Even on vacation sometimes you may just want a night in to relax. We totally understand! So sit back and do just that; while others prepare your hot, fresh meals for you. All you have to do is be ready to eat! Instead of cooking for hours, enjoy that extra down time with your friends and family and then come together for a delicious meal. Your taste buds and your tired feet will thank you!
You can now enjoy meals from the comfort of your own home away from home thanks to take out and delivery options. When you don’t feel like cooking in the cabin you can order food from many of the favorite Blue Ridge restaurants to-go. You can even order meals from some of our favorite local chefs! Here’s a list of 6 Blue Ridge restaurants, shops, and chefs that are helping to make mealtime easy!
Mercier Orchards has a variety of pre-made, ready-to-cook meals to choose from. They’re made right on the farm and with fresh ingredients! Each meal serves two people and includes step-by-step instructions for preparing in under 30 minutes. They have a variety of options for you to take home including; Chicken Parmesan, Savory Pot Roast with Gravy, Stuffed Pork Chops, Local Trout wrapped in Applewood Smoked Bacon or topped with Lemon & Dill, and Chicken Cordon Bleu; and each come with a delicious vegetable side of your choosing! New meals are added weekly, so there will always be something fresh and new. To place an order email at email@example.com or call at 706-632-3411.
Mercier’s also has a Grab-N-Go Bakery where you can pick up all your favorite sweet treats like fried pies and apple cider donuts! Even pick up a bottle of their famous hard cider or wine while you’re there to bring home for a night in at the cabin. With so many delicious meals and treats to bring back, you won’t need to cook a thing!
Chester Brunnenmeyer’s Bar & Grill in Downtown Blue Ridge has take out! That means you can take any of their delicious meals home and enjoy them in the comfort of your own cabin. Bring Chester’s incredible wings home with you to share with the whole family; choose from 10, 20, or 50 wings. Or bring home a delicious burger and fries or for a fancy meal in go for the Blackened 14oz Ribeye Steak. And don’t forget to take home the dessert of the week too! Choose anything off the menu and enjoy a night in your home away from home!
With two locations to serve you, Rum Cake Lady in Downtown Blue or in McCaysville/Copperhill makes it east to order anything off the menu for take out or delivery! If you’re feeding a large family or group, the Party Sandwich Platters and a handful of different Bundt Cake flavors are the perfect fit. Or order a bunch of Cuban Food Bowls to fill you up with a mix of rice, meat, and beans. Bring the taste of Cuba home to your cabin and some desserts that everyone will enjoy!
Cabin chefs are great for making preparations at mealtime a breeze, and Chef Jeff Servin & Company is one of our favorites! You can order a private chef to come in and give you a fine dining experience, cater in, or use their cabin concierge service to bring in groceries and packaged, ready to cook meals before you even arrive. Chef Jeff & team makes it easy for you to relax and enjoy your time with your loved ones. For meal selections, enjoy delicious choices like Heritage Pork and Georgia Peaches, Beef Wellington, New York Strip, and so much more. Chef Jeff Servin & Company bring the fine dining straight to you! In fact, they will create a tailor fit menu based on your preferences, allergies, and dietary restrictions. Trust us. You will not be disappointed with this company, this service, or their food!
Stock up on all things pasta at the Pasta Market in both Downtown Blue Ridge and McCaysville/Copperhill. Pick up all kinds of pastas, sauces, spices, flatbreads, desserts, and more then bring them back with you to prep an easy meal at the cabin. You’ll love their large selection of imported Italian goods that will make you feel like you’re dining on a delicious, authentic Italian meal at a Tuscan villa. Even when you’re not in Blue Ridge you can order online to have your favorite Italian goods delivered right to your door! Take the taste of Italy with you, wherever you go!
Ingles Market is a great place to stock up for your week in Blue Ridge. You can find all your basics here like bread, cereal, meat, and more but you can also find a wide selection of local goods that you wouldn’t be able to find at the bigger grocery stores. Not only can you stock up on your usual groceries here but you can also order catering from The Chef’s Kitchen to serve your family and guests at your cabin. They have everything you could imagine from hors d’oeuvres, party platters, ready to eat boxed meals, soups and salads, wraps, bakery items, and hot buffets. Ingles is great for everything you need whether you plan on cooking up fresh meals in the kitchen or having them catered in; you can do it all easily!
With times being what they are many of us are working from home and doing virtual school as well. We know that constantly being cooped up in the house can get old really fast, so we invite you and the family to come escape with us!
Since everything is online anyways, who says you have to do it at your home? Bring your work and virtual school with you and come to your Blue Ridge home away from home for a change of scenery. You can still get everything accomplished but you can do it while looking at beautiful mountains or relaxing by the fire! Then after the work is finished unwind with fun activities all around Blue Ridge!
Change of Scenery
With over a year in these crazy times, we can all agree that we are pretty tired of being cooped up in the house all day looking at the same four walls. Plus, there is not much variation in our everyday routines. Wake up, virtual school, homework, dinner, and bedtime. It can be hard for adults to keep focused when you’re doing the same thing over and over, and it’s especially challenging for kids.
In fact, many adults and kids alike have developed mental health issues being isolated from the rest of the world and not having our regular socialization opportunities. And always trying to find new and wild ideas to keep yourself and the kids entertained is a chore in itself. We know that you and the kids still have work to do but why not do it somewhere else, like in Blue Ridge? The fresh change of scenery will be just what your family needs to feel renewed and focused once more. Getting out of the house and somewhere new can also help with mental health. It’ll be a much-needed getaway for the whole family!
At Escape to Blue Ridge we pride ourselves on our spacious cabins that are stocked with all the best amenities. Everyone will have their own space to spread out and get their work done during the day.
Work on the back porch overlooking the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains or inside by the cozy fire or even lounging on one of the cabin’s many comfy beds. Wherever you choose to work you can be sure you won’t be distracted and will be able to fully focus on the task at hand. After school is finished, have the kids take advantage of the game room where they can play foosball, air hockey, and board games to their heart’s content. Then enjoy a delicious home-cooked meal in the beautiful, spacious kitchen. After dinner head outside for a bonfire and eat lots of s’mores! With amenities just like this and more, you and the family will be set for your stay!
One of the great parts about Blue Ridge, especially in these times, is it’s easy access to so many wonderful outdoor activities! After being cooped up in the house for months you’ll love a chance to get outside and breathe in the fresh mountain air.
During breaks and after school grab the family to explore countless hiking trails, rivers and streams, waterfalls, mountain peaks, and more! The possibilities are endless! Though one thing is for sure, whatever your outdoor adventures entail, you’ll enjoy escaping the world and being one with nature. That’s just the way life was meant to be lived!
