Restaurant Round-Up



When visiting a new town, you always want to be “in the know” of the very best places to eat. After all, breaking bread with family & friends, savoring tasty new flavors, and experiencing the delicacies of the area is what vacation is all about! We hope from your cabin stay to your full bellies that your Escape to Blue Ridge experience is everything you could wish for and more. And we hope you never run out of delicious places to eat, so here are some of our favorite local restaurants.

New!

ROE

Photo Courtesy of ROE.Blue Ridge

We might be in the mountains, but we have some amazing seafood up here! Make reservations and treat yourself to an incredible meal at Blue Ridge’s newest restaurant – ROE! This modern American oyster bar brings fresh seafood from the tide right to your table! Not a seafood fan? No worries! Your mouth will be watering when you see the Tomahawk Ribeye. You are truly going to be delighted at the new elevated dining experience!

The General Ledger

Photo Courtesy of The General Ledger

The General Ledger is the newest restaurant in downtown Blue Ridge and you will definitely want to check out their menu for lunch or dinner. This contemporary American restaurant features upscale casual cuisine from both the land and sea. Chef Ryan is always creating specials to tickle your tastebuds and at the bar, Karen mixes up the coolest drinks in town! Whatever you choose, make sure to save room for Miss Holly’s Lemon Lavender Cake!

Date Night

Chester Brunnenmeyer’s Bar & Grill

Photo Courtesy of Chester Brunnenmeyer’s Bar & Grill

Chester’s is one of our favorite places to eat Downtown. Not only is all their food fresh and delicious but they also have a special Escape to Blue Ridge-themed drink which includes- Cathead Honeysuckle Vodka, Macerated blueberries, and lemonade; yum!

They serve both regional and seasonal high-quality dishes, like their Blackened Ribeye Steak or Pimento Cheese Chicken Sandwich. And be sure to ask about their current specials and new cocktails, because they’re always adding new dishes and drinks for a limited time. Having a night out with a few friends? Try Chester’s famous wings! You’ll also love their regional craft beers and impressive wine list. Before you go, stop by next door to Chester’s Provisions where you can stock up on unique food & drink items perfect for souvenirs or gifts!

The Black Sheep

Photo Courtesy of The Black Sheep

The Black Sheep has always been a fan favorite by locals and guests alike. It’s one of the best fine dining options in Blue Ridge, perfect for a dinner date or a night out with friends. Located in an old historic house dating back to 1814, The Black Sheep screams class and style with its peaceful ambiance, sleek décor, and jazz music that plays in the background while you dine.

When you sit down to eat you’ll find all the dishes are made with the freshest local and seasonal ingredients and that their efficient service is second to none! The Black Sheep strives to be Comfortably Unfamiliar, Distinctively Unique, and most importantly ALL Things Originally Black Sheep! But with so many great dishes to choose from where do you start? A few of our favorite dishes include the Pan Seared Half Chicken, Shrimp Americane, and the Black Sheep Meatloaf. You won’t be disappointed in any dish you choose! If you want to sit outside in the fresh air, nestled under a 200-year-old oak tree then take advantage of their incredible patio, which is the largest patio in Blue Ridge! You can even bring your furry friend along with you to enjoy the great outdoors. Our favorite time on the patio is for Sunday brunch where there’s live music, a great atmosphere, and incredible food. We’d recommend the AMAZING Chicken & Red Velvet Waffle! 

Whiskey & Water Seafood and Bourbon Bar

Photo Courtesy of Whiskey & Water

Whiskey & Water is a newly opened restaurant right in the heart of Blue Ridge. They focus on seafood and drinks, the perfect combo. The setting is a renovated, historic post office in Blue Ridge where they serve up the best from America’s coasts. You’ll dine on the freshest of high-quality seafood like Whole Fried Snapper and Broiled Grouper. Pair your meal with a whiskey or bourbon from their wide selection of drinks around the world. If bourbon isn’t what you’re looking for they also offer original cocktails and a great wine selection. If you’re looking for a wonderful meal and drinks Whiskey & Water is the place for you. 

Harvest on Main 

Photo Courtesy of Harvest on Main

Harvest on Main in Downtown Blue Ridge is another great spot for dinner. They offer southern-inspired, global cuisine made from the best quality ingredients around. Many of their ingredients are sourced from local businesses like Mercier Orchards and Brasstown Beef, in order to serve up uniquely local flavors.

