Whether your kids are doing virtual learning this year or are physically going to class there’s still lots of fun to be had when your family stays with us! We’ve comprised a list of 6 science experiments for kids to try, while parents can both relax and spend some quality family time together. These are fun, easy to do experiments with materials you can find in and around your cabin.
While you stay with us make sure to try at least a couple of these experiments with your kids. It’ll get them outside and exploring in nature as well as teach them basic science concepts. Not only that, but they’re fun too! These experiments are sure to be fun memories from your trip that will last a lifetime.
Why Do Leaves Change Color?
This first experiment is brought to us by Sarah on howweelearn.com and is perfect for the fall season! It will teach your kiddos all about why leaves change their colors in the fall.
Here’s what you need:
3 leaves (from the same tree)
Plastic baggie (or plastic wrap)
Paper Coffee Filter
Small bowl or pan
Have your child break the leaves into tiny pieces and put in the jar.
Pour rubbing alcohol over the leaves until they are just covered
Mash and stir the leaves into the rubbing alcohol until the alcohol turns slightly green. Really give it a good mashing – this is key.
Cover the jar with the baggie or plastic wrap and place the jar in a small bowl and pour hot water into the bowl.
Leave (ha!) the jar in the water for 30 minutes, swishing the jar occasionally to stir the leaves a bit. The alcohol should be a very dark green (leave longer if needed). If you can resist, wait even 45 minutes or an hour.
Cut a strip in the coffee filter so the strip can just reach the rubbing alcohol.
The liquid will travel up the coffee filter and the colors will separate as the alcohol evaporates off the coffee filter. Let this happen for about an hour for the full effect.
Who doesn’t love s’mores!? This experiment was found on growingajeweledrose.com and is perfect for your kids to try out on those cool fall days. This will teach them all about solar energy and leave them with a sweet treat as well!
An empty box
A box cutter/knife
Use a box cutter or knife to carefully cut the lid of a pizza box on 3 sides, leaving it attached on the back end.
Line the inside of the box with foil. Then, tightly cover the opening that you cut with clear plastic wrap.
Line the bottom of the box with black paper or foil.
Once the solar oven is assembled it is time to cook up some s’mores!
Have kids build s’mores, and then place them into the solar oven. Once the s’mores are in the box, close the portion of the lid covered in plastic wrap, and then prop the foil-covered flap open.
It is now time to observe and wait……after about 20 minutes they will be ready to eat!
This experiment is great because your kids can go out in nature and collect the flowers they need. Once they’ve gone out and collected the materials needed, your kids will learn all about how plants suck in nutrients and water. We found this experiment on www.redtri.com by Erin Lem. It’s a fun way to teach plant science and allow your kiddos a chance to get outside too!
Three white flowers. Some suggestions are daisies, roses, carnations, or even celery!
Four glasses of water
Food dye: blue, yellow, green, red
Mix the food coloring into each of your glasses, until you have four glasses of different colored water. The stronger you make the colors, the better.
Add two flowers to two colors of your choice and set aside. You should have two colors and one flower remaining at this point.
Take your last flower and slit the stem. Now take the two remaining colored glasses and part the stem, placing each half of the stem into different colored glasses. In other words, your flower should now be drinking from two glasses at the same time.
Place the water glasses away from the sunlight and watch what happens. You’ll start to notice some fascinating results within an hour or so, as the colored water creeps up the stem and begins to color the leaves. But wait a few days and keep observing the petals for fuller color displays.
Flower Pigment Experiment
Here’s another great flower experiment, this time from Kate on happilyevermom.com. This experiment is super fun because it not only teaches your kids about flower pigment but gives them a chance to get messy! And what kid doesn’t love to get messy every now and then?
Put down some aluminum foil and then layer your flowers on top. Next, cover the flowers with a paper towel. Then, start hammering!
Watch the pigment from the flowers seep through onto the paper towel.
Learning during Flower Science Experiment
Explain pigment (the substance that can be extracted from each flower which is used to make paints, dye, etc.)
Correspond colors on the paper towel with the flowers underneath – which match?
Hammer at different variations to see what happens to the colors – what happens if you hit lightly versus hitting harder?
Vocabulary words: pigment, absorb, extract, darker/lighter, parts of the flower (petal, leaves, stem)
Bonus: The smashed flowers can create a gorgeous piece of art too!
This is another great experiment for the fall season brought to us Vanessa Levin on www.pre-kpages.com. If you’re planning on picking apples while staying with us, pick up a couple of extras so your kids can try this fun experiment out! It’s a perfect experiment for the little ones, showing them how different liquids can affect the apples and teaches them many early learning concepts.
Apple Science Experiment Recording Sheet (optional)
Set out five containers with a few apple pieces in each one. Label the five containers with the name of the liquids you are going to be using.
Pour the appropriate liquids into each cup. Also be sure to set up a “control” cup of apple pieces without any liquid.
Now wait and see what chemical reactions will occur.
After a few hours, check on the progress and discuss your observations. Record observations on a Recording Sheetif you choose.
Our last experiment is another great one for fall and involves collecting pinecones. We found this one from Dayna on www.lemonlimeadventures.com. This experiment is a fun way for kids to learn more about nature. It will teach them why pinecones open and close depending on air temperature and moisture.
3 Pinecones (all the same size)
The set-up for this experiment is really quite simple. Start by measuring, sketching and observing your pinecones. Then place 1 pinecone in each jar.
Label each jar and fill two jars with water to the top. One jar should be filled with warm water and one with cold water. The third jar is your control and should be left open with only air to use as a comparison and to document the change you see over time.
What changes do you see? How fast are the changes occurring? Any other observations you notice?
Halloween is quickly approaching and to get us in the spooky spirit we’ve comprised a list of 7 creepy crawlers located here in Blue Ridge. While many of these creepy crawlers are local to Blue Ridge and might look extremely scary; in most cases, they will not hurt you, as long as they do not feel threatened. So if you run into one of these creatures while you’re out exploring, make sure to leave them be and you’ll stay safe. After all this planet is their home too! How many have you seen? Share your creepy crawler photos with us by tagging @escapetobr on your social posts.
