The Blue Ridge Experience: Summer Edition



Every season in Blue Ridge is special but summer is one of our favorites! The days are longer, which is perfect for a full day of exploring our quaint mountain town. Enjoy spending time on the waters of Lake Blue Ridge or boating down the Toccoa and Ocoee rivers. Go on an adventure with your family and create memories that will last a lifetime! No matter how you like to spend your summers, Blue Ridge has a little something for everyone! Here’s 15 of our favorite activities to do in and around Blue Ridge all summer long!

Cover photo courtesy of @_Chanel Josephson

Whitewater Rafting

Photo Courtesy of Ocoee Rafting

Nothing says summer adventure like whitewater rafting through the rapids and waves of the Ocoee River! You’ll cool off from the summer heat in no time as the waves splash you and leave you feeling refreshed. The Ocoee River, just a couple miles away from Blue Ridge in Tennessee,  is the perfect place for whitewater rafting. The upper part of the river was actually used during the 1996 Olympics for their whitewater events; that’s how you know it’s a great spot!

One of our favorite rafting companies is Ocoee Rafting in Ducktown, TN. They’re the oldest rafting company on the Ocoee and have been guiding whitewater rafting adventures for 44 years! Ocoee Rafting will guide you over 20 continuous rapids and many play spots. Beginners and experts alike are welcome! 

Adventures on Lake Blue Ridge 

Summers are made for relaxing and having fun by the water. All that and more awaits you at the beautiful Lake Blue Ridge! Rent a boat at Lake Blue Ridge Marina and spend the day floating on the water. Have your own boat? Hit the lake at any of these access points: 

  • Lake Blue Ridge Day use Area and Boat ramp
  • Morganton Point Recreation Area
  • Lakewood Landing Boat Ramp
  • Lake Blue Ridge Dam and Lake Blue Ridge Dam Recreation Area
  • Lake Blue Ridge Marina

Feeling hungry? Grab a quick bite to eat at the Marina’s Boat Dock Bar & Grill. They have delicious food, specialty cocktails, a great view of the lake, and live music Friday & Saturday nights and Sunday afternoon! If you’re up for a refreshing swim head to Morganton Point where you can splash in the water! Also at Morganton Point play on the beach and build sandcastles, or have a picnic in the picnic area, fish, or even go for a hike around the lake. And if you’re in town for 4th of July don’t miss out on the annual fireworks display over the lake! You never even have to leave, with numerous Escape to Blue Ridge cabins right on the lake: https://www.escapetoblueridge.com/blog/lake-side-cabins/ 

Explore the Toccoa River

Head to the Toccoa River for more outdoor fun! Canoe or kayak down the river for a relaxing day on the water. For rentals or guided trips you can look up our friends at Blue Ridge Mountain Kayaking, Toccoa River Outfitters, or Rolling Thunder River Company.

Have your own boat and want a little adventure? Take the Toccoa River Canoe Trail which is a 13.8 mile river trail beginning at Deep Hole Recreation Area. If you’re more interested in a laid back experience where you can just float, try out tubing with Blue Ridge Tubing, Toccoa River Tubing Company, or Toccoa Valley Campground Tubing.

Explore the Toccoa River from the shoreline and hike on Benton McKaye trail. Along the way you’ll run into the Toccoa River Swinging Bridge which is the longest swinging bridge east of the Mississippi! If you’re brave enough, walk across the 270 foot long bridge, over the Toccoa River, to the other side!

Trout Fish in Georgia’s Trout Fish Capital 

Photo Courtesy of KC Outfitters

While you can fish at both Lake Blue Ridge and the Toccoa River, there are hundreds of miles of streams and rivers for fishing in Fannin County. Blue Ridge is especially famous for their trout fishing and is known as the Trout Capital of Georgia! Find trout in Rock Creek, Copper Creek, Noontootla Creek, The Chattahoochee National Fish Hatchery, and of course the Toccoa River. If you’re just starting out and need a guide to assist you some of our favorites include; Blue Ridge Fly Fishing School, Noontootla Creek Farms, and North Georgia Trout Fishing. Spend the day catching trout in the beautiful waters of North Georgia! 