Dine on some southern favorites with a twist like Wild Caught Gulf Shrimp & Logan Turnpike Mill Grits or Chicken Pot Pie. Add a deliciously cheesy side to go with your meal like their Baked Mac & Cheese or Cheesy Flatbread. Sip on a glass of wine from their extensive wine list or a local craft beer while you eat and top the evening off with a delicious dessert! You won’t be disappointed at Harvest on Main!

Waterside

Toccoa Riverside Restaurant

Photo Courtesy of Toccoa Riverside Restaurant

Want to eat by the rushing waters of the Toccoa River? At Toccoa Riverside Restaurant you can do just that! This is fine dining on the banks of the Toccoa River with dishes that are uniquely Blue Ridge. Award-winning Steaks and Seafood is what you’ll find at Toccoa Riverside Restaurant!

Your dining experience will truly be a Blue Ridge experience with views of the Toccoa River and a wide variety of menu items to choose from. Don’t worry, you’ll have no shortage of trout options while dining in the trout capital of Georgia!  Spend the day fishing or boating on the river and then drop by for dinner. After your meal, eat some delicious dessert and then check out the gift shop for fun and unique goods. You can even bring along your dog to eat outside with you on the deck and bar area! 

Boat Dock Bar & Grill

Photo Courtesy of the Boat Dock Bar & Grill

Eat delicious food, sip on great cocktails, listen to live music, and take in the views of the beautiful Lake Blue Ridge! That’s what’s in store for you at Boat Dock Bar & Grill, a part of the Lake Blue Ridge Marina. There’s no better way to unwind after a long day on the water than by visiting the grill for a relaxing evening.

When the weather is warm Boat Dock Bar & Grill is always ready to have some fun and serve up some great dishes! With classic bar options to choose from like Smoked Wings, Shrimp Tacos, and Grouper Baskets; you really can’t go wrong. Bring a group of friends along to share appetizers and entrees with because you won’t be able to choose just one. Have some more fun and get a specialty cocktail like ‘Blue Ridge Boat Wreck’ or ‘Michael’s Mango Tango’. Sip on your fruity beverage, laugh with your friends, and enjoy weekly performances from local artists. It’s always a blast at The Boat Dock Bar & Grill! 

Comfort Foods

Sue’s Burgers 

Photo Courtesy of Sue’s Burgers

They don’t call Sue’s the best burgers in town for nothing! Once you dig into one of Sue’s incredible burgers you won’t go back to any old regular hamburger joint again! Sue’s has been in business for over 45 years and her customers keep on coming back, so you know it’s good!

The whole family will love these huge and delicious burgers with incredible sides like french fries, tater tots, and onion rings; just to name a few. And not only does Sue’s offer burgers but they also have BLTs, Hot Dogs, Chicken Strips, Sandwiches, and so much more! Before you spend your afternoon exploring Blue Ridge be sure to power up with a burger from Sue’s, you’ll be glad you did! 

Carroll’s Barbeque

Photo Courtesy of Carroll’s Barbeque

There’s nothing quite like good old-fashioned barbeque and that’s what you’ll find at Carroll’s Barbeque! The Carroll family has been living in Blue Ridge for over 50 years and Tom Carroll built himself a reputation for cooking up good food, especially barbeque. Now they have their own barbeque place off Highway 515 in beautiful Blue Ridge!

The Carroll’s serve up classic barbeque like pulled pork, pulled chicken, turkey, and brisket. Pair your sandwich with some amazing sides like bbq baked beans, mac and cheese, french fries, a baked potato, corn nuggets, and so much more. Want to try something other than barbeque? They’ve got plenty of options like ribs, burritos, salads, and soups. Drop by Carroll’s Barbeque for some delicious southern barbeque made the Blue Ridge way!

Fightingtown Tavern

Photo Courtesy of Fightingtown Tavern

Fightingtown Tavern isn’t just your average bar. They offer unique farm-to-table comfort foods like the Jack’s Daniel’s Burger. If you’re feeling adventurous try one of their epic hot plates and sandwiches like the Banh Jovi Dip or The H.O.B.B. Nob.

Fightingtown Tavern’s food is fresh, locally sourced, and with no fake ingredients. They pride themselves on their food by saying it’s like, “bar food that went to Harvard”. And you’ll love the ambiance; 70’s rock is played at all times, lots of TVs to watch the big game on, darts, shuffleboard,  and a pet-friendly patio. And you can’t have a tavern without drinks right? Well they’ve got it all; local Georgia beers, a selection of whiskey/bourbon/tequila, amazing cocktails, and a full bar. Get ready for a “rocking” night out at Fightingtown Taven! 

