High Class in the High Hills²



(If you haven’t had the chance to read our Part I blog, we encourage you to click here and see what indulgent amenities the North Georgia Mountains has to offer in the way of pampering services and adventure experiences! Now we’d like to take you to other areas of resort vacationing that you might not expect to find here in a 30-mile radius of your luxurious cabin rental. )

Outdoor Fun and Entertainment (Including Spirits)

“Wine is the only artwork you can drink” 


Luis Fernando Oliverri
Photo Courtesy of Bear Claw Vineyards

If this quote is accurate than the North Georgia mountains boasts over 20 “museums” or vineyards. With its high elevation, warm temperatures, sandy red clay and aged granite soil (which soaks up extra moisture that could potentially affect proper grape ripening), this region is ideally suited for producing varietals more often associated with France – Cabernet Franc, Viognier, Malbec – and other parts of Europe (Touriga, Sangiovese).

Nearly every one of these vineyards has a tasting room, and all are picturesque. Yet the disadvantage of visiting these wineries on your own is the need for a “designated driver”.  Now everyone in your party can partake with the lavish way to tour and taste your way through some of the region’s finest vineyards and wineries. VIP Southern Tours has different wine tours available to their clients, but they also will help you build your own personal winery tour based on your vino preferences coupled with their years of experience touring North Georgia’s wine country.

Mountain High

Photo Courtesy of Wing-N-It Seasplane Tours

In Part 1 of our High-Class blog we covered adventure by land and by sea, but we didn’t mention the thrilling adventure of seeing the mountaintops by air! It was 60 years ago when TV’s Lloyd Bridges took his seaplane up in every episode in the 1960’s show “Sea Hunt”.  More than a half-century later you can charter your own Seaplane just 30 miles up the highway in Hiawaseee on Lake Chatuge. Wing-N-It Seaplane Tours has air tours of all the regional lakes, including Lake Blue Ridge. We suggest you also sample the mountainscape tours which are particularly breathtaking in the peak of Autumn or customize your own tour package.

Par!

Photo Courtesy of Old Toccoa Farm

Is it the trails or the links for your vacation? Old Toccoa Farm , in neighboring Mineral Bluff, GA, is one of the courses that has shaped the golf world in 2019. This 18 hole course is the most attractive and challenging course in the North Georgia Mountains and selected as the 4th Best Golf Course in Georgia by Golf Advisor! The course winds through 125 acres of ridges and meadows, featuring over 280 feet of elevation change with spectacular views of the Chattahoochee and Cherokee National Forests and surrounding valleys. You’ll be more than smitten with the spectacular views, lush fairways and the immaculate condition of the greens and bunkers. Oh, and did we mention we have a cabin rental located between the 6th and 7th holes? Ambleside is a 5-bedroom cabin that looks like the elegant homes in “Southern Living” magazine!

Trail

Photo Courtesy of Appalachian Trail Rides at S&T Stables

If you feel more like donning Hoss’s 10 Gallon cap than Payne Stewart’s scally cap, then a trail ride on horseback is in order. And there are no friendlier and knowledgeable trail guides than the staff at Appalachian Trail Rides at S&T Stables.   This 250 acre privately owned mountainous farm features a large stable facility, pasture, scenic trails, private lakes, and creeks.  There is a full menu of trail rides to take advantage of, but they also will provide a private trail ride for just you and your guests. 

Epicurean Fantasies Become Reality

“A great meal is an experience that nourishes more than your body. “


Ruth Reichl
Photo Courtesy of Treo

When the sign suggests “steaks, seafood and pasta served here”, in a small downtown underground tuck-away, one doesn’t expect too much more than average. Treo is anything but average! Though they say they are casual dining, you might want to dress in something that makes you feel as special as the wait staff is going to treat you. There’s your choice of seating in the main dining room, outside patio, or the old cellar. Even if you don’t choose the cellar, be sure to ask for a tour, for here is where the finest wines and the most amazing bourbons are kept, waiting for the next indulgent guest to order up. A bourbon flight includes a choice of three from a list of 35 of the world’s best bourbons.  Wine flights are four samplings, with a choice from an international wine list you’ll be hard-pressed to find at most five-star restaurants. Sit back and enjoy your flights with a charcuterie and artisan cheese board while you contemplate your next move. Will it be the Lobster Mac and Cheese?

You can also choose to eat at higher elevations. Cucina Rustica is located just down the road and up a wooded hill in neighboring Morganton. Upon entering this rustic dining experience you will find yourself transported to an established trattoria on a Tuscan hillside. The finest of dining experiences features the Italian cuisine of Chef Danny Mellman. This highly reviewed establishment is a true farm-to-table experience, with Chef Mellman growing many of the vegetables and herbs on his own organic farm. His interpretation of Old World Italian foods range from Sicilian fish dishes to Northern Italian pasta and succulent roasted meat dishes has a bountiful loyal patronage, so be sure to call or make online reservations. 

Concierge Services at Your Fingertips

Part of our amazing Escape to Blue Ridge team

We hope we’ve helped you consider another opulent option to that oceanfront resort you head to each year. When booking your cabin with Escape of Blue Ridge you also have available to you our knowledgeable concierge team.

We can connect you with most any experience you want to try (i.e. fly fishing guide, whitewater rafting etc).  Share with us the type of experience that you are looking for and we will offer suggestions on where to go and what to do, and then enlist us to book the experience.

High Class in the High Hills



Even though you love the fresh air, starlit nights, breathtaking scenery and u-pick-em apples, like many luxury vacationers, you can only imagine visiting the mountains of North Georgia for no more than a long weekend.  The idea of dining out on cornbread, fried okra, country ham and banana pudding more than once doesn’t appeal at all to your taste buds. You most likely see the shopping opportunities limited to a multitude of fudge emporiums and tourist trap museum shops that sell brown bears painted on black velvet and handmade Davy Crockett raccoon caps in adult sizes. You envision a cabin shared with three blind mice and one badly chipped Teflon pan to cook the trout you caught with a bamboo pole at a stocked trout pond the size of your kid’s wading pool. All this while foreseeing the issues with trying to keep contact with the office all week without state of the art cellular service and high-speed internet. It’s enough to send you packing the suntan lotion and heading for a week or more to your favorite pampering luxury beach resort once again. 

STOP! You have been misled by the media that overexposes Bavarian town wannabees, the virtues of “meat and three dining” and the Bob Ross painting shows you watch on the nights when your Ambien isn’t working. We’re here to tell you that luxury abounds in the high hills. Allow us to elaborate.

