Fall for Blue Ridge



As the season changes from summer to fall, make sure you don’t miss out on the crisp weather, changing leaves and fun fall festivals in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia! Fall is one of the most beautiful times of year so don’t miss your chance to create memorable traditions with your loved ones! Check out the events below and Escape To Blue Ridge!

UPCOMING EVENTS & ACTIVITIES

Habitat for Humanity Wine and Dine at Blue Jeans Pizza and Pasta
October 1
LOCATION: Blue Jeans Pizza and Pasta

Photo Courtesy of Habitat for Humanity of Fannin & Gilmer Counties

There’s nothing better than excellent wine and food, unless it’s consuming both for a good cause. Enjoy wine pairings with a selection of salmon, chicken cordon bleu, lamb chops, or lasagna with all proceeds benefiting Habitat for Humanity of Gilmer and Fannin County. Live entertainment and a silent auction round out the event.

Firefly Summer Jazz Concert – Nate Najar & Daniela Soledade
October 3
LOCATION: Undisclosed Location

Photo Courtesy of Firefly Summer Jazz Concert Series

House concerts are an old concept made new, and they are growing in popularity. It’s a new/old way of helping to sustain music arts in a radically changing music industry landscape. For the audience it provides exceptional acoustics in an intimate environment, where you can meet neighbors and new friends, and get to know the performers personally. Najar and Soledade are accomplished jazz and acoustical guitar performers with an international following.

Vietnam Memorial Traveling Wall
October 3 – 7
LOCATION: Behind Fannin County Convention and Visitors Bureau

Photo Courtesy of The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Moving Wall

For those who haven’t had a chance to visit the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC, the traveling version provides a scaled version of the same thing, and it brings it to your hometown. In October it’s coming to Blue Ridge. The display, a 3/5 scale, stands as a reminder of the sacrifices made during the Vietnam War. The Wall travels to help heal the emotional wounds of that war, and to rekindle friendships of that era.

Grumpy Old Men Brewing
October 4 – 25
LOCATION: Grumpy Old Men Brewing

Photo Courtesy of Grumpy Old Men Brewing

Visit Grumpy Old Men Brewing for great live music and delicious beer! Eighteen beers are currently on tap, and new brews are added frequently! Open Tuesday through Saturday. Dogs are welcome and people are tolerated!

October 4 – Mike Bohnam
October 6 – Barktoberfest
October 18 – Steve Baskin
October 25 – Greg Erwin

Music at The Blue Coyote
October 4 – 26
LOCATION: The Blue Coyote

Photo Courtesy of The Blue Coyote

The Blue Coyote is known for their live music and entertainment. While you’re there you can enjoy their tasty bar food and a whole bunch of beer! They even have a dog-friendly patio! Stop by, check it out, and enjoy the music!

October 4 – Natti Lovejoys
October 5 – Slickfoot
October 11 – Southern Vantage
October 12 – Breaking Point
October 18 – BEATS Workin’
October 19 – Mind the Stepchildren
October 25 – Fiction
October 26 – Gregg Erwin Band

Namaste and Cabernet
October 5
LOCATION: Bear Claw Vineyards

Photo Courtesy of Yoga Over Blue Ridge

Here’s your monthly opportunity to drink wine with no guilt. A yoga workout – then drink wine. Easy. The guided yoga lasts about an hour – the wine tasting and wine drinking has no set time parameters. Enjoy!

Georgia Marble Festival
October 5 – 6
LOCATION: 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.

John C. Campbell Fall Festival
October 5 – 6
LOCATION: John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC

Photo Courtesy of John C. Campbell Folk School

One of the best ways to enjoy fall is with others who enjoy it just as much as you do! You can do that at the John C. Campbell Fall festival, in the company of a couple hundred of your closest, new friends, and among nearly 300 art and crafts vendors from throughout the region. Traditional and contemporary crafts; bluegrass, gospel, folk, and Celtic music on both days. Tap your toes to clogging demonstrations or just listen to the music. It all takes place on the Brasstown, NC campus, home to hiking trails, and winding wooded paths.