While the Copperhead Snake is one of the most common snakes found in North America, they are also venomous. They get their name because of their copper-colored heads but are also commonly referred to as Water Moccasins. They’re a medium-sized snake, averaging anywhere between 2-3 feet long. They have hourglass-shaped markings on their skin which sets them apart from their commonly confused partner, the Corn Snake, who is not venomous.
The Copperhead can be seen outside in the day during the fall and spring, but in the summertime they are nocturnal. They do; however, like to be out on humid nights after rainfall. Copperheads are masters of camouflage because their brown coloring helps them to blend in with wooded areas. If you look at the picture above we’ve circled the snake so that you can find him. The camouflage helps them to ambush their prey. They mostly use the “sit and wait” method for their hunting, where they bite their prey and then wait for the venom to kill it. And much like other snakes, they eat their food whole. It’s hard to believe, but they only eat 10 to 12 meals a year. Copperheads bite more people every year than any other U.S. snake species. And while they are venomous, their bite is rarely fatal, for their venom is not very potent.
Chances are you’ve probably run into this strange insect before. The Praying Mantis is so named this because the way they stand makes them look as if they are praying. They camouflage in with their surroundings, turning a green or brown color to blend in with the plants around them. They then snatch their prey in the blink of an eye with their spiked long legs.
The mantis can also turn their heads 180 degrees to scan their surroundings, making them even more of a formidable predator. The females are even more vicious, sometimes even eating their mate after mating. While they may seem like they’d be aggressive towards humans, as far as we know they cannot hurt you. They have no venom and cannot sting. Still, I know I’m certainly not brave enough to hold one in my hand, like Deanna here.
When you think of rattlesnakes you probably think they’re only located in hot, desert climates. But on the east coast, we do have the Timber Rattlesnake, which is a venomous pit viper typically found in eastern North America. It is, in fact, the only rattlesnake species in most of the northeastern United States.
Adult Timber Rattlesnakes can be anywhere between 30 inches to 6 feet long! They can be found in a variety of different habitats from pine forests, to the mountains, swamps, rivers, and farmlands. They do, however, typically stay away from more urban areas. They hibernate during cold weather, so they are only active from late spring to late fall. When they are out and about, they typically stay in the coiled position, ready to ambush their prey. They use their venom to immobilize their prey. Don’t worry too much though, while their venom can be fatal to humans, the Timber Rattlesnakes will not attack unless they feel threatened and they primarily feed on small mammals anyways; so we’re in the clear! Still, if I ran into one of these on a hike I’d turn the other direction!
Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar
These funny looking caterpillars will one day turn into the beautiful Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly which you’ve likely seen in nature. But before these little guys can turn into beautiful butterflies they have to go through their life cycle, which takes about 2 months. The Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly will lay its eggs on a large variety of different plants. In about a week, the eggs hatch baby caterpillars. Even right after they’ve hatched you can see their “false eyes” start to come in. These fake eyes are to fool predators into thinking that they’re a snake and then they will hopefully be left alone. They stay in the caterpillar stage for about 3-4 weeks. They are typically green for most of their caterpillar life until they are just about to turn into a chrysalis, then they turn brown. While in the chrysalis stage they almost look like little sticks and they stay this way for 1-3 weeks. Finally, they emerge from their chrysalis as beautiful Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies! The strange-looking caterpillars have an ugly duckling story. They were once odd-looking creatures who transformed into something beautiful!
I’ll be honest, just looking at pictures of this spider freaks me out! I keep screaming every time a picture of them comes up, so they definitely fit under the creepy crawlers category! The Trapdoor Spider is a medium-sized spider that builds underground burrows made of different materials including silk, soil, and vegetation. When in their burrows they are extremely hard to see because the plant and soil materials help to camouflage it. They are nocturnal, so at night the spider waits for their prey while holding on to the trapdoor with their claws. Their prey is captured when they disturb the ‘trip’ lines, alerting the spider. The spider then uses vibrations to find their prey and when it is close enough, the spider leaps out and ambushes it. The Trapdoor Spider mainly eats insects but can also eat arthropods and small vertebrates. In the U.S. the Trapdoor Spiders venom is not very strong and almost feels like a bee sting, but they are still terrifying to look at. In Georgia alone, there are 8 different species of these spiders.
Most of us have probably never run into these creatures walking around Blue Ridge. The Hellbender Salamander is an incredibly rare, giant salamander that lives in parts of Northern Georgia. Believe it or not, the Blue Ridge Mountains have the largest diversity of salamanders anywhere in the world. Since salamanders are amphibians they hibernate until heavy rainfall occurs, so they’re already a rare sight.
The Hellbender Salamanders spend their time hiding under rocks in cold streams. They can grow up to 2 feet long and live to be as old as 20 or 30! They have wide mouths that make it look like they’re almost smiling. But don’t be fooled, they are not cute and cuddly; they’re slimy and very strange looking. They’re prehistoric creatures, dating back to 65 million years ago; long before humans roamed the earth. But today they’re starting to go extinct because the streams they live in are becoming polluted. Hikers also sometimes hurt the Hellbenders when they find them. Even though they may look creepy, make sure you leave the peaceful giants alone if you see them in the wild.
Black Widow Spider
These spiders are VERY common to North America so I’m sure you’ve had encounters with them before. While they may be small, they have unusually potent venom. While their bites rarely kill humans if you are bit you should seek medical attention right away because it can make you extremely sick. However, female Black Widows are the only bites that can be harmful to humans because of their large venom glands.
The females are the ones who are typically a dark, shiny color and have a red hourglass on their abdomen. Much like the Praying Mantis, female Black Widows also often eat their mates giving them the name “widow spiders”. To catch their prey the Black Widows create their silky, strong web and then nest on the ground in dark areas. When its prey is caught, the spider rushes over and wraps it in silk. There’s a reason there are so many references to Black Widows in pop culture today because these are creatures you don’t want to mess with!