Cucinella’s Pizzeria

Photo Courtesy of Cucinella’s Pizzeria

Cucinella’s Pizzeria is the place for pizza lovers! Fresh dough, fresh ingredients, and mouthwatering brick oven pizza is in store for you right in downtown Blue Ridge! You can buy by the slice or the whole pie, either way you are going to LOVE your pizza! Gluten Free and Vegan options are available too!

You can find more than just pizza at Cucinella’s. Try their homemade lasagna with a fresh salad. Whatever you do, don’t miss out on their garlic knots! They are so delicious and will help keep any vampires at bay. Just kidding about the vampire part, but not kidding about the incredible food you’ll find at this pizzeria!

Unique 

The Dogwood 

Photo Courtesy of The Dogwood

Love the Black Sheep but looking for a more laid-back place to dine for the evening? Then check out their new sister restaurant The Dogwood! They offer a unique dining and drinks experience, with a select menu of only 10 items. But don’t be fooled, these 10 items are all so delicious you’ll have a hard time picking which one you want! They have comfort food favorites with a twist like Pork Belly Potato Skins, Ribs, a Smash Burger, and more! You’ll sit out on the patio with its 150+ seats, huge hand-painted mural, 100-year-old trees, and live music from local artists; all with a drink in your hand!

The Dogwood also has a unique drinking experience where they invite guests to customize their own drinks. Head over to the beer garage with over 70 options and make yourself your own personalized six-pack! And they have a full bar, craft cocktails, and an extensive wine list. The Dogwood was made for a fun and a unique night out with friends! Check their website for their full live music schedule: https://www.dogwoodblueridge.com/ 

Rod’s Rockin Rolls

Photo Courtesy of Rod’s Rockin Rolls

Take a quick trip across the border and pay Rod’s Rockin Rolls a visit in Ducktown, TN. This awesome Southeast Asian Restaurant has just what you want! All the food is prepared fresh daily and the unique menu is constantly changing.

Enjoy Chef’s Seafood Basket or one of their weekly Menu Specials. You can’t go wrong with one of their incredible Sushi Bowls; but there’s so much to try, like their Thai Spring Rolls, Breaded White Fish, and even Italian and American options. Rod’s Rockin Rolls is a hidden gem and one of the few local restaurants that serve Asian cuisine, so it should definitely be on your list! 

Rum Cake Lady Cuban Cafe

Photo Courtesy of Rum Cake Lady

Rum Cake Lady located in both McCaysville and Blue Ridge is a fan favorite and it’s not hard to see why! They are a family-owned, fast-casual café offering authentic Cuban comfort food and award-winning Rum Cakes of every flavor. The Rum Cake Lady, Liz Correa was born in Camagüey, Cuba, and made her way to Blue Ridge after living in Puerto Rico and Miami. She originally sold her family recipe rum cakes at local farmers’ markets but soon saw a need for authentic Cuban food in the area. And that’s how The Rum Cake Lady Cuban Cafe came to be!

You’ll quickly fall in love with the incredible food; like the delicious sandwiches pressed on fresh-baked Cuban bread, the Empanadas, and the Cuban Bowls. And after you eat you HAVE to get a Rum Cake; you just can’t go to The Rum Cake Lady without getting one! They have all kinds of flavors like golden, limoncello, salted caramel chocolate, and Cuba libre. There are even special seasonal rum cake flavors that come around for different holidays and seasons; you’ll want to try them all! Rum Cake Lady has become a staple of town and you can’t visit Blue Ridge without dropping by! 

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 six 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.

Take a Spring Break



Spring break is just around the corner and we know families are looking for the ultimate escape this year! That’s why we’ve put together this blog, to tell you all the best places to play, eat, and stay in and around Blue Ridge. Your family is sure to have an incredible, adventure-packed spring break when you Escape to Blue Ridge!

Hikers Escape

Photo Courtesy of Mari Ortiz
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If you’re going on a trip to the mountains you might as well take full advantage of it, right? So get on the trails and experience all the natural beauty that Blue Ridge has to offer. Conquer mountains on a hike to Brasstown Bald or Fort Mountain, and be blown away by its breathtaking views.

Hike by the Toccoa River and visit the famous Swinging Bridge. Or hike to one of our many beautiful waterfalls. Or if you’re a big adventurer you could do it all! Some of our favorite trails include the Benton McKaye Trail, the Aska Adventure Trails, and Long Mountain Trail. These trails are great because they’ll take you through some of the most stunning views in Blue Ridge. Let your inner adventurer free and get outside!