Woof and then Woof again!
October 5 – 6
LOCATION:
Pours for Pups (Willowcreek Falls and Vineyard) & Barktoberfest (Grumpy Old Men Brewing)

Photo Courtesy of Humane Society of Blue Ridge

Two separate events, two separate places, on two different days – both benefiting local pet rescues. The first, a football party at a vineyard, with raffles, live music and football on large screens, will take place October 5 (Pours for Pups benefits Tri-State Pet Rescue). The second, innovatively called “Barktoberfest” on October 6, also will feature live music, a silent auction and raffles, to benefit the Humane Society of Blue Ridge. Not surprisingly, Grumpy Old Men Brewing is dog-friendly.

Southern Appalachian Artists Guild (SAAG) Juried Art Show
October 5 – 9
LOCATION: Blue Ridge Art Association, Downtown Blue Ridge

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association (The Art Center)‎

Artists from a large number of states, and perhaps even a few foreign countries, will compete for cash prizes in this 12th annual juried art show. The entries, including show winners, will be on display in the Arts Center in Downtown Blue Ridge from October 5th – 9th. Opening reception is October 5th from 5pm – 7pm.

Paradise Hills Vineyard and Winery
October 5 – 26
LOCATION: Paradise Hills, Blairsville

Photo Courtesy of Paradise Hills

Paradise Hills is a boutique farm with vineyards, featuring handcrafted wines, live music on weekends, and a charming, laid-back tasting room.

October 5 – Scott Stambaugh
October 12 – Troy Underwood
October 19 – Dr. Paul
October 26 – Curtis Jones

Cartecay Vineyards
October 5 – 27
LOCATION: Cartecay Vineyards

Photo Courtesy of Cartecay Vineyards

A beautiful vineyard and winery set in pastoral farmlands in the heart of the Southern Appalachians. Cartacay’s wine history dates to 2007, but it’s heritage is comprised of Cherokee roots (in fact, Cartecay translates to “bread valley”). The winery features plenty of locally sourced wines, tastings and special events, plus live music on most weekends.

October 5 – Craig Hendricks
October 6 – Scott Stambaugh
October 12 – Timothy O’Donovan
October 13 – Man Bites Dog
October 19 – Gregg Erwin
October 20 – Adrian Stover
October 20 – Surrender Hill
October 26 – Adrian Stover
October 27 – Johnny Summers

Cherry Log Fall Festival
October 6 – 20
LOCATION: Cherry Log Community Club House

Photo Courtesy of Fannin County Chamber of Commerce

What’s even more fun than a town called Cherry Log? Why, a festival in a town called Cherry Log, of course! And this one goes on for three straight weekends in October! Homemade everything (cakes, pies, canned goods, crafts, breakfast, lunch, etc.) and some good old fashioned bluegrass, gospel and country music. Festival hours are 9am – 5pm each weekend day.

Georgia Mountain Fall Festival
October 11 – 19
LOCATION: Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, Hiawassee

Photo Courtesy of 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 musical performances, arts and crafts vendors, educational demonstrations, a flower show and, one of the fair’s annual highlights, Georgia’s Official State Fiddlers’ Convention.

Blue Ridge Ultra Marathon Race
October 12
LOCATION: Chattahoochee National Forest

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Adventure Race

Anytime there’s an adjective in front of a race, you should pay attention. It’s usually a pretty clear indicator that there’s going to be something different, challenging, or outrageous about this race. In the case of the Blue Ridge Ultra Race, the Ultra means a 50 mile running race, including six miles of hidden trails and nine miles of Forest Service road, with creek crossings, steep ascents, even steeper descents, jumping over logs and sometimes quite, as they say, “technical” spots throughout this 50 mile race. Needless to say, this race challenges the most expert racer, but 50 miles is not required; there are also 30 and 15 mile options over the same terrain. Whew!

Blue Ridge Marching Band Festival
October 12
LOCATION: Fannin County High School Football Field


Photo Courtesy of Fannin County Chamber of Commerce

More than two dozen bands will compete, with bands ranging in size from 40 members to more than 150 members, for regional honors.