Blue Ridge Activity Booklet
For more family fun and educational opportunities in Blue Ridge, we put together a fun educational activity booklet for you and your kids to enjoy that you can download here. Visit our Educational Things To Do in Blue Ridge page for historical more educational fun in history, biology, natural science, geology, Native American culture, physical science, and hands on activities.
Fall has finally arrived! And that means apple picking, fall festivals, family time, and great local events. Make sure you don’t miss out on the crisp weather, changing leaves and fun in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia! Fall is one of the most beautiful times of year to create memorable traditions with your loved ones! Check out the events below and Escape To Blue Ridge!
Join in the fall festivities September 4th – October 31st! Your $15 entry fee includes all kinds of fun activities like: cow milking, wagon rides, cow train, new Jump Pad and Ball Zone, live entertainment, pedal karts, big and little kid trike tracks, petting farm, apple tree maze, mini-golf, moonshine and apple museums, big slides and playgrounds, Fall photo spots, swimming pig races and duck races! PLUS there will be all kinds of great foods and of course apple ciders & slushies! The Apple Picking Jubilee is sure to be a blast for the whole family!
Picnic beneath the apple trees at Deep Roots Orchards! Bring your closest friends and family to relax under the colorful fall trees. Deep Root’s will provide you with everything you need; the picnic basket, blanket, and food. All you need to bring is your wonderful self! Be sure to check out Deep Roots Orchards other group experiences like the “Special Occasion Picnic” and “Food, Folic, and Flow”. Prices start at $27 per person; call 706-492-7753 to book your picnic today!
Come on out for live music at Tooney’s HUGE music venue every Friday and Saturday night and enjoy the best live music McCaysville has to offer! Check their website often for live music updates. And every Thursday night get ready to take to the stage with Open Mic night!
Stop by Grumpy Old Men Brewing select Fridays from 3pm – 6pm for great drinks, great music, and a great time. With indoor and outdoor seating available you can even bring your dog to join in the fun! Enjoy a delicious hotdog from Jeff’s Hotdog’s while you listen to some fantastic local artists!
October 1st: Surrender Hill October 8th: Gregg Erwin October 29th: Doctor Paul
For award winning wine, live music, and food truck delights, Bear Claw Vineyards is the place for you! Join them every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for live music and great wine. Kids and dogs are welcome too! The live music schedule for each weekend is shared on their website each Thursday so be sure to check back!
Visit the winery at the beautiful Paradise Hills hidden in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The tasting room offers Paradise Hills wine, a selection of craft beers, hard cider, and wine slushies as well as cheese and charcuterie boards, tapas, and shared platters. You can enjoy your drinks and snacks as you listen to local artists perform select Fridays from 4pm – 8pm and select Saturdays from 1pm – 5pm. Check their facebook page for an updated list of musicians.
Misty Mountain Hops is a music-centric restaurant and pub so it’s only fitting that they bring in live music. Stop on by Fridays and Saturdays from 6pm – 9pm for great food and great live music from local artists!
October 1st: Andrew Chastain October 2nd: Rusted Melody October 8th: Lindsay Beth Harper October 9th: Adrian Stover October 15th: Travis Bowlin October 16th: Hush Money Band October 22nd: Doctor Paul Constantine October 23rd: Frankie Sparks October 29th: Ryan LittleEagle October 30th: Rusted Melody
Where else can you find regional wines from all over the world, tapas and other delicious international platters, and live music!? At Bin 322 Wine & Tapas Bar! Drop by select Fridays and Saturdays from 6pm – 9pm to enjoy live music from local artists and choose from their great wine selection. And on Monday nights from 6pm – 8pm join in on SINGO, music style bingo! There’s always fun to be had at Bin 322!
October 1st: Robbie Litt October 2nd: Zack Alexander October 8th: Loose Shoes Duo October 9th: Mountain Gypsy Music October 15th: Rusted Melody October 16th: Trevor Ciognoli October 23rd: Trailer Hippies October 29th: Surrender Hill October 30th: Mook & Mimi
Come see the musical based off of the hit movie and book Matilda at Blue Ridge Community Theater! Follow Matilda’s journey through life as she deals with her cruel parents and headmistress while she creates a special bond with school teacher, Ms. Honey. There’s nothing Matilda can’t get out of with her smarts and wits! The show starts at 7:30pm Fridays & Saturdays and 2pm Sundays. You won’t want to miss it!
Come on out for the annual Indian Summer Festival at Georgia’s smallest public school. There will be vendors selling pottery, quilts, jewelry, homemade goods, leather crafts, furniture and so much more! And there will be great food options like BBQ, hot dogs, hamburgers, funnel cake, and cotton candy. It’s sure to be a great event of family fun!
Sip on delicious wine surrounded by the North Georgia Mountains! Enjoy live music at Cartecay Vineyards select Saturdays & Sundays from 1:30pm – 5:30pm. Listen to the music by local artists while enjoying your wine outside either on the Chimney Patio or on the Tasting Barn’s covered porch. Live music, good wine, and beautiful mountain scenery; it doesn’t get much better than that!
October 2nd: Sarah Forde October 3rd: April Cummings
Enjoy this wonderful outdoor market every Saturday from 8am – 12pm now till November (weather permitting) right in the heart of Downtown Blue Ridge! There will be all kinds of vendors offering food, artisan goods, arts & crafts, furniture, and more!
Take a quick drive to Cherry Log, GA for their Fall Festival, happening the first 2 weekends of October! There will be arts and crafts, home-cooked goodies and treats, bluegrass, country, and gospel music, and of course lots of fall fun in Downtown Cherry Log!
Stop by Blue Coyote October 2nd from 8pm – 11pm for live music from Topper Voices Unplugged. As always enjoy some great food while you listen in. And karaoke is every Tuesday from 7:30pm – 10:30pm. Be on the lookout on their website for more live music updates!
Partake in a fun run every Thursday night at 6pm from now till November. You’ll leave from the Burra Burra, and the 3.1 mile run will take you by the Toccoa river and through town. You’ll get to run through 2 states and cross the famous steel bridge! After the run stay for drinks at the Burra Burra overlooking the Toccoa River. Don’t walk, RUN to this great event!
