A Four Season Scenic Ride



In the North Georgia Mountains, we celebrate four gentle yet very distinct seasonal transitions, each measured very close to the designated tri-month celestial calendar. Mother Nature’s landscape specialist (shall we call her Flora?) takes a particular interest in altering our mountainscape on a quarterly basis, cloaking it in very different hues, depths of foliage, and fragrances.

To get a full appreciation of Flora’s artistry in any one of the seasonal changeovers, we encourage you to drive the 41 miles of Georgia’s only national scenic drive, The Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway. The Byway, one of only 120  highways across our fifty states so designated, circles around the Chattahoochee National Forest and can be launched just seventeen miles southeast of Fannin County, at the intersection of Hwys 129 and 180, located in neighboring Union County.

Highest Peak In GA

Following Hwy 180 northeast, you’ll travel twelve miles to the entrance to Brasstown Bald, the highest mountain elevation (4,784’) in Georgia. When you get to the top of the Bald’s observation tower, you will have a spectacular 360-degree view of three states!

Photo Courtesy of Steve Grundy Photography

Anna Ruby Falls

Back on Hwy 180 and after heading southeast for ten miles, you will turn south onto Hwy 75/17. Over the next 10 miles, you will motor through some of the heaviest of forestry, including designated recreation areas Unicoi Gap and Andrews Cove. These are ideal places to hike, fish, picnic or just relax before heading out on the next part of your adventure. Driving for just a few minutes you will arrive at one of the region’s finest natural gems, Anna Ruby Falls. This double waterfall is formed from the merging of two creeks, both sourced from underground springs.

Anna Ruby Falls Photo Courtesy of Bill Mantooth

Just three more miles south you will find yourself at Unicoi State Park, where you can jet off on a bicycle, paddleboard on Unicoi Lake or eat at the Unicoi Restaurant located in the beautifully appointed Unicoi Lodge.

Alpine Helen

If you haven’t visited Bavaria’s USA sister city, quaint Helen GA, here’s the best opportunity, located just 3 more miles south of Unicoi State Park. But if Helen isn’t part of your plans for this scenic trip, then backtrack up 75/17 for only two miles where you’ll arrive at the entrance of one of the State’s most beautiful wooded parks, Smithgall Woods/Dukes Creek Falls State Park.  Covering over 5,600 acres, this Park focuses on conservation. It’s also an angler’s paradise with some of the very best trout fishing in the State on the waters of Dukes Creek. Visit their event calendar to see what is scheduled during your visit.

Photo Courtesy of Alpine Helen – White County Convention & Visitors Bureau

Hogpen Gap

There’s one more leg to this journey, and it is perhaps the most spectacular. Just a hair north of Smithgall Woods you will come upon the gateway (Hwy 348) to Richard Russell Scenic Hwy.  These next 23 miles are not only a favorite for motorists, bicyclists and motorcyclists, but wildlife also love to roam all over the cliffs and valleys along this route. Do drive with patience and caution.

Hogpen Gap Photo Courtesy of Scott Michael Anna

Helton Creek Falls

After nearly a 10 mile ascent, you’ll reach Hogpen Gap, (elevation 3,525′). This is a very popular, year-round hiking trail. But for just leaf lookers, the vistas at the appointed observation areas at this elevation are breathtaking! And in the spring there is no better place to view the “greening of the mountains”. As you begin the steep descent traveling north on Richard Russell, the valley brings more surprises as the fields open up and the farmlands, an integral facet of life in historical Choestoe Valley, are dotted across the highway. Look for a turn heading west at Hatchett Creek Rd. Follow this road till it merges with Helton Creek Road and visit one of the area’s favorite family waterfalls, Helton Creek Falls. The short hike (.24 miles) from the parking area leads to two falls. The lower falls has a wading pool area. The upper falls has an observation deck with bench seating.

Helton Creek Falls Photo Courtesy of Molly Carreras

Seasons of Fun!

Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway is a 4 season wonderland. In the spring the hiking trails boast 1500 varieties of wildflowers with over 200 plants indigenous to just this Southern Appalachian region. 

Stop, look and listen and you’ll see fawn and bear cubs emerging from the woods, beavers building dams to reroute the heavy spring rainwater, and you’ll hear the songbirds who’ve migrated back to these mountains from their winter retreats.