Fall Arts in the Park Festival
October 12 – 13
LOCATION: Downtown Blue Ridge City Park

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association (The Art Center)‎

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 12 – 13; 19 – 20
LOCATION: 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 12 – 13; 19 – 20
LOCATION: Ellijay Lions Club Fairgrounds

Photo Courtesy of Georgia Apple Festival

For 46 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!

Heritage Days Festival
October 19 – 20
LOCATION: Talking Rock, GA

Photo Courtesy of Talking Rock Heritage Days Festival

Spoiler alert: the rock doesn’t actually talk! But this is a cute event in a charming town with everything you’d expect of North Georgia autumn beauty in small town America. Antiques, bluegrass and Southern gospel music, and plenty of food.

NEW HOMES ADDED TO OUR PROGRAM

Like the private treehouse retreat you loved as a kid but a thousand times more spectacular, Little Bird Landing is a hillside oasis that elevates the idea of living in the woods to a whole new level. With a wraparound deck, soaring vaulted ceilings and enormous windows that showcase the magnificent long-range mountain views from every angle, this rustic yet modern showplace has everything you desire in a Blue Ridge vacation hideaway. The cabin can accommodate eight guests in its three comfortable bedrooms plus a queen-size pullout sofa in the game room. Whether you’re planning a family vacation, a couples’ weekend, or a getaway with your best friends, Little Bird Landing offers you fun, peace and quiet, and all the comforts of an exclusive resort in a breathtaking mountain setting.

Located on a mountaintop in Morganton, GA, and named for the deer you’re likely to see nearby, the custom-built, beautifully designed and decorated cabin has wraparound decks that showcase long-range mountain views from sunrise to sunset. Deer Haven Hideaway has three comfortable bedrooms, one per floor and featuring hand-carved queen beds, and luxurious bedding designed to create a cozy, warm, and inviting setting. Each has access to the covered decks through French Doors. At this magnificent mountain oasis, it’s all about relaxation, with an ambiance that encourages you to exhale, unwind, and de-stress while enjoying time with family and friends.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Photo Courtesy of Old Toccoa Farm

THE ART OF FINE GOLF

Just as with restaurants, we all have a wide variety of choices in the world of golf experiences. In North Georgia, you can easily find a golf course to suit your basic needs, then spend a couple of hours chasing the small ball, in high traffic, over unremarkable terrain, or you can be more discerning and decide to play a more sophisticated and truly exceptional track. When you Escape to Blue Ridge, you have many choices within a short driving distance from you cabin. Let’s take a look at a few great options. Keep Reading.

The Art of Fine Golf



Just as with restaurants, we all have a wide variety of choices in the world of golf experiences.  You can opt for the simple and cheap, just as you might choose fast food and a takeout menu, or you can refine your tastes, and choose to fine dine on the truly extraordinary. In North Georgia, you can easily find a golf course to suit your basic needs, then spend a couple of hours chasing the small ball, in high traffic, over unremarkable terrain, or you can be more discerning and decide to play a more sophisticated and truly exceptional track.

When it comes to top notch golf, it’s all about options, and in North Georgia there are a quite a few, but making the right choice requires a bit of research and careful decision making.

If you’re starting in Blue Ridge, you also have to decide if travel time and distance are important considerations. You could play Scotland or Ireland, if you had the time, resources, and inclination to travel. Even deciding to go north or south is a consideration – into congestion, or toward the more tranquil north and east. When you Escape to Blue Ridge, you have many choices within a short driving distance from you cabin. Let’s take a look at a few great options.

Chestatee Golf Club – Dawsonville, GA

Photo Courtesy of Chestatee Golf Club

Along, and just to the east of, Highway 400, about two hours from Blue Ridge, there’s a ribbon of semi-private community golf courses with a reputation for quality.  With a Lake Lanier backdrop, Chestatee is one of those courses that takes full advantage of its man-made geography, including lots of water hazards, and dramatic elevation changes.

Chestatee is a Denis Griffiths design, and his history as a golf course architect, one of the few Americans to design golf courses in St. Andrews Scotland, tells you a lot about what a golf round at Chestatee might be like (think links). Chestatee has fine practice facilities including a driving range and practice green with a bunker. It’s a course that demands some precision, but its gorgeous setting and innovative layout, encourages essential enjoyment regardless of your level of play.