Eat
Photo Courtesy of Fightingtown Tavern

After a long day of hiking, you’ll want to eat all of the carbs! Fightingtown Tavern off Main Street is the place to go! Fightingtown serves homemade style food that will totally hit the spot, especially after hiking all day. Their burgers and fries are just to die for! And they have a large variety of other delicious food as well. They’re open lunch and dinner; and they’ll be sure to give you the best service and one of the best meals of your life!

Stay

As its name states, “Take a Hike” is the perfect cabin for hikers. Located in the Cohutta Wilderness, you’ll be just mere steps away from the trails. The cabin itself has 3 beautiful wraparound decks so that you can take in the views and be one with nature!

The deck is filled with rocking chairs, a picnic table, a wood-burning fireplace, and even a hot tub so you can keep the outdoor fun going! Take a Hike is pet friendly and comfortably sleeps up to 7 people. This home away from home has all the amenities you could ever need including a firepit for roasting s’mores, a game room, a spacious kitchen and family room, and so much more! Take a Hike is a perfect escape for all outdoor lovers!

Downtown Adventure

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Photo Courtesy of The Pasta Market

Downtown Blue Ridge is every shopper’s dream. With dozens of trendy shops and restaurants you’ll need the whole day to experience them all. Get all the trendiest clothes, accessories and Blue Ridge apparel from Blue Ridge Adventure Wear, Blue Ridge Cotton Company and Crawford Collections. For beautiful antiques visit the Blue Ridge Mountain Mall. To add gorgeous furnishing and art from Blue Ridge to your own home check out High Country Gallery Art and New Blue Home and Gift. And for a “taste” of Blue Ridge you can bring to your own home cooked meals check out The Pasta Market, Blue Ridge Olive Oil Company, and Out of the Blue. You’ll have a great afternoon exploring all the wonderful, unique shops downtown. 

Eat
Photo Courtesy of the Black Sheep

When your bags are full and your shopping is done, fill your stomach with a delicious meal from our beloved restaurant, The Black Sheep. Just off of Main Street, The Black Sheep will provide you with a fine dining experience. If incredible dishes made with fresh ingredients, refreshing cocktails and wine, and excellent service all sound good to you, then this is the place for you. They don’t call it the best in Blue Ridge for nothing! Enjoy a delicious variety of meals like the Pan Seared Half Chicken, the Fried Calamari, Lamb Lollipop Chops, or the Black Sheep Burger. Make sure you stop by for brunch sometime too for live music, drink specials, and awesome dishes like the Chicken and Red Velvet Waffle. The Black Sheep even has a huge covered patio and outdoor bar, perfect for pet lovers who want to bring their furry friend along! Drop by for an incredible dining experience! 

Stay

If you’re looking to stay in the heart of downtown then “Postcard Perfection Downtown” is the place for you! This stunning condo has a modern look and is just steps from all the great shops and restaurants. Just an elevator ride down, on the first floor, is Bin 322 Wine & Tapas Bar and Mona Lisa’s Dessert House! Step outside onto the 50 foot wrap around veranda and look down at the town below. “Postcard Perfection Downtown” other amenities include, Smart TVs, a work station perfect for those working from home, a fully equipped kitchen with stainless steel appliances and granite countertops, and 2 bedrooms with luxurious linens. You’ll be living like royalty in this beautiful condo right in the heart of Downtown Blue Ridge!

Family Fun

Photo Courtesy of Chanel Josephson
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Photo Courtesy of @littlebitty87

What kid doesn’t wonder about the urban legends of creatures like the Yeti, Lochness Monster, or Bigfoot? Indulge their fantasies and sense of adventure by taking them to Expedition: Bigfoot! The Sasquatch Museum. It’ll be a great outing that the whole family can enjoy! Come face to face with Bigfoot himself and find all sorts of mysteries like Bigfoot artifacts, life sized exhibits, photos and maps of Bigfoot sightings, the Bigfoot research and Tech Vehicle, and so much more! Then visit the “Sasquatch Theater”, the Bigfoot Reference Library, and take home a souvenir from the gift shop! Expedition: Bigfoot is the countries largest, permanent display of all things Bigfoot! Everyone will be sure to have a blast on this fun filled adventure. Just what will you find?