Visit a Waterfall

Photo Courtesy of waterfall @hike_the_ridge with @hendersonfamilyadventures

If you want to go for a hike through the beautiful forests and mountains of North Georgia you might as well cool off with the refreshing mists of a waterfall. Blue Ridge has 4 waterfalls nearby that offer stunning views and great hikes. Our favorites are Amicalola Falls, Fall Branch Falls, Long Creek Falls, and Helton Creek Falls. For more details on where to access each falls check out our waterfall blog here: https://www.escapetoblueridge.com/blog/5-must-see-waterfalls/ 

Pick Blueberries & Blackberries at Mercier Orchards

Photo Courtesy of Forever Freckled Blog

Summer is the season for berries! Mercier Orchards grows blueberries and blackberries during the summer; and you can pick some for yourself with their U-Pick events! Check out their website for U-Pick sign-ups: https://mercier-orchards.com/u-pick/

Don’t feel like picking the fruit yourself? They also have a selection of fruits and vegetables available in their market; like sweet Georgia peaches. While you visit be sure to try some of Mercier’s refreshing hard ciders and stop by their Café for tasty treats. One of our favorite treats are their delicious fried pies available in apple, blueberry, cherry, peach, and chocolate flavors. Yum! 

See a Summer Film at the Drive In

Did you know that Blue Ridge has its own Drive In movie theater? Well that’s right we do, Swan Drive In Theater! They’ve been showing movies here since 1955! Turn back the clock and live life like you’re in the 1950’s by watching movies the old-fashioned way. Just tune your car to the radio and munch down on some delicious classic movie theater snacks; all from the comfort of your own vehicle! It’s a perfect way to spend summer nights! Check their website for movie showings: http://www.swan-drive-in.com/now-showing.php 

Georgia Mountain Fair 

Venture on over to Hiawassee, Georgia between August 13th & August 21st for some good old fashioned fun at The 70th Annual Georgia Mountain Fair! There will be carnival rides, music performances, arts & craft booths, special attractions & experiences, delicious food, a parade, a beauty pageant and so much more! This is a fantastic event you won’t want to miss! 

Live Music 

Photo Courtesy of Tooneys Music Venue

Local businesses have live musical performances all summer long! Stop by any of these establishments Friday-Sunday to listen to the sweet sounds of local artists, while you sip on craft drinks & eat delicious foods!

Downtown Adventure 

Shop till you drop & dine at delicious and trendy restaurants in Downtown Blue Ridge! Bring home treats & souvenirs from your trip from some of our favorite shops like Blue Ridge Cotton CompanyBlue Ridge Adventure Gear, Blue Ridge Olive Oil Company, Blue Ridge Mountain Mall, and so much more! After a long day of shopping on main street try out one of these delicious restaurants Chester Brunnemeyer’s Bar & Grill, Bin 322, The Black Sheep, The Dogwood, or Harvest on Main. Then grab a sweet treat at The Sweet Shoppe or Mona Lisa’s Dessert House to end the day!

Outdoor Thrills 

Photo Courtesy of Zipline Canopy Tours of Blue Ridge

Up for a day of fun-filled thrills? Reach new heights and zip through the trees at Zipline Canopy Tours of Blue Ridge or take on the ropes course Blue Ridge Adventure Park, are you up for the challenge? Or ride a rollercoaster through the mountains in Helen, Georgia. You’ll control the speed as you fly past mountains, forests, and ruins over 100 years old! Then get ready to crush it at Tank Town USA in Morganton, Georgia. Drive tanks, crush cars, fire off machine guns, and even operate construction vehicles. Tank Town is the amusement park of your action hero dreams! End the day by taking to the skies and getting an aerial tour of Blue Ridge with Blue Ridge Helicopter Tours. The views from up above are simply incredible! 

Horseback Ride 

Photo Courtesy of Appalachian Trail Rides

Ride horses on trails through the mountains, forests, and North Georgia countryside. Whether you’re just a beginner or consider yourself an expert rider there’s something for everyone. Some of our favorite stables include Appalachian Trail Rides and Cowgirl Up Stables. You’ll follow experienced guides on a beautiful trail ride. It’s a perfect activity for friends & family alike! 