Barnsley Resort – Adairsville, GA

Photo Courtesy of Barnsley Resort

In the business of golf, known architects provide preview hints to the golf experience. When it comes to the Fazio name that may mean something different, depending on the Fazio – Jim, Tom, etc.  At Barnsley, a Jim Fazio design, you can expect the usual Jim Fazio design elements: spectacular greens, strategically placed bunkers and thoughtful use of the landscape’s naturally rolling hills.

Fazio likes to bedevil, with tricky water hazards and challenging carries over water. Like the signature par 3, 17th hole, with its 196-yard tee shot to a well-protected green. Barnsley also has a reputation for fast but fair greens. In fact, one reviewer joked that players could do well to practice on hardwood floors. Funny, but no fair. The greens are true, and impeccable, which is all that counts. Players looking for a great golf experience will find it at the Fazio Course at Barnsley Resort.

Currahee Club – Toccoa, GA

Photo Courtesy of Currahee Club

Breathtaking is definitely an overused phrase, bordering on cliché. Because, really, what truly takes your breath away? A sock to the gut maybe? So, when you say that upon arrival on the first hole at Currahee, with its spectacular 50-mile views of four states and lovely Lake Hartwell, and its stunning and dramatic 200-foot tee box drop to a lush but narrow fairway is breathtaking – well, it just kinda is.

Panoramic is a good word to describe Currahee – many of the holes are well worth taking a moment to simply enjoy the view. Then it’s back to business, contending with the challenging elevation changes, considerable carries over the schmutz, and rolling your putts over generous sloping greens.  Before and after your round, you can live the life of elegance in Currahee’s tastefully appointed, and very “clubby” Clubhouse, complete with a restaurant, pub, and bar & grill.

Brasstown Valley – Young Harris, GA

Photo Courtesy of Brasstown Valley

Brasstown Valley is not to be confused with Brasstown Bald – Georgia’s highest point. But they are just around the corner from each other, which gives you a pretty clear understanding that there are major elevation changes in this part of Georgia. Translation for golf: challenging terrain.

Brasstown Valley golf has been consistently rated by Golf Digest and others as a top Georgia golf course since it opened. It’s not just the golf. Set in a tranquil resort environment, with a special emphasis on wildlife preserves, ponds, streams and mountain backdrops, golf is by no means secondary, but it certainly shares top billing when it comes to a means of peacefulness.

The course itself is another Denis Griffiths design and gets a fair amount of play as a corporate outing course, a couples getaway, or a weekend with the fellas. The facility also offers full practice facilities, a well equipped pro shop, and customized special tournaments.

Old Toccoa Farm – Blue Ridge, GA

Photo Courtesy of Old Toccoa Farm

With all due respect to those fine courses profiled above, Old Toccoa 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!

There are so many integrated, exceptional quality aspects to this golf course like bentgrass 007 greens, zoysia fairways (your ball sits atop this grass so sweetly), and a family-friendly par three/driving range combo. There are also Appalachian craftsman-style homes, just now being built, and a blue-ribbon trout stream (the Toccoa River) running along the entire length of the 416-acre property.

This golf course community is built with socializing in mind, including fire pits with golf course views, plans for bocce courts adjacent to the course, and “Nine and Dine” mixed couples golf events. But it’s the quality of the course itself that’s most striking.

Stunning lush undulating fairways, challenging roughs, and perfect greens are obvious, but management encourages players not to be intimidated, but instead to choose appropriate tee boxes suited to their level of play and to play smart. Two seven irons to a 100-yard approach might be preferable to trying for a full carry over hazards on a tempting Par 5. Golfers appreciate it. One player, who said he and his group have played all over the country, and internationally, called Old Toccoa Farm the most rewarding golf course he’d ever played.  He must have had a good round!