In Hiawassee, GA you can join in all the fun at their week-long Georgia Mountain Fall Festival! There will craft vendors, delicious food, musical performances, educational demonstrations, and so much more! You won’t want to miss out on the fun, happening daily October 8th – 16th! Admission is $12 and children 12 & under are free!
See some of the most spectacular homes in North Georgia showcased at this great event! Ticket purchases benefit the area’s local youth through the Parade of Homes Scholarship Foundation. Check out these incredible homes and get an idea for your dream mountain home!
Watch a free movie under the stars at Deep Roots Orchards. The movie is “Practical Magic” and starts at 7:15pm. Bring blankets and pillows and get comfy as you enjoy your movie. And if you’re in the need for movie snacks, concessions will be sold as well!
If you love the sounds of a marching band this is the event for you! Over 2,000 marching band members are expected to participate so the Fannin County football field will be filled with the sounds of music! The bands will range in size from 40 member to 150+ members.
Calling all art lovers! The popular Arts in the Park event is back this fall! Beautiful art, great live musical performances, and delicious food. Plus you’ll get a chance to admire the stunning and colorful fall trees that surround the park! The event takes place October 9th – 10th in Downtown Blue Ridge and continues into Veterans Memorial Park. Admission is $5 a person and children get in free!
You can’t have fall without apples so head over to Ellijay, GA for The Georgia Apple Festival! With over 300+ vendors, an antique car show, a parade, and so much more it’s sure to be a blast! Visit Ellijay Lions Club Fairgrounds on weekends October 9th – 17th to have an “apple”achian good time!
The Sorghum Festival is one of the longest-running festivals in North Georgia. The event kicks off with a parade and then there will be crafters, cloggers, bluegrass music and more! Visit Meeks Park Road in Blairsville, GA Saturdays & Sundays October 9th – 17th to take part!
Bring your furry friend to the park for a fun filled day at Paws in the Park! Local Animal Rescue Groups come together to create awareness about the needs & concerns of the homeless & abandoned animals. There will be a parade of animals starting at the corner of East Main and Church Street at 10am and Ultimate Air Dog Dock Diving as well!
Ronnie Milsap & Mark Wills October 16th Location: Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds
Country artists Ronnie Milsap and Mark Wills are ready to put on a show for you at Anderson Music Hall! They’ll play their biggest hits and have you singing along in no time!
Check out The Haunted Copper Plant Rides on the grounds of the old historic Tennessee Copper Company October 16th – 31st for a perfectly scary time! Go beyond the gates of historic copper company and go for a 45-minute ride with 6 scare scenes!
Celebrate Dahlonega’s 1828 discovery of gold at Gold Rush Days Festival, October 16th – 17th in Dahlonega. Take in 300+ food and art vendors all weekend long! This HUGE event always features amazing craftsmen, fantastic musicians, and has been voted as one of the Top 20 Events in the southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society.
Craft brew lovers will flock to Hiawassee, GA for the Appalachian Brew, Stew, and Que Festival at Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds. If the name didn’t give it away there’ll be 60+ breweries, delicious food, and awesome Appalachian music all happening on October 23rd!
Jamey Johnson October 23rd Location: Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds
Country legend Jamey Johnson, known as “one of the greatest country singers of our time”, is performing live at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds! Tickets are going fast but General Admission is still available! To purchase tickets call the office at 706-896-4191.
Dress up and head to Project Chimps October 30th – 31st for “Chimp or Treat”. Not only will kids get a goodie bag full of treats but they’ll also get a close-up look of the chimpanzees in their habitat.
Run 3.1 miles through 2 states! The 5K takes place in the beautiful twin cities of McCaysville, GA and Copperhill, TN. Food, drinks, and music will be ready for your enjoyment before and after the race. Come on out and get ready to RACE, costumes encouraged!
Coming to Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds with a refreshed lineup and newfound energy, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band remains one of the most accomplished bands in American roots music! See them perform live on the Anderson Music Hall stage!
Fall is by far one of our favorite times in Blue Ridge. The weather is crisp and comfortable, the leaves are bright and colorful, it’s sweater weather and pumpkin spice time! We encourage you to take some time to soak in the fall beauty of Blue Ridge. Enjoy taking a scenic drive through the mountains, go apple picking, explore a waterfall, or simply relax in your luxurious mountain cabin sitting by the fire and enjoying the views! Find the perfect cabin for all your fall adventures and Escape to Blue Ridge this season!
A Bushel or A Peck of Apples
Nothing says fall like a trip to the apple orchard! Take a trip to Mercier Orchards where you can pick out your own apples and sweet goodies from the market & bakery. Their fried apple pies and apple cider donuts are a MUST! And be sure to sample their selection of wines and ciders while you’re there as well.
Want to pick your own apples straight from the tree? Pay a visit to Deep Roots Orchard where you can pick your own delicious apples. Then take the kiddos on a wagon ride through the orchard and even a barn tour! Our wonderful, local orchards always have something going on in the fall!
Hit The Road
When the leaves reach their peak color in late October it’s the absolute perfect time to go on a scenic drive around the Blue Ridge mountains.
Grab the whole gang and drive around the surrounding mountains and forests to take in the views. Some of our favorite routes include The Russel-Brasstown Scenic Drive and Highway 60 through Suches. Check out our fall driving guide for more routes & pitstops: https://www.escapetoblueridge.com/blog/5-scenic-fall-drives/
Want to lay back and relax while someone else drives? Take a ride on The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway! You’ll pass by the rushing waters of The Toccoa River and the North Georgia Countryside. You can admire all the fall foliage from the comfort of the train as the trees zoom by!