Explore Historic Village 

Photo Courtesy of INOLA Blue Ridge

Feel like you’re walking back in time at INOLA Blue Ridge. INOLA  is a colonial styled village, built in the 1980’s, and is modeled after Colonial Williamsburg. The village is made up of replicas of historic buildings. As you wander around you’ll see a colonial manor house, shops, a post office, a tavern, the Wythe House, and a 1740’s chapel. Learn about what life was like in a colonial village and feel like you’re really in the 1700’s for a day. INOLA also does weddings in the chapel or pavilion; so if you have a special occasion coming up and you want to celebrate in Blue Ridge, then you know just where to go! 

Grab drinks with friends 

Photo Courtesy of Forever Freckled Blog

One of the great parts of summer is spending time with friends. Relax with your closest of friends at a local winery or brewery. Not only do many of them have live music on the weekends; but a lot of them also have beautiful mountain views, comfortable outside seating, good food to pair with drinks, and a relaxing environment to unwind in. Many even have dog friendly patios!

Some of our favorites include Grumpy Old Men Brewing, Bear Claw Vineyards, Cartecay Vineyards, Serenberry Vineyards, and Fannin Brewing Company. There’s nothing quite like enjoying a refreshing glass of wine or a cold beer on a summer’s day; while laughing with your best friends. To learn more about our local wineries & breweries and see even more of our favorites, check out our guides here: https://www.escapetoblueridge.com/blog/beer-hunting/ & https://www.escapetoblueridge.com/blog/8-north-georgia-wineries/ 

Watch the Sunset 

Almost Everest Cabin

And absolutely nothing beats ending a long summer day full of fun, then watching the sunset. Watch it set over Lake Blue Ridge or from the top of Brasstown Bald. You can even watch the sun set below the mountains from the back porch of your own Escape to Blue Ridge cabin. Grab the family, kick your feet up, and unwind after a big day. The sunsets over Blue Ridge will leave you speechless. They are truly breathtaking and a sight you won’t soon forget! 

8 North Georgia Wineries



With so many amazing wineries and vineyards to explore in and around the Blue Ridge area, it’s hard to choose just one. They all provide a relaxing environment, beautiful mountain views, live music and of course great wine! North Georgia is the next upcoming wine region, so while you are on your Escape to Blue Ridge plan to visit one or all of our eight favorite North Georgia wineries!

Bear Claw Vineyards 

Photo Courtesy of Cana Wine Tours

Bear Claw Vineyards is the perfect place to relax with a group of gal pals or family. With its gorgeous mountain views and calming atmosphere, you won’t want to leave! The wine is also superb because the grapes are grown in such an ideal location. What makes the location so ideal you ask? Being high above sea level greatly helps the grapes, as well as the cool mountain breezes and rich soil. The land was made for growing grapes that would turn into high-quality wine. With so many delicious flavors of wine to choose from it’s hard to pick just one. Luckily, they have a variety of tasting options. Whatever wine you choose, make sure to pair it with their wine truffles; milk chocolate ganache and vanilla cake truffles made with Bear Claw wine!

Serenberry Vineyards

Photo Courtesy of Serenberry Vineyards

On the outskirts of Morganton is another winery you must put on your list, Serenberry Vineyards. Their beautiful tasting area was a barn from the 1920’s that they transformed into what you see today. Relax on the back deck of the Tasting Barn and find yourself surrounded by the beauty of the Chattahoochee National Forest. And not only are their wines delicious but they’re special too! Each wine is named after something meaningful to the owners within the county or nearby area. For example, you might want to try the Apple-lachian named after the nearby Appalachian Trail and made with local apples. Stop on by, relax in the wooded area, and sip on some delicious wine.  

Cartecay Vineyards 

Photo Courtesy of Cartecay Vineyards

Just outside of Ellijay lies the beautiful, Cartecay Vineyards. Known for its stunning mountain views and delicious wines, you’ll be sure to want to escape the stress of everyday life and relax here. Cartecay Vineyards was established back in 2007 when they purchased an old farm dating all the way back to 1890. They turned the farm into the vineyard you see today, which is perfect for growing grapes because of its elevation, sun exposure, climate, and soil. All of these aspects come together to make a bottle of near-perfect wine. And not only is Cartecay’s wine delicious but they have a large variety of wine as well, most of which you can taste fruit-forward flavors in. Visit on the weekend and enjoy live music on their patio. Soak in the mountain views surrounding you, have a glass of wine, and enjoy listening to local Georgia artists. Cartecay Vineyards is one you won’t want to miss!