After School Fun
When the school day is done there’s lots of fun to be had in Blue Ridge for kids of all ages! Unwind and have a blast with fun activities the whole family will enjoy!
Let the kids come face to face with none other than Bigfoot himself at Expedition BigFoot: The Sasquatch Museum. Explore the museum to find all sorts of artifacts, life sized exhibits, photos and maps of Bigfoot sightings, the Bigfoot research and Tech Vehicle, and so much more! Not only is the museum a blast for kids but it’s educational too. It’s the perfect place for a fun filled, family outing!
-Hikes to Waterfalls & Swinging Bridge
Take advantage of the outdoors and go for a hike to one of Blue Ridge’s waterfalls or the Toccoa Swinging Bridge. They’ll love getting a chance to go outside and explore. With so many kids nowadays attached at the hip to electronics this will be the perfect opportunity to get them out and enjoying nature. Be sure to take some great family photos while you’re out hiking as well!
-Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
Most kids simply adore trains, it’s just in their nature. So why not fulfill that love by taking them on a scenic train ride through the beautiful Blue Ridge? They’ll have an absolute blast choo-chooing along with the train as it rolls down the tracks. And if you’re visiting during the Christmas season you and the kids can even hop on a special “Santa Express” ride. There’s a reason people from far and wide love riding on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway; it’s a great experience the whole family can enjoy.
-Lilly Pad Village
Kids love to interact and use their hands, so the Lily Pad Village is just the place for them. There’s something for kids of all ages like gem mining, fishing, mini golf, and more! The gem mining experience is fun, interactive, and educational. Dig through the trays to find beautiful gemstones and the staff will even provide you with educational information on what you’ve found. Your kids will come home with a full stash of rocks and gemstones!
Mercier Orchards is by far one of our visitors favorite attractions. Famous for their U-Pick events your kids will get a chance to roam the orchard finding the best apples. And Mercier doesn’t just grow apples; they grow strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and peaches as well, so there’s always something tasty to pick. Also enjoy some of their delicious baked goods and meals from the bakery and market cafe. There’s nothing like a warm, fried apple pie to end the day and we dare you to not indulge on their apple cider donuts!
Another thing that kids love is horses! Not only does it teach them horsemanship, but horseback riding is a great way to build up self confidence and see the world from a new perspective. So take the kids on a horseback riding excursion through the forest, past lakes and rivers, and gaze up at the stunning mountains all around you. It’s the perfect adventure the whole family will love!
And every kid of course has a sweet tooth, so be sure to take them for the best desserts in town! Enjoy cakes and cookies at The Sweet Shoppe or Mona Lisa’s Dessert House. Or fudge and ice cream at The Chocolate Express. The sugar possibilities are endless and this writer’s mouth is watering just thinking about all the local sweets!
Another great way to get the kids out of the house is with our Kids Activity Book! Send them on a scavenger hunt to find all kinds of outdoor items. Or have them check off a bingo box for each place they’ve visited. And even have them help Ricky the Raccoon with identifying forest creatures, counting, and more. It’s a great way to get kids learning and having fun while they do it! Stop by our Property Management offices to pick up a copy or download your own copy: www.escapetoblueridge.com/blue-ridge-georgia-activity-booklet.pdf
Who doesn’t love a good photo-op? On a family trip? Take a photo. On an exciting adventure? Take a photo. An outing with your friends? Take a photo. In this modern age of social media and iPhones, photo-ops and selfies have become a part of everyday life.
Being a small town, tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains sure has its benefits. We have so many fun and unique places that you can’t find anywhere else, which make for amazing photo ops! So, we’ve comprised a list of the 10 best selfie/photo-op spots here in Blue Ridge!
Next time you escape to Blue Ridge be sure to stop by some of these famous sites and take some great photos. Be sure to share anything you take with us, we love to see how much fun you’re having and which places are your favorite!
Cover Photo Courtesy of @k4fish
When visiting the area it’s a MUST to take pictures in front of the Blue Ridge wall in Downtown Blue Ridge. Located on the corner of Mountain and East First Street, this is the perfect backdrop for all your fun photo-ops! This backdrop is a fantastic representation of Blue Ridge and a great way to start off your trip. After you take the picture be sure to explore all Downtown Blue Ridge has to offer from its fantastic shops, great art scene, and its delicious restaurants!
How cute are these friendly bears? Located at the entrance of the Blue Ridge Mountain Mall, this welcoming bear is a perfect addition to your photo. And after you grab the picture check out the Mountain Mall for all things antiques and collectibles!
Not only is this iconic bridge a perfect place to explore while hiking or kayaking but it’s also a great location for a photo-op! It’s become a staple of the most liked photo spots in Blue Ridge and it’s not hard to see why. The bridge over the Toccoa River is the longest swinging bridge east of the Mississippi River, spanning 270 feet long! It’s surrounded by the beautiful Chattahoochee National Forest so there are trees all around, and at this time of year, the trees are sure to be at peak color. And with the beautiful river flowing freely down below, it really is a fantastic spot. Located on the Benton MacKaye Trail and the Duncan Ridge National Recreation Trail in Fannin County, make sure to put this experience on your list of must-sees!
In Blue Ridge we are lucky enough to have 4 stunning waterfalls nearby; Amicalola Falls, Helton Creek Falls, Fall Branch Falls, and Long Branch Falls. Any of these breathtaking and beautiful waterfalls are fantastic spots to take a great photo.
Amicalola Falls is the highest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River at 729 feet! Located in Amicalola Falls State Park, it may be a hike to get there but I promise the views are worth the trip to see this huge waterfall up close!
Helton Creek Falls is a series of two beautiful waterfalls in the Chattahoochee National Forest of close-by Blairsville. Luckily, getting to this waterfall is a fairly easy and short hike. This gorgeous double waterfall that flows into the creek below is a sight you won’t want to miss.
Fall Branch Falls, on the Benton MacKaye Trail, is another stunning double waterfall. With a 30+ foot drop, the water drops into a deep pool at the base of the waterfall; perfect for swimming in warm weather. It’s another short hike to this waterfall but is also fairly steep, the views are worth the uphill battle though!
And last but not least we have Long Branch Falls on the Appalachian/Benton MacKaye Trail. This beautiful waterfall rushes over the surrounding boulders and cliffs and drops about 50 feet. This is another fairly easy hike, only 30 minutes uphill.
The views from on top of Brasstown Bald are completely out of this world beautiful! It’s the highest mountain peak in all of Georgia, and from the observation tower, you can see 4 different states at once! It truly is a sight to behold. Since the elevation is so high, you can even see the clouds over the mountains, which always takes my breath away!
