids, but, as always, adults get drawn into the fun, and before you know it, you’ll find yourself combining colors to make various shades of green cakes, cookies and frostings. And it’s highly likely you’ll be eating more than you take home!

Wine Highway Week
March 20 – 29
LOCATION: All over North Georgia

Photo Courtesy of the North Georgia Winegrowers Association

Here’s a simple concept: 1. Love wine 2. Get passport for wine tastings 3. Taste wine all over North Georgia during an entire week! Several of the participating wineries are located central to Blue Ridge, Ellijay, and Blairsville, so you don’t have to go far. But if you decide to venture further, you can use the Blue Ridge Region as home base for hub-and-spoke forays into WineLand. It’s a fun and fruitful way to explore new wineries, enjoy different wine venues, music, entertainment and tasting varieties. One piece of advice: don’t overdo it in a single day. After all, you’ve got all week. Take your time; sip and enjoy!

Bowls of Hope
March 28
LOCATION: Willow Creek Falls Vineyard

Photo Courtesy of Feed Fannin

Here’s a chance to enjoy wine and do something truly good for the local community. Purchase a piece of local pottery and a contribution will be made to the Fannin area food banks. You also get to sample local soups (use your new bowl!), breads and desserts from local restaurants.

Drifters, Coasters, Platters
March 28
LOCATION: Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds

If all those sound like kitchen and living room amenities, you probably missed the 1950’s and 60’s the first time around. You’re young. Be happy. But if you remember the Drifters, Coasters and Platters, or you found them among the nostalgic music on YouTube, dig out your dancing shoes and come join the fun!

Randall Bramblett
March 28
LOCATION: Blue Ridge Community Theater

Photo Courtesy of the Blue Ridge Community Theater

Randall Blamblett is quite simply a wonder. He’s like a musical encyclopedia (remember those?) of the last thirty years, having played with, and written music for, the likes of Bonnie Raitt, The Allman Brothers, The band, Widespread Panic, and he and his band effortlessly cover iconic bands like Hot Tuna, Delbert and dozens of recognizable others. As part of the Live Music is Better series, all attention is on Bramblett – his skills, diversity and variety.

NEW HOMES ADDED TO OUR PROGRAM

This 4-bedroom, 3-bath cabin is the epitome of beauty and class! Aska Easy Day features incredible views of both the Blue Ridge mountains and Lake Blue Ridge, once you check in, you’ll never want to leave! The best part about this gorgeous cabin is that you can bring your 4-legged family members with you on your escape!

Perched on a mountaintop more than 3,000 feet above the trees with dramatic, sweeping long-range mountain vistas in the distance, The Owl’s Perch is like a magnificent picture postcard come to life. Located northeast of Lake Blue Ridge on a large lot in Morganton that borders unspoiled U.S. Forest Service land, it’s a calm oasis far removed from stressful city life, but just a short drive away from the shops and dining of downtown Blue Ridge.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Photo Courtesy of Pedego Electric Bikes Blue Ridge GA
Photo Courtesy of Pedego Electric Bikes Blue Ridge GA

SPRING BREAK IN BLUE RIDGE

Spring Break is just around the corner and now is a great time to start planning your end-of-winter getaway. Afterall, we only get 18 school years with our kids, so we should make each and every school vacation count! Because if we’re being truthful, you are dying for a reason to escape from the stresses of work and Spring Break is the perfect guilt-free excuse for a fun family trip! KEEP READING.

High Class in the High Hills



Even though you love the fresh air, starlit nights, breathtaking scenery and u-pick-em apples, like many luxury vacationers, you can only imagine visiting the mountains of North Georgia for no more than a long weekend.  The idea of dining out on cornbread, fried okra, country ham and banana pudding more than once doesn’t appeal at all to your taste buds. You most likely see the shopping opportunities limited to a multitude of fudge emporiums and tourist trap museum shops that sell brown bears painted on black velvet and handmade Davy Crockett raccoon caps in adult sizes. You envision a cabin shared with three blind mice and one badly chipped Teflon pan to cook the trout you caught with a bamboo pole at a stocked trout pond the size of your kid’s wading pool. All this while foreseeing the issues with trying to keep contact with the office all week without state of the art cellular service and high-speed internet. It’s enough to send you packing the suntan lotion and heading for a week or more to your favorite pampering luxury beach resort once again. 

STOP! You have been misled by the media that overexposes Bavarian town wannabees, the virtues of “meat and three dining” and the Bob Ross painting shows you watch on the nights when your Ambien isn’t working. We’re here to tell you that luxury abounds in the high hills. Allow us to elaborate.