Engelheim Vineyards

Photo Courtesy of Engleheim Vineyards

Also located in Ellijay, Engelheim Vineyards focuses on growing outstanding grapes to create award-winning wines. And with 20+ award-winning wines, you can’t go wrong! Try their Cabernet Sauvignon, a smooth wine with flavors of black cherry, currant, and spice; or their Engel Weiss, a full bodied wine with fruit, floral, and nutty undertones. No matter what you choose, we promise you’ll love it! The Engel family who established the vineyard in 2011, tie in their German heritage along with their Appalachian home in the North Georgia Mountains to help create their unique and special wines. If you’re looking for the right dish to pair with the wine look no further; Engelheim has wine pairing classes for their customers and even offers wine-paired dinners. That way your wine and meal can complement one another in the most delicious way possible. Here you can also enjoy art events, music events, and wine festivals throughout the year. And enjoy live music every Saturday and Sunday afternoon. You can even bring your dog along to enjoy a relaxing day at the winery. Voted “2018 Georgia Winery of the Year” by Georgia Trustees Wine Challenge, you’ll be sure to enjoy your time here!

Bin 322

Photo Courtesy of Bin 322

Not your average winery, Bin 322 is actually a wine and tapas bar located in Downtown Blue Ridge. From tapas to charcuterie boards, to crab cakes, to duck; no matter what food you get make sure to pair it with one of their regional wines. At Bin 322, they base your food and drink pairings off of their experience with culinary delights and wine tasting all over North America and Europe, so they know exactly what they’re doing! With its intimate and relaxed atmosphere, it’s the perfect place to share a drink with friends. And enjoy live music from local artists most Friday and Saturday nights either on the patio or in the venue. On Sundays, enjoy brunch to the sounds of jazz and big band music. And pair your brunch with mimosas of course! With so much fun to be had, tasty foods and drinks to enjoy, Bin 322 is a great way to unwind after a long day of shopping downtown or hiking on the trails.

Crane Creek Vineyards

Photo Courtesy of Crane Creek Vineyards

Located in Young Harris, close to Brasstown Bald, is Crane Creek Vineyards. The owner and winemaker, Eric Seifarth, began to love wine while he was stationed in Italy as a young army officer. His goal at Crane Creek is that their wines be enjoyed with food, family, and friends to make for an enjoyable experience. With a huge variety of wines to try from reds, to whites, to roses, to sweet wines you’re sure to find something that makes your taste buds dance. And what better way to enjoy wine than with food!? Every Friday night from May-October you can enjoy homemade seasonal appetizers, as well as live music on the vineyard deck. Like the Italians, Crane Creek calls this Aperitivo, which means “to open”, such as a drink being opened or an open/stimulating appetite. And Friday night Aperitivo’s aren’t all they have to offer! Crane Creek always has some sort of event going on whether it’s a tour of the vineyard, Wine Highway Month, and so much more! You can be sure there will always be something going on. So stop on by one Friday night to experience Aperitivo and feel like you’re being transported to Italy! 

Chateau Meichtry

Photo Courtesy of Chateau Meichtry

Located in Talking Rock, at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, is the beautiful Chateau Meichtry Family Vineyard and Winery. If it sounds French that’s because in a way it is! In 1921, Stephen Meichtry traveled to America from Switzerland. While he was living in New York his love for wine grew and it’s rumored that he even brought his own rootstock from Switzerland. He then grew the vines so that he could make his own wine. It is believed that stock from Meichtry’s vines is now planted at the vineyard, hence the name Chateau Meichtry Family Vineyard and Winery. Whether from Meichtry’s vine or not, one thing is for sure, the rolling hills provide the perfect environment for growing high-quality grapes. From light whites to dark reds, there’s a wine for every palette. Chateau Meichtry Family Vineyard and Winery is a member of the GA Wine Producers, North Georgia Wine Producers, and Ellijay Wine Country; so you can rest assured that their wines are delicious! On weekends enjoy live music while you sip on wine and enjoy the views of the Appalachian Mountains. And with special events happening almost every weekend you’re sure to have a blast soaking it all up with friends and family! 