Coke & a Smile
Another great backdrop for your pictures is the Coca-Cola wall, which is also located in Downtown Blue Ridge. Located at the end of East Main Street on the side of the Fly Fishing shop, it’s the perfect backdrop for both Coke and Blue Ridge lovers alike. Get a couple of friends, grab the shot, and share a coke with Blue Ridge!
Mercier Orchard is the largest apple orchard in the southeast and one of the most popular places to visit while in Blue Ridge. With so much fun to be had from picking fruit, to shopping, and gobbling up their delish bakery treats, it’s a great place to take the family! Throughout the orchard, there are so many places to take awesome pictures, but by far the most popular spot is the entrance. Nothing screams Blue Ridge like standing in front of the sign of one its most popular attractions!
How funny is this!? Having the husband take a photo in front of this sign would be a hilarious and fun memory. The “Husband Daycare Center” is actually the Black Bear Bier Garten, which is a German bar and pub. Take a fantastic photo in front of the sign and then head inside for some great German fare!
The Tree& The Train
We couldn’t possibly leave the famous “tree” off the list! Located at the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, this tree shows off its stunning colors every fall. It’s become one of the most photographed things in Blue Ridge during the fall season because you just can’t beat those stunning colors! After you take a photo (or 10) in front of Blue Ridge’s famous tree, be sure to snap some of the train before you hitch a ride on the scenic railway for even more beautiful sights!
How many times can you say you’ve been in two places at once? Or even two states at once? Probably not very often! But you CAN be in two places at once and snag a great picture if you visit the twin cities of McCaysville, GA and Copperhill, TN. Here is the sign between the two states that is sure to provide you with all kinds of fun photos!
Escape To Blue Ridge
Our property management offices located at 1844 Old Hwy 76 is a perfect place to stop in, pick up a Kid’s Activity Book and get your photo taken with our holiday trees! Who says trees are just for Christmas anyway? We love celebrating all the holidays with our seasonal tree!
There’s no denying it, the craft beer market has grown substantially over the past few years. In 2019 it’s estimated there were over 8,000 independent craft breweries in the United States. Blue Ridge and the Copper Basin are home to a few of the best!
Taking home a growler to drink while sitting in front of the TV and screaming at the umpire was a favorite pastime for many before the 2020 sports season was pre-empted. Now, visiting craft beer taprooms has become a favorite diversion for many aficionado hopsters. But many more of us barley know the yeast of what goes into a good brew. So before we take you beer hunting in this region, let’s do a very quick primer.
Craft Beer 101
Where does beer come from?
Barley – mainly used for beer, this is the base ingredient for beer.
Malt – barley by itself won’t make beer. Barley seeds need to be sprigged to life by malt extract and then roasted and toasted to achieve their distinctive flavors.
Hops – Without hops, beer would be pretty boring. Hops are the spices of the beer world creating bitter, tropical, and citrus flavors that balance out the sweetness of the beer. Grown as bines or long vines, you might have passed a hops crop along the roadside and mistaken it for a vineyard.
Yeast – You can’t make beer without yeast, and the yeast plays maybe the biggest part in the whole beer equation. Pitch too little, your beer is sweet. If the yeast is not healthy, it will throw off a strange and unpalatable flavor.
Brewing – Oh yeah, that part. Brewing takes on a lot more than simply boiling the beer. There is milling the grain to get it just the way you want. Then there’s the constant cleaning and maintenance of all the equipment, hoses, and fittings to make sure there is no contamination. Someone must carefully monitor the production to hit all of the right “checkpoints” to ensure that the proper alcohol levels are achieved. And then there’s carbonating it just right for the style you are brewing.
Ale – It’s typically fermented warm, using a strain of yeast that rises to the top of the brew. It ferments faster than lager and is more strongly flavored. Esters produced during fermentation lend a slightly fruity and floral taste. Hefeweizen is a wheat beer. IPA stands for India Pale Ale, which long ago was high in hops and alcohol content, to survive a voyage from Britain to India. It still tends to have an intense hop flavor.
Lager – This is another basic type of beer. It’s usually fermented cold, using yeast that sinks to the bottom during fermentation and works slowly. Long, cold fermentation inhibits the production of esters, and lagers have a cleaner, crisper taste than ales.
Hard Cider – Whoa! Where did cider fit into this primer? Well, not everyone likes beer, but they still like the low alcohol content compared to liquor. On a warm summer’s day, hard cider is a great and healthier alternative to beer, especially for those who have to avoid wheat and other grains.
Cliff Notes on Style:
The best ales have intense, complex, and balanced flavors.
The best lagers are very tasty but they generally aren’t as complex or intense as ales.
Beer vs Cider – If you are someone who enjoys the distinctive bitterness of beer and enjoys a sugar-free drink made of barley, then beer is the drink for you. If you are looking for a gluten-free, sweeter option, but still want the bubbles and the buzz, look to the craft hard ciders.
You are now ready for our North Georgia Beer Hunt!
3758 East First Street, Blue Ridge, GA | 706-258-2762 | Hours: Friday & Saturday 12pm-8pm, Sunday 12pm-6pm
This brewing company was founded by someone passionate about starting a winery in Blue Ridge. Plans change. He meets a guy passionate about German beers. They combine their passions and voila! They now have one of the most highly respected craft breweries in the South. Tours of the plant are available on Fridays and Saturdays. BYOP– Bring your own pup. Yes, your canine friends are welcome throughout the brewery.
1315 East Main Street, Blue Ridge, GA | 706-946-2739 | Hours: Monday – Wednesday 12pm-6pm, Thursday – Saturday 12pm-8pm, Sunday 12:30pm-5pm
This is a great hangout for any age brewster. Family friendly, kids will love the GIANT JENGA outside and the games inside, plus there’s craft soda on tap. Open seven days a week. Big screen TV’s throughout. Thursday night is Karoake night and it is well attended and lots of fun. Always 18 different craft beers on tap. On Friday, Saturdays and Sunday’s check out their hot dog stand.
8660 Blue Ridge Dr., Blue Ridge, GA | 706-632-3411 | Hours: Sunday – Thursday 8am-4pm, Friday & Saturday 8am-6pm
Mercier’s is the only apple orchard in Georgia that can say they grow, press, ferment, and bottle their product. Their full line of cider seasonally takes advantage of most of the fruits that are grown year-round at the orchard. The tasting room is part of the gigantic market, restaurant, and bakery. You may visit with the intent to pick out your favorite hard cider, but be prepared to spend additional time foraging the whole market.