Accommodations

Bear Claw Cabin

With each of our over 200 rentals, we strive for the Escape to Blue Ridge difference. This includes complimentary concierge services to help you plan the perfect vacation. With every rental home we provide hotel-style linens with spa-quality bath towels for each guest and exquisite bath soaps and shampoos from William Roam

You will appreciate the convenience of our keyless entry system and express check-in for all arrivals. And just to get your visit to the Mountains started, our exclusive Escape to Blue Ridge welcome basket is waiting for you when you arrive at your rental. 

We know that you’ve come to escape to the mountains, but sometimes we still need to be connected to the world and to assure you that connection, high-speed internet is also included with every one of our homes.

Let’s Get Pampered

There are many opportunities to have that spa experience you are used to at the elegant resorts. You can relax, restore and renew with an incredible hour in the Himilayan Salt Caves at Serenity In the Mountains Spa.  The Couple’s massage in the Salt Cave is worthy of your consideration. There’s also the magical experience of getting a massage in one of their exquisitely decorated treehouses at the top of the Serenity In The Mountains grounds. 

TeaTrees Boutique Spa in Downtown Blue Ridge caters to a more individualized approach to your spa and massage needs. And though we highly recommend a visit to their boutique, if you would like to stay in, enjoying your rental cabin while being pampered by professionals, TeaTree’s therapists are available to make cabin calls so you can relax in the privacy of your elegant cabin while enjoying the beautiful mountain views.

Indulgent  Adventure

Photo Courtesy of Outback Guide Service

If you are in anticipation of hiking the trails, visiting the area’s many spectacular waterfalls or finding the most impressive views for your photography you can peruse the many brochures and maps available at Blue Ridge’s Visitor’s Center to help you on your way.  Or you can also contact Outback Guide Service to have a personized itinerary with a private guide and even transportation on those point to point hikes. Outback Guide Services designs your hike based on your time, interests, skillset and from easy to challenging trips. Besides vista and hike tours, they also will create tours of waterfalls, historic trails and tours, and even photo safaris. Your experienced tour guide and naturalist is a life long resident of the area and well versed in North Georgia’s wildlife, birds, flowers, geology, local history, and so much more.

Photo Courtesy of Noontootla Creek Farm

If the sportsman in you needs to be released, then there is no one better to enlist than the folks at Noontootla Creek Farms to give you the optimal mountain hunting and fishing adventure. There’s no need to schlep all your gear, for this Blue Ridge 1,000 acre sportsman’s paradise has everything you need.  Noontootla Creek Farms (NCF) offers guided fly fishing on the most picturesque private trophy trout waters in North Georgia. Because of the cooler temperatures on the side of the mountains, there’s usually good trout fishing at NCF year-round.  Rainbow and Brown trout fishing has catches averaging 20 inches but often upwards of 30 inches. If you would like to bird hunt, then join your guide and their Brittanny or Setter and head out to capture Bob White Quail and Red- Neck Pheasant with wing shooting season open from November 1st until the last day of March. NCF also boasts a challenging 12 station clay shooting course, complete with golf carts.

By Land or By Sea

Photo Courtesy of Visit Blue Ridge

Visitors year-round enjoy the many recreational opportunities around the 3,290 acres of the crystal blue waters of Lake Blue Ridge. Capt’n Joe’s Lake Adventures offers private charters to guests looking to fish, swim or just enjoy an evening cruise. Their motto is to “relax, enjoy, and be happy”, which is much easier to do when you have Captian Joe at the helm.  Private charters are an amazing way to experience Lake Blue Ridge in style.

Photo Courtesy of Pedego Electric Bikes Blue Ridge

If you would enjoy a more modern touring land vessel,  then renting a Segway or a Pedego electric bike might be just the escapade you’ve been looking for and more. Pedego Bike Shop in downtown Blue Ridge offers electric bike tours of Fall Branch Falls, the Ocoee Whitewater/ Tanasi Trail and the picturesque Shallowford  Bridge River. Rent a Segway and tour all of downtown Blue Ridge, never having to be concerned about finding a parking place.

There’s so much more to share with you about our ideas for a resort style experience here in these magnificent mountains. We haven’t begun to talk about the fine dining and exceptional outdoor entertainment opportunities. Please be sure to visit our Part II blog on “High Class in the High Hills” posting soon.

Fine Dining in the Mountains



Fine dining is different at every restaurant, but there are common threads woven through all of them. First, there is a Chef-inspired menu, with his or her signature, stamped on each offering. Unlike casual restaurants, fine dining service usually includes eating utensils that are a matched set, and have more weight than your summer camp mess hall offered you. Generally, there is a linen napkin to lay across your lap, water served in a glass vessel sans the local bank logo and the table legs have been leveled to assure your plate doesn’t travel across the tabletop each time someone rests against it. There’s also the expectations of the staff. When visiting a fine dining establishment you expect the staff to deliver you a  higher standard of service, where they understand the menu and can assist you with accurate answers and solutions to your dietary concerns and preferences. Blue Ridge is proud to be home to many of such dining establishments. Let us introduce you to a small plate offering of eight of our favorites.

Bin 322 Wine and Tapas Bar

116 W. Main St. Suite 1-D – Blue Ridge, GA  

Photo Courtesy of Bin 322 Wine and Tapas Bar

We choose this as one of our favorite “wining” experiences.  Bin 322 isn’t your richest of decor settings, but it’s charm lies in it’s comfy, cozy atmosphere with many choices of seating including wing back stuffed chairs or around a game table playing checkers. You pick your ideal spot before choosing your sips from an exceptional wine menu. If you like to accompany your spirits with well prepared and incredibly tasty food, you will find just that at Binn 322. The menu includes tapas (salmon nduja), platters (Italian, French, Spanish or Mediterranean), salads, sandwiches, entrees (duck confit) and indulgent desserts (Crème Brulee) that team up perfectly with a sweet wine to complete a choice encounter with your lunch or dinner companion.

The Black Sheep Restaurant

480 W. Main St., Blue Ridge GA 

Photo Courtesy of The Black Sheep Restaurant

This stylish, and classy restaurant believes in fresh food that’s locally sourced and artfully prepared. Set in a historic house (circa 1814) you have your choice of pet-friendly patio seating under a 200-year-old oak tree, the enclosed porch with its flaming heaters, up at the beautifully appointed bar or in the main dining room, where service is second to none.  Start with an appetizer of pork belly and marmalade, add a perfect beet salad and eventually savor the lamb pappardelle. We can’t forget to mention that The Black Sheep offers a killer Brunch menu every Saturday and Sunday from 12 noon to 4pm. The Sunday paper, an inspired Bloody Mary and a chicken & red velvet waffle. Who can resist? Reservations are recommended.

