2022 Bucket List



2021 is over? Already? Although the year went by quickly, we hope it was filled with as much fun, love, and joy for you as it was for us. With the world slowly going back to normal we’ve been happy to have visitors escaping to Blue Ridge once again. While 2021 was a great year, we want to make 2022 even better! Check out our 2022 Blue Ridge Bucket List and see how many of these places & activities you can cross off your list in the New Year!

Smash into the New Year

Photo Courtesy of Tank Town USA

Smash into the New Year at Tank Town USA in Morganton, GA. If you have ever wanted to be an action movie hero now’s your chance! You’ll feel on top of the world as you drive a tank over cars crushing them flat, drive construction vehicles and fire off machine guns. Grab your friends and have a blast driving big vehicles and crushing everything in sight! 

First Day Hike

Go for a “First Day Hike” on the first day of the New Year, on any of our wonderful hiking trails. We have over 300 miles of trails ready for you to explore. Some of our favorites include the Benton McKaye Trail, the Aska Adventure Area trails, and Jack’s River Trail. Won’t be in town for New Years? That’s okay, our trails are always there for you and great no matter the season. 

Grab a Drink

Photo Courtesy of Cartecay Vineyards

Blue Ridge has so many great bars, breweries, and wineries so why not grab a drink or two? Downtown you can grab a cocktail at Whiskey & Water, The Dogwood, or Hook & Eye. Bar hop to Misty Mountain Hops, Blue Coyote, and Black Bear Bier Garten. Then play a round of pinball with a drink in your hand at Vertigo Pinball. And even relax lakeside with delicious food and great drinks at the Boat Dock Bar & Grill on Lake Blue Ridge. For local breweries we’d suggest Grumpy Old Men Brewing or Fannin Brewing Company. And for wine check out Bear Claw Vineyards or Serenberry Vineyards. Even Mercier Orchards has hard cider! 

Eat a Fried Pie

Photo Courtesy of Mercier Orchards

Mercier Orchards is famous for their amazing fried pies of every flavor! Which one will you try? After eating your tasty treats explore the market and stock up on all the goodies. Then pick some of the “in season” fruit, to make your own pies with! And even take a farm tour of the whole orchard to admire all the sights. 

Find a Fairy Cross

All over Fannin County, you can find what are called staurolite crystals or what are more commonly known as Fairy Crosses. Legend has it that as the Native Americans embarked on the Trail of Tears, they shed tears of sorrow that fell to the ground and formed tiny crosses of stone. See how many you can find out in nature! And if you have trouble finding them yourself, you can always pick up a few at Pezrok downtown. 

Try Something New & Adventurous 

It’s a New Year so it’s time to try something new and out of your comfort zone! Live a little! Soar to new heights at Blue Ridge Adventure Park where you can zip through treetops and climb up to 50 feet in the air. Or let someone else do the flying and take a ride with Blue Ridge Helicopter Tours. You’ll get stunning scenic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains below and see the town from a new and different perspective. Or even hop on the Georgia Mountain Coaster in Helen, the first-ever alpine coaster in Georgia! And we can’t forget about the Toccoa Swinging Bridge! Jump on the bridge and give your friends & family quite a scare. We promise it’s nice and sturdy though, and the perfect adventure spot! Seek all kinds of new thrills and have a blast doing it! 

Shop & Eat Local

We may be biased but we love our local Blue Ridge shops and restaurants! With dozens of unique stores downtown we’ve got a little bit for everyone! Fashion boutiques, artisan good shops, home décor, pet toys, and so much more. And after you finish a busy day of shopping grab a bite to eat at any of our amazing local restaurants. Some of our favorites are Chesters, The Black Sheep, Rum Cake Lady, and Carroll’s Barbecue. Yum! 

Bond with Nature

Photo Courtesy of @littlebitty87

Become one with nature as you ride horseback through the winding trails of the Chattahoochee National Forest. You and your beautiful steed will bond as you take on a trail ride with Appalachian Trail Rides or Cowgirl Up Stables. Both stables have options for beginners and more advanced riders. Also, get a chance to feel more connected with nature by checking out one of our many local waterfalls. Some of our favorites are Long Branch Falls, Fall Branch Falls, and Amicalola Falls. You’ll feel all your daily stresses roll off your back and finally feel at peace as you listen to the water rush over the rocks. Horseback riding and waterfall chasing; perfect mountain experiences. 