Visit this brewery and you won’t know if you are in Tennesee or Georgia. Located in Copperhill, just outside their tasting room door, you can have one foot in Tennessee and the other foot in Georgia. It’s very cool to straddle the state line! Sample their brews and you’ll wonder if you haven’t traveled to Scotland or Germany. This brewery takes craft beer way, way serious. It’s not a passion for them. It’s an art form. Some of the friendliest and most knowledgeable staff this side of the Mason Dixon line.
This brewey is a converted gas station with a great tasting room, but an even better outdoor area that, when the weather permits, is just hopping with folks having fun, listening to great music, and some amazing beer choices. You can join the Mug Club and have your picture painted on a mug that’s yours to keep fillin’up with their vast and ever-changing selections. Great fun for the whole family. It’s where the white water rafting crews call “home”.
Our Tasting Room Choice: Berry My Heart at the Trailer Park
500 East Main Street, Blue Ridge, GA | 706-946-4440
Best known as Blue Ridge’s “Husband Day Care Center”, the Black Bear Bier Garten offers great local music and 19 local, craft & imported draft beers. Pare your brewski with one of 9 varieties of wild game sausages and you’ll be pretty happy you stopped in!
733 East Main Street, Blue Ridge, Georgia | 706-258-2539
Set in a historic Blue Ridge building, Chester Brunnenmeyer’s delivers not only an elevated food selection, but their adult beverage menu is most robust with signature cocktails like the ESCAPE TO BLUE RIDGE (Cathead Honeysuckle Vodka, macerated blueberries, lemonade), an impressive wine list, and regionally crafted beer!
After all, we only get 18 school years with our kids, so we should make each and every school vacation count! Because if we’re being truthful, you are dying for a reason to escape from the stresses of work and Spring Break is the perfect guilt-free excuse for a fun family trip!
The Blue Ridge region is a
mountain playground full of fantastic opportunities to enjoy the outdoors,
including hundreds of miles of trails for hiking, as well as waterways for
paddling, fishing, and boating. So go ahead, take that much-needed vacation,
get recharged, and finish the school year strong. Here are a few of our ideas
for a perfect family-friendly Spring Break experience.
Play: Breathe in that fresh mountain air and take in all the views from your own electric bike. That’s right! You don’t have to worry about any family members getting too tired when you have an electric bike to help out and keep you moving when you run out of energy. Adventure out on your own or take one of their four guided tours provided by Pedego Electric Bikes in Blue Ridge. Choose a tour through the Chattahoochee National Forest and visit Fall Branch Falls, experience the Tennessee National Forest around the Ocoee whitewater Trails, adventure around the Toccoa River and Shallowford Bridge, or just cruise around downtown Blue Ridge!
Eat: Mystic Mountain Pizza is a family owned and family friendly pizza restaurant has fantastic food and an inviting atmosphere often featuring live music. They have a passion for crafting fresh salads, all-beef gourmet hot dogs, wings, desserts, and specialty pizzas in their oak-fired brick ovens. You’ll be happy, stuffed, and a part of the Mystic Mountain Pizza family before you finish your first slice of pie. Now that’s amore!
Sleep: Perched on a mountaintop more than 3,000 feet above the trees with dramatic, sweeping long-range mountain vistas in the distance, The Owl’s Perch is like a magnificent picture postcard come to life. Located northeast of Lake Blue Ridge on a large lot in Morganton that borders unspoiled U.S. Forest Service land, it’s a calm oasis far removed from stressful city life, but just a short drive away from the shops and dining of downtown Blue Ridge. The western-facing view from the cabin offers you magical sunrises, revealing the mountains as the fog lifts across the lake, and spectacular sunsets that will take your breath away.
There are two spacious, comfortable living areas: the main floor has French doors and huge windows to bring the outside in, and the lower level space doubles as a game room, outfitted with foosball and ping pong tables, puzzles, board games, TV with DVDs, and a PlayStation with games. The main floor kitchen features wood cabinets, new stainless appliances, granite countertops, drip and Keurig coffeemakers, a blender, crockpot and all the dishes, pots and pans, utensils and implements you need to prepare, cook and serve. Plastic dishes are available for children and outdoor use. The dining table has room for ten, plus two at the breakfast bar. There’s a selection of toys, blocks, games, a pack n’ play, and movies for younger kids. The road to the cabin is paved, leading to a roomy gravel driveway. You’re welcome to bring up to two dogs with you as you relax, recharge, and enjoy a memorable stay at this cabin above the clouds.
Play: The iconic Blue Ridge Scenic Railway is a must do when in town. Enjoy the scenery aboard an eleven-car train as your ramble down the tracks through the Chattahoochee National Forest and the Toccoa watershed. Enjoy a relaxing 26-mile round trip journey beginning and ending in downtown Blue Ridge with a stop in the newly revitalized twin cities of McCaysville, Ga & Copperhill, TN.
Eat: Made famous for their four flavors of incredible rum cakes, the Rum Cake Lady Cuban Food Cafe offers two locations to serve you. The downtown Blue Ridge Café is similar to a Cuban walk-up window, or “La Ventanita”. They offer fresh, authentic Cuban sandwiches, tamales, empanadas, plantains, rice, and beans. Their Copperhill location includes indoor seating, dinner hours, the same great menu plus a Cuban grocery. Both locations boast the best Cuban coffee in the mountains, but their dessert is what made them who they are so how can you not take home a rum cake or 3? We must admit, their guava and cheese pastelitos are pretty incredible and we would be hard pressed to pass on their tasty caramel flan or Tres Leches cake!
Sleep:Blue Mist Heaven is a luxurious mountaintop cabin with spectacular 180° views that can be yours for a very special vacation getaway. This tri-level showplace is decked out with designer touches and upscale features. Ideal for large families or a group of friends, this spacious cabin sleeps 12 in its four bedrooms and library/loft, with king beds in the upstairs master, main floor and downstairs bedrooms, twin bunk beds and twin over double size beds in the second downstairs bedroom that kids will love. There’s also a full size crib and Pack ‘n Play in the closet.
Outside, three sets of stairs lead down to a large, level
backyard with a lighted covered Gazebo, four bench swings and a rock fire
pit. The backyard has a giant playground
set for the kids with slides, swings and playhouse. Also, there is an
additional large deck with a picnic tables, swings and chairs to lounge in
while you take in the view and watch the kids at play. Blue Mist Heaven’s other
amenities include high-speed wireless Internet, a movie room with recliners,
giant 82” TV, two-person cocktail game table with 412 games installed and a wet
Heart Pumping Fun
Play: Bring a little excitement into your family’s life when you 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 with over 6,000 feet of cable, it includes 13 zips ranging from 250 feet to 1000 feet and 3 sky bridges to cross. Your whole family will giggle with delight as you zip into the valley and soar over pastures before landing on the banks of Fighting Town Creek!
