Daddy-O: A Blue Ridge Father’s Day Guide



Our rock. Our protector. Our hardworking, sacrificing, Mr. Fix It, all around wonderful man. Often times the fathers in our life don’t always get the appreciation they deserve. However, you can change that this Father’s Day and honor the man in your life with a perfect Escape to Blue Ridge.

So how do we make Dad happy? Well, through his stomach of course! And boy, do we have some good eating right here in Blue Ridge.  Here are our top 3 picks that Daddy-O is sure to love:

Blue Smoke World Famous BBQ

I mean, if “World Famous” is in their name, how could you possibly deny Dad the most sacred of southern cuisines – BBQ! Whether he is a simple man and just wants some slow smoked pulled pork or he is a purist choosing the rib option, your Pops will LOVE the smoky and flavorful BBQ from Blue Smoke. This Father’s Day they are featuring a special: For $55 you can get 2 Racks of Ribs OR 2 lbs of Brisket AND 1 Pound of Pulled Pork or Chicken! You also get cole slaw, baked beans, Texas toast, BBQ sauce, and 1 gallon of Sweet Tea! You can’t beat that deal with a stick! Check them out in Downtown Blue Ridge at 3365 East 1st St.

Ribs at Blue Smoke BBQ

Fightingtown Tavern

You don’t actually have to get into a brawl to enjoy a meal at Fightingtown! Named after a nearby creek, Fightingtown brings you regionally-sourced comfort food with a pretty big twist. Known for their delicious yet unique burgers, Dad will flip over the Megadeath Burger: two 1/2lb burger patties, 2 fried eggs, 2 slices of cheddar, 2 slices of pepperjack, 4 slices of house cured bacon, grilled jalapenos, grilled onions, beer cheese & sriracha all separated by a Krispy Kreme glazed donut! Yep, you read that right, a donut in between all that meaty goodness! Sounds healthy right? Well, calories don’t count when you are celebrating the toughest man in your life! Go ahead and live a little. Don’t worry, they have plenty of beer to wash it all down!

Megadeath at Fightingtown Tavern

Boat Dock Bar & Grill

Take Dad to a sunny spot for shady people and enjoy a delicious meal, heavenly drinks and the most incredible view of Lake Blue Ridge and the surrounding mountains! Not only can you sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery, but you can fill your belly with favorites like fried grouper tacos or their smoked chicken wings. Before or after your meal, head next door to the Blue Ridge Marina and rent a pontoon boat to go explore all the coves around the lake. If you really want to make this a Fathers Day to remember, the folks at the Marina would be happy to sell you a new wave runner or boat.

The Bar at the Boat Dock Bar & Grill

Three Cheers for Dad!

Because Dads work so hard day in and day out, they deserve a reward and what better treat than a cold one? Here in Blue Ridge we have several craft breweries to choose from. We think Dad will be in heaven when he gets to enjoy a brewsky at one of these fine establishments:

Grumpy Old Men Brewery

Just like Dad, this is a no frill joint. They don’t mess around: “If they don’t like it, they don’t drink it, and if they don’t drink it, they don’t sell it.” Doesn’t get much simpler than that! At this micro-brewery you can enjoy nine different beers on tap like the Aska Pale Ale or Moon Over Blue Ridge Wheat Ale. So, if you are looking for a dog friendly business that tolerates people and specializes in delicious beer, this is a must stop for your best father figure.

Pick your flavor at Grumpy Old Men Brewery

Blue Ridge Brewery

If the Dad in your life enjoys delicious food and some live music with his cold brews, he’ll love the ambiance and views of downtown Blue Ridge at the Blue Ridge Brewery. Here both the craft beers and scrumptious eats are created with only the finest of local ingredients. Grab some peanuts, pull up a bar stool, and enjoy the band!

Peanuts, brew, & Music at Blue Ridge Brewery

Fannin Brewing Company

Take a flight….of brews that is! This craft brewing company has grown like wildfire since inception, but they stick to their roots creating fresh beer, with fresh water, all while enjoying the fresh mountain air! Created in a German tradition, you’ll love lagers like the Blue Ridge or Black Bear lagers. If ales are more your Pop’s speed, sample the Toccoa Brown or the Hiawassee Golden. Music is as plentiful here as the brews are so be sure to mark this stop on your Blue Ridge escape!