Open the windows on your summer drive and capture the fragrances of the season as you pass cavernous areas of native azalea, rhododendron and mountain laurel. The farmers cut hay around Memorial Day and again at Labor Day. The smell of fresh-cut hay, watching the baling process or just coming upon a field of hay bales peppering the countryside all leave an indelible imprint on one’s senses.

Photo Courtesy of Mountain Mem’ries Photography

Summer visits to the waterfalls along this road will often find the thunderous waters framed by a rainbow. And as the days become shorter and autumn ushers in, the forest canopy bursts with vibrant colors as the sweetgum, red maples, and oak trees display their final fashion before shedding their foliage. In winter the starkness of the bare forest, covered in frost is an incredible photo opportunity. The cliffs near Hogpen Gap are covered with ice and a favorite spot for ice climbers to hone their skills.

Plan on this driving adventure the next time you visit us. It promises to impress you, whatever the season. Share your adventures with us by tagging #escapetobr on your social posts. Enjoy!

Labor Day in the Mountains



Labor Day weekend is typically summer’s last hurrah. Visitors flock to the mountains to escape the southern city heat, hoping to “chill” before the final quarter of the year kicks into full gear. (Yikes, only 12 weeks till Christmas? Say it isn’t so!)

Whether you came to be entertained, experience the great outdoors or just eat and drink your way through these three days, we wanted to give you a heads up on what’s happening over this holiday weekend. If the event is kid-friendly we’ve noted it with a KF seal.

Grape Stomp Festival

One of the most iconic episodes of the I Love Lucy Show was the show where Lucy and Ethel take a job in a vineyard stomping grapes. It is impossible not to belly laugh your way through this episode, and Paradise Hills Winery Resort in Blairsville, offers you an opportunity to experience this adventure at their 6th Annual Grape Fest, Saturday, August 31st.

Photo Courtesy of Paradise Hills

Join the fun staff at this mountain top winery for live music all day, grape stomping at 2pm & 4pm, a kid’s craft corner, local craft vendors and delicious wine & craft beer, too. Local BBQ food will be available for purchase. They’ll be having an “I LOVE LUCY – Look-alike Contest” at 2pm and 4pm. Wine Prizes for best costume! You don’t want to miss this fun time (KF). Admission is just $25 per person includes a souvenir glass and a basic tasting. Click here for tickets.

Everybody Loves Opal

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Community Theater

It’s not just Lucy that everyone loves. Opal is a middle-aged recluse living in a tumbledown mansion in the edge of a municipal dump. Enter three vagabonds who try to swindle this kind-hearted optimist. The laughs are plenty and the joyfulness of this cast will make for one of your fondest theatrical experiences. Presented all weekend long at the Blue Ridge Community Theater, Blue Ridge GA. Click here for tickets.

U-Pick Apples

Photo Courtesy of Mercier Orchards

Enjoying the fresh air and summer breezes in the mountains is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Labor Day Weekend is the start of one of our annual visitors favorite family traditions and outdoor activities, Mercier’s Orchards U Pick  Apple season. For more details, visit their website here. (KF)

5K & Fun Run

Photo Courtesy of the Boys & Girls Club of North Georgia

If you are looking for a more challenging outdoor time before the summer ends, than you might want to rise very early on Labor Day and participate in the 3rd Annual River Run 5K and Fun Run at Horseshoe Bend Park in Mineral Bluff, GA. Sponsored by the Boys & Girls Club of North Georgia, Race Day Registration and Packet Pickup begins at 7am with the 5K race starting at 8am and the fun race at 8:30am. Bring the kids to participate, too! Awards will be presented to Overall Male/Female and top three male/female runners in 5 year age groups beginning at 10 years old and under through 75 and over. Click here for registration information. (KF)

Race Time

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Motorsports Park

If you like your outdoor entertainment to be loud and dirty, then you might want to head over to the Blue Ridge Motorsports Park on Saturday night, Aug 31 for the UCRA 3K to Win. A night at the racetrack is fun for the whole family! (KF)

Live Music

Photo Courtesy of Southern Vantage

If you love live music then you have some exceptional options this long weekend. Saturday night the Copperhead Lodge in Blairsville is throwing a party and they’ve invited Southern Vantage to headline. Join this amazing southern rock cover band on the huge veranda/porch at the lodge for drinks, grub, and dance.  They cover a variety of genres and hit songs from artists like Haggard, Cash, Waylon, Willie, Skynyrd, CCR, Seger, Blackberry Smoke, Hank Jr., Brooks and Dunn, Garth Brooks, Toby Kieth, Alan Jackson, Chris Stapleton, Luke Combs, Stone Temple Pilots, Sublime, Uncle Cracker and much more. Music begins at 7 pm. Come early, grab a seat and some great grub from the Lodge’s award-winning restaurant, The Flying Trout