Push Yourself 

Photo Courtesy of Whitewater Express

Push yourself to new limits as you hike to some of the tallest peaks in Georgia. Some of our favorite mountain hikes are Brasstown Bald, Fort Mountain, and Springer Mountain. The hike up will be strenuous but once you reach the top the views are all worth it. And you’ll be proud of yourself for the hard work you put in to get there. Or you can take to the water instead and try your hand at Whitewater River Rafting. Head over to the Ocoee River and make your way through waves and rapids with a team of others. It’ll be quite a workout but a fun experience you won’t soon forget! 

Ride a Train

Photo Courtesy of the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

Many of our guests all time favorite things to do when they come to town is to ride the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway! Enjoy the scenery every season of the year as the train departs from Downtown Blue Ridge and travels through the countryside to the twin cities of Copperhill, TN and McCaysville, GA. The views from the train are beautiful year round but some one of our favorite times to go is in the fall when the leaves are changing. And you can’t forget about the Holiday Express every December where kids will get the chance to meet Santa on this festive ride! 

Appreciate Local Artists

Photo Courtesy of the Blue Ridge Arts Association

Local artists are always performing and displaying their art in Blue Ridge! Catch a show at Blue Ridge Community Theater where there are always local thespians ready to perform! Admire local artists’ works on display at High Country Art Gallery or Blue Ridge Arts Association. And listen to live music from local artists almost every weekend at venues like Tooney’s, Misty Mountain Hops, Bear Claw Winery, Grumpy Old Men Brewing and so many more! 

Discover Bigfoot

Photo Courtesy of Expedition Bigfoot

Did you know that Bigfoot wanders the forests of Blue Ridge? You can learn all about him at EXPEDITION: BIGFOOT! The Sasquatch Museum, located just east of the city. You’ll find and explore artifacts, life-sized exhibits, photos and maps of Bigfoot sightings, the Bigfoot research and Tech Vehicle, and so much more. This fun and unique museum is the perfect way to spend an afternoon! 

Experience Festivals & Holidays Blue Ridge Style 

Photo Courtesy of Georgia Apple Festival

There are always special and exciting events going on in and around Blue Ridge! Whether it’s for the holidays or one of our usual annual events they are always a blast! You’ll want to experience these great events at least once in your life! Some of our favorite events include: 

  • Fire & Ice Chili Cookoff & Craft Beer Festival: February 19th, 2022
  • Spring Arts in the Park: May 28th-29th, 2022
  • Blue Ridge Mountains Wine & Jazz Festival: June 25th-June 26th, 2022
  • Lake Blue Ridge Fireworks: July 4th, 2022
  • Georgia Wine Highway: August 1st-31st, 2022
  • Georgia Mountain Fair: August 19th-27th, 2022
  • Blue Ridge Blues & BBQ Festival: Mid September 
  • Fall Arts in the Park: October 8th & 9th, 2022
  • Georgia Apple Festival: October 8th-16th, 2022
  • Light Up Blue Ridge: Last weekend in November 
  • Mountain Country Christmas in Lights: November 24th- December 23rd, 2022

Escape to Blue Ridge

Eagles Landing cabin

No matter the season we are always ready to provide you with a home base for all your Blue Ridge adventures! Come up in the winter to experience the snow, in the spring where you’ll see nature come alive, in the summer on the waters of Lake Blue Ridge, or in the fall to watch the leaves change colors. We are happy to be your home away from home and thank you for your continued support over the years. We look forward to serving you with your very best mountain vacation in the New Year. Now let’s make 2022 the best year yet! 

Christmas Lights Around the Mountains



Every family has many Christmas traditions that they enjoy preserving. For this writer, one of my family’s favorite things to do is to go drive around and see all the Christmas lights! However, when you’re not from around here, you wouldn’t even know where to begin to look for lights to enjoy. Well, we tried to make it easy for you and stalked as many of our friends pages to locate all the Christmas light displays that you HAVE to go check out!

Each community offers a brief directions, but click on the town name to access a Google map to help you find your way! If you’re a local reading this and know of other places we’re missing please drop a comment or send us a Facebook or Instagram message. Merry Christmas!

Click to go to the Escape To Blue Ridge Christmas Light Map

Blue Ridge:

Escape to Blue Ridge offices – We are decked out for the season! Stop by and take a selfie with our Christmas Tree & pick up an activity packet for the kids and enjoy the lights by night!

Downtown Blue Ridge – East Main St.

Spur 60 – Between Mineral Bluff and NC State line. Drive through Winter Wonderland! Santa on certain nights.

The Penlands – Hwy 75, just past the North Carolina/Georgia state line.

Williams’ – Forge Mill Road off Hwy 515 across from Cucina Rustica. Santa on certain nights.