Dreaming of Golf

Want to stay on or in close proximity to this fantastic course? We have some fantastic cabin selections for you to consider:

Ambleside

Ambleside rests on a hillside in a secure, gated community eight miles from downtown Blue Ridge, between the 7th and 8th holes of the top-rated Old Toccoa Farm golf course, overlooking the fairway and the Toccoa River below. The cabin’s impressive exterior embraces Appalachian architecture, mixing poplar bark, cedar, rusty tin and reclaimed materials, strategically situated to accentuate the long-range views of the Cohutta Wilderness and fabulous, fiery sunsets. Inside, the spacious, professionally decorated home features soaring ceilings, five comfortable bedrooms, a game room, and of course Old Toccoa Farm golf privileges at member discounted rates.

Legend

Staying at Legend is like having an entire five-star resort all to yourself. This luxury log cabin is truly in a class of its own. It’s built from handcrafted Douglas-fir logs and each spacious room presents incredible attention to detail with cathedral ceilings, arched doorways, sumptuous furnishings, stylish fixtures, and every amenity you desire to relax in complete luxury. This cabin features 6 bedrooms, a game room, a media room for private cinema screenings, and Old Toccoa Farm golf membership privileges at discounted rates. A stay at this peaceful and elegant retreat is just the start of what your special time here will mean for family and friends. Stories will be recounted for years to come, and the memories will be legendary.

Chestnut Lodge

At Chestnut Lodge, you will breathe a sigh of nostalgia, gently releasing the present-day stress. The home sits serenely over miles of pastoral fields nestled in between the rolling mountains. Chestnut Lodge is a 5-bedroom 3.5 bath and is a place of true relaxation and one that fulfills the longing of old comforts with a renewed feeling of today. The open floor plan is perfect for gatherings, but Chestnut Lodge has lovingly appointed corners with furnishings that invite you to your own personal time. A home theater, game room, and hot tub ensure your entire group a wide variety of entertainment. This splendid home is conveniently located in the Morganton area of Blue Ridge and is close to Lake Blue Ridge and Old Toccoa Farm Golf Course.

Fall is Prime Time to go to Blue Ridge



Guest Blog by Blake Guthrie as written for the AJC (Atlanta Journal & Constitution).

The Cabin

Photo Courtesy of Blake Guthrie

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.”

The Approach

Photo Courtesy of Blake Guthrie

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.

The Train

Photo courtesy of @chusion

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.

McCaysville

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.

Piano Bar

Photo Courtesy of The Black Sheep

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.

Breweries

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.

Photo Courtesy of Bear Claw Vineyards

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.

Apple Country

Photo Courtesy of Mercier Orchards

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!

Photo Courtesy of Blake Guthrie

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.

If You Go

Blue Ridge is 92 miles north of Atlanta.

What to see

Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. $35 and up. 241 Depot St., Blue Ridge. 877-413-8724, brscenic.com

R&A Orchards. 5505 Hwy. 52 East, Ellijay. 706-273-3821, www.randaorchards.com

Where to stay

Escape to Blue Ridge. Cabins $140-$1,800 per night. 866-618-2521, www.escapetoblueridge.com.

Blue Ridge Treehouse. $234 and up. 2555 Tennis Court Road, Blue Ridge. 706-223-3750, blueridgetreehouse.com.

Where to Eat

Burra Burra on the River. $11 and up. 100 Blue Ridge Drive, McCaysville. 706-400-6660, www.burraburraontheriver.com.

Black Sheep Restaurant. $20 and up. 480 W. Main St., Blue Ridge 706-946-3663, www.blacksheepblueridge.com.

Visitor Info

Blue Ridge Welcome Center. 152 Orvin Lance Drive. 800-899-6867, www.blueridgemountains.com.

Ellijay Welcome Center. 10 Broad St. 706-635-7400, www.gilmerchamber.com.

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!

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



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

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

Blue Smoke World Famous BBQ

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

Ribs at Blue Smoke BBQ

Fightingtown Tavern

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

Megadeath at Fightingtown Tavern

Boat Dock Bar & Grill

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

The Bar at the Boat Dock Bar & Grill

Three Cheers for Dad!

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

Grumpy Old Men Brewery

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

Pick your flavor at Grumpy Old Men Brewery

Blue Ridge Brewery

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

Peanuts, brew, & Music at Blue Ridge Brewery

Fannin Brewing Company

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

Fresh Craft Beer at Fannin Brewing Company

Go Fish

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

Look at that trout caught with Fly Fish Blue Ridge!