BBQ & Gospel Music

Photo Courtesy of the Good Samaritans of Fannin County

Though Southern BBQ is good twelve months a year, there’s something special about smellin’ that smoker cooking some tender butts for hours on end. If it’s BBQ and good southern gospel that you are yearnin’ for, then head into the heart of Blue Ridge for the 39th Annual Labor Day BBQ & Gospel Music Show.  If it has thrived for nearly four decades, you know it has to offer the best in music and in BBQ.  It’s a 3-day event and the public is invited to enjoy all or part of it. On Monday, Sept. 2  from 11:30-6, enjoy the annual Labor Day Bar-B-Q with all the fixings served with Gospel and Blue Grass by tri-state area groups.  Presale tickets are available from participating churches, Fannin Chamber of Commerce, and American Wholesale Print Shop. (KF)

Mountain Heritage Festival

Photo Courtesy of Visit Downtown Blairsville

Every Saturday and Sunday of  Labor Day weekend downtown Blairsville hosts, the Mountain Heritage Festival. Presented by the Union County Historical Society, the festival celebrates the history and mountain culture of these hills and valleys.  Mountain arts/crafts, music, living history activities, demonstrations on quilting, spinning, basket making, chair caning, farm animals, and gold panning, along with activities for children. The activities will be centered around the restored 1861 Payne family log cabin, the Mauney family barn, the Duncan family cabin, and other structures from Union County’s past. Festival hours are 9 am to 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free and there’s plenty of free parking around the Square. (KF)

Summer’s Last Hurrah

Photo Courtesy of Heather Drones

William Shakespeare penned “Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.” We couldn’t agree more. We look forward to seeing you here in the mountains this Labor Day weekend for summer’s last hurrah!

From Field to Fork



Over the last decade, the number of Farmers Markets in this country has grown four-fold. Today’s consumers want our food to be as fresh, tasty, GMO and pesticide free as possible. We use the expression “sustainable food” to give a modern term to our intentions. What we really mean is we are more interested in calculating our food miles, or how far it’s traveled before we put it on our table.  

But sustainable food isn’t only about proximity of the food. How the food is produced, how it’s distributed and how it’s consumed are all factors. Many of our local chefs take these factors into consideration when creating their menus. They’ve made a commitment to provide culinary fare from food grown, raised and delivered locally, and under the best possible sustainable conditions. With their Farm to Table menus, they celebrate the small local farmer, and honor the connection between the land and the patrons they serve. We would like to introduce you to a couple of the regions most committed chefs.

Harvest On Main

Don’t let the downtown location fool you. When you cross the threshold at Harvest on Main you enter a superbly appointed mountain lodge. Chef-owner Danny Mellman and his partner Michelle Moran bring over three decades of culinary mastery and magic to the Blue Ridge food scene. Chef Danny creates the menus and Michelle is responsible for sourcing the best products from local producers. Grass fed Brasstown beef, Springer Mountain chicken, and Bramlett  Farm Trout are the local suppliers for such house favorites like Painted Hills Beef & Veal Meatloaf topped with Cabernet-Veal Demi-glace.

Local produce is delivered daily and those who prefer a more vegetarian fare will not be disappointed with the menu options, such as Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie, layered with brown rice, beets, Portabella mushrooms, baba ganoush, red skinned garlic mashed potatoes and topped with Gouda cheese.

Mellman and Moran have other restaurants on the Blue Ridge scene, all focusing on locally grown and raised products. They even have their own farm where they’ve developed and produce their heritage rabbit, honey, and quail. If that wasn’t enough, these amazing humans also host a summer camp for children age 6-16 sharing their vision of sustainable living within the community.

Reviewers rave about the service and have more accolades for the ample number of locally brewed beers as well as Harvest on Main’s extensive wine list. The Chef describes his menu as internationally inspired with a southern twang. His patrons describe it as 5-star.

Harvest on Main (576 E. Main St., Blue Ridge) features both a lunch and dinner menu. Click here for hours and days of operation. For reservations (highly suggested) call 706-946-6164.