Fall is also a great time to put on your boots and hit the trails! The weather is perfect, not too hot and not too cold; just the right temperature and very few bugs! You’ll love exploring the forests of Blue Ridge as you watch the wind rustle the colorful leaves in the trees surrounding you. Hike to a waterfall like Long Creek Falls or Helton Creek Falls, or up a mountain like Springer Mountain or Brasstown Bald, or even cross the longest swinging bridge east of the Mississippi. The journey is yours to decide! Our hiking guide: https://www.escapetoblueridge.com/blog/seven-blue-ridge-hikes/
Go to a Coffee Shop
Stay warm and cozy this fall and visit a coffee shop! Pay a visit to Das Kaffee Haus in Downtown Blue Ridge for a delicious cup of your favorite coffee or a European classic. And don’t forget to pick up a dessert as well; choose from cakes, truffles, and more!
Visiting the twin cities of McCaysville, GA and Copperhill, TN? Then check out Yellow Bird Coffee Shop! Sip espresso by the Ocoee River or if you’re in a hurry go through the drive-thru and take your coffee to-go! We know fall and coffee shops go hand in hand; so don’t forget to get yourself one of those pumpkin spice lattes! 😉
Have a Bonfire
There’s nothing quite like a bonfire on a cool fall evening. Roast s’mores by the fire, swap ghost stories, and gaze up at the stars in the clear night sky. You’ll feel relaxed and cozy in no time curled up by the fire with your favorites!
Fall in the mountains is filled with many great festivals and events in and around the Blue Ridge area!
Take a quick drive to Cherry Log, GA for their fall festival, the first 2 weekends of October! There will be arts and crafts, homemade goodies and treats, bluegrass, country, and gospel music and of course lots of fall fun in Downtown Cherry Log!
In Hiawassee, GA you can join in the fun at their week-long Georgia Mountain Fall Festival! There will craft vendors, delicious food, musical performances, educational demonstrations, and so much more! You won’t want to miss out on the fun, daily October 8th-16th!
You can’t have fall without apples so head over to Ellijay, GA for The Georgia Apple Festival! With over 300+ vendors, an antique car show, a parade, and so much more it’s sure to be a blast! Visit the Ellijay Lions Club Fairgrounds on weekends October 9th-17th to have an “apple”achian good time!
The 52nd Annual Sorghum Festival is one of the longest-running festivals in North Georgia. The event kicks off with a parade and then there will be crafters, cloggers, bluegrass music and more! Visit Meeks Park in Blairsville, GA Saturdays & Sundays October 9th-17th to take part!
Calling all art lovers! The popular Arts in the Park event is back this fall! Beautiful art, great live musical performances, and delicious food. Plus you’ll get a chance to admire the stunning and colorful fall trees that surround the park! The event takes place October 9th-10th in Downtown Blue Ridge and Veterans Memorial Park.
Celebrate Dahlonega’s 1828 discovery of gold at Gold Rush Days Festival, October 16th-17th in downtown Dahlonega. Take in 300+ food and art vendors all weekend long! This HUGE event always features amazing craftsmen, fantastic musicians, and has been voted as one of the Top 20 Events in the southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society.
Pay a visit to Talking Rock, GA for the 2021 Heritage Day Festival. Arts & crafts, antiques, live music, great food, and interesting demonstrations await you October 16th-17th.
And craft brew lovers will flock to Hiawassee, GA for the Appalachian Brew, Stew, and Que Festival at Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds. If the name didn’t give it away, there’ll be 60+ breweries, delicious food, and awesome Appalachian Music all happening on October 23rd!
We’ve many a haunted spot around just in time for Halloween!
Check out the Haunted Copper Plant Rides on the grounds of the old historic Tennessee Copper Company October 16th-31st for a perfectly scary time! Go beyond the gates of historic copper mining company and go for a 45-minute ride with 6 scare scenes!
Join the master of Horror himself as Edgar Allen Poe guides you through a frightful evening of his most terrifying and popular works. Love & Death by Poe will be on stage October 28 – 31. Don’t miss this frightful night of terror at the Blue Ridge Community Theater!
And visit Deep Roots Orchards, October 30th for a night of horror movies! The double-feature will be Blair Witch Project and Halloween. Grab your popcorn!
Trick or Treat
Halloween wouldn’t be complete without a bag full of candy and a great costume! Head to Downtown Blue Ridge or the twin cities of McCaysville and Copperhill on October 30th for an evening of trick or treating! The kids will love dressing up and trick or treating from shop to shop. There will also be the Big Foot Boogie 5k, pumpkin carving, costume contests, food, and entertainment!
Looking for something a little more non-traditional for your tricks and treats this year? Dress up and head to Project Chimps October 30th-31st for “Chimp or Treat”. Not only will kids get a goodie bag full of treats but they’ll also get a close-up look of the chimpanzees in their habitat!
Spend your Thanksgiving in the mountains with the friends and family who mean the most to you! Select a fabulous cabin, cook up a delicious meal in our fully-stocked kitchens, take in the mountain views, and gather around the table for a great meal made with lots of love!
Take full advantage of the beautiful weather and great events happening this fall in Blue Ridge! There’s nothing quite like fall in the mountains!
I’m supposed to write to you about telling ghost stories around the campfire, but the truth is this writer is a big ‘ol scaredy cat and just researching good ghost stories is enough to have the hair on the back of my neck stand up! Why do we like telling ghost stories? Do we like to be scared or do we prefer to do the scaring and see someone else’s reaction? Is it the thrill of the story? The adrenaline rush when your brain is thinking is this a fight or flight situation? I mean, we know it’s not real and can’t possibly be true, but…….why is this so scary then?
I’ve been around firepits where some of the funniest moments that ever happened was when someone got super scared. You know the scared I mean, when they are all tensed up, on high alert, and usually make some really strange and high pitched shrieking sounds. Next thing you know, they are tripping over themselves and acting a fool running back toward the safety of the cabin in a frantic wail! (That may or may not be a rather personal experience, but I’ll let you be the judge of that!)
A dear friend is an amazing storyteller that puts on the Georgia Mountain Storytelling Festival and participates in Appalachian Story nights at the Haunts & Harvest at Blue Ridge Community Theater. So, I reached out to her to find out if there are any legends or lore in these Blue Ridge mountains that would be fit for a ghost story tale. She shared this super creepy Cherokee Tail that happened right here in these mountains that you may be interested in. But fair warning, if you don’t like to be scared or don’t want to be super creeped out try these lighter ghost stories and don’t scroll below to read the Cherokee Legend of Spear-Finger!
