Blue Ridge Fall Bucket List



Fall in the mountains is a special time of year. The temperatures begin to drop to more moderate levels, the leaves turn to beautiful colors, and we can finally don our favorite sweaters and boots! There is always so much to do, both inside and outside, when you Escape to Blue Ridge and experience some fall fun! Here are a few ideas to make this time of year extra special while you create memories with your favorite people!

Scenic Drives

Brasstown Bald Courtesy of Sunrise Grocery

This is the most beautiful time of the year to pack up the family or gather your friends and hit the road for some beautiful leaf peeping! Here are our three favorites:

  1. The Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway is a nationally designated Scenic Byway that is 40.64 miles in length and makes a loop through the heart of the Chattahoochee National Forest. 
  2. Brasstown Bald rises 4,784 feet above sea level and is Georgia’s tallest mountain. Visitors to this place on high find an observation deck which allows a spectacular 360-degree view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, exhibits, a film, hiking trails, and gift shop.
  3. The Southern Highroads Trail can be traveled in its entirety or in sections.  This very scenic route travels through four national forests (Chattahoochee, Nantahala, Cherokee, and Sumter) and four states (North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia)

Come on Ride That Train

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

Fall in the Blue Ridge Mountains is best seen via railway through the Chattahoochee National Forest. Board the eleven-car Blue Ridge Scenic Railway train and enjoy a relaxing 26-mile roundtrip journey beginning and ending in downtown Blue Ridge with a stop in the newly revitalized twin cities of McCaysville, Ga & Copperhill, TN.  

Local Tip: Choose one of the three open air cars to have unobstructed views and to breathe in the fresh mountain air!

Take A Hike

Photo Courtesy of Daniel Frank

There is not another season that encourages you to pause and look around quite like Fall. We think nature is best experienced slowly because sometimes when you’re hiking it can be easy to focus more on the destination or watching where you step. However, in the Fall, bright colors implore you to look away from the ground and towards the colorful trees that make this season so special. Take your time and look up!

Local Tip: Explore the Aska Adventure area with 17 miles of trails to take in the beauty of the season. You can even incorporate the Long Creek Falls loop!

Pick a Peck

Photo Courtesy of Mercier Orchards

We can’t really think of a much more iconic fall activity than picking a pick of apples and finding the perfect pumpkin. Right here in Blue Ridge, Mercier Orchards offers you the opportunity to do both. Take a hayride around the property, enjoy a cup of hot apple cider, or warm up from the inside out with some delicious hard cider!

Local Tip: The best part of apple picking isn’t just about going home with yummy apples, it’s about spending quality time with your loved ones and enjoying the fresh air. Make sure to take lots of pictures, that way the memories will last a lifetime.

Star Gazing

Photo Courtesy of Scott Michael Anna

Watching the stars, moon, and planets shine in real time can be a powerful reminder of how big our world really is and when you look up into the Blue Ridge sky you’ll see why autumn is the best time for star gazing! So, grab a blanket, a thermos of hot chocolate, and a special someone and cuddle up under the stars for a fascinating and romantic evening. Download a Stargazing app to help decipher exactly what you’re looking at and learn about the stories of the constellations.

Fireside Fun

Toccoa Lookout Cottage

What better way to enjoy the fall season than with a warm and toasty fire on the deck or down at the fire pit! This is really a fall MUST. It’s not optional. The air is just so fresh and clean, the crickets and frogs are chirping, and your heart is warmer than the flames with all the chitter chatter while you roast up marshmallows for the perfect s’mores.

Fall Food

Your cabin comes fully stocked with everything you might need to make delicious meals for your friends and family. Since you came back with more pecs of apples than you planned on, let’s put the fruits of your labor to work and make some yummy fall recipes like:

  1. Apple Pie
  2. Pumpkin Stew
  3. Apple Stuffed Porkchops
  4. Cinnamon Stewed Apples
  5. Chicken Pot Pie

Fall Drinks

The best part about fall evenings is sitting on the porch (or in the hot tub) and watching the sun set over the beautiful mountain tops. Instead of the same ol wine and/or beer that you normally would have, impress your friends with some autumn inspired beverages. Apple Cider – Adult Style

  1. Apple Cider – Adult Style
  2. Pumpkin Spice White Russian
  3. Applejack
  4. Fall ‘Tini
  5. Harvest Punch

Leaf Art

Mother Nature produces colors that make Crayola Crayons jealous! So, why do we think they have to stay put outside? Pick up for favorite leaves, of all different colors and shapes, and bring them into the cabin to make your stay even more homey feeling.  Create a simple centerpiece for the table or place some around the fireplace mantle in a decorative fashion. Regardless of whether or not you have children vacationing with you, you can try your hand at some of these fun fall leaf crafts.  You don’t have to be super crafty to make something beautiful. Besides, the fun is in the laughter and memories you make with your loved ones.

Be Thankful

Make a “thankfulness” list. With the Thanksgiving holiday just around the corner, take the time to make a list of all the things you are thankful for in your life. If you have children, make it a family project and teach them the value of remembering all the good things that they have been experiencing during the year.

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.

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.