Eat
Photo Courtesy of Mystic Mountain Pizza

All kids love pizza, right? Then why not take them to Mystic Mountain Pizza for a slice! They’re famous for their specialty pizzas made in oak fire brick ovens but they also have salads, hot dogs, and wings. Your kids will love munching on all that yummy goodness and have fun picking out their own specialty pizza slice. From the classic pepperoni, to Mediterranean, meat lovers, vegetable, and even a Clam Casino pizza; you’ll have lots to choose from! After dinner treat the kids to something sweet and grab a treat from The Sweet Shoppe. Cupcakes, cookies, cakes, pies, and chocolate covered strawberries galore; the kids and you will have a blast satisfying your sweet tooth!

Stay

Eagles Landing is the perfect cabin for big families! This beautiful cabin is located right off of Lake Blue Ridge and has everything you and the kids could possibly need! 7 bedrooms, a game room, a wrap around deck with plenty of seating, a hot tub, a stone gas fireplace in the living room that stretches up to 18 feet, and a two story dock! This cabin is great for the warmer spring weather because you can just grab a boat and hop onto the lake for the day! Then you can come home and continue to relax by the water on the dock or on the porch. Families will absolutely love Eagles Landing and all of it’s wonderful amenities. 

For the Adults

Photo Courtesy of Forever Freckled
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Photo Courtesy of Bear Claw Vineyards

Enjoy some grown up time and a glass of wine at the beautiful Bear Claw Vineyard. Take in the gorgeous mountain views and calming atmosphere and stay awhile! Enjoy 3 different tasting options and be sure to pair them with one of Bear Claw’s delicious chocolate wine truffles. On Saturdays even enjoy some wonderful live music from local artists. Sit outside on the patio or inside the tasting room and sip away! 

Eat
Photo Courtesy of Bin 322

If you need more for your wine fix check out Bin 322 Wine and Tapas Bar. Take a night out with great food, drinks, and a great atmosphere. Enjoy countless tapas each paired with a delicious wine. Or enjoy soups and salads, sandwiches, or meat and cheese platters. On Friday or Saturday nights enjoy live music and on Sunday enjoy a delicious brunch, with mimosas of course! Bin 322 bases 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! Enjoy a relaxing evening in this calming and intimate atmosphere. 

Stay

For a relaxing and beautiful retreat look no further then “Big Sky Retreat”. Perched on the edge of Sunrock Mountain the mountain views here will take your breath away. And you’ll be able to admire the views from any of the 3 viewing decks. Here you’re close to both the fun of the great outdoors and close to town. You can unwind after a long day of activities by making s’mores and hot dogs at the outdoor firepit. Or play a round of billiards in the game room. Take full advantage of this 3 bedroom cabin’s wonderful amenities and beautiful rooms! 

Take in the Sights

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Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

Being in the North Georgia Mountains, Blue Ridge has all the sights, so you have to take full advantage of them during your stay! Blue Ridge Scenic Railway is a favorite way to travel and see the beauty of Blue Ridge. You’ll start and end in the historic part of downtown, pass by the Chattahoochee National Forest, the Toccoa River, and the twin cities of McCaysville, GA and Copperhill, TN. On this 26 mile trip you’ll pass through the most beautiful sights. Another way to check out the views is on a scenic drive. Many roads in the area will lead you past stunning mountain views like the Richard B. Scenic Highway and Highway 60. And lastly on your scenic views journey, hike to the top of Brasstown Bald. You’ll have breathtaking mountain views on every side and will even be able to see 3 different states at once! If you’re up for a bit of a challenge, a hike up Brasstown Bald should definitely be on your bucket list! 

Eat
Photo Courtesy of Chester Brunnemeyer’s Bar & Grill

After taking in the sights grab a bite to eat at Chester Brunnemeyer’s Bar & Grill. Chester’s is an American bar & grill specializing in food from the southeastern region. Delicious food, wine, cocktails, and craft beer are all yours for the taking. Enjoy some of your favorite dishes like wings, steak, seafood, burgers, and more! Chester’s really does have something for everyone and a great menu for the kids as well! 

Stay

Continue taking in the sights at “My Mountain Lookout” which is so fondly named because of it’s spectacular mountain views. This peaceful and private cabin provides the views but is also just a few miles from all the shops and restaurants of Downtown Blue Ridge. Cook dinner in the beautiful kitchen with granite countertops and all the amenities or grill out on the deck to keep the views going. Enjoy a hot tub and game room in this cabin as well! This welcoming,  3 bedroom cabin is the perfect escape for families!