Odom Springs Vineyards

Photo Courtesy of Odom Springs Vineyards

Located in the small town of Blairsville, you’ll love Odom Springs Vineyards. For over a century the Odom Family have owned land in the Young Cane valley, and the vineyard takes up 16 acres of that land. The family has been farming the rolling hills of the Appalachian mountains for years so the owners of the vineyard pay tribute to them by doing the same. The uniquely fertile soil of the Appalachian Mountains helps to create unique wines. They plant the same kind of grapes, French-American hybrids, in different soil conditions to get the different flavors of wines. For a dry-red try the Silver 2016 Award Winner,  ‘Earl’s Reserve’, which is a smooth, classic wine honoring Earl Odom, who is the father of the current owners’ Steve and Shari Odom. Or for something sweeter try ‘Sweet Sam’, which blends different types of the French-American grape, grapefruit, and pear for a perfectly sweet wine. It was also a 2016 Silver Award Winner and named after sweet Samantha Blair-Odom. And there’s even more delicious reds and whites to try as well! Enjoy a glass of their award-winning wine from the deck, while you take in the mountain views at this family-owned vineyard. 

Workcation



In the past year many of us have been forced to move from in-person work to virtual. They call it working from home but no one said where that “home” had to be! After all your hard work this year you deserve to be spoiled! Escape from the confines of your house and travel to Blue Ridge where you can leave the stress of daily life behind, but not get behind on your work.

With this break you’ve been given, you’ll find yourself being more productive than you have in months. You’ll be able to focus and recharge. Enjoy your home away from home with all the comforts you’re used to and more! Get active and outdoors, and find yourself feeling one with nature again. And when the work is finished unwind with all kinds of fun that only Blue Ridge can offer. You deserve this getaway, so treat yourself!

Peace, Quiet, Focus 

View from “Eagles Landing”

When you escape the hustle and bustle of your daily routine you’ll feel renewed and refreshed in no time. Getaway and find your own home away from home with Escape to Blue Ridge cabins! Our cabins have all the amenities you’ll need to relax and feel right at home. After all, we want you to feel comfortable and at peace.

You’ll find yourself with plenty of room to get your work done since our cabins are so spacious and you will be even more productive when you know you can relax on the back deck with your laptop, a glass of wine, and beautiful mountain views that will take your breath away! Or sink into our comfortable couches by the fire and type away. No matter what spot you choose to work, you’ll have your own space where you can fully focus and enjoy some peace and quiet.

And when the work is finished and you’re looking for a relaxing night in, you can take advantage of all the wonderful amenities we offer.  Watch the sunset on the back deck, cook in the large kitchen with everything you need, play a round of pool in the game room, sit outside by the fire and watch the stars; the possibilities are endless. 

Outdoor Escape

Photo Courtesy of @chushon

After almost a year cooped up inside at a desk, you are probably itching to get outdoors, and boy does Blue Ridge have the outdoor fun you’re looking for! From countless hiking trails through forests and mountains, past streams and rivers, to waterfalls, you’ll have so many different hiking options. If hiking isn’t your preference, then try your hand at fishing on the Toccoa River or go on a horseback ride with Appalachian Trail Rides. For adventure seekers check out Blue Ridge Adventure Park for ropes courses and challenges. Or hop on a boat and ride around Lake Blue Ridge. And if you don’t feel like being active but just want to be outside in the fresh air then choose from numerous wineries and restaurants that have live outdoor music. No matter what you do, being out in nature will have you feeling refreshed and alive in no time! And being one with nature is good for the soul. 

Unwind after the workday and work week

Photo Courtesy of @nataliabrayrealtor at “Cherokee Ridge” cabin

After a long day “in the office” you’ll need a chance to let loose and relax. Take some time away from the work, have some fun, and most importantly treat yourself! 

Wineries & Breweries

Nothing beats a cold beer or a glass of wine after a long day of work and we have the best places for you to check out. For wine sip your way around Bear Claw Vineyards or Serenberry Vineyards here in Blue Ridge, or try Cartecay Vineyards in Ellijay or Crane Creek Vineyards in Young Harris. There are so many wonderful vineyards to explore just a short drive away; all of which have delicious wine, snacks, and stunning views!