Ok. I lied. There is no such thing as “lighter” ghost stories. Even the kid’s ones are totally creepy! Why can’t we just stick to roasting marshmallows and singing “Kumbaya” around the campfire?! Ok. I’m pulling myself together. Here we go. I remember hearing this one as a kid. Maybe this was the beginning of my trauma. Courtesy of Café Mom, enjoy “The Pink Jelly Bean”.
Premise: At the end of a long, dark road is a long, dark path. At the end of the long, dark path is a lone, dark house. And the lone, dark house has a single, dark door. Behind the single, dark door is a long, dark hall. At the end of the long, dark hall are some tall, dark stairs. (Story continues, narrowing in from a room to a closet to a chest to a box, etc.) And in the small, dark box is … a pink jellybean!!!!
Notes for telling: The idea here is to build as much suspense as possible before you leap forward and dramatically shout the jellybean line. You’ll know you did it right if your audience reacts by instantly pooping their pants.
Long, long ago there dwelt in the mountains a terrible ogress, a woman monster, whose food was human livers. She could take on any shape or appearance to suit her purpose, but in her right form she looked very much like an old woman.
But not an ordinary woman: her whole body was covered with a skin as hard as a rock that no weapon could wound or penetrate, and that on her right hand she had a long, stony forefinger of bone, like an awl or spearhead, with which she stabbed everyone to whom she could get near enough.
On account of this fact she was called U `tlun’ta “Spear-finger,” and on account of her stony skin she was sometimes called Nun’yunu’I, “Sone-dress.” There was another stone-clothed monster that killed people, but that is a different story.
Spear-finger had such powers over stone that she could easily lift and carry immense rocks, and could cement them together by merely striking one against another. To get over the rough country more easily she undertook to build a great rock bridge through the air from Nunyu’tlu `gun’yi, the “Tree rock,” on Hiwassee, over to Sanigila’gi (Whiteside mountain), on the Blue Ridge, and had it well started from the top of the “Tree rock” when the lightning struck it and scattered the fragments along the whole ridge, where the pieces can still be seen by those who go there. She used to range all over the mountains about the heads of the streams and in the dark passes of Nantahala, always hungry looking for victims. Her favorite haunt on the Tennessee side was about the gap on the trail where Chilhowie mountain comes down to the river.
Sometimes an old woman would approach along the rail where the children were picking strawberries or playing near the village, and would say to them coaxingly, “Come, my grandchildren, come to your granny and let granny dress your hair.”
When some little girl ran up and laid her head in the old woman’s lap to be petted and combed the old witch would gently run her fingers through the child’s hair until it went to sleep, when she would stab the little one through the heart or back of the neck with the long awl finger, which she had kept hidden under her robe. Then she would take out the liver and eat it.
She would enter a house by taking the appearance of one of the family who happened to have gone out for a short time, and would watch her chance to stab someone with her long finger and take out his liver.
She could stab him without being noticed, and often the victim did not even know it himself at the time – for it left no wound and caused no pain – but went on about his own affairs, until all at once he felt weak and began gradually to pine away, and was always sure to die, because Spear-finger had taken his liver.
When the Cherokee went out in the fall, according to their custom, to burn the leaves off from the mountains in order to get the chestnuts on the ground, they were never safe, for the old witch was always on the lookout, and as soon as she saw the smoke rise she knew there were Indians there and sneaked up to try to surprise one alone.
So as well as they could they tried to keep together, and were very cautious of allowing any stranger to approach the camp. But if one went down to the spring for a drink they never knew but it might be the liver eater that came back and sat with them.
Sometimes she took her proper form, and once or twice, when far out from the settlements, a solitary hunter had seen an old woman, with a queer-looking hand, going through the woods singing low to herself:
Uwe’la na’tsiku’. Su’ sa’ sai’.
Liver, I eat it. Su’ sa’ sai’.
It was rather pretty song, but it chilled his blood, for he knew it was the liver eater, and he hurried away, silently, before she might see him.
At last a great council was held to devise some means to get rid of U `tlun’ta before she should destroy everybody. The people came from all around, and after much talk it was decided that the best way would be to trap her in a pitfall where all the warriors could attack her at once.
So they dug a deep pitfall across the trail and covered it over with earth and grass as if the ground had never been disturbed. Then they kindled a large fire of brush near the trail and hid themselves in the laurels, because they knew she would come as soon as she saw the smoke.
Sure enough they soon saw an old woman coming along the trail. She looked like an old woman whom they knew well in the village, and although several of the wiser men wanted to shoot at her, the other interfered, because they did not want to hurt one of their own people. The old woman came slowly along the trail, with one hand under her blanket, until she stepped upon the pitfall and tumbled through the brush top into the deep hole below.
Then, at once, she showed her true nature, and instead of the feeble old woman there was the terrible U`tlun’ta with her stony skin, and her sharp awl finger reaching out in every direction for someone to stab.
The hunters rushed out from the thicket and surrounded the pit, but shoot as true and as often as they could, their arrows struck the stony mail of the witch only to be broken and fall useless at her feet, while she taunted them and tried to climb out of the pit to get at them. They kept out of her way, but were only wasting their arrows when a small bird, Utsu’ gi, the titmouse, perched on a tree overhead and began to sing “un, un, un.”
They thought it was saying u’nahu’, heart, meaning that they should aim at the heart of the stone witch. They directed their arrows where the heart should be, but the arrows only glanced off with the flint heads broken.
Then they caught the Utsu’ 1gi and cut off its tongue, so that ever since its tongue is short and everybody knows it is a liar. When the hunters let go it flew straight up into the sky until it was out of sight and never came back again. The titmouse that we know now is only an image of the other.
They kept up the fight without result until another bird, little Tsikilili, the chickadee, flew down from a tree and alighted upon the witch’s right hand. The warriors took this as a sign that they must aim there, and they were right, for her heart was on the inside of her hand, which she kept doubled into a fist, this same awl hand with which she had stabbed so many people.