William’s Home Photo Courtesy of Becky Dyer

Blairsville:

Gwynn’s Christmas Light Show

Chamber of Commerce – Tour of Trees. 9am – 5pm. 129 Union County Recreation Road, Blairsville

Collins – 257 Windy Hill Rd. (Santa Here)

289 Cook St

Downtown – On the Square

195 Forest Dr

Gwynn’s Christmas Light Show – Shows at 7pm & 7:30pm. Tune your radio to 91.9 and enjoy! Address is 121 Birch Cane Drive, Blairsville, GA 30512

262 Jewell Mason Rd

Stonehenge Assisted Living – Hwy 129 North towards Murphy, about 7 miles north of Hwy 76/129 intersection. Note: Nativity Scene

The Browns – Take Old Blue Ridge Highway out past Mulkey Gap. Right on Ed King Road. Just before the solar panel field. Note: Santa’s Mailbox – leave a letter to Santa and receive a reply!

The Jones – Take Blue Ridge Hwy, then a left on Mulkey Gap, right on Jones Rd.

Hiawassee

Mountain Country Christmas in Lights

Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds – Mountain Country Christmas in Lights every Thursday, Friday, & Saturday from November 25-December 18th. Come early on Saturdays for the Craft Show and stay for the lights 4pm-9pm! Open EVERY night from December 19th-23rd! (closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). Here you will enjoy beautiful light displays and food ops along with food, music, arts & crafts, hot chocolate, marshmallow, a petting zoo and Santa. Admission is $6 per person and children 12 and under are FREE! On the main drag – Hwy 76 in Hiawassee.

Bugscuffle Road – Through the town of Hiawassee, but before the School. See Uhaul & Parker Oil, next road on left is Bugscuffle. On Hwy 76, just west of Towns County School.

Scataway Road – About 5 minutes past the Towns County School, see sign for Mount Zion Church on left and follow the red glow. Off of Hwy 76, 5 minutes east of town. See Santa on certain nights.

Panter House – Gumlog Rd off of Hwy 66 in Young Harris. On the Towns County side of Gumlog.

North Carolina:

Harshaw Road Lights Courtesy of Susie Bryant

Penlands – Hwy 75, just across the NC/Ga line.

Harshaw Road – Near Cherokee Hills Golf Course

A Christmas Story



A friend of this writer is in a Christmas play that’s very popular. Mostly because it’s that time of year, when folks want to be: a) frightened about the past and the future, reminded about core values, and encouraged to make lifestyle changes (don’t be so cheap Mr. Scrooge!), to address the immediate present before it’s too late; or: b) they want to get all nostalgic for how much better things used to be when simple stuff, like BB guns and leg lamps, could satisfy and enthrall.

In this case it’s about the BB gun and leg lamp. 

“A Christmas Story” is one of those timeless tales that strikes a nostalgic chord: real Christmas trees, a real fire in the fireplace, (a real clunky furnace!), lots of snow, and temperatures cold enough to stick your tongue to a metal pole.  It’s a story about deep friendships, loud personalities, a scary Santa, turkey, and love.

It reminds us of those days when, at least in hindsight, families were close and predictable, friendships were iconic and memorable, and experiences were indelibly etched.

Some will say that those days are gone forever, brought back only on stage or on screen. Others, however, know that all it takes is a little effort, some logistical coordination, and the right venue to bring it all back again.  It’s amazing how quickly weeks, months, or even years apart melt away around a kitchen table or breakfast bar. A couple cups of coffee, the squall of a newborn, a shared memory, or a joke we’ve all heard before,and we’re back among friends and family just like things used to be.

‘Tis the season

Don’t let distance or time deter you from rediscovering the best things about life. Distance is easily traversed and can be part of the experience. Time is fleeting, and the sooner you’re decisive the more time you’ll have to spend with friends and family. As for the venue, well, that’s where we have you covered.

Bearway To Heaven

One of the best things about escaping to a new, neutral space for the holidays, or any time of year for that matter, is that it evenly distributes responsibility during the gathering to all those in attendance. Everyone brings something. It’s not just Mom doing the dishes. Plus there’s the fun of discovery. Explore all the rooms. Take a hike around the grounds. Getting out and about to a winery, or a play space, or to a restaurant along the river.

The holiday season is about nostalgia and renewal. It’s a look back and a fresh start. It’s a time best spent with friends and family, to remind us to be grateful for all we have, as we look forward to more good times. No guarantees about that BB gun, or a tongue stuck to a pole. It’s up to you to make it memorable and stay in touch.

Merry Christmas!