Your Furkids are Welcome Here



Bringing your dog with you on your Blue Ridge mountain vacation can enrich a trip in so many ways. You’ll meet and talk to dog-loving strangers who otherwise would have passed right by you. You’ll travel to dog-friendly parks and other places that wouldn’t ordinarily be on your itinerary. You’ll have a built-in reason to go outside, exercise and have fun. Most meaningfully, you’ll have your best friend at your side. We are glad that you and your four legged pooch have decided to stay with us, and we thought we’d take this opportunity to share some of Blue Ridge’s favorite canine and people friendly spots.

Let’s Get Our 20,000 Steps In

Photo Courtesy of @celine_celeste_great_danes

Fido isn’t wearing a Fitbit, but he does have twice as many legs that welcome the fresh air and exercise that come as a vacation bonus here in the foothills of the Appalachians. The Chattahoochee National Forest is dog-friendly. When combined with the Oconee National Forest, the Chattahoochee National Forest spans nearly 867,000 acres across 26 counties and features thousands of miles of clear streams and rivers, 850 miles of recreation trails, picnic areas, and areas rich in natural scenery, history, and culture. Hikers bringing their dogs on the trails must keep them under verbal or physical restraint at all times—using a leash in crowded areas is highly encouraged.

If your dog loves to socialize with her canine counterparts, then a visit to the Humane Society of Blue Ridge Dog Park is a must. An off leash park there offers both Big dog and Small Dog areas. There are toys to play with or you are welcome to bring your furkids favorite fetch toy. Clean up bags are provided, but you need to do the heavy lifting and disposal into the litter cans. The park is open sun-up till sun-down, 7 days a week.

Shopping is GRRRRReat

Watson greeting customers at Blue Ridge Cotton Company

Blue Ridge Cotton Company is a dog-friendly clothing store, located in downtown Blue Ridge. Inside the store, you’ll find an extensive pet section, including gifts, books, leashes in a variety of colors, treats, and more. There’s even more irresistible human stuff, too. Additionally, Blue Ridge Cotton Company donates one percent of every purchase to a number of animal charities in the local area.

If it’s a girls day out, then the two of you need to head over to Humble Pie Ladies Boutique. A pet-friendly ladies outfitter in Blue Ridge, the clothing they stock is Bohemian-style, unique, affordable and comfortable. Dogs are welcome to join you in the dressing room as you decide which flowing dress or headband best suits you.

Love Dogs and Cats Too is a pet-friendly store full of items for Fido and Fluffy. They stock everything from healthy treats and snazzy leashes to plush toys and comfy beds. Dogs are welcome inside to sniff out their birthday gift or drop some hints as to their favorite kind of toy to take home.

Drinking out of a bowl, frosted mug or goblet

Photo Courtesy of Bear Claw Vineyards & Winery

Eventually you and your pet are going to get thirsty. Though your four legged friend isn’t old enough to legally indulge in liquid spirits, he/she will still love to socialize with you as you test out some of the finest in craft beers and wines produced in our region. Hanging out on the patio seating at Grumpy Old Men’s Brewing will actually put you all in a good mood. Fannin Brewing Company is another favorite for Fido travelers and the Ale beer connoisseur on the other end of the leash. Just up the road from downtown Blue Ridge is Bear Claw Vineyards & Winery, a boutique farm winery with vineyards where production of handcrafted wines are offered in the tasting room which also includes a dog friendly patio. Salud!

This Movie Rates 5 Bones

Photo Courtesy of Kaysi and Grey Darrah

When was the last time you took your pooch to the movies? Here in Blue Ridge you can bring Chunky with you to catch Call of the Wild (or Lady and the Tramp if she’s into chick flicks) on the biggest screen she’s ever seen – at  the Swan Drive-in Theater. Screening since 1955, this drive-in features 1st run blockbusters & an old-school snack bar with burgers. You’ll love the nostalgia, your pet will dig the burger bar outdoor patio and you’ll both enjoy the movie.

French Fries to Fine Dining

Photo Courtesy of The Black Sheep

It’s vacation, and McDonalds isn’t going to do for either of you. It’s time to try new gourmet delights, something that didn’t come out of a can. Toccoa Riverside Restaurant, located in Blue Ridge, GA, is a casual eatery that serves up a variety of delicious American fare. Best known for their local trout dishes, it’s best not to mention to your pet that there is also catfish on the menu. Spot is welcome to join you at one of their pet-friendly outdoor tables while you enjoy your meal. (They even offer a special menu just for pups with options like hot dogs, burgers, chicken, rice, and more!) And there is live entertainment for your pet too, as they quack up watching the ducks waddling along the river bed. 