Now she was frightened in earnest, and began to rush furiously at them with her long awl finger and to jump about in the pit to dodge the arrows, until at last a lucky arrow struck just where the awl joined her wrist and she fell down dead.
Ever since the tsikilili is know as a truth teller, and when a man is away on a journey, if this bird comes and perches near the house and chirps its song, his friends know he will soon be safe home.
But wait. There’s one more we have to share. The Blue Ridge Witch or the Ghost of Tilley Bend
The Bradleys and Stanleys had a feud akin to the Hatfields & McCoys. After an unfortunate incident where several Tilleys were killed, retribution was due to the Stanleys. When the attack occurred, Elizabeth’s pregnant daughter, that was married to a Stanley, watched her husband be murdered and she and her child later died in childbirth. Distraught and outraged Elizabeth cursed both the Stanleys and the Bradleys that no child would be born to either family. And sure enough every single child was either still-born, miscarried, or died within the 1st year.
The Tilley family decided enough was enough and to break the curse, they must break Elizabeth. But before she was hung from a tree and given a witch’s burial, Elizabeth vowed to come back. Some say she came back through her sister-in-law Mary who one year to the DAY of Elizabeth’s hanging, Mary hung from the same. exact. tree. There are many reports of sightings of a woman in a long dress walking around, crying sounds, and feeling cold spots. 😲
Some communities are fortunate to have county fairs in their backyards or a state fair within an hour’s drive or two – so when it comes to deep-fried anything outrageous (Krispy Kreme Burgers, deep-fried butter, python kabobs, etc), or a carnival ride or two, it’s available – at least once or twice a year.
Then there are communities known far and wide as festival towns. You don’t even have to ask if there’s anything going on, or fun things to do during the week and on the weekends – because there always is, and you’re not limited to crazy cuisine on a stick, octo-dogs, chocolate-covered bacon (yummo, by the way) or funnel cakes. Sometimes healthy food and fitness is the central theme, and you might actually lose weight rather than gain a pound or two.
Blue Ridge is one of those special towns where there’s always something going on – it’s a festival town, but also a destination for events – big ones and small ones – some tied to traditional holidays and some that have been created with care by locals who are passionate about books, music, the outdoors, or the arts.
A listing of festivals and events in Blue Ridge usually begins at the beginning – in January – but the beginning of the summer season starts with Memorial Day, when the pools are filled, the boat motor is tuned up and wineries and restaurants typically return to extended hours. So, let’s start with that.
Spring Arts in the Park – Memorial Day Weekend – May 25 & 26
Arts in the Park is not just a spring kickoff to the festival season in Blue Ridge, another Arts in the Park brings things to a close in October. In both instances, artists and artisans, including musicians, fill the expansive Blue Ridge Downtown City Park with activities, performances and even some dancing. More than 200 juried art, craft and food booths are featured. This event is recognized as one of the Top 20 Events by the Southeastern Tourism Society. The Festival is held rain or shine. Pets are welcome as long as they are leashed and well-behaved. Weekend Admission: Adults $5 and children 12 and under are free!
You’ve seen ‘em, although you may not have known what you were seeing, railroad motor cars. They were used to monitor track conditions along stretches of railways. During a two-day Ride the Rails festival weekend, you’ll have a chance to actually ride in one in a five-mile round trip from the Mineral Bluff Depot, through the historic Iron Bridge and over the beautiful Toccoa River and back. The trip begins (and ends) at the Mineral Bluff Depot, where there’s also a scale model railroad, built and maintained by the Tri-County Railroaders. Food and beverage will also be available. For railroad enthusiasts, and the intellectually curious, this is an event not to be missed!
Blue Ridge Mountains Wine & Jazz Festival – June 22
Blue Ridge is becoming (if it isn’t already) a cultural tourism destination. That means wine, of course, and music. The wine will come from around the world, including those made locally in North Georgia and North Carolina and all you have to bring is a blanket or a few lawn chairs. Set wine, hard cider and some groove music against the gorgeous mountain backdrop of Merciers Orchards, and you have a classy and cultural event.
Independence Day – 4th of July Parade & Fireworks – Saturday Closest to July 4th
It’s the ideal 4th of July weekend package: Independence day in a small patriotic town that also likes it’s fun and a beautiful lake to provide the perfect backdrop for fireworks. Blue Ridge’s Independence Day parade is a “blast” You will have a ball seeing floats that show creativity and a good sense of humor. The Fabulous Fireworks will be shot off near the Lake Blue Ridge Dam and can be viewed from there as well as Morganton Point Recreation Area, Tammen Park and Lake Blue Ridge Marina. The marina will have live music and barbecue throughout the day. And if it’s an old-fashioned 4th that appeals to you, the small town Independence Day celebration in McCaysville is just the thing, featuring an impressive fireworks display from Tater Hill in downtown McCaysville-Copperhill. Here’s a thought – ride the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway to the fireworks for a totally unique Independence Day experience on July 5.
The Wild Wild West has nothin’ on Blue Ridge. Every August, for the last 22 years, you would swear (but please don’t) that you have landed in Laramie, Wyoming or Tucson, Arizona, because Georgia’s red clay is being pulverized to dust by broncs and bulls. This is a classic western style rodeo, complete with bull riding, saddle bronc riding, calf roping, bareback, steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing and special events. There’s great food and fun for all ages!
It sometimes takes a while to recognize and realize what’s happening in a town or out in the country, when you see artists standing stock still in front of easels and canvases, recreating a visual or a vista. When you approach the artist you can see what they see – beautiful mountains, or unique downtown scenes you may not have noticed (but they have – they’re artists, after all). If you peer over their shoulder you’ll see that these images are being captured in watercolors or charcoals or any number of arts mediums. It’s all part of an arts event that brings artists from across the region to Blue Ridge to capture the scenic beauty of this mountain community. Artists from across the southeast are encouraged to get outside and recreate nature’s beauty!