Eat: Nourish your body with the most delicious tasting BBQ in the mountains at Carroll’s BBQ. This family owned restaurant doesn’t skimp on their portions and if you leave hungry, it’s your own fault! Offering classic pulled pork options, we highly recommend you try their fall-off-the-bone ribs or brisket. A kid’s menu is available, but whatever you do, save room for dessert because you really NEED to try their banana pudding. It’s so good it’ll make your tongue jump out and lick the eyebrows right off your head!
Sleep: If you are imagining a scenic mountain getaway that the whole family will enjoy when searching for your North Georgia cabin rental, look no further than EddieBear! This inviting cabin was named for the owners’ constant canine companion Eddie, who loved being in the mountains. The cabin even has a fenced-in yard so everyone, including your best buddy, can safely play in the beautiful outdoors. Perched on a wooded hillside with sweeping mountain views, the cabin has a traditional log cabin exterior and warm pine interior that beckons you to step in and start relaxing. A striking wood-burning fireplace made with large river stones will keep you warm as you stretch out on the leather sofa or reclining armchair and watch the game or read by the light of the distinctive wine barrel chandelier.
Step down to the lower level into the game room and engage in
some friendly competition at the dart board or billiards table that converts to
a ping-pong table, a poker table and even a roulette table! There is a flat
screen TV and an adjacent kids room with a chalkboard wall, games, small
rocking chairs, and a pullout sofa. As you venture outside onto the lower deck,
sink into the steamy waters of the hot tub, recline in the wooden lounge
chairs, or have a snack at the wooden table that seats four. Directly off the
deck is the fenced-in yard where you can play or gather around the fire pit and
roast marshmallows for S’mores you can eat at the nearby picnic table.
Play: On the outskirts of downtown Blue Ridge in the Aska Adventure Area, you will find the uber kid friendly Lilly Pad Village. Here you can mine for large and colorful gemstones. Your kids will especially love “gemstone magic” where a large gemstone or two magically appear out of nowhere in their trays! Here you can also play a round of mountainside mini golf. If you think regular putt putt is challenging, just give this nine-hole course a try! Bonus: Children under 7 play free! The fun is not over yet at Lilly Pad Village. Pick up a pole and some live bait and throw a line or two in their cute little catch & release fishing pond.
Eat: There is no shortage of tasty items at Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge. The main location features 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 Market Café (open 7am-6pm daily) serves a delicious breakfast each day till 11 am. Lunchtime is just as scrumptious with a wide variety of sandwiches including their specialty pecan chicken salad which we highly recommend you trying it in a stuffed tomato with pimento cheese!
Sleep: If you’re looking for the perfect place to bring your whole family on your next vacation, look no further than Toccoa Playground, a Blue Ridge, GA cabin rental that promises you and your children a fun-filled getaway. True to its name, this spacious cabin in the woods near the Toccoa River, considered to be some of the best fly fishing in the Southeast, is a playground for both adults and kids, with plenty of child-friendly features and amenities.
Large family? No problem: the cabin sleeps ten, and has two
sets of twin bunk beds in the downstairs bedroom and twin beds and a toddler
bed in the upstairs loft, perfect for your young ones. The loft’s play area
includes a puppet theater, play kitchen, a 32” flat screen with Blu-ray, and toys
to delight kids of all ages, and the swings, slide, and playhouse on the
railing-protected deck will provide hours of fun. A crib, bassinet, baby swing, carrier,
portable child seat and high chair are available, and there are safety gates on
Play:Project Chimps provides lifelong care to former research chimpanzees at its 236-acre forested sanctuary in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The sanctuary is not regularly open to the public, but they do offer periodic tours and events including their Chimp Rock and Discovery Days. You may even consider making your trip a Volunteer Vacation where you have the opportunity to give back, see chimpanzees up close, meet other animal enthusiasts, and enjoy the mountains!
Eat: It’s hard to pass up a good burger joint, but when the locals know it as “the best hamburger in town” you just have to stop in and try one! Sue’s Burgers is the oldest restaurants in town, so they’ve had some time to perfect their craft and perfect they did! If you like your burgers big and juicy, then you are going to be a happy camper here. For the hungry one in your group, Sue features a double or triple stacked bacon cheeseburger you can even add a beer battered onion ring on every layer!
Sleep: Everyone has their own idea of paradise on earth, but if yours is an exquisite mountain retreat with awe-inspiring, absolutely breathtaking views, the North Georgia cabin rental Uplifting is the answer to your vacation prayers. Located on a hillside in Mineral Bluff, 13 miles from the shops and restaurants of downtown Blue Ridge, this stunning showplace is your own private resort in a glorious sylvan setting. Handsomely constructed with natural log beams, natural pine walls, custom hardwood and cobblestone tile floors, the cabin is professionally decorated in an elegantly rustic style with upscale furniture. The adjacent kitchen offers everything you need to prepare meals for your family and friends.
When it’s time to turn in, you’ll sleep well in your choice of three professionally decorated bedrooms, each with its own bathroom. The upstairs master has a king bed, vaulted ceiling, 36” TV, and a sliding barn door that opens to reveal the amazing mountain view through the windows of the living room below. The main level master also has a king bed, a 31” TV, and, like the other master, an en suite bath with walk-in shower and double sinks. The third bedroom has a queen bed and a 39” TV, and its adjacent bathroom features a shower/tub combo and double sinks. A queen sofa bed in the game room and twin bunk beds behind a sliding barn door—great fun for kids—bring the sleeping accommodations to ten.
As we ring in not just a New Year, but a new Decade, 365 opportunities await you to get out and explore the beautiful North Georgia Mountains. Here are a few of our favorite ideas to enjoy your 2020 Escape to Blue Ridge!
1. EAT BLACK-EYED PEAS & COLLARD GREENS
After all, it’s a southern
tradition. Eat these as your first meal for the New Year and you will
increase your luck and prosperity for the year ahead. The Village Restaurant
will be open and ready to serve you the very best in Southern Cuisine
2. WALK THE LINE
Take a walk on the state line between the twin
cities of McCaysville, Ga and Copperhill, Tn! This newly revitalized town
features great shopping, delicious restaurants, and plenty of photographic
3. HIT THE LINKS
Farm is the seven-course meal of golf courses in North Georgia. It took a
few years to fill out the full complement of 18 holes, but the first nine,
which has been open since 2015, was enough to garner stupendous compliments and
comparisons to the likes of Augusta National. Now with the back nine open, and
the layout reconfigured, Old Toccoa is by far the best of the best in this neck
of the North Georgia woods!