Hit the Links

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

Old Toccoa Golf Course

Get Extreme!

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

A happy Dad at Zipline Canopy Tours of Blue Ridge

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

Hello June!



There is nothing like sweet summertime in the mountains! Lounging on the lake by day and sitting around the fire pit in the evening. Hiking up to waterfalls or splashing down a river. Exploring downtown or exploring nature. However you vacation, you’ll be happy to Escape to Blue Ridge for your summer getaway!

Upcoming Events & Activities

Downtown Market Blue Ridge
June 1 – August 31
LOCATION: Downtown Blue Ridge

Local produce, handmade arts and crafts, baked goods and more! What better way to usher in June, the summer and the growing season! Every Saturday throughout the summer, vendors will set up in front of the Courthouse from 8am until “Noon-ish”. 

Union County Farmers Market
June 1 – October 26
LOCATION: Old Smokey Road, Blairsville

Artisans, beekeepers, bakers, potters, painters, and more gather every Saturday morning starting at 7am to display and sell their wares. Home grown and handmade is their promise, which comes with freshness, quality, flavor and variety!

Namaste and Cabernet
June 1 – October 26
LOCATION: Bear Claw Vineyards

The perfect combination – yoga, followed by wine tasting at a vineyard with a view. Ashlee Lofton leads the yoga class, beginning at 10:45 and then there’s a moment of reflection before moving on to Bear Claw’s Grizzly Tasting. OMMM & AHHH.  Nothing better!  

LUNGevity Move to the Groove Concert
June 1
LOCATION: Mercier Orchards

Help raise funds and awareness for lung cancer at LUNGevity. The concert starts at 6pm with music by Kharisma Jazzmatic Funk, a 10-piece jazz/funk band covering a variety of genres, including Motown, smooth jazz, classic rock and country. Admission is $20. 

Blue Ridge Brewery
June 1 – 15
LOCATION: Blue Ridge Brewery

One of downtown Blue Ridge’s finest restaurants and night spots! With an operating brewery at its core, for optimal fresh beer, this place has a fun-with-your-friends vibe and a reputation for bringing great music to the stage!

June 1 – The Highbeams
June 7 – Shannon York and Rob Harper
June 15 – Gopher Broke

Live Music at The Blue Coyote
June 1 – 29
LOCATION: The Blue Coyote

The Blue Coyote is known for their live music and entertainment. While you’re there you can enjoy their tasty bar food and a whole bunch of beer! They even have a dog-friendly patio! Stop by, check it out, and enjoy the music!

June 1 – Bottoms Up Band
June 7 – Topper
June 8 – Southern Vantage
June 14 – Steven Phillips & The Midnight Express 
June 15 – The Bone Daddy’s
June 22 – Breaking Point
June 28 – Azus!
June 29 – BEATS Workin’ 

Cartecay Vineyards
June 1 – 30 
LOCATION: Cartecay Vineyards

Looking for a serene setting on the hillsides near Ellijay with twisty grapevines, a fireplace with outdoor seating (including a statuesque still-standing chimney, which is the winery’s icon), and live music on weekends? Come out to Cartecay Vineyards!

June 1 – Dom Weir
June 2 – Tommy Joe Conner 
June 8 – Man Bites Dog
June 9 – Robert Ferguson
June 15 – Timothy O’Donovan
June 16 – Buck & Oz
June 22 – Rose Brown
June 23 – Surrender Hill
June 29 – Travis Bowlin
June 30 – Scott Stambaugh

Gail Bliss and the Nashville Barn Dance
June 6 
LOCATION: Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds

If you like songs by famous country stars like Patsy Cline, Ray Price, Merle Haggard, Tammy Wynette and George Jones, you’re going to love Gail Bliss and the Nashville Barn Dance! Gail has actually played Patsy Cline in a hit musical that spans Patsy’s career. If you enjoy fiddle and steel guitar, don’t miss this concert!