Chester Brunnemeyer’s Bar & Grill

733 E. Main St. Blue Ridge, GA 

Photo Courtesy of Chester Brunnemeyer’s Bar & Grill

Everyone just refers to it as “Chester’s”, and it’s Blue Ridge’s answer to “Cheer’s”, where everyone knows your name, or at least it feels like they do. But don’t let this friendly bar atmosphere fool you. The dining experience at Chester’s is so noteworthy. The amazing craft beer selection shakes hands nicely with signature appetizers like chili and beer cheese nachos or deep-fried sticky ribs. The soup, salad and sandwich menu all have a plethora of delicious, inspired choices, but if you have a heartier appetite, dig into the entrees like the 14 oz blackened ribeye, cooked to perfection and served with herb roasted fingerling potatoes, garlic broccolini and finished with fresh herb butter. This is fine……real fine.

Cucina Rustica

76 Forge Mill Rd, Morganton, GA 

Photo Courtesy of Amy Walker Price

Chef Danny Mellman takes Italian fare to a new level at this fine-dining Ristorante. This is the perfect place to spend an evening with friends. Start out with a plate of Frito Misto (flash-fried calamari and fish with artichokes and lemon and charred tomato-lemon aioli). The salads are shareable in size. The Treviso is a patron favorite, w/ bacon, balsamic, fresh pear, walnuts, and Gorgonzola. A myriad of pasta, risottos, and polentas, with fresh roasted vegetables, compliment delectable fresh sauces, meat entrees, and the finest of seafood. This is Old World Italian cuisine served mountainside. On Friday and Saturday nights the chef offers a veal Osso Bucco that will transport you across the Mediterranean Sea without the jet lag. Reservations are recommended.

Harvest on Main

576 East Main Street, Blue Ridge, GA 

Photo Courtesy of Harvest on Main

This is the second of three Chef Danny Mellman eateries to make our list of eight. This was his first establishment in Blue Ridge and it has become what all its competition aspires to be.  You might think that it would be the service, the menu, the wine and beer selections that would put this place over the top. Not to minimize any of these, because they are all worthy of five stars, but it’s the rustic appointments of the décor that nails it. Every moment you are being treated to a dining experience at Harvest on Main you are made to feel you are dining at the most affluent of ski resorts, high up in the Grand Tetons when actually you are smack in the middle of downtown Blue Ridge. Make a reservation. Spend the evening. Know that you’ll be back to try every item on the menu. It’s that good.

Masseria Kitchen + Bar

67 Roberts Way, Blue Ridge, GA 

Photo Courtesy of Masseria – Kitchen & Bar

The third of Mellman’s family of restaurants to make our list, Masseria mashes together Mediterranean countryside food and infuses Appalachian sensitivities into the recipes to share food so fresh, so earthy, so flavorful and dare we say, healthy, that you will feel like you are eating in a Grecian farmhouse the evening of their best harvest.  Is pizza fine dining? Absolutely when it is topped with baked bourbon apples, raisins, gorgonzola cheese and ricotta. Couple that with a salad of kale, grilled chicken, couscous, quinoa, lemon vinaigrette, craisins and walnuts and you can see why they made our list.

South of North

257 East Main Street, Suite A Blue Ridge,GA 

Photo Courtesy of South of North

Forget your past Asian experiences when you ordered by the number next to the dish pictured on your giant menu. South of North dubs itself as “a counter casual establishment serving up a chef-driven twist on classic Vietnamese fare”. If you think that description is a mouthful, wait till you taste the Bún Chả (meatball)  with Snake River Kurobuta pork belly blende with a Joyce Farms filet mignon, house fermented mustard and infused chili oil. Menu items such as sticky buns, shrimp rolls, spicy noodle bowls , steamy buns, lettuce wraps – all elevated to a culinary height you’ve never quite experienced before. We carnivores love this place, but you vegans will be particularly in awe of this gastronomical voyage.

Treo Blue Ridge

588 E. Main Street, Blue Ridge, GA 

Photo Courtesy of Treo

When the sign suggests “steaks, seafood and pasta served here”, in a small downtown underground tuck-away, one doesn’t expect too much more than average. Treo is anything but average. Though they say they are casual dining, you might want to dress in something that makes you feel as special as the wait staff is going to treat you. There’s your choice of seating in the main dining room, outside patio, or the old cellar. Even if you don’t choose the cellar, be sure to ask for a tour, for here is where the finest wines and the most amazing bourbons are kept, waiting for the next indulgent guest to order up. A bourbon flight includes a choice of three from a list of 35 of the world’s best bourbons.  Wine flights are four samplings, with a choice from an international wine list you’ll be hard-pressed to find at most five-star restaurants. Sit back and enjoy your flights with a charcuterie and artisan cheese board while you contemplate your next move. Will it be the Lobster Mac and Cheese?

That wraps up our Top 8 Fine dining reviews. Did you really think that Blue Ridge was just about train rides and waterfalls? We are happy to share that we are fast becoming the culinary capital of the Appalachian mountains.

2020 Festivals



You never need a specific occasion to Escape to Blue Ridge, but it’s fun to plan trips around fun mountain festivals and events. With that in mind, we are here to help, with some suggestions for Blue Ridge area festivals and special events that are not to be missed this year!

FEBRUARY

10th Annual Fire and Ice Chili Cook Off Festival
President’s Day Weekend
Saturday, February 15th
11am-5pm
Downtown Blue Ridge

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Fire & Ice Festival

The yin and yang of fire and ice is pretty compelling.  Opposites attract, so they say, so this combining of hot and cold is just the thing to attract a crowd. And this festival certainly does that. Thousands are drawn to downtown Blue Ridge, regardless of the weather, to watch ice carving demonstrations and to sample chili concoctions.  Some chili is hot, some is cooler, but all have tang and flavor to please a wide range of samplers. It’s a great time of year for this event, usually cool enough to bundle up, but not so cold as to be uncomfortable, but if you are cold, just find a cup of chili with some heat!