Accommodations

Bear Claw Cabin

With each of our over 200 rentals, we strive for the Escape to Blue Ridge difference. This includes complimentary concierge services to help you plan the perfect vacation. With every rental home we provide hotel-style linens with spa-quality bath towels for each guest and exquisite bath soaps and shampoos from William Roam

You will appreciate the convenience of our keyless entry system and express check-in for all arrivals. And just to get your visit to the Mountains started, our exclusive Escape to Blue Ridge welcome basket is waiting for you when you arrive at your rental. 

We know that you’ve come to escape to the mountains, but sometimes we still need to be connected to the world and to assure you that connection, high-speed internet is also included with every one of our homes.

Let’s Get Pampered

There are many opportunities to have that spa experience you are used to at the elegant resorts. You can relax, restore and renew with an incredible hour in the Himilayan Salt Caves at Serenity In the Mountains Spa.  The Couple’s massage in the Salt Cave is worthy of your consideration. There’s also the magical experience of getting a massage in one of their exquisitely decorated treehouses at the top of the Serenity In The Mountains grounds. 

TeaTrees Boutique Spa in Downtown Blue Ridge caters to a more individualized approach to your spa and massage needs. And though we highly recommend a visit to their boutique, if you would like to stay in, enjoying your rental cabin while being pampered by professionals, TeaTree’s therapists are available to make cabin calls so you can relax in the privacy of your elegant cabin while enjoying the beautiful mountain views.

Indulgent  Adventure

Photo Courtesy of Outback Guide Service

If you are in anticipation of hiking the trails, visiting the area’s many spectacular waterfalls or finding the most impressive views for your photography you can peruse the many brochures and maps available at Blue Ridge’s Visitor’s Center to help you on your way.  Or you can also contact Outback Guide Service to have a personized itinerary with a private guide and even transportation on those point to point hikes. Outback Guide Services designs your hike based on your time, interests, skillset and from easy to challenging trips. Besides vista and hike tours, they also will create tours of waterfalls, historic trails and tours, and even photo safaris. Your experienced tour guide and naturalist is a life long resident of the area and well versed in North Georgia’s wildlife, birds, flowers, geology, local history, and so much more.

Photo Courtesy of Noontootla Creek Farm

If the sportsman in you needs to be released, then there is no one better to enlist than the folks at Noontootla Creek Farms to give you the optimal mountain hunting and fishing adventure. There’s no need to schlep all your gear, for this Blue Ridge 1,000 acre sportsman’s paradise has everything you need.  Noontootla Creek Farms (NCF) offers guided fly fishing on the most picturesque private trophy trout waters in North Georgia. Because of the cooler temperatures on the side of the mountains, there’s usually good trout fishing at NCF year-round.  Rainbow and Brown trout fishing has catches averaging 20 inches but often upwards of 30 inches. If you would like to bird hunt, then join your guide and their Brittanny or Setter and head out to capture Bob White Quail and Red- Neck Pheasant with wing shooting season open from November 1st until the last day of March. NCF also boasts a challenging 12 station clay shooting course, complete with golf carts.

By Land or By Sea

Photo Courtesy of Visit Blue Ridge

Visitors year-round enjoy the many recreational opportunities around the 3,290 acres of the crystal blue waters of Lake Blue Ridge. Capt’n Joe’s Lake Adventures offers private charters to guests looking to fish, swim or just enjoy an evening cruise. Their motto is to “relax, enjoy, and be happy”, which is much easier to do when you have Captian Joe at the helm.  Private charters are an amazing way to experience Lake Blue Ridge in style.

Photo Courtesy of Pedego Electric Bikes Blue Ridge

If you would enjoy a more modern touring land vessel,  then renting a Segway or a Pedego electric bike might be just the escapade you’ve been looking for and more. Pedego Bike Shop in downtown Blue Ridge offers electric bike tours of Fall Branch Falls, the Ocoee Whitewater/ Tanasi Trail and the picturesque Shallowford  Bridge River. Rent a Segway and tour all of downtown Blue Ridge, never having to be concerned about finding a parking place.

There’s so much more to share with you about our ideas for a resort style experience here in these magnificent mountains. We haven’t begun to talk about the fine dining and exceptional outdoor entertainment opportunities. Please be sure to visit our Part II blog on “High Class in the High Hills” posting soon.