And for delicious craft brews check out Fannin Brewing Company, Grumpy Old Men Brewing, Copperhill Brewing, or Buck Bald Brewing; all perfect for the avid beer drinker. Even Mercier Orchards specializes in delicious hard cider. With so many options to choose from you might just have to try them all!  

Dining 
Photo Courtesy of Chester Brunnemeyer’s Bar & Grill

Blue Ridge is home to some incredible restaurants, and most of our favorites are conveniently located right in the heart of Downtown Blue Ridge. For an intimate night over wine and tapas check out Bin 322. For fine dining and delicious food made from fresh, local ingredients visit the famous Black Sheep restaurant. There’s also Harvest on Main that serves classic dishes with a southern flair. For a friendly atmosphere and heart warming comfort food Chester Brunnemeyer’s Bar & Grill is your place. and don’t forget to order a signature “Escape to Blue Ridge” drink!

For a great slice of pizza go to Mystic Mountain Pizza or the best burger ever check out Sue’s Burgers. And for a sweet treat after dinner stop by The Sweet Shoppe or Mona Lisa’s Dessert House. There are so many amazing restaurants all around Blue Ridge just waiting for you to try and with so much variety you’ll find something everyone can enjoy!

Shopping

Downtown Blue Ridge is also home to many trendy and unique shops. You’ll find all the best souvenirs to bring home with you! For all things antique check out the Blue Ridge Mountain Mall. For clothes check out Blue Ridge Cotton Company or Blue Ridge Adventure Wear. For a little bit of everything stop by Mitzi’s on Main. Explore these stores and so much more on the streets of Downtown Blue Ridge. You won’t be able to resist coming home with a bag (or four) of goodies!  

Spa
Photo Courtesy of Serenity in the Mountains

You deserve to be pampered and spoiled, so why not head for a spa day!? At Serenity in the Mountains you’ll get the works; facials, massages, mani/pedis, and skin care and body treatments. Before you leave be sure you check out their famous Salt Cave for the ultimate relaxation experience! 

Hot Tub
Phot Courtesy of @bayleigh_barnes at “Grand View” cabin

Make sure you take full advantage of your cabin’s hot tub! There’s no better way to unwind than in a warm tub with a glass of wine in hand. Soak it all in and completely relax. 

Hiking 
Photo Courtesy of @hikes_with_ash

Blue Ridge’s hiking trails are a big part of our charm! You’ll be happy to get up out of your seat and outside exercising. You can hike to the Toccoa Swinging Bridge, the longest swinging bridge east of the Mississippi! It’s truly a great experience all of our visitors love to see. Or you can hike to one of our beautiful waterfalls; Helton Creek Falls, Amicalola Falls, Fall Branch Falls, or Long Creek Falls. They are all unique and simply beautiful to behold. Or hike to some of Georgia’s highest peaks like  Fort Mountain State Park or Brasstown Bald. From the observatory tower at Brasstown Bald you can even see 4 states at once! 

Bars 
Photo Courtesy of Fightingtown Tavern

After a long day of working you deserve a chance to let loose with great drinks and great music. At The Blue Coyote Bar & Grill you can belt out your favorite song for karaoke and then enjoy an ice cold beer and delicious comfort food. And Misty Mountain Hops always has great music and drinks, and incredible desserts to end the night with. You’ll love the burgers and bar selection from Fightingtown Tavern as well. Whichever place you choose, you can usually find live music and ice cold drinks! 

Swan Drive In 

Jump back in time and go see a movie at the drive in! The Swan Drive In has been showing movies since 1955! Stop by and enjoy featured blockbuster movies and old school snacks right from the comfort of your own car. 

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.

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 The Black Sheep

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.

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 Marriage of Moonshine and Music



National Moonshine Day is observed annually on the first Thursday in June. Yes, we are posting this in October, and we don’t expect you to remember this date eight months from now. Truth is, you can turn just about any day into a celebration partaking in some good ole mountain white lightning. But where can you get your hands on it? Stay with us for the answer to that question.