Seniors Fishing Rodeo
June 6 
LOCATION:
Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery

The definition of “senior” these days is 55 or older, so if you fit that description, this event is free! All you have to do is bring fishing gear and bait and you can fish for beautiful rainbow trout in Rock Creek. The event starts at 9am and continues to noon.

Appalachian Weaving of a Market Basket
June 7 – 8
LOCATION: The Arts Center

The art of weaving a market basket is not only truly art, and an admirable avocation, it is also pretty darn practical, if you’re planning a trip to a farmers market anytime soon. Plus you learn about historical uses, designs and materials that were used years ago in Appalachian culture. 

An American Story & Bergonzi String Quartet
June 7 – 8
LOCATION: Blue Ridge Community Theater

An American play, accompanied by the Bergonzi String Quarter is a wonderful mix of theater and concert to tell the story of a modern couple living in Appalachia, tracing their families’ story through letters saved from the 1800’s. 

Grumpy Old Men Brewery
June 7 – 8
LOCATION: Grumpy Old Men Brewery

Great beer (18 beers on tap), a fun atmosphere and a stellar philosophy (delicious beer, dog-friendly, people tolerated). Plenty of craft beers, including those brewed in the brewery, and lots of live music! It’s one of those places that locals like!

June 7 – Gerry Herndon
June 14 – Lindsay Beth Harper
June 21 – Highbeams
June 28 – Gregg Erwin

Boat Dock Bar & Grill
June 7 – 8
LOCATION: Boat Dock Bar & Grill

You can’t get a better venue or greater acoustics than right on the lake. With delicious food and jamming tunes, you’ll love the atmosphere and entertainment at the Boat Dock Bar & Grill at the Lake Blue Ridge Marina!

June 8 – Gopher Broke
June 21 – Buck & Oz
June 22 – David Welch Unplugged
June 23 – Gopher Broke

Blairsville Scottish Festival & Highland Games
June 7 – 8
LOCATION: Meeks Park, Blairsville

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! 

Kids Fishing Rodeo
June 8
LOCATION: Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery

First of all, it’s not a rodeo – so don’t expect horses and cowboys. It’s another kind of rodeo, where kids gather up and fish for fun at a hatchery with a lot of fish. You see what you’re about to catch, and then you catch ‘em. It’s fun and enormously rewarding when you see the look on a child’s face as he or she catches their first fish!

Solar Astronomy Day at Brasstown Bald
June 8
LOCATION: Brasstown Bald

The great thing about looking at the sun in an observatory is you don’t have to stay up late at night, like you do when you’re trying to catch a glimpse of a planet or two through a telescope. Looking directly into the sun is highly not advised, but the Brasstown Bald astronomy people have tools for that. They just recommend you wear a fair amount of sunscreen, since elevation equals an increase in the sun’s rays intensity and Brasstown is Georgia’s highest point at 4,784 feet.  You’ll learn a lot, and it’s free, just the cost of admission to the park. This event aligns with Junior Explorers Day also on June 8. 

Lake Blue Ridge Concert Series
June 8
LOCATION: Morganton Point

Come out for the first in a series of live concerts at a great outdoor venue on the shores of Lake Blue Ridge. You have access options – come by boat and anchor in Morganton Cove, or carpool and park on Lakeshore Drive. The lineup of artists include Buck & Oz, Kurt Thomas Band, and it all starts with Jacob Davis Martin at 5pm.

Blairsville Pro Rodeo
June 8
LOCATION: Union County Saddle Club

A real rodeo straight out of the Wild West – with plenty of action, rumbles and tumbles and opportunities to see bronc riding, roping and barrel racing. Always held on the third weekend of June, this rodeo has become one of the most popular in North Georgia. 

Blue Ridge Mountains Wine & Jazz Festival
June 8
LOCATION: Mercier Orchards

It’s hard to beat hot jazz, good wine and stunning mountain views, but add in the setting: in the middle of Georgia’s largest orchard, and you have a wonderful recipe for a great day! Bring a blanket or lawn chairs and get ready for the Rhythm Jets, Cadillac Jones and Kharisma Jazzmatic Funk to perform. And wine – did we mention wine? 