The Sawmill Place

The restaurants tagline says it all. “Farm Fresh, Harvest Driven, Locally Sourced”.  Local suppliers include a pretty impressive list including produce from 7M Farms and Freddie Collins Farm; grits and flours for their scrumptious breakfast fare from Logan Turnpike Mill; toppings for their (patron favorite) pancakes  from Tim Dyer’s Blueberry Patch, Michael Surles’ Honey and Hughes Sorghum Mill; and that coffee mug is filled endlessly with beans from roaster, JumpinGoat Coffee. 

Co-owners Shawn and Amy Kight serve breakfast and lunch six days a week in this delightful cabin located just a slight jog off the downtown Square in neighboring Blairsville GA.  Their giant homemade biscuits start popping out of the ovens by 6:30am. And if you don’t like to wait for a seat, you might want to get there that early. But bring a big appetite.

The breakfast menu is quite extensive and features large portions of high quality food, exceptional service and truly inspired southern recipes at very reasonable prices. Take the “Nottely Scramble” as an example. Chef Shawn scrambles 3 large Lathem farm eggs into spicy collard greens, onions, bacon and cheddar cheese. He serves this with your choice of 2 strips of Applewood smoked bacon or 1 local sausage patty, along with grits or gravy, a buttermilk biscuit, coffee or tea all for around $10.

The lunch menu boasts burgers from Certified Angus Beef raised by Georgia Cattle Farmers. There are several salad choices and all include a delectable freshly baked morning glory muffins. The hydroponic -grown lettuce and other produce are delivered daily, 12 months a year from local 7M Farms.

As we already mentioned, this place is hopping from the time it opens till the time it turns the biscuit oven off, but don’t let the possibility of a wait for a seat at the table deter you. The Sawmill Place has a lovely front porch with lots of rockers to pass the time, as well as a new Market building adjacent to the restaurant where you can shop for all things local including produce harvested locally in Union County, flower bouquets grown on Blairsville’s Whimsy Flower Farm and other artisan goods from the Tri-State area.  Leave some room in your trunk to bring home honey, syrups, jams, soaps and beeswax products. They all make great souvenirs. 

The Sawmill Place (1159 Pat Haralson Dr., Blairsville) features both a breakfast and lunch menu. Click here for hours and days of operation or call 706- 745-1250 .

8 Cabins with Incredible Lake & Mountain Views



When you plan an escape to Blue Ridge there is nothing better than spending time with friends and family while taking in the sights and sounds of natures’ majestic beauty. When you add in stunning mountain and lake views to your cabin selection, you’ve just taken your vacation to a whole new level! These eight amazing cabins with picture perfect postcard views are all located in the desirable Aska Adventure Area.

Close to town yet miles away, you’ll want to get out and explore all the activities the Blue Ridge and Aska Adventure Area have to offer. Take the natural path and enjoy hiking, paddle boarding, tubing, fishing and geocaching or head just six miles into downtown Blue Ridge for shopping, restaurants, and winery and brewery tours. The wonder, excitement, and beauty of the North Georgia Mountains are waiting for your adventure to begin. So, what are you waiting for?

Above the Blue

Above the Blue is all about its million-dollar view! This private, 3-bedroom wooded oasis is convenient to popular attractions like Falls Creek Falls, the Swinging Bridge on the Toccoa River, and of course Lake Blue Ridge. Constructed of the finest pine and furnished in modern rustic style, the tri-level cabin is warm and inviting, the perfect place to relax, unwind and enjoy a carefree experience with friends and family.

Breathtaking, magnificent, and stunning are words you might use to describe its spectacular sunrise-to-sunset picture postcard vistas, if you’re not rendered completely speechless by nature’s beauty. It’s pet-friendly, so feel free to bring your dog with you to relax, celebrate, and enjoy the mountain vacation of your dreams!


Adventure Us

If your idea of the perfect vacation getaway is a private mountain oasis where you can gather with loved ones in a magnificent natural setting, the North Georgia cabin rental Adventure Us has exactly what you’re looking for and so much more!

Set on a hillside on more than two acres with breathtaking unobstructed long-range views of the mountains and Lake Blue Ridge, the unique three-bedroom property has its very own waterfall and lots of areas to explore. You can take your pet for a walk (yes, your dogs are welcome!) along the fenced-in property for a small taste of the wondrous nature that surrounds you.