Prohibition

For years, visitors to our area would ask their waitresses at diners, gas station attendants, and the guy who gave them the key to their room at the local travel lodge (in a quiet whisper) where they might get their hands on some of the illegal potables these hills were noted to produce. In the ’50s and ’60s, if one of those tourists was lucky enough to land him a ball jar bottle of the mountain hooch, there’s a great possibility it came from the still of American Appalachian moonshiner  Jack “Mimm” McClure.

Everyone knew of Jack in these parts. He was easy to spot when he came to town. With his big 250 lb frame and always in a Stetson hat, he opened doors for the ladies, spoke kindly to children and was noted for his philanthropic generosity of spirit. Still, he made his fortune selling illegal spirits. He had a reputation for influencing the election of many politicians in the local and state seats. He also had his own ideas when justice should be served. The late Georgia Governor and McClure’s fellow Towns County native Zell Miller wrote of Jack, “He was loved, hated, respected, and feared, depending upon the experience one had had with him.”

The Music

McClure was dubbed “Grandaddy Mimm” by his grandchildren and that became his moniker amongst the folks in the mountains. He succumbed to pancreatic cancer in 1969. With his passing, so did an era of illegal bootlegging. But this is just where our story gets more interesting.

One of Jack’s grandkids, Tommy Townsend was a “gitar” player who as a youngin’ fell in love with the music of Waylon Jennings. Now Jennings could easily be to country music what Tommy’s Grandaddy Mimm was to moonshine. They were both outlaws with class, who had a presence that no one could quite forget. Townsend’s parents got him behind stage to meet Jennings many years ago. Waylon took a liking to the boy and brought him into the Jennings family fold.  Waylon was Tommy’s mentor but it was Waylon’s son Shooter Jennings who became Tommy’s friend. Since 2008 Townsend and 4 other former members of the Jennings band have been entertaining fans as the Waymore’s Outlaws. In 2014 they began opening for Shooter Jennings and then backing him as his set in concerts all over the country. This year Tommy released his solo debut album “Turn Back the Clock”. Shooter Jennings produced the project. 

Who’s Your Grandaddy?

Tommy never forgot his North Georgia roots nor his Grandaddy Mimm. He also held the family secret recipe to Grandaddy’s famous moonshine as well as the schematics to the still his Grandaddy designed many years before. In 2012, Townsend announced his plans to recreate his Grandaddy’s legacy, only this time, it would be within the law.

Today, you can tour the Grandaddy Mimm’s Corn Whiskey Distillery located in Blairsville GA, just a thirty-minute drive from Blue Ridge. Tours are given daily, but on Saturday’s you get to meet and chat with the head distiller and get to see the whole “still” in action. Your imagination of the outlaw days of moonshine starts to unfurl as soon as you drive up to the building that houses the museum and distillery. Inside you’ll find so many eclectic relics from those days as well as an enormous, interesting array of music memorabilia and instruments collected by Townsend over the years.

The Shine

Taste tasting this hooch is also encouraged. The choices are tough to make. Just four ingredients, corn, sugar, yeast, and water produce all of the moonshines, including the Mule Kickin 140 proof. The 96 proof  Peach is their biggest seller. It’s hard to find a naturally flavored high octane whiskey, and it makes for some very interesting mixed drink recipes. There are also Apple, Cherry and Blueberry options, all using natural extracts. Plan on taking a jar or three home for great souvenir memories. The gift shop also has an abundant selection of shirts, hats and other mementos to bring back home.

When you mosey up to the bar, take note of its fine detail and its rich wood design. If you are a cult fan of the movie  “Coyote Ugly”, this is the very bar that LeeAnn Rhimes ascends to join leading ladies Piper Perabo, Maria Bello, and Bridget Moynahan to dance while she sings “Can’t Fight the Moonlight”. 

Plan Your Trip

The Distillery is located on your way to many of this region’s most visited autumn viewing spots and waterfalls, including Brasstown Bald, Vogel State Park, Richard Russell National Scenic Byway, and the Byron Herbert Reece Farm and Heritage Center.  The distillery is open  Monday through Saturday from 11am to 6pm.

Grandaddy Mimm’s legacy lives on through the distillery and his grandson’s music. When you view Townsend’s recently released music video for his song “Drinkin”, look closely at the ball jars on the bar. You might just recognize some of that high octane corn “licker” that made Jack McClure a North Georgia legend.