Bringing the Blues to Blue Ridge
Saturday, February 22nd
6pm-10pm
Mercier Orchards

Photo Courtesy of Mercier Orchards

This 9th Annual music event, with a Mardi Gras Celebration, is for a good cause benefiting “Snack in a Backpack”. The event features music group the Crossroads Band, Cajun food, masks, dancing, auction, and door prizes. Tickets are $60 per person or $90 per couple for main dining and include appetizers, dinner, dessert and non-alcoholic drinks. Cash bar will be available.

MARCH

St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Saturday, March 14th
11am
Downtown Blue Ridge

Photo Courtesy of The Boro Inn Irish Pub

Fast becoming an annual highlight in downtown Blue Ridge, you can walk in the 7th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade or just watch it anywhere along East or West Main St.  Bring a float, be creative, dress festive and of course, the more green, the better!

38th Hammer-In & Metalworking Event
Friday & Saturday, March 13th & 14th
9am-6pm
Trackrock Campground & Stable

Photo Courtesy of Trackrock Campground & Stables

The Georgia Knifemakers Guild presents a day of blade-related activities include bladesmithing, hawk forging, leather crafting and forge building.  Watch, meet and talk with several talented bladesmiths. See what it takes to transform old discarded steel scrap metal into functional works of art. Fine craftsmen from several states attend, some collectors bring their collections to display, knifemaking supply vendors participate and others come just like to look and talk knives. This is a family oriented event open to all with no admission fees, so come join in the fun!  

APRIL

Georgia Mountain Storytelling Festival
Friday & Saturday, April 3rd & 4th
9am-9pm
Union County Fine Arts Center, Blairsville

Photo Courtesy of the Georgia Mountain Storytelling Festival

The Georgia Mountain Storytelling Festival showcases the art of Southern storytelling with an emphasis on Appalachian stories, both traditional and contemporary. The Festival’s events include two days of outstanding storytelling performances. Workshops will be available for students and visitors to learn storytelling, speaking, and performance skills.

23rd Annual Blue Ridge Writers Conference
Friday & Saturday, April 3rd & 4th
Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Center

Photo Courtesy of the Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association

The irony of writing is that writers can only write on their own since collaborative writing is uncommon, but they love to socialize and share the fruit of their labor, so a reason to get together is always welcome! Writers conferences and literary events like this one allow writers to showcase their work and rub elbows with other writers, and readers, who appreciate the skill it takes to produce words on a page. Readings, book signings, seminars, and receptions are all a part of this annual event that celebrates words both written and spoken.

Blue Ridge Parade of Homes
Saturday & Sunday, April 18th & 19th
9am-5pm
Blue Ridge and Fannin County

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Mountains Parade of Homes

Gain inspiration for your dream home! Meet builders and tour homes that range from 1,600-square feet to 9,000-square feet. Purchase your ticket and take a self-guided tour through twenty stunning properties.

5th Annual Blue Ridge Trout Fest & Outdoor Adventures
Saturday, April 25th
10am-5pm
Downtown Blue Ridge

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Trout Fest & Outdoor Adventures

Trout in Georgia come in various sizes, colors and genres (native, brown, rainbow, etc).  They are stocked, caught, and eaten in large numbers. And while there are several trout festivals around the state designed to help anglers learn about and appreciate one of America’s favorite fish, there is only one Official Trout Festival – and this is it. The festival includes great exhibits by outdoor organizations and businesses, education on trout fishing, entertainment, food trucks and more in downtown Blue Ridge’s City Park. 

MAY

Georgia Apple Blossom Festival
Saturday & Sunday, May 2nd & 3rd
9am-5pm
Downtown Ellijay

Photo Courtesy of the Georgia Apple Blossom Festival

Ellijay is apple country so no wonder an apple festival is a huge springtime attraction! Artists, crafters, music, entertainment, and children’s activities will all be there to kick off the spring season! Pet friendly and FREE admission! 

Georgia Mountain EggFest
Saturday, May 16th
9am-5pm
Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds

Photo Courtesy of Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds

An Eggfest is a gathering of Big Green Egg fans and experienced cooks from all across the country and Canada. The cooks will be showcasing their skills and talents and will be preparing their specialty recipes all day long!

Spring Arts in the Park
Memorial Day Weekend
Saturday & Sunday, May 23rd & 24th
10am-5pm
All Over Blue Ridge

Photo Courtesy of the Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association

Arts in the Park is a spring kickoff to the festival season in Blue Ridge and it’s a time when artists of all types fill the expansive Blue Ridge Downtown City Park with activities, performances and even some dancing. More than 200 juried arts, crafts and food booths are featured. This event is often recognized as one of the Top 20 Events by the Southeastern Tourism Society. The Festival is held rain or shine. Pets are welcome as long as they are leashed and well-behaved.

Spring Arts,Crafts & Music Festival
Memorial Day Weekend
Saturday & Sunday, May 23rd & 24th
10am-5pm
Downtown Blairsville

Photo Courtesy of Visit Downtown Blairsville

Blairsville’s Downtown comes alive Memorial Day Weekend with talented artists, musicians, and food. The weekend begins with a concert at the Old Courthouse Friday evening, a Memorial Day parade at 10am on Saturday, an outdoor concert on the Square Saturday evening and of course the festival! FREE and family-friendly!

JUNE

Blairsville Scottish Festival & Highland Games
Saturday & Sunday, June 13th & 14th
9am-5pm
Meeks Park, Blairsville

Photo Courtesy of the Blairsville Scottish Festival & Highland Games

There’s nothing quite like the sound of bagpipes on a lovely summer day – and you’ll hear and see that and more at the Blairsville Scottish Festival. Enjoy pipe and drum bands, a parade of tartans, border collie demonstrations, amateur athletics, children’s games, and more as Blairsville celebrates its Scottish heritage!

Blue Ridge Mountains Wine & Jazz Festival
Saturday, June 27th
3pm-9pm
Inola, Blue Ridge

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Mountains Wine & Jazz Festival

What is it about wine and jazz?  You almost can’t have one without the other. Well, you can, of course.  But why would you want to? Blue Ridge has made it easy to enjoy both at a festival that’s as naturally occurring as jazz and wine can be.  All you have to do is show up and there’s jazz, and there’s wine, both peacefully, and perfectly coexisting in an idyllic setting in Blue Ridge.