4. ENJOY LIFE ON THE LAKE
Blue Ridge offers 3,290-acres of crystal-clear water to explore. Bring your
own water craft, rent a pontoon boat, or take a guided tour with Capt’n
Joe. Whether you are kayaking, tubing, fishing, or just floating along,
there is no prettier place in the world than where the mountains meet the
5. SADDLE UP & RIDE
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.
6. TAKE IN A FESTIVAL OR 5
There is always something happening in these here mountains.
Festival season begins in February and ends in October, plus holiday activities
are abundant in November and December. You will be blown away with the ice
sculpting that takes place at the annual Fire and Ice
Chili Cookoff. Blue Ridge festivals are family friendly, pet friendly, and
7. FLY FISH IN THE TROUT CAPITAL OF GEORGIA
Brown trout, rainbow trout, and native trout are abundant in
our freshwater mountain streams. Stop by and see Andy Bowen at the Cohutta Fishing Company for some
flies and a pole. Then head out to the headwaters of the Toccoa River,
Noontootla Creek, or Rock Creek for premier trout fishing.
8. WALK IN THE WOODS
There are few better places to hike
than on the hundreds and hundreds of miles of trails that crisscross the Blue
Ridge Mountains in North Georgia. Not only is this an area that speaks to the
hiker in familiar terms – Appalachian
MacKaye Trail, Amicalola
Falls – but it’s the wide variety of experiences, from the casual to the
challenging, that make these hikes some of the most popular in America.
Plan to visit EXPEDITION:
BIGFOOT! The Sasquatch Museum. You may be giggling on the way in the door,
but you will leave with a new appreciation for your next walk in the woods. You’ll discover why Big Footers from around the globe
make the pilgrimage to Blue Ridge just to explore this museum and its many
11. SWING INTO THE NEW YEAR
Pack up a picnic and hit either the Benton MacKaye Trail or
the Duncan Ridge National Recreation Trail to the Swinging
Bridge. This 270-foot-long suspension bridge is the longest swinging bride
east of the Mississippi River! If you do decide to jump in the middle, make
sure you are faster than your travel buddies or you might get thrown off!
12. CHASE WATERFALLS
A short, family friendly hike makes Fall
Branch Falls a must do activity for the young and young at heart. Explore
both the upper and lower area of the falls and take time to relax on the rocks
and enjoy the views. Don’t forget to bring your best friend. Dogs will enjoy
the trail as much as their humans.
13. CHOO CHOO
The iconic Blue Ridge Scenic
Railway is a must do when in town. Enjoy the scenery every season of the
year as the train departs from Downtown Blue Ridge and travels the countryside
to the revitalized towns of Copperhill, TN and McCaysville, GA
14. DRIVE IN
If you haven’t been to a drive-in movie since you were a
kid, we encourage you to make plans to go to the Swan Drive In Theater
and take in a show or a double feature! A throwback to yesteryears, there is
just something so fun about watching a movie outdoors.
15. FAIRY CROSS & TRAIL TREES
Legend has it that as the Native Americans embarked on the
Trail of Tears, they shed tears of sorrow that fell to the ground and formed
tiny crosses of stone known as Fairy
Crosses. Commonly known as staurolite crystals, these minerals are abundant
in Fannin County.
16. HIT THE RAPIDS
The Southeastern United States is known for having some of
the best whitewater
around. Here in Blue Ridge we are within 1 hour of 3 action packed, exciting
rivers and 2 hours away from one of the most challenging rivers in the state!
If you are looking for a new hair style, a total manicure
and pedicure, body scrub, massage, or a special facial treatment/peel, you will
find an amazing staff of creative and accomplished cosmeticians, estheticians
and stylists, the caliber you would only expect to find in a metropolitan area,
in the Mountains.
18. TAKE IN A SHOW
Immerse yourself in the culture of the area at Blue Ridge Community Theater.
This cozy community theater offers quality productions, live music, and a
robust children’s program. The 2020 line-up includes the first ever Blue Ridge
Film Festival, surprisingly saucy comedies, musicals, and even a sweet summer
19. SCENIC DRIVES
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.
Drive the 41 miles of Georgia’s only national scenic
drive, The Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway as it circles around the
Chattahoochee National Forest.
20. BOOK AN ESCAPE TO BLUE RIDGE
There is just something about these mountains that is so
good for the soul. Whether you want to come for a romantic getaway, to
reconnect with friends and family, or to enjoy the abundant outdoor adventures,
we have the
perfect cabin for you!
We wish each of you and yours a prosperous year ahead filled
with lots of love, exciting adventures, and many opportunities to make
heartfelt memories. Happy New Year!
If you haven’t already experienced the Blue Ridge Mountains in Georgia, you should! Our families have been visiting this area for the last 6 years. Each time we return, it becomes even more special. There is something so incredibly quaint and peaceful about the small town of Blue Ridge.
Growing up in South Florida, we do not get to experience the amazing change in seasons. If you know us sisters, we are always talking about “sweater weather” and how badly we want to see the leaves change colors.
Well, we’ve teamed up again with Escape To Blue Ridge who always help us experience incredible family trips in the Blue Ridge Mountains! As we gear up for our next trip, we are excited to share information about Escape to Blue Ridge, the company we rent the cabins from, as well as some of the best activities and spots to hit up on your journey. If you love a vacation with a small town feel and views to die for, this trip is one for you.
We also want to lend you some pointers for traveling with a ton of kids! You may deal with plenty of tantrums, tears, accidents, and fights along with the fun. But if you’re well prepared, you’ll make it out in one piece.
Escape to Blue Ridge
For the past 6 years, we have reserved our mountain family cabin with Escape to Blue Ridge. The most amazing part about this company is that they have hundreds of homes you can reserve, making it easy to choose the cabin that best suits the needs and preferences of your family.
The trip we took a couple of years ago was AMAZING! We want to share those adventures with you again, so let’s get started!
We love a cabin with mountain views and a great outdoor space that’s big enough for our three families. We could not believe our eyes when we arrived on this trip. The kids were in heaven, and the views were spectacular!
There are no words to describe this place.
The name of our cabin was Falling Waters Lodge, named after the two small waterfalls running down the front yard. Let me tell you, the house was spotless, at least in the moment we all arrived. The details and decor that went into creating this home were unlike anything we’ve ever seen. The cabin had a large open kitchen with top-of-line appliances and large windows to look out over the Blue Ridge Mountains while you cook. *NOTE: While this cabin is no longer enrolled in our rental program, we have several other cabins that are just as fabulous like Waterfall Lodge and many more!
There was also a hot tub on the downstairs patio to enjoy the few cold mountain nights. The bottom floor had a media room for movie nights with the kids and a play room with ping pong, billiards, and air hockey. There was a large open fire pit in the front next to the waterfalls where we made s’mores every night.