Bearway to Heaven

Perched on a forested hillside with an absolutely breathtaking view of the lush green mountains in the distance and Lake Blue Ridge shimmering below, this magnificent log home is surrounded by the glory of nature, and close to all the outdoor activities that the Aska Adventure Area has to offer.

Bearway to Heaven is a tastefully decorated five-bedroom retreat with comfortable furniture that invites you to kick back, relax, and relish in the blissful way you’ll feel when you’re there. With a stellar location, wonderful ambience, and a picture postcard view, you’ll never want to go back home!

Blue Chase Lodge

There are many Blue Ridge mountain cabin rentals, some with a view of the water, others with a mountain view. But if you stay at Blue Chase Lodge, you don’t have to choose. This handsome home overlooking Lake Blue Ridge offers you both water and mountain vistas, and they’re spectacular! This lovely property in the heart of the Aska Adventure is a hiker’s dream and paradise for fishers and boaters, and perfect for anyone who wants to relax with friends and family in an amazing setting.

Whether you’re enjoying coffee at sunrise or a glass of wine at sunset, the view from the cabin’s three decks is absolute perfection! The open floor plan and two large screened decks provide ample space to gather and relax, and the three bedrooms, each with rustic log furniture, sumptuous bedding, private bath, fabulous view, and 32” TV, provide a hotel-like experience. With the beauty of the lake and mountains surrounding you, a stay at Blue Chase Lodge offers a unique opportunity to get away from it all and experience a carefree, blissful vacation with the ones you love.

Heavens Whisper

Heavens Whisper is a peaceful 3-bedroom oasis in the popular Aska Adventure Area of Blue Ridge. Tucked into a hill, its serene setting is a haven from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. A group of friends or couples looking for a relaxing mountain getaway will think they’ve found heaven on earth here.

Wake up to spectacular mountain and lake long range layered views set against picture perfect skies outside your window. You’ll feel close to heaven and nature at this quiet, secluded retreat… and if you listen closely, you’ll hear the Heavens Whisper, calling you back here time and again!

Lake Vista Lodge

Situated on Green Mountain just south of Blue Ridge, Lake Vista Lodge is a relaxing getaway where you can escape from the everyday world, enjoy the company of your family and friends, and marvel at the peaceful, 50-mile views of Lake Blue Ridge and mountains as far as the eye can see!

Featuring a wildlife and nature theme, Lake Vista Lodge’s rooms are rustic yet modern with hardwood floors and tongue and groove walls and ceiling throughout, making this four-bedroom cabin a warm and welcoming place. If you’re seeking a bit of rest and relaxation, there is nothing better than simply swinging or rocking on the porch and soaking up the beautiful vista of Lake Blue Ridge, the mountains surrounding it, and on clear days, the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina beyond!

Lakeview at Boulder Rock

Some say that Lakeview at Boulder Rock has the best view in the Blue Ridge area, and it’s easy to see why. Perched high on a hillside above a glistening Lake Blue Ridge with long-range mountain vistas stretching 50 miles into Tennessee and North Carolina, its magnificent show-stopping panorama will take your breath away.

Named for the big rocks surrounding it as well as its location, this exceptional property is in Necowa Cove adjacent to the National Forest, convenient to everything you want to see and experience. It’s just a mile to the Aska hiking trails, three miles to tubing and fishing on the Toccoa River, and five miles to both the boat marina and the shops and restaurants of downtown Blue Ridge.

Perfectly situated and custom designed to showcase the stunning picture-postcard-perfect view with soaring ceilings and enormous windows throughout, this elegant three-bedroom mountain home is professionally decorated in soothing neutral tones that enhance the relaxing, peaceful ambiance. But it’s the incredible view that really sets it apart, and it can be the backdrop for vacation memories you’ll cherish long after you leave.

Mountain Vista

There are a lot of fabulous things about the North Georgia cabin rental Mountain Vista, but the first one you’ll notice is the view. True to its name, its panoramic long-range mountain vistas overlooking Lake Blue Ridge are like a picture-postcard come to life!

Inside, the cabin is bright, airy and roomy enough for a big family or group of friends, accommodating nine people in four spacious, comfortable bedrooms. Imagine stepping out on the deck in the morning with a cup of coffee and enjoying a Technicolor sunrise or taking in the night air under the twinkling stars… simply breathtaking!

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.”