Fine Dining in the Mountains



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

Bin 322 Wine and Tapas Bar

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

Photo Courtesy of Bin 322 Wine and Tapas Bar

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

The Black Sheep Restaurant

480 W. Main St., Blue Ridge GA 

Photo Courtesy of The Black Sheep Restaurant

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

Chester Brunnemeyer’s Bar & Grill

733 E. Main St. Blue Ridge, GA 

Photo Courtesy of Chester Brunnemeyer’s Bar & Grill

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

Cucina Rustica

76 Forge Mill Rd, Morganton, GA 

Photo Courtesy of Amy Walker Price

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

Harvest on Main

576 East Main Street, Blue Ridge, GA 

Photo Courtesy of Harvest on Main

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

Masseria Kitchen + Bar

67 Roberts Way, Blue Ridge, GA 

Photo Courtesy of Masseria – Kitchen & Bar

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

South of North

257 East Main Street, Suite A Blue Ridge,GA 

Photo Courtesy of South of North

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

Treo Blue Ridge

588 E. Main Street, Blue Ridge, GA 

Photo Courtesy of Treo

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

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

Conferring with Cupid



I’m often referred to as the “ Santa Claus for Lovers”. I have a little bit of a problem with that. See, the big guy gets to wear a full suit, hat, gloves, boots, and the whole bit on December 25th. I get to fly around, shooting arrows to connect the hearts of couples, which isn’t a bad gig if I didn’t have to perform it wearing barely a loincloth, my chubby body exposed to the elements, in the second week of February. 

This is one of the reasons I’m going to encourage you to cuddle up around the fire in your cabin on Valentine’s weekend.  Yes, the big day falls on a Friday this year, so you and the person you love most in this world get to spend the whole weekend together. And if you’ve chosen to be here in one of the comfy, cozy and romantic cabins in Blue Ridge, you’ve already set the tone for a weekend to remember. So, get the checklist ready.

Majestic Peace Cabin

Plenty of firewood.  Check.

Now we need something intoxicating. That could be wine. Out Of The Blue has you covered. They have an extraordinary selection of the finest wines, beers, and artisan cheeses from around the world. Chocolates are also intoxicating. Try the delectable hand-dipped chocolates at Chocolate Express. They are sure to win any heart. 

Photo Courtesy of Out of the Blue

Intoxicating. Check.

Let’s face it. You aren’t the only romantic out there. It’s a busy weekend and though spontaneity is great in the boudoir, some of the other activities just might need reservations.  I’m going to suggest you make arrangements with a private chef to have that quixotic feast for two, right there at your cabin. Chef Trey Griffith or Chef Jeff Servin can serve up a luscious feast, but they need fair warning. There are also very intimate dining experiences even in public eateries. The porch at The Black Sheep, with it’s towering flame heaters, is a place I’ve noticed lovers getting very starry-eyed over a plate of cold water select oysters.

Photo Courtesy of Chef Trey Griffith

Nourishment. Check

It has been my experience  (my parents are Mars and Venus, so I’ve been around the block a few times) that occasionally destressing from the cacophony of everyday life needs an assist. A Salt Cave Couples Massage at Serenity In the Mountains is an experience neither of you will soon forget. And it might just be your favorite activity away from home, ever. There’s also an opportunity to engage in public intoxication without being unlawful. Imagine indulging in wine with chocolates that have been paired by the connoisseurs at The Vine Wine Bar on Main St. in Blue Ridge.  This only happens on Friday evenings, so call for your reservations quickly. 

Photo Courtesy of Serenity in the Mountains

Destressing mode.  Check

Now. Maybe you’ve been together a very long time, like most of your adult life, and there needs to be more than a spark added to your relationship. You need an eight-cylinder rev to throw complacency out of neutral and into drive. That usually means you need to find a way to depend on one another again. Be a team. Find a new challenge. Like maybe drive a military tank together. 

No, seriously. 

And, why just drive a tank when you can crush a car with one? Get your heart pumping with 25+ minutes of driving excitement which starts with Tank Town USA’s exciting tank driving course and finishes with smashing a car. Yes, they have a couple’s package.  And if that’s a little over the top, you could be locked in a room together for one hour, with only clues as to how to escape. Sound like fun? Make your reservation with Escape Blue Ridge and see if the two of you can figure out how to outfox your captures.

Photo courtesy of Heather Drones

Team challenge mode. Check

If the two of you love these mountains, almost as much as you love each other, why not merge the two and enlist a professional photographer to help? The professional shutterbugs at ZoLu Photography know these landscapes well. They will take you to beautiful places to capture your love in natural light, to be viewed for many years to come. 