Photo Courtesy of Toccoa Riverside Restaurant

You don’t have to be a Polish Greyhound to enjoy the patio dining at Margo’s Gourmet Polish Kitchen. Margo makes everything fresh daily, and Cuddles will appreciate that she refers to her famous steamed weiners as sausages, not hot dogs. If you are both preferring something more like a pizza than a pierogi, upstairs from Margo’s is where Blue Jeans Pizza is located. Rated #1 Blue Ridge Pizza on Trip Advisor, this Italian-American eatery also serves up menu options like appetizers, salads, burgers, pizza, strombolis, calzones, subs, pasta, wraps, and more. And your furry bambino is welcome to join you at their outdoor patio seating.

When the palate calls for something more upscale or a certain date night ambience, then be sure to sniff out these two places. Harvest on Main has comfortable seating on their patio under the porch for both you and your furkid. Don’t share the menu though. Cuddles will have you ordering the Smoked Duroc Bone-In Pork Chop served with Red Skinned Garlic Mashed Potatoes & Pork Collard Greens, topped with Mushroom Ragout. Guess who wants the bone? 

And talk about the right canine atmosphere to indulge in culinary perfection, check out the 200 year old tree that Cuddles can rest under while you indulge in what’s been voted the best weekend brunch in Blue Ridge at The Black Sheep, just a short walk down Main Street. 

Did someone say walk?

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!

Escape to the Blue Ridge Mountains



Guest Blog by Forever Freckled.

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

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

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

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

Escape to Blue Ridge

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

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

The Cabin

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

There are no words to describe this place.

The name of our cabin was Falling Waters Lodge, named after the two small waterfalls running down the front yard. Let me tell you, the house was spotless, at least in the moment we all arrived. The details and decor that went into creating this home were unlike anything we’ve ever seen. The cabin had a large open kitchen with top-of-line appliances and large windows to look out over the Blue Ridge Mountains while you cook. *NOTE: While this cabin is no longer enrolled in our rental program, we have several other cabins that are just as fabulous like Waterfall Lodge and many more!

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

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

That view was worth the entire trip for us!

Things to Do in the Blue Ridge Mountains

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

Atlanta Aquarium

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

Mercier Orchards

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

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

Burt’s Farm

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

Hiking

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

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

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

Lily Pad Village

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

Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

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

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

Three Sisters Fudge & Das Kauffee Haus

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

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

BBQ and S’mores

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

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

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

Black Sheep Restaurant

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

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

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

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

Tips on Traveling with Kids

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

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

Just kidding!

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

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

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

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

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

Final Thoughts on Traveling to the Blue Ridge Mountains

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

Blue Ridge has it all!

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

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

Love,

Carrie, Katie, and Alison

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

Isn’t it Romantic



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

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

Falling Waters Lodge

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

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

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

A Walk in the Woods of a Poet

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

Keeping it Spa-cial

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

Over a Cocktail

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

Keep It Moving

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

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

Bring Back the Memories

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

Star Gazing

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

Fall is Prime Time to go to Blue Ridge



Guest Blog by Blake Guthrie as written for the AJC (Atlanta Journal & Constitution).

The Cabin

Photo Courtesy of Blake Guthrie

Cloud Nine. It’s the type of name one would expect for a mountain vacation rental home. It’s one of those places that if you try and follow GPS directions you’ll get lost. The rental agency sent a confirmation that stressed the importance of following the turn-by-turn directions provided in the email, including detail you wouldn’t get from a GPS such as “go right when you see a bunch of mailboxes.”

The Approach

Photo Courtesy of Blake Guthrie

What it didn’t mention was the very steep and winding one-lane road. After putting my Honda into its lowest gear for the first time ever and having to navigate past an approaching vehicle, I came to the crest of Sunrock Mountain four miles west of Blue Ridge. I saw that Cloud Nine was the type of place I might want to hole-up for a while, but, having never been to Blue Ridge or nearby Ellijay before, I came to do some exploring, to find the most beautiful scenery and the best outdoor spots to experience the autumnal ambiance.

The Train

Photo courtesy of @chusion

It turned out the back porch of the cabin was one of those places. In the morning I could see how the cabin got its name. It was literally in the clouds, the surrounding mountain peaks sticking up through a thick white blanket covering the valleys below. Still, I had to venture out. First on my itinerary was the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. The major attraction in town, the railway has been in operation as a sightseeing excursion train since 1998 along tracks that have a history going back as far as 1886. The tracks follow the route of the winding Toccoa River through the Chattahoochee National Forest to the twin towns of McCaysville and Copperhill, Tennessee. They’re essentially the same town with the state line running through the middle. Like a running joke, the line is demarcated by a blue stripe painted on sidewalks, roadways and running through the middle of businesses.