JULY

Old Fashioned Fourth
July 4th Weekend
Downtown Blue Ridge, McCaysville-Copperhill

Photo Courtesy of Fannin County Chamber of Commerce

It’s the ideal 4th of July weekend package: Independence Day in a small patriotic town and several other small, and equally patriotic towns, and a beautiful lake to provide the perfect backdrop for fireworks. Blue Ridge’s Independence Day parade shows creativity and a good sense of humor.  The Fabulous Fireworks will be shot off near the Lake Blue Ridge Dam and can be viewed from there as well as Morganton Point Recreation Area, Tammen Park and Lake Blue Ridge Marina. The marina will have live music and barbecue throughout the day. And if it’s an old-fashioned 4th that appeals to you, the small town Independence Day celebration in McCaysville is just the thing, featuring an impressive fireworks display from Tater Hill in downtown McCaysville-Copperhill.

Butternut Creek Festival
Saturday & Sunday, July 18th & 19th
9am-4pm
Meeks Park, Blairsville

Photo Courtesy of Butternut Creek Festival

This festival is one of the finest juried arts & crafts shows in the southeast and features work from over 65 artists and craftsmen. Located along the banks of Butternut Creek in Meeks Park, you’ll find something for everyone at this great festival!

August

Georgia Mountain Fair
August 14th-22nd
10am-8pm
Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds

Get ready for corn dogs and funnel cakes, but that’s not all. The Georgia Mountain Fair is a North Georgia icon, complete with living exhibits, arts and crafts, a pioneer village; a parade with antique cars, carnival rides and music that ranges from country to gospel including Pam Tillis, Lee Greenwood, and more!

SEPTEMBER

Mountain Heritage Festival
Saturday & Sunday, September 5th & 6th
10am-5pm
Town Square, Blairsville


Photo Courtesy of Visit Downtown Blairsville

Celebrating the history, heritage and mountain culture of Union County, this event is a Labor Day tradition, complete with regional arts and crafts, music, arts demonstrations. Since the event is centered around the restored 1861 Payne family log home, it makes sense that focus is on the activities that took place back in those days like basket making, chair caning, tending to farm animals and even gold panning.

Plein Air International Paint Out
September 10th-13th
Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association

Photo Courtesy of the Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association

Be on the lookout for artists painting everything everywhere in Fannin County during this four-day international event. You may see artists in parks, in farm fields, even alongside the road – wherever the spirit has moved them to sit, or stand, and capture the beauty and uniqueness of this region on canvas. This is a judged show with various events surrounding it, including opportunities to meet the artists and purchase their work.

Blue Ridge Blues and BBQ Music Festival
Saturday, September 19th
11am-9pm
Downtown Blue Ridge City Park

Photo Courtesy of the Blue Ridge Blues & BBQ Festival

The Blue Ridge Blues & BBQ Festival starts with a Blues Crawl on Friday night, followed by great blues and barbecue on Saturday, which means you get to kind of a meander through eight different restaurants, enjoying live music, food and drink, before jumping full on into the Blues Weekend on Saturday. The blues and barbecue portion of the festivities features barbecue smells and great eats from local and regional cookers. That means aromas and music will be filling the air downtown, with blues musicians performing from stages set all around Blue Ridge City Park.

OCTOBER

Georgia Marble Festival
Saturday & Sunday, October 3rd & 4th
10am-6pm
Jasper, GA

Photo Courtesy of Georgia Marble Festival

These are not marbles. Those small, round things that young boys and girls used to “shoot”, kneeling on the floor, or trading them. Remember “purees”, “cat eyes” and “steelys”? No, this festival is a celebration of indigenous rocks, quarries, and local art. Tate marble is historic and world famous and marble quarry tours will be given during the festival.

Georgia Mountain Fall Festival
October 9th-17th
Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, Hiawassee

Photo Courtesy of the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds

You’ve got to love a fair that spans weekdays, welcoming visitors for nine straight days! That gives you a chance to enjoy this annual event during large crowd days and during quiet times. You can even plan a fair food lunch. As usual, this year’s fair will feature arts and crafts vendors, educational demonstrations, a flower show, and exciting musical performances.

Fall Arts in the Park Festival
Saturday & Sunday, October 10th & 11th
10am-5pm
Downtown Blue Ridge City Park

Photo Courtesy of Doug Miracle

A true sign of autumn, the fall version of Blue Ridge’s popular Arts in the Park, set amidst the lovely, tree-filled downtown park, with fresh food smells all around, local art, special events and musical performances.

Sorghum Festival
October 10th-11th & 17th-18th
10am-5pm
Meeks Park, Blairsville

Photo Courtesy of Blairsville Sorghum Festival

Sorghum is one of those mystery words. Pork product? Dental affliction? Nope. It’s actually a cereal grain that grows tall, like corn, but boiled down it produces a sugary-like syrup. You’d be able to deduce that from one item on a list of events that’s part of this annual festival: a biscuit eating contest, with sorghum on top. You may know sorghum better by its full name – sorghum molasses. Whether the taste speaks to you or not, this festival also features live music, arts, crafts, and more fun contests like rock throwing and log sawing!

Georgia Apple Festival
October 10th-11th & 17th-18th
9am-6pm
Ellijay Lions Club Fairgrounds

Photo Courtesy of Georgia Apple Festival

For 49 years, apples have brought folks together in Ellijay, East Ellijay and Gilmer County. These days, people come from all over for the apples, the parade, the antique car show, the arts and crafts, and almost everything you can imagine (or eat) made from apples!

NOVEMBER

Light Up Blue Ridge!
Saturday, November 28th
10am-7:30pm
Downtown Blue Ridge

Photo Courtesy of Fannin County Chamber of Commerce

Black Friday, the all-out dash for discounts, just got softened a bit by Blue Ridge’s very appropriate “Blue Friday”, with special emphasis on fun, a parade, community caroling, Santa’s arrival, and the lighting of a 27-foot tall tree! Also be on the lookout for strolling characters, food vendors and entertainment in the park on Saturday, November 28th and every Saturday through December. Make your escape memorable and join us as Blue Ridge ushers in and celebrates the holiday season!

DECEMBER

Mountain Country Christmas
December 3 – 26
6pm-9pm
Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds

Photo Courtesy of the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds

Visit the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds for a Winter Walk through thousands and thousands of lights and exhibits! Visit Poinsettia Place, Candy Cane Lane, Santa’s Workshop, Toyland, Frosty’s Trail and many more light exhibits. 🎄There will be live music, arts and craft vendors, food, and most important…SANTA!!! 🎅 $5 for adults, $4 Group sales and children under 12 are FREE!!!

Spring Break in Blue Ridge

Photo Courtesy of Pedego Electric Bikes Blue Ridge GA

👍🧳️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.