Photo Courtesy of ZoLu Photography

Photo memories.  Check

Before I mention the Hot Tub stuff, let’s be sure to talk about the one big event that takes these mountains by storm every February, that happens to fall on Valentine’s Weekend this year!  It’s the 10th Annual Fire & Ice Chili Cook-Off being held Saturday, February 15 from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm, in downtown Blue Ridge. The cook-off will happen come rain, snow or shine. You’ll enjoy live music, ice sculptures and amazing chili. You can purchase a $10 Tasting Card to sample the competition and vote for the People™s Choice Award. There will also be live entertainment from the Blue Ridge Community Theater actors. You’ll love strolling through an amazing display of individual and unique ice sculptures from the award-winning, National Ice Carving Champion Rock on Ice including several ice carving demonstrations. 

Photo Courtesy of the Fire & Ice Chili Cook Off

Fire and Ice Festival. Check.

Now let’s talk about the hot tub. Well…..

No, I think you already know enough about the hot tub.

The Overlook Cabin

Hot tub. Check.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Football & Festivals



It’s nice that the Super Bowl starts the month of February off with a reason to get out, get away, get inspired, and get involved in all the wonderful things going on in Blue Ridge mid-winter. There’s no telling what the weather may bring. Temperatures are known to surprise us with mid-60s in January, to a more typical mid-40s during the day and chillier as the sun sets in the evening. It’s part of the fun of a Blue Ridge escape! Be assured, however, that festivals like Fire and Ice, dynamic live music in various venues, and a hot new film festival making its Blue Ridge debut, will keep you warm, or guarantee that you’re cool (as in groovy), all month long!

UPCOMING EVENTS & ACTIVITIES

Wine About Winter
February 1 – 3
LOCATION: Multiple Vineyards

Photo Courtesy of Pick Ellijay

Head to Ellijay for their Wine about Winter weekend event. Enjoy fun Groundhog games and events at Chateau Meichtry, Cartecay Vineyards, Engelheim Vineyards, Fainting Goat Vineyards & Sharp Mountain Vineyards.

Coloring and Smoothies!
February 1
LOCATION: Blend Superfood Cafe

Photo Courtesy of Blend

A new café in town, completely organic and delicious, also hosts a fun time for kids of all ages. Coloring! A lost art, right? And this time you don’t even have to stay inside the lines! Let your free spirit soar! Then turn to your healthy blend of fruits and veggies in a glass and take a sip of sunshine. The event is appropriate for young children (ages 2-5), but is open to older children and even adults. You’re never too old to color.

Alice In Wonderland
February 1 – 9
LOCATION: Blue Ridge Community Theater

Photo Courtesy of the Blue Ridge Community Theater

Follow Alice through the rabbit hole and into Wonderland in this beautiful staging of the famous novel by Lewis Carroll. Filled with all of the beloved characters you cherish, like the White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, the Queen of Hearts and many more, the youth of the Blue Ridge Community Theater have prepared an outstanding show for you!

Music & Hops
February 1 – 29
LOCATION: Misty Mountain Hops

Photo Courtesy of Misty Mountain Hops

If you love eating and music then you will love the laid back vibes of Misty Mountain Hops. Good food and sweet tunes make this Vinyl Pub a must!

February 1 – The Orange Walls
February 7 – Travis Bowlin
February 8 – Dr. Paul Constantine
February 14 – Quinn Leach
February 15 – Lindsay Beth Harper
February 21 – Jess Goggins
February 22 – Daisy Chain
February 28 – Travis Bowlin
February 29 – Gabe Myers

Music at The Blue Coyote
February 1 – 29
LOCATION: The Blue Coyote

Photo Courtesy of the Blue Coyote

The Blue Coyote is known for their live music and entertainment. While you’re there you can enjoy their tasty bar food and a whole bunch of beer! They even have a dog-friendly patio! Stop by, check it out, and enjoy the music!

February 1 – Slickfoot
February 8 – Gregg Erwin
February 14 – Topper
February 15 – Breaking Point
February 21 – Mind the Step Children
February 22 – Donnie Hammonds Band
February 28 – Rick Stone & The Band of Brothers
February 29 – Disciples of Sound

Grumpy Old Men Brewing
February 7 – 28
LOCATION: Grumpy Old Men Brewing

Photo Courtesy of Grumpy Old Men

Great beer (18 beers on tap), a fun atmosphere and a stellar philosophy (delicious beer, dog-friendly, people tolerated). Plenty of craft beers, including those brewed in the brewery, and lots of live music. It’s one of those places that locals like!