The train rolls at a leisurely pace and the open-air windows are large, making it a prime fall sightseeing adventure with a good dose of history thrown in. Along the way, you’ll see a Native American fish trap in the middle of the river that experts believe is 500 years old, and the old telegraph poles that used to be the fastest form of communication in a bygone era. The trip takes four hours, with two spent in McCaysville/Copperhill for exploring the towns.

McCaysville

If hunger strikes, Burra Burra on the River in McCaysville is near the train station and serves pub fare and local brews. Be sure to ask for outside seating, weather permitting. The real selling point here is the covered deck that overlooks the clear waters of the Toccoa River flowing past the state line where it becomes the Ocoee River after crossing into Tennessee.

Piano Bar

Photo Courtesy of The Black Sheep

Back in Blue Ridge, the largest patio bar in town can be found at Black Sheep Restaurant, where the seasonal menu leans heavily on seafood. Housed in a historic home shaded by a 200-year-old oak tree, the patio overlooks the center of town. It’s a popular place, so make reservations for dinner. Or just have a drink at the bar.

Breweries

The craft beer scene is surprisingly good in Blue Ridge for such a small town that was dry not too long ago. Two breweries — Fannin Brewing Company and Grumpy Old Men Brewing — both have large, inviting outdoor beer gardens where you can play cornhole, meet the locals and catch some live music. Wine drinkers have no shortage of options either, as wineries have been opening at a fast clip in this area over the last few years.

Photo Courtesy of Bear Claw Vineyards

Near Ellijay, Chateau Meichtry (pronounced “my-tree”) stands out not only for its wine but also its patio outside the barn tasting room where the rolling vineyards reveal a long-range view of the mountains to the north.At Bear Claw Vineyards visitors can spend the night in the Blue Ridge Treehouse, featured on the DIY Network show “The Treehouse Guys.” The treehouse overlooks the vineyards and contains all the amenities one would expect when staying in a hotel.

Apple Country

Photo Courtesy of Mercier Orchards

No trip to the North Georgia mountains during the fall harvest season would be complete without taking advantage of apple country. The pull of a roadside farm store backed by endless acres of fruit orchards is undeniable. Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge and R&A Orchards outside Ellijay both have roadside markets selling freshly picked apples and other fruits, fresh-baked goods, local foodstuffs and offer pick-your-own days as well as plenty of free samples.

Welcome to the Mountains!

Photo Courtesy of Blake Guthrie

Lake Blue Ridge is the centerpiece of a scenic drive worth exploring. Stop at the Blue Ridge Welcome Center to pick up a detailed map. Ringed by mountains, the lake has clear, emerald-hued water and a pristine, forested shoreline. The route also runs alongside the tumbling rapids of the Toccoa River, rolling farmland, historic houses, and has many side hikes to cascading waterfalls and other pastoral pleasures. Bring comfortable hiking shoes and make an afternoon of it if you plan to visit all the stops listed on the map. On my last morning at Cloud Nine, I got up early enough to see the sunrise over the Blue Ridge Mountains and stayed on the porch until checkout. Sometimes where you are is the best place to be.

If You Go

Blue Ridge is 92 miles north of Atlanta.

What to see

Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. $35 and up. 241 Depot St., Blue Ridge. 877-413-8724, brscenic.com

R&A Orchards. 5505 Hwy. 52 East, Ellijay. 706-273-3821, www.randaorchards.com

Where to stay

Escape to Blue Ridge. Cabins $140-$1,800 per night. 866-618-2521, www.escapetoblueridge.com.

Blue Ridge Treehouse. $234 and up. 2555 Tennis Court Road, Blue Ridge. 706-223-3750, blueridgetreehouse.com.

Where to Eat

Burra Burra on the River. $11 and up. 100 Blue Ridge Drive, McCaysville. 706-400-6660, www.burraburraontheriver.com.

Black Sheep Restaurant. $20 and up. 480 W. Main St., Blue Ridge 706-946-3663, www.blacksheepblueridge.com.

Visitor Info

Blue Ridge Welcome Center. 152 Orvin Lance Drive. 800-899-6867, www.blueridgemountains.com.

Ellijay Welcome Center. 10 Broad St. 706-635-7400, www.gilmerchamber.com.