And even with all that, the most incredible part of this home was being able to wake up at 7am (before the kids) to enjoy a cup of coffee while watching the sunrise and seeing the most amazing fog spread across the mountain tops.
That view was worth the entire trip for us!
Things to Do in the Blue Ridge Mountains
On this particular trip, we spent 6 event filled days in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Here are some of our favorite activities from the trip and our top must do activities when visiting the Blue Ridge Mountains!
This aquarium is amazing, and the kids will love it. Take some extra time after flying into Atlanta before heading to Blue Ridge, or before you head home, check out this great aquarium.
For us, this stop is one of the most memorable stops in Blue Ridge. There is something so special about visiting an orchard. We took a hay ride with the kiddos up to the orchard fields where they let you roam around picking and eating apples. The kids had a blast, and Mason even lost a tooth biting into an apple!
After picking apples, we walked around their enormous shop trying homemade foods and buying tons of their famous maple syrup and homemade fried apple pies. The fried apple pies disappeared before we even made it back to the car!
What is fall without a pumpkin patch? This day was so much fun! Besides a few major temper tantrums, we managed to have a really great time. The ride around this property on the tractor was so much fun, and the kids had a blast. We got to see how the pumpkins grow and some of the biggest pumpkins we have ever seen! And of course, they had fun Halloween decorations to give us some good decorating ideas for home!
The parents decided that one afternoon the guys would get some alone time, and the ladies would get to do the same the next day. Our husbands went fly fishing in the Toccoa River (please see the hilarious, yet handsome, photo below), and we went hiking.
We made videos on toddler bathroom accidents and literally almost peed our pants laughing so hard!
Everyone was in full hiking gear, but we were probably the least prepared on our trail! We hiked at Springer Mountain, which is the very beginning of the Appalachian trail that leads north all the way up to Maine. There are so many great hikes and waterfalls around the Blue Ridge Mountains, even ones that are less challenging and more kid friendly.
Lily Pad Village
This spot has the cutest little fishing pond and gem mining spot that you ever did see! The kids loved spending the morning here. They sorted through their rock buckets full of soil, mining for gems and keeping some of the cool rocks and gems they found. We spent some time fishing by the pond using live bait. They also have a mini-golf course built into the side of the mountain!
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
This trip was very cool for the kids and great for the parents, especially if you go during the fall when the leaves are changing. The scenery on the ride is beautiful. The hour-long train ride on Blue Ridge’s old train cars takes you to a quaint town in Tennessee where you can shop the general stores and enjoy some southern food.
Our kids enjoyed riding the train and sitting in the open cart! Also, close to the train station in Blue Ridge is an amazing public park for the kids. We spent a lot of time there, until one of the kids had an accident in his pants, and we had to leave!
Three Sisters Fudge & Das Kauffee Haus
All day, every day! We ate so much fudge and drank so much coffee, and I am not upset about it! These are just two of the many perfect little shops you can stop at for fudge and coffee in downtown Blue Ridge.
We are obsessed with walking around main street going in and out of all their great shops.
BBQ and S’mores
Do not miss out on BBQ and s’mores – you don’t even have to leave your cabin! Yes, going out to dinner is fun but not always with 6 kids in tow. So we cooked at the cabin most of the time, and it made things a lot easier. We ate dinner outside and built a fire for the kids to make s’mores.
Some of our best memories from this trip were made staying home at the cabin!
Once the kids were in bed by 8:30pm, the parents enjoyed alone time and even some of our own s’mores, too!
Black Sheep Restaurant
Hands down, Black Sheep is the restaurant you want to visit in Blue Ridge. We were lucky enough to have one parent’s night out during the trip and decided to head to the main street of Blue Ridge and try this raved about dinner spot. This place is an historical home converted into one of the coolest restaurants we have ever seen. In the past when we visited Blue Ridge, we heard about this place but we didn’t feel like it would be family friendly.
But on this trip, new owners had completely revamped the restaurant in the best way possible. The ambiance and atmosphere are comfortable and casual, but it still has that fine dining feel we were craving.
We were lucky to be seated outside on the patio where the guys could watch their football during the meal. They even have an old-school movie night on the front lawn, which is such a great touch for bringing families and children to the restaurant!
Our meal was amazing, and the food was top notch. Seriously, everything was delicious, but we must say the crab cakes and the lamb bolognese were our favorites. For dessert, we had the most amazing pumpkin cheesecake ever…a slice of heaven.
Tips on Traveling with Kids
Oh man…before you do anything else, read this article Katie wrote on traveling with kids.
Now, for the tips. Our first tip is simple – just don’t take the kids with you!
We were all nervous before we left, but I have to say, the kids were great. We had a few tantrums and one nasty cold that spread around fast, but we did well. The one thing that helped us immensely was preparation!
For the airport, make sure you stock snacks, iPads, movies, games, and whatever you can stuff in your bag. Entertainment and distraction are key! We had some really fun travel games that the kids LOVED playing.
The looks we got boarding a plane with 6 kids were laughable. But never say you’re sorry as a mom. We realized we were apologizing for having kids on the plane…that’s ridiculous, right? This is life. Kids fly, and we will do our very best to keep them happy, but sometimes, kids will be kids. Luckily, ours all behaved pretty well, and we didn’t get too many dirty looks.
A great tip to keep your kid busy and interested is to let them oversee their own suitcase. Each kid had their own personalized suitcase that they were responsible for. It was so cute how much they loved having matching luggage with their cousins, and they were proud to show off their bags!
We also brought nap mats which the kids used for movie nights in the media room. Sleeping bags would be fun, too!
Final Thoughts on Traveling to the Blue Ridge Mountains
All we can say is that Blue Ridge is a magical escape that takes you to a different world. It’s a great place for families or for couples.
Blue Ridge has it all!
We are so happy we discovered this amazing vacation spot, so we can create more memories over the years. All the cabins from Escape to Blue Ridge are incredible. We have stayed in a few cabins now, but if you need a 4+ bedroom home, and it is available, we highly recommend you book the cabin Falling Waters Lodge. It has that special, warm feeling of home you long for on family vacations. We most certainly will go back!
Thanks Escape to Blue Ridge for having us and letting us experience this amazing trip with our families!
Guest Blog by Blake Guthrie as written for the AJC (Atlanta Journal & Constitution).
Cloud Nine. It’s the type of name one would expect for a mountain vacation rental home. It’s one of those places that if you try and follow GPS directions you’ll get lost. The rental agency sent a confirmation that stressed the importance of following the turn-by-turn directions provided in the email, including detail you wouldn’t get from a GPS such as “go right when you see a bunch of mailboxes.”