Mountain Adventure

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!

Photo Courtesy of Pedego Electric Bikes

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!

Photo Courtesy of Mystic Mountain Pizza

Sleep: Perfect for families, sports enthusiasts or a romantic getaway, Whippoorwill View sits high above it all. Enjoy magnificent long-range panoramic views of layered mountains and fresh mountain air while the area’s native Whippoorwill birds sing and hummingbirds buzz by. This classic log home is located at the end of a cull-de sac in a small community of other lovely homes with a very private setting and exceptional near and long range views. A huge wraparound deck juts out toward the back of the house to make the most of the spectacular scenery and provide an optimal location for rocking chair relaxation.

The cabin has a decorators touch and mixes rustic and modern furnishings on three living levels. The main level features a floor to ceiling stone fireplace and comfortable sofas with a deep plush rug. The kitchen features maple cabinets with earth tone granite countertops, and is fully stocked with high-end stainless steel cookware, as well as dishes and serving pieces. The basement area is ready for gaming or theater and is furnished with comfortable seating in front of a stone fireplace. A 55” TV, foosball and air hockey tables are available for your gaming pleasure. Also, there are custom built twin bunk beds built into the wall to provide “fort” style sleeping fun.

Relaxing Rides

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.

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

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!

Photo Courtesy of the Cuban Rum Cake Lady

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 bar.

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!

Photo Courtesy of Zipline Canopy Tours of Blue Ridge

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!

Photo Courtesy of Carroll’s BBQ

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.

Kid-Centric

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.

Photo Courtesy of Ashley Williams

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! 

Photo Courtesy of Mercier Orchards

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 the stairs.

Educational Vacay

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!

Photo Courtesy of Project Chimps

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!

Photo Courtesy of Sue’s Burgers

Sleep: Campfire Cabin is perfect for all vacationers wanting a getaway filled with ease and peacefulness. This cabin is tucked away in a private setting of smooth and laid-back rides on the best paved roads the North Georgia Mountains have to offer. Feel the freedom of the gorgeous and scenic winding roads that run along a creek bed. Keep pace with its peaceful ripples that lead you right to Campfire Cabin.

Entering the home, on the main level, Campfire Cabin offers an open concept living space which features plush rich leather furnishings with a touch of rustic cabin decor perfect for lounging with loved ones. As you enter the lower level of Campfire Cabin you will find a fun, extensive game room filled with a billiards, ping pong table, electronic darts and board games. With three levels to choose from you can spend some alone time on the upper level enjoying the view and relaxing on the private balcony located just outside the master suite with 2 cozy porch swings. 

7 Luxurious Mountain Lodges



When living large is what you want out of your vacation, Escape to Blue Ridge has the perfect properties to satisfy your every desire. Enjoy getting away to relax and enjoy the beautiful North Georgia mountain views and the outdoor adventures in the area. With amenities galore and plenty of room to roam, everyone in your group can indulge in their own fun and their own space. Complete with extraordinarily comfortable bedrooms, gourmet kitchens, and entertaining game rooms, book your stay and let the relaxation begin in one of these seven luxurious mountain lodges!

Chestnut Lodge

Chestnut Lodge sits serenely over miles of pastoral fields nestled in between the rolling mountains. This retreat is a beautifully-crafted custom Barna log home, with 3000 roomy square feet offering plenty of comfortable crevices.
The light-filled home has picture-perfect windows framing idyllic scenes of soft valleys, hills and long-range mountains. Sitting in front of the beautiful stone fireplace you will appreciate the home’s design inspiration: the decor marries upscale farmhouse and mountain styling with the newest, top of the line finishes — modern fixtures with a hint of vintage. The five-bedrooms all have their own peaceful views and in total, 14 people can sleep in the home comfortably. Chestnut Lodge is a place of true relaxation and one that fulfills the longing of old comforts with a renewed feeling of today.

Endless View Lodge

Endless View Lodge is perfectly situated for mountainous seclusion and picturesque views that surround you for miles. This five-bedroom home, all of which are master suites, is an upscale luxury mountain experience.  The lodge is beautifully crafted and immediately inviting with its dormer windows, huge front porch and an amazing 1,300 square-foot wraparound deck, anchored on one end by a covered gathering room and an outdoor rock fireplace. Professionally decorated, this home’s refined interior is matched only by the beauty of each room’s magnificent long and short range mountain views.  The entire space offers luxurious comfort so you can relax and reconnect with your family and friends in style.

High Five Lodge

Upon arrival, you’ll immediately be taken by High Five Lodge’s eye-catching architecture and enormous rooms. This cabin is spacious in size with a rustic yet elegant décor making this cabin warm and homey. High Five Lodge has a spacious downstairs where you can play a game of pool or cheer on your favorite team while watching the game in front of a roaring fire. Relax in the hot tub under the stars while overlooking the picturesque expanse of mountain vistas. You can see three states worth of mountain ranges (GA, TN & NC). You will be comfortable in one of five huge bedrooms, most of which open up to a deck and romantic views. Spend some time here and you’re sure to have an unforgettable time of your own!

King Daddy Lodge

King Daddy Lodge is the mother of luxury-living in the North Georgia Mountains. You will feel far away from the rigors of life and yet you will also be less than 30 minutes away from Blue Ridge, Georgia. Everything about this luxury cabin rental is regal, from its position at the top of the mountain to its upscale comfort and amenities. You will enjoy this home’s completely private location where no other cabins are in plain sight. The home’s enormous wraparound deck is perfectly positioned over absolutely spectacular long-range mountain views!

Laurel Valley Lodge

Laurel Valley Lodge is named for the mountain laurel covering the valley it overlooks. Here, you’ll enjoy spectacular mountain views, and your location in the popular Aska Adventure Area puts you close to everything. One of the few five-bedroom cabins in the North Georgia Mountains, this spacious lodge is ideal for large groups, family gatherings, holidays and business retreats. Good times are sure to ‘blossom’ here among the laurels! The main level’s huge wraparound deck is perfect for outdoor entertaining. Grill the Georgia trout caught earlier from the Toccoa, and share stories around the fireplace. On the lower deck, relax under the stars in the sunken hot tub or enjoy a nightcap on the Adirondack chairs. Whether you’re seeking rest or play, this spacious retreat will provide a wonderful vacation experience for you, your family and friends.