Blue Ridge Blues & BBQ Festival – September 14 & 15
One rule of thumb in the events realm is anything that starts with a crawl is going to be a good thing! So, the Blue Ridge Blues & BBQ Festival starts with a Blues Crawl on Friday night, followed by great blues and barbecue on Saturday. So, what is a Blues Crawl? Well, it’s kind of a meander through eight different restaurants, enjoying live music, food and drink, kicking off the Blues Weekend in the mountains. Then on Saturday it’s on to the blues and barbecue portion of the festivities with barbecue smells from local and regional cookers filling the air downtown and blues musicians performing from stages set around Blue Ridge City Park.
And winter, and spring and summer… The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway is an icon in downtown Blue Ridge, and all along the line to McCaysville and back. You can enjoy the brilliant colors of fall on a special train ride during October and early November or you can ride during the winter, spring or summer seasons as well! Learn about this region’s history along the way and you will have a deeper understanding about the beauty of this incredible part of the country!
This is the perfect annual event for pet lovers! You can have a great time with your pets and get a few critical things done that need to be done before the end of fall, like a rabies vaccine at the rabies clinic and/or micro-chipping. Other pet friendly events include a pet parade, 5K race, pet education and demonstrations, a costume contest, prizes, photos and more for a fun day with your favorite pet!
Blue Ridge Fall Fest Arts & Crafts Show – 3rd and 4th Weekend in October
Fall Fest features local arts, crafts, food and fun on two separate October weekends! This event has historically been called the Homemakers Fall Festival, but the event has stretched to include artisans as well as heritage crafts and food vendors. Come out to the Blue Ridge Farmers Market and experience the best in mountain creations.
There’s nothing better than seeing the excitement that surrounds a group of kids all dressed up for Halloween and ready to head out to an early evening of trick-or-treating. The only thing better is knowing that where they’re going is safe. Kids of all ages get to trick or treat from shop to shop in downtown Blue Ridge and McCaysville. Pumpkin carving, costume contests, food, and entertainment are also part of the evening festivities!
Holiday Art Show & Sale, Light Up Blue Ridge & Hometown Christmas – Each November-December
Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association sponsors a regional arts and crafts event where you can shop for regional art and crafts at the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association from Thanksgiving through Christmas. Downtown Blue Ridge and Downtown McCaysville hold their Christmas festival on the day after Thanksgiving with music, refreshments, caroling and all-day activities. Official lighting of the Christmas tree in downtown Blue Ridge takes place at dusk and then Santa arrives! Santa’s arrival, food, refreshments and entertainment and the lighting of the bridge all are on the agenda that same night in McCaysville.
AND SO BEGINS 2020 …
Fire and Ice Chili Cookoff – President’s Day Weekend
Is it really cold enough in Blue Ridge, Georgia in February to hold an ice carving competition? Yup. It is – so bundle up. But you also have to be prepared for the heat – the heat of homemade chili that comes in all kinds of flavors and a range of hotness. The contrast of cool and hot also perfectly describes the weekend festivities that kick off the festival season. The event is cool – attracting thousands to City Park in downtown Blue Ridge and the ice sculptures are hot with a wide range of ideas and images that emerge from a block of ice. The event in 2020 will be the eighth annual, and it continues to grow every year!
Annual Blue Ridge Writers Conference – Early April
Writers write – that’s what they do. But writing is a solitary pursuit and sometimes writers just have to get together to compare notes and chat about what they do and how they do it. The annual Writers Conference is a literary tradition and unique cultural asset enjoyed by our many writers and aspiring writers each Spring as they gather in Blue Ridge to learn more about their special craft.
Blue Ridge Trout Fest & Outdoor Adventures – Last Weekend in April
There are a lot of trout in Georgia. They are stocked, and caught, and eaten in large numbers. There are also several trout festivals designed to help anglers learn about and appreciate one of America’s favorite fish – the trout. But there is only one Official Trout Festival in the state of Georgia – and this is it. The festival includes great exhibits by outdoor organizations and businesses, education on trout fishing, entertainment, food trucks and more in downtown Blue Ridge’s City Park.
Where To Stay?
And as always, when you are looking to Escape to Blue Ridge, we have your best mountain accommodations. From cozy two bed cabins to massive six bedroom lodges. Not only can you enjoy festivals, but there is always live music in town, great shops to explore and fabulous restaurants to enjoy. When you’ve had enough “people” time, escape to nature and explore all the natural beauty that surrounds us. You’ll be happy you did.
When it comes to Halloween the first thing that comes to mind is all the miniature ghosts and goblins running around seeking out candy by the truckload. Halloween doesn’t have to be just for the little ones, there are a lot of fun things for adults to enjoy. So, channel your inner child, get out your best costume, and prepare to be spooked in Blue Ridge!
Have you heard about Old Man Jones? Legend has is that Old Man Jones owned most of the section of Blue Ridge where the Fairgrounds now reside. In the late 1800’s Mr. Jones suffered more personal tragedy than many realized. In keeping with the fashion of the day, these “happenings” were not public knowledge and were never published in local papers. Come see the history for yourself or are you too scared? If you dare to purchase tickets, Click Here.
Shadow Ape Returns to The Blue Coyote Bar and Grill on Friday, October 26th from 8pm-11pm. Put on your best costume for the and enjoy the Halloween Costume Bash while jamming out to Classic rock, 90’s alternative and Southern rock. On Saturday, October 27th The Bone Daddys will have you tearing up the dance floor. Maddie invites everyone to come out for a Spooktacular good time! Let her know Escape To Blue Ridge sent you.
A Halloween Costume Party and Live Music will be going down at the Copperhill Brewery this Saturday, October 27th from 6pm-10pm. You know why you need to go? Because they have your favorite Ichabod Pumpkin Pie Ale on tap!
The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway is hosting a Harvest Festival on Saturday, October 27th from 11am-3pm. Enjoy games for all ages, live music by The Whistle Stop Band, interactive displays, delicious carnival snacks, face painting, prizes, costumed characters, and plenty of photo opportunities!
Fall-O-Ween Fest at Mercier Orchards features tractor rides, pumpkin decorating, face painting, carnival games, a movie in the orchard at dusk and more on Saturday, October 27th from 12pm-7pm.