What it didn’t mention was the very steep and winding one-lane road. After putting my Honda into its lowest gear for the first time ever and having to navigate past an approaching vehicle, I came to the crest of Sunrock Mountain four miles west of Blue Ridge. I saw that Cloud Nine was the type of place I might want to hole-up for a while, but, having never been to Blue Ridge or nearby Ellijay before, I came to do some exploring, to find the most beautiful scenery and the best outdoor spots to experience the autumnal ambiance.
It turned out the back porch of the cabin was one of those places. In the morning I could see how the cabin got its name. It was literally in the clouds, the surrounding mountain peaks sticking up through a thick white blanket covering the valleys below. Still, I had to venture out. First on my itinerary was the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. The major attraction in town, the railway has been in operation as a sightseeing excursion train since 1998 along tracks that have a history going back as far as 1886. The tracks follow the route of the winding Toccoa River through the Chattahoochee National Forest to the twin towns of McCaysville and Copperhill, Tennessee. They’re essentially the same town with the state line running through the middle. Like a running joke, the line is demarcated by a blue stripe painted on sidewalks, roadways and running through the middle of businesses.
The train rolls at a leisurely pace and the open-air windows are large, making it a prime fall sightseeing adventure with a good dose of history thrown in. Along the way, you’ll see a Native American fish trap in the middle of the river that experts believe is 500 years old, and the old telegraph poles that used to be the fastest form of communication in a bygone era. The trip takes four hours, with two spent in McCaysville/Copperhill for exploring the towns.
If hunger strikes, Burra Burra on the River in McCaysville is near the train station and serves pub fare and local brews. Be sure to ask for outside seating, weather permitting. The real selling point here is the covered deck that overlooks the clear waters of the Toccoa River flowing past the state line where it becomes the Ocoee River after crossing into Tennessee.
Back in Blue Ridge, the largest patio bar in town can be found at Black Sheep Restaurant, where the seasonal menu leans heavily on seafood. Housed in a historic home shaded by a 200-year-old oak tree, the patio overlooks the center of town. It’s a popular place, so make reservations for dinner. Or just have a drink at the bar.
The craft beer scene is surprisingly good in Blue Ridge for such a small town that was dry not too long ago. Two breweries — Fannin Brewing Company and Grumpy Old Men Brewing — both have large, inviting outdoor beer gardens where you can play cornhole, meet the locals and catch some live music. Wine drinkers have no shortage of options either, as wineries have been opening at a fast clip in this area over the last few years.
Near Ellijay, Chateau Meichtry (pronounced “my-tree”) stands out not only for its wine but also its patio outside the barn tasting room where the rolling vineyards reveal a long-range view of the mountains to the north.At Bear Claw Vineyards visitors can spend the night in the Blue Ridge Treehouse, featured on the DIY Network show “The Treehouse Guys.” The treehouse overlooks the vineyards and contains all the amenities one would expect when staying in a hotel.
No trip to the North Georgia mountains during the fall harvest season would be complete without taking advantage of apple country. The pull of a roadside farm store backed by endless acres of fruit orchards is undeniable. Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge and R&A Orchards outside Ellijay both have roadside markets selling freshly picked apples and other fruits, fresh-baked goods, local foodstuffs and offer pick-your-own days as well as plenty of free samples.
Welcome to the Mountains!
Lake Blue Ridge is the centerpiece of a scenic drive worth exploring. Stop at the Blue Ridge Welcome Center to pick up a detailed map. Ringed by mountains, the lake has clear, emerald-hued water and a pristine, forested shoreline. The route also runs alongside the tumbling rapids of the Toccoa River, rolling farmland, historic houses, and has many side hikes to cascading waterfalls and other pastoral pleasures. Bring comfortable hiking shoes and make an afternoon of it if you plan to visit all the stops listed on the map. On my last morning at Cloud Nine, I got up early enough to see the sunrise over the Blue Ridge Mountains and stayed on the porch until checkout. Sometimes where you are is the best place to be.
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.
Some of us just don’t “vacation” well. Swinging in a hammock, listening to the birdies go “tweet, tweet, tweet” is a might too boring. Nor does the quest to hike to the top of a waterfall hold any allure. We need a more constructive reason to leave home and head to the mountains. For those who need an educational prospect before booking a cabin, here are some awesome Blue Ridge conferences, workshops, and day trips available this spring.
From Shabby To Chic
Outlaws Workshop – Stay with us while you venture into town for this 3-day hands-on workshop being offered by an incredibly talented group of home décor specialists. This workshop focuses on refurbishing that old piece of furniture and painting it with the latest techniques. This would be a great Mother-Daughter Weekend retreat – an early celebration of Mother’s Day. May 3-5, 2019
The 22nd Annual Blue Ridge Writer’s Conference – For more than two decades this writer’s conference has brought together would be authors with leaders in the publishing industry, offering instruction on both sides of the trade. This is a jam-packed conference in an amazingly comfortable atmosphere, aiding in the fostering of new friendships and maximizing business networking. April 5 and 6, 2019.
Leather Working Workshop – The Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Center is the regions premier facility for arts education. Have you wanted a taste of leatherworking without investing lots of time and money? During this one day class students will make something beautiful and learn a new skill. Each student will take home their creative leather bag including a strap and tassel. April 16, 2019
Chimps Rock – This is the perfect event for kids and kids at heart. Project Chimps provides lifelong care to former research chimpanzees at its 236-acre forested sanctuary in the Blue Ridge Mountains. This is an opportunity to visit the sanctuary, receive a guided walking tour, see chimps behind glass and even participate in a Chimp Rock painting craft project. April 26 and April 27, 2019
Rock the Dome – The O. Wayne Rollins Planetarium at Young Harris College features more than 30 Friday-evening public shows. Guests are encouraged to arrive early for the best seats. No late seating is permitted. These public planetarium shows include a live-narrated “seasonal stargazing” segment in addition to the featured full-dome program. If you love classic rock, don’t miss the performances in late April/early May which will have that Dome rocking to Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Peter Frampton, to name a few. April 26, 2019, May 3, 2019
An Apple A Day
Mercier’s Blossom Tours – Visitors from all over the world flock to Mercier Orchards every year to purchase goods produced from the fruits of the orchards. Few know that in the spring, they can take advantage of guided tours during the blossom season, learning about the cultivation of the many varieties of fruit the Orchard harvests each year. Bring your camera on these tours, because the visual spectacle of the blossoms is almost as captivating as the marvelous fragrant bouquets. Because Mother Nature doesn’t care to keep a tight schedule, you can call the Orchard at 800-361-7731 to find out when the blossom tours will be offered this Spring.