Luxury Lakeside Lodge

Swim in the lap of luxury as well as Lake Nottely by staying at the aptly named Luxury Lakeside Lodge. This home is packed with every amenity and looks like a model home and to top it all off — sits above the shores of deep lake water with its own private boat dock. this welcoming log home with its green shingled roof complimenting the bright blue-green color of the water will take your breath away. Inside, there’s a great wall of floor-to-ceiling windows, just one indication that everything about this North Georgia cabin was built to showcase the gorgeous views of the lake and mountains. It has been professionally decorated with well appointed furnishings that were also chosen for comfort and relaxation. Luxury Lakeside Lodge truly lives up to its name and can easily accommodate one or multiple families for a truly spectacular lake side vacation.

Serenity Lodge and Stable

If you dream of a peaceful, relaxing escape for your next vacation, look no further than the Blue Ridge, Georgia cabin rental called Serenity Lodge and Stable. True to its name, this magnificent property located five miles west of Ellijay, GA offers the ultimate in serene tranquility, bringing you closer to nature while you enjoy all the modern amenities it has to offer, both indoors and out. Serenity’s rooms are elegantly rustic, with exposed beams, wood burning fireplace, sumptuous leather sofas, ceiling fans in every room, and unusual touches like handmade antler chandeliers. Serenity Lodge and Stable’s vibe is restful, soothing and calm, offering you the opportunity to commune with nature in a spiritual way while you connect and celebrate with those you love.

Escape to the Blue Ridge Mountains



Guest Blog by Forever Freckled.

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!

The Cabin

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.

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!

Atlanta Aquarium

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.

Mercier Orchards

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!

Burt’s Farm

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!

Hiking

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!

Just kidding!

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!

Love,

Carrie, Katie, and Alison

*This trip was sponsored but all opinions are our own! We mean it!

Isn’t it Romantic



A few years ago, you and your spouse promised each other a weekly date, knowing that it would be good (maybe even great) for your relationship. You’ve still been trying to find time for that first date. “Life” somehow always seems to take precedence, and finding time away from the merry –go-round we ride day in and day out has been nearly impossible.  Maybe it’s time to jump off that ride for just a few days. It’s time to come to the mountains and re-discover each other.  

Let’s start by renting a cabin in Blue Ridge for a romantic weekend for two. You arrive on Friday night. You enjoy an evening of sipping champagne in the hot tub and….. well, you know the rest of that evening …. 

Falling Waters Lodge

When you wake up on Saturday at noon,  feeling more connected than you have in a while, it’s time to share even more time together.

And then you realize you have nearly forgotten how to just spend time together.

Here are some suggestions to help open up the gateway to re-discovery. 

A Walk in the Woods of a Poet

You know what your heart feels, but you’ve never been able to put it to prose like a poet. The Byron Herbert Reece Farm and Heritage Center will cover that for you. Located in Union County, just a stone’s throw from Blue Ridge, this 9+ acre parcel is where Reece, a celebrated 20th Century Pulitzer Prize-nominated poet was born and raised. Now restored into a beautiful public park, with lovely walking trails cradled along Wolf’s Creek, you can take an easy stroll to our favorite romantic stop simply known as the Poetry Trail. Here you’ll discover four small islands of stone with seating at each slab that has been carved with a different poem from the Reece collection. Pick a poem, read it together and talk about your life shared, there in the stillness of the moment.

Keeping it Spa-cial

One of the most popular services our cabin couples like to take advantage of at local Serenity in the Mountains Spa is the Couples Massage. With cozy, heated tables, in a beautifully appointed private room, two therapists will give you the massage style you each prefer. Then afterward, you both can relax alone in front of the fireplace, making this a totally romantic experience.

Over a Cocktail

Maybe it’s a little later than noon before you both want to get going. You both decide you need a little nourishment but you really aren’t ready for dinner, but a great conversation over a good cocktail or two is what you’re feeling for this afternoon. We highly recommend you find a seat on the patio or on the porch at The Black Sheep. Their bartenders are highly skilled, their $5 bar menu (served from 2 till 5) is an outrageously cheap gourmet delight and the atmosphere is divine. 

Keep It Moving

Your lives seem like they are in perpetual motion, and you aren’t always on the same ride. This is a great time to move in the same direction sharing the jaunt, whether by land or by sea.  For a romantic evening on the lake, contact Capt’n Joe and book an evening sunset pontoon boat ride on Lake Blue Ridge. Enjoy cuddling under the moon as the lake laps in a soothing motion, getting your heart beats to synchronize once again.

Would you like to propose all over again to the love of your life? Appalachian Trail Rides has the “horse” power you need to do it in style. Their “Proposal Ride”  is a 1.5 Hour reserved guided ride (includes a bottle of sparkling cider) on a private trail to a secluded romantic gazebo in the woods by a stream and lake.

Bring Back the Memories

Remember the good old fashion make out sessions you had at the Drive-in movie? Well, you can rekindle those sparks just around the bend at the Swan Drive-in here in Blue Ridge. This historic drive-in theater was established in 1955. It shows first-run movies, has great popcorn and hot dogs and they promise to not shine a light inside your car because they got a call from your concerned parents.  

Star Gazing

Sometimes relationships need perspective. We are so busy, day in and day out, each fighting the challenges presented to us, we forget the big picture. There’s no better reminder of our place in the universe than to stare up at the starlit night. Away from the glare of the city lights, there is nowhere better to observe the galaxy than here in the mountains. Grab a blanket and take a ride out to Cooper’s Creek Wildlife Management Area. Part of the US Forest Service, the Wildlife area is open 24 hours a day. It is just the perfect place to share a romantic evening, together, under the stars.

Trail Trees and Fairy Crosses



For most American kids, our first introduction to the concept of trail markers is Hansel and Gretel’s attempt at leaving crumbs on their venture into the woods. The birds thwarted their efforts and that’s where their fictional journey begins. First published in 1812, their story was read to children in Germany at the same time the Cherokee Indians were creating their own trail markers here in the North Georgia Mountains. Or are Trail trees just folklore?

Trail Marker Trees

Trail trees, trail marker trees, crooked trees, prayer trees, thong trees, or culturally modified trees are hardwood trees throughout North America. One unique characteristic of the trail marker tree is a horizontal bend several feet off the ground, which makes it visible at greater distances, even in snow. These distinctive characteristics convey that the tree was shaped by human activity rather than deformed by nature or disease. The legend is that Native Americans intentionally shaped these trees for navigational purposes or to mark important places, such as sacred burial grounds.