Fresh Craft Beer at Fannin Brewing Company

Go Fish

Sometimes all a person needs to recharge their soul is time out in nature. Let Dad recharge his batteries along the banks of the Toccoa River with a rod, a reel, and a whole lot of fish! Being the Trout Capital of Georgia, the rivers and streams around Fannin County are plentiful with fish. Give him a day alone on the waters or treat him to a guided tour from Fly Fish Blue Ridge or Fly Shop Co. You can guarantee he will be talking about that experience for years to come!

Look at that trout caught with Fly Fish Blue Ridge!

Hit the Links

If the Dad in your life doesn’t feel like life is complete unless he’s on the golf course, well, he’ll be in for a treat when you take him for an afternoon at Old Toccoa Golf Course. Here he can practice chipping and putting on the greens or taking big swings on the driving range. There are currently nine holes on the Par 70 course available to play and an additional nine will be opening soon!

Old Toccoa Golf Course

Get Extreme!

Bring a little excitement into your Dad’s life by booking a Whitewater Rafting trip with the Ocoee Adventure Center. Here your main man will get the best adrenaline rush as you race down class three and four rapids in the Ocoee Gorge.  If he still wans more heart racing experience, try zipping through the Blue Ridge Mountains at Zipline Canopy Tours of Blue Ridge. Here you’ll get to see the mountains from the treetops, zip into the valley and then soar over pastures, and come in for a landing as you cross over Fighting Town Creek. Fun, fun!

A happy Dad at Zipline Canopy Tours of Blue Ridge

No matter how you choose to celebrate the best Dad in your life, be sure to tell him how much you care about him and how much you appreciate him. Happy Father’s Day!

Shining the Spotlight on Mercier Orchards



Farmers in the state of Georgia produce more than 26 million pounds of apples annually with nearly all the orchards concentrated in the North Georgia Mountains. Distinguishing oneself from the other apple orchards might be a large task for some. But Adele Mercier was never easily daunted by the business challenges of competition presented to her and her husband Bill and their 27-acre family orchard they started together in 1943. She had big plans for this little orchard in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Little did she know that it would take her to the dawn of the next century to execute her plan.

In 1999, Adele presented her vision for the Mercier Orchards to the regional tourism association. She shared with them her dream that Mercier’s was going to become an international tourist attraction, right along with her friends from the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway who had just started running scenic excursions to McCaysville and back. That afternoon, the tourism professionals chuckled at the naiveté of this eighty-year-old with such outlandish pipe dreams. Over the past two decades since, many of those in attendance that day have eaten their fair share of humble pie (or maybe apple fried pies?).

Mercier Orchards has grown ten times its original size, with 300 acres of apples, peaches, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries. The farm market that once boasted just bins of apples from July till December is now open seven days a week from 7 am till 6 pm, 361 days a year.  The Market Store has enlarged to several thousand square feet with outstanding food products, fresh, frozen and canned, with the majority locally sourced. If you are planning on preparing meals during your cabin stay with us, you must visit Merciers. Don’t bother with a shopping list. Every item will take you on a new culinary journey.

The Market has also grown to include a bakery boasting several varieties of fried pies, as well as apple cider donuts, and a large variety of bread, cookies and many other delectable baked goods.  The bakery also supplies the recently enlarged Market Café (open 7am-6pm daily) with award-winning biscuits, bread and rolls served at breakfast each day till 11 am. Breakfast buffet on Saturdays and Sundays is a great place to gather with family and friends, with buffet hours extended to noon.  After a morning in the orchards, picking your own fruit, lunch at the Market is the best place to hydrate, chill and nourish.

Yes, part of Adele’s dream was to bring multi-generational families in to enjoy the seasonal harvests of the orchards. Adults of all ages will enjoy the memories of their childhood days while picking apples, and the children will enjoy every moment, from the wagon ride out to the u-pick them area to delighting as they fill their buckets with berries, peaches or over 30 varieties of apples. U-Pick is subject to availability and the weather. For current picking dates, click here.

Maybe choosing your fruit at the Market is more to your liking than picking your own in the field. That doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the Orchard experience. From 10 am till 4 pm on Saturdays and Sundays, indulge yourself with a $5 tractor ride and tour of the 300-acre orchard. The Mercier family loves to share all there is to see and know about their orchard with their guests.

The fruits of the orchard are best enjoyed fresh, but for some, pressed and fermented fruit has as much allure. Mercier’s knows this first hand and would like to invite you to their Tasting Room at the Market. A variety of delicious hard ciders and wines, made with all “Georgia Grown” fruits can be sampled and purchased. “We are currently the only apple orchard in Georgia that can say they grow, press, ferment, and bottle their own product.” avowals their website.