February 7 – Dr. Paul
February 15 – Gerry Herndon
February 21 – Gregg Erwin
February 28 – High Beams Music

10th Annual Blue Ridge Fire and Ice Cook Off Festival
February 15
LOCATION: Downtown Blue Ridge

Photo Courtesy of the Fire & Ice Festival

This popular annual event will happen between 11am to 5pm come rain, shine or snow! Mark your calendars for live music, ice sculptures and amazing chili! Buy a $10 Tasting Card to sample the competition and vote for the People’s Choice Award. Featuring Live Music and entertainment from the Blue Ridge Community Theater actors. Check out the amazing displays of individual and unique ice sculptures from the award-winning National Ice Carving Champion “Rock on Ice” including several ice carving demonstrations.

Amazing Alcohol Inks: Paint on Silk or Acrylic Art Pouring: Express Yourself
February 22
LOCATION: Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association

Photo Courtesy of the Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association

Even those of us who don’t consider art as a strength can appreciate art classes that encourage that you come “come dressed for a messy, fun time”. That’s our kind of art! Acrylic Art Pouring is an exciting, yet relaxing form of intuitive art with infinite outcomes. Alcohol inks is a form of art that involves art you can wear, when all is said and done. Inks are being applied to a silk scarf and you select the colors, apply the ink and set the colors. No experience necessary and all supplies are provided.

Loose Shoes Duo
February 22
LOCATION: Bin 322

Photo Courtesy of Bin 322

Unique and different is fine, but there’s something comfortable about hearing songs you know. The Loose Shoes Duo, comprised of Ric and Pam Cushenan, have their complement of original songs, but their bread and butter is songs along familiar genres that include The Beatles, Cheryl Crow, Bob Seger, Eric Clapton, The Eagles, Janis Joplin and others. It’s easy to tap your feet when you know the beat. And it’s especially fun, when the backdrop is the elegant environment of the Bin 322 Wine and Tapas Bar.

Bringing the Blues to Blue Ridge
February 22
LOCATION: Mercier Orchards

Photo Courtesy of Snack in a Backpack

This 9th Annual music event, with a Mardi Gras Celebration, is for a good cause benefiting “Snack in a Backpack”. The event features music group the Crossroads Band, Cajun food, masks, dancing, auction, and door prizes. Tickets are $60 per person or $90 per couple for main dining and include appetizers, dinner, dessert and non-alcoholic drinks. Cash bar will be available.

Joe Gransden, Jazz Trumpetist and Vocalist
February 22
LOCATION: Blue Ridge Community Theater

Photo Courtesy of joegransden.com

Let it be known far and wide, trumpeted, if you will, that Joe Gransden plays a mean horn. His vocals have been compared to Chet Baker and Frank Sinatra and even Clint Eastwood. Yes, THAT Clint Eastwood. He says “Joe is a young man with an old soul and a classic voice.”

Youth Art Month
February 27 – March 26
LOCATION: The Art Center – Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association

It’s a leap year, so we get an extra day of Youth Art Month this year, starting in February. This is a nationally celebrated event, supporting young and talented emerging artists, who display their artwork inside the Richard Low Evans Gallery. The theme this year is “Take a Journey Through Art” and there’s sure to be images of places seen and places you want to see. Opening reception is February 27.

Blue Ridge Film Festival
February 21 – March 1
LOCATION: Swan Drive-In, Blue Ridge Community Theater, Blue Ridge Arts Association

Photo Courtesy of the Blue Ridge Film Festival

Talk about a great place for a film festival! What better than a community with one of the few remaining classic outdoor movie drive-ins! Perfect! And this first time out, the Blue Ridge Film Festival will take advantage, showing independent films at a variety of locations, including the Swan Drive-In, weather permitting. The film festival will include events and workshops throughout and entries will be judged and prizes awarded.

NEW HOMES ADDED TO OUR PROGRAM

High atop Crockett Mountain on three pristine acres in a gated community in Cherry Log, a one-of-a-kind property with stunning long-range, year-round mountain views provides the backdrop for a magical vacation. It’s called Unforgettable for a reason, and you’ll know why from the moment you arrive, take in that view, and step inside. It’s the perfect setting in which to relax, unwind and detach from the stresses of daily life in the company of family and friends.

If your dream mountain vacation has the luxury, privacy and high-end amenities of an exclusive resort, but none of the crowds, lines, and noise, you’ll find it and much more at Falcon’s Lair. Boasting phenomenal 180-degree long-range multilayered mountain views stretching from Georgia to North Carolina and Tennessee, with cathedral ceilings and enormous windows to frame them, this tri-level showplace truly has the wow factor!

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

365 opportunities await you to get out and explore the beautiful North Georgia Mountains. Here are a few of our favorite ideas to enjoy your 2020 Escape to Blue Ridge!

Top 20 Things to Do In Blue Ridge for 2020