Photo Courtesy of Donna O’Neal

Throughout the North Georgia Mountains, a day of hiking can find you encountering one or more of these gentle bent giants in our forests. As you hike through one of the twenty four top forests in our area you’ll stumble upon some of the most incredible shaped trees and wonder if they are the work of Mother Nature or did an American Indians walk these same trails 200 years ago. It is both highly possible and very likely that the tree was there marking a specific direction or possibly an area where a plant grew at its base that was used for healing.

Fairy Crosses

For many, a hike in the woods is an adventure you remember from your childhood days. It is a child’s foray into uncharted territory, a field or a wooded area close to home where they might discover an old unidentifiable bone, a creek filled with crayfish, or a cluster of butterflies on a floral bush they’ve never seen the likes of before. They come back from these walking expeditions with pockets filled with pretty leaves, unusual shaped stones and always a bird feather or two. As adults we reawaken that lust for exploration and here on these mountain trails, there seems to be one treasure that many are hunting: Fairy Crosses

The Legend of the Fairy Cross derives from the Cherokee Indians and thought to be over 2000 years old! It is said that long, long, ago fairies inhabited a certain quiet and remote region in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The fairies roamed freely, enjoying the beauty and serenity of that enchanted place. One day, the fairies were playing in a sunny dell when an elfin courier arrived from a far-away city bearing the sad news of Christ’s death. When they heard the terrible details of the crucifixion, the fairies wept. As their tears fell to the earth, they crystallized into little stone crosses. Though the fairies have long since disappeared, the little stone crosses, known as “fairy stones,” still remain as vestiges in that enchanted spot. There was a belief among the Cherokee that the crosses had the power to reduce the owner invisible at will. In some instances, the tiny crosses were supposed to give the owner the power of diving into the ground and coming up again among the enemy to scalp and kill with unexpected terror.

The Scientific Side

Fairy crosses (aka fairy stones) are small bricks originally formed seven miles underground of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Staurolite crystals form into little tiny “bricks” that, under pressure, twist in 60 degree or 90 degree angles, forming crosses. As they push their way up to the earth’s surface, the action of wind and rain dissolve the softer surrounding stone called schist to reveal the precious cross-shaped minerals within. 

The good fortune of finding fairy stones is best after a heavy rain. Dig with your hands along the soft dirt at the base of the trees. The cross stones are the same color as the dirt, so use your hands to sift the stones from the soil until you find a cross shaped stone about the size of a small marble, usually less than an inch in length. They are wonderful keepsakes when found, and can be polished and used as a lucky pocket token, or designed into a necklace, bracelet, or earrings.

Pezrok

If you haven’t had the good fortune to find a fairy stone on your hiking trip, you can still find a wonderful collection of fairy crosses at Pezrok in downtown Blue Ridge, a gallery full of artistic creations of exquisite minerals, fossils, gems and carved driftwood.

Photo Courtesy of Jim Korzep

There are countless numbers of adventures to be had on your visit to these mountains. You’ll want to capture many of your explorations in pictures to take home and share with us, your family, and your friends. Oh, and while you are taking a cell phone selfie at one of the bent trees you are likely to encounter, remember your phone is also equipped with GPS, which will assure your chances of getting back to your car in the parking lot. As we already know from 19th century literature, leaving a trail of breadcrumbs will not suffice.

Spa-cial Mountain Treatment



When you visit a new area, don’t you wonder where the “locals” choose to eat, shop and play? After all, they have the benefit of experience and “word of mouth” before they spend their hard earned dollars. If you are vacationing with us here in the North Georgia Mountains, and you want to know where the “locals” go to be pampered, we’ve already scoped it out for you. Today we shine the spotlight on Serenity in the Mountains.

Himalayan Salt Cave

If after a few days here you need a great change of pace to all the outdoor activities you’ve indulged, then may we suggest a session in Serenity’s Himalayan Salt Cave. During your 45 minute session, you can relax in one of the zero-gravity chairs, lay back and take a nap, or sit and enjoy the soft music and stress-free environment while benefiting from the Cave’s healing salt atmosphere. Serenity’s Cave was built by hand with pure Himalayan salt boulders, rocks, bricks and sand.

Spa Services

If you are looking for a new hair style, a total manicure and pedicure, body scrub 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.

Hey Fellas

Gentlemen, pay attention. Spas are not just for women. We know that you have bought countless numbers of pampering gift certificates for your Mom, wife and daughters over the years. And when you walk in to purchase it and you feel like a fish out of water, swiping your credit card on high speed just to get out of the girlie palace. Trust us. You won’t feel that way at Serenity in the Mountains’ Gentleman Spa. Serenity offers a gentlemen’s locker room with steam and sauna as well as a relaxation area.  While almost all of the spa treatments are personalized, they are tailored for their male clientele, including facials, manicures, hair styles and hair colors.

Ladies, maybe it’s time to treat your man to an awesome experience he won’t soon forget. Serenity has a treehouse massage room. Yes, built very high in the clouds, this childhood fantasy style treehouse is equipped with the finest equipment and therapists.

Massage

One of the most popular services vacationers take advantage of at Serenity in the Mountains is the Couples Massage. With cozy, heated tables, in beautifully appointed private rooms, two therapists will give you the massage style you each prefer. Then afterwards, you both can relax alone in front of the fireplace, making this a total romantic experience.

If you are looking for a fun indulgence for your bridal party or best friend weekend, then look no further. Serenity’s staff wants to help you create the perfect memory. They will help you craft the ideal signature spa experience. And be sure to let them know that you want ample time to enjoy the sauna and steam rooms.

5 Stars

The reviews are all five star, with lots of mentions of “warm cozy atmosphere”, “friendly professional staff”, and “reasonable prices” as the most commented remarks. Many note that just arriving in the rustic relaxation lounge with its comfortable chaises and leather sofas is a charming experience, and we can whole-heartedly vouch for that!

Serenity in the Mountains makes it easy to book an appointment online or you can call them at 706-258-2244. We recommend that you book early. This is one very popular pampering destination! Their services are offered Monday and Tuesday from 9am-5pm and Wednesday – Saturday from 9am to 7pm. They are closed on Sundays, but if you are here during the week, be sure to ask about the mid-week specials.

We humans are very much like diamonds. We are created through the pressures of our lives, and very much like these precious stones, we can be massaged, buffed and polished to our full beauty. You came to the mountains to relax and renew. Let Serenity in the Mountains pamper you to a new brilliance. Don’t be surprised when this spa experience becomes one of your fondest vacation memories!