As for Adele’s vision? Late last November, this writer visited the orchard with a friend to purchase a couple of bags of apples. It was late on a Sunday afternoon, three weeks past the high volume tourist season and we expected to be able to run in and out with our fruit purchase. We found the enormous parking lot to be nearly full. Walking into the Market, we discovered every cash register manned and customers were five plus deep waiting in those lines. My friend and I counted six different languages being spoken around us while we patiently waited our turn to pay for our purchases.

Adele Mercier passed away in 2013, leaving her internationally known Market in the very capable hands of second, third and fourth generations of the Mercier Family. They strive to bring to every visitor an experience that they will soon not forget. To learn more about Mercier Orchards and to see their event calendar, visit them at www.mercier-orchards.com.

The ABC’s of Horseback Riding



There is nothing more enjoyable than unplugging form the digital world, saddling up on horseback, and heading out into the countryside. In Blue Ridge, forty percent of the county’s land is located within the Chattahoochee National Forest and has countless miles of trails to explore and enjoy. Fresh mountain air, beautiful scenery, abundant wildlife, and getting in touch with nature is what it’s all about. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced equestrian, one of the area’s local outfitters would love to show you our country side and provide you with a rewarding, memorable, and exhilarating trip.

Appalachian Trail Rides

A love of family and horses led to the creation of S&T Stables and then in 2017 they designed and created Appalachian Trail Rides at S&T Stables. Proudly providing trail rides on 250 acres of privately-owned mountainous farm land, visitors can ride through pastures on scenic trails and gallop around private lakes and cross creeks while seeing wildlife frolic in their natural habitat. The youngest family members can enjoy pony rides and anyone 6 years and older can enjoy trail rides. Luke and Blair of Appalachian Trail rides have created a Proposal Ride for blossoming love or Dinner Rides complete with a delicious meal and songs around the campfire!

Cabin Suggestion

Almost Heaven is a spectacular cabin set high up on a mountain crest. This three-bedroom three bath cabin is snug in the treetops of an enchanting forest that makes for natural framework around layered panoramic mountain views. Whether you wish to lock yourself away for a romantic or sentimental gathering or create a wonderful family vacation filled with adventure — Almost Heaven will have you on Cloud Nine.

Blanche Manor

Year-round horseback riding adventures are available at Blanche Manor in Blue Ridge for all age levels and skill levels. Trail rides will take you through unspoiled scenery and take in views from three states – Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. You can choose from a leisurely stroll through wooded trails or sign up for the City Slicker Special where you can learn how to barrel race or do an obstacle course on horseback! Complete with Sunset rides, pony rides, and full day experiences you will enjoy every minute of your time with Kimberly and her team of experienced guides.

Cabin Suggestion

Taking its name from the hundreds of acres of picturesque horse farms in the surrounding area, Bucking Horse is a distinctive Georgia Mountain cabin rental that offers the peaceful getaway from your everyday life that you are craving. Perfectly situated in the Cashes Valley Area, this four-bedroom, 4-bath cabin invites you to enjoy the sounds and sights of nature from the spacious, multi-level decks and balconies. Take in the majestic mountain views as you rock your cares away on the back deck or sink into the steamy and rejuvenating waters of the hot tub. Let the scenic woods and calming mountain views from Bucking Horse envelop you as you create a truly memorable mountain experience that will last a lifetime- and having you longing to return!

Cohutta Stables

Spend a half day or a full day riding trails through the Cohutta Wildlife Management area. This family owned and operated horse farm is widely known for training, boarding, sales, riding lessons, and outfitted trail riding in the Chattahoochee National Forest. They believe in the importance of finding a horse to suit your needs and skill level. Heather and her team will take guests on a thirteen-mile trip through stunning landscape. The ride takes a break at Jacks River Fields, a primitive campground, for a picnic lunch and a leg stretch, before picking up the trail and returning back to the stables.

Cabin suggestion

If you love the peace from quiet mountain vistas and beautiful sunsets, then let Cashes Serenity wash over you. Located in the desirable Cashes Valley area of Blue Ridge, this three-bedroom, three bath home offers spectacular views of the Cohutta wilderness, a 37,000-acre protected wildlife sanctuary with more than 95 miles of hiking trails. Enjoy the beauty of the meandering streams and grazing horses in Cashes Valley as you wind your way up the mountain to breathtaking views. Horseback riding trails are within walking distance down the mountain and white water rafting on the Ocoee River is nearby. When you visit Cashes Serenity cabin, we hope you will echo the words of John Muir: “Keep close to Nature’s heart and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”