Appalachian Trail Day – A Day in the Life (of the Appalachian Trail)
June 8
LOCATION: Brasstown Bald

Yes, there’s the Wild West.  But this event asks that we don’t forget there’s also a Wild East and a lot of it is along a narrow, 2,000-mile strip of hiking trail known as the Appalachian Trail.  Each year thousands hike sections of the trail and some try to thru-hike it. It’s sometimes hard to imagine the challenges, hardships and rewards of that journey, but this Day in the Life attempts to capture a slice of that.  

New Homes Added to Our Program

Hilltop Hideaway

You have a lot of choices when deciding where and how to spend your vacation, and it can be overwhelming. But if you want magnificent architecture, and first class amenities in a secluded setting less than five miles from downtown Blue Ridge, look no further than Hilltop Hideaway. Truly spectacular inside and out, this Blue Ridge cabin rental is the perfect relaxing retreat to enjoy with family and friends. Located on a mountain with wraparound decks to showcase the view from every angle, the cabin is the epitome of rustic elegance, with plenty of country charm and a relaxed, welcoming ambiance.

Above The Blue

Aptly named for its perfectly situated location above the Blue Ridge Mountains and Lake Blue Ridge, the North Georgia cabin rental Above the Blue is all about its million-dollar view. Breathtaking, magnificent, and stunning are words you might use to describe its spectacular sunrise-to-sunset picture postcard vistas, if you’re not rendered completely speechless by nature’s beauty. This private, wooded oasis is convenient to popular attractions like Falls Creek Falls, the Swinging Bridge on the Toccoa River, and of course Lake Blue Ridge, and the shops and restaurants of Blue Ridge are just five miles away. Constructed of the finest pine and furnished in modern rustic style, the tri-level cabin is warm and inviting, the perfect place to relax, unwind and enjoy a carefree experience with friends and family.

BUCKingham Palace

What qualities do you crave most in a mountain vacation? Is it the peace, quiet and serenity your daily life lacks, the magnificent beauty of unspoiled nature, or experiencing all the fun and adventure the Georgia Mountains have to offer? At the Blue Ridge cabin rental BUCKingham Palace, you can have all of the above, and so much more. Located on more than an acre in the heart of the Aska Adventure Area just 10 miles from downtown Blue Ridge, this serene woodland oasis replaces asphalt with lush forest greenery and traffic noise with the sound of a nearby waterfall. Here, you’ll have privacy, tranquility, and a sense of calm that allows you to leave the world behind.

In Case You Missed It

To many in this neck of the woods, Bigfoot (aka Sasquatch, Yowie and Yedi) isn’t just a 20th-century folk legend. The first recorded sighting of him here in Fannin County was June 26, 1873. Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest has long been known as a hotbed for Bigfoot activity amongst the Bigfoot research community. And if you think that those who have an interest in this mysterious creature are just a little bit left of center, take into consideration that the famed anthropologist and highly regarded scientist Jane Goodall has said of Sasquatch beings, “I’m fascinated by them and would actually love them to exist”. This reddish-brown hairy creature is reportedly about 8 feet in height and his alleged footprints that have been found all across the globe suggesting he has a 24-inch long foot that measures 8 inches across. To put that into some perspective, NBA giant  Shaquille O’Neal is 7’1” and the length of his foot measures 15 inches. Keep Reading.

Shining the Spotlight on Mercier Orchards



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Great Town, Great Events!



MARK YOUR CALENDAR, IT’S AN ANNUAL THING!

Some communities are fortunate to have county fairs in their backyards or a state fair within an hour’s drive or two – so when it comes to deep-fried anything outrageous (Krispy Kreme Burgers, deep-fried butter, python kabobs, etc), or a carnival ride or two, it’s available – at least once or twice a year.

Then there are communities known far and wide as festival towns. You don’t even have to ask if there’s anything going on, or fun things to do during the week and on the weekends – because there always is, and you’re not limited to crazy cuisine on a stick, octo-dogs, chocolate-covered bacon (yummo, by the way) or funnel cakes. Sometimes healthy food and fitness is the central theme, and you might actually lose weight rather than gain a pound or two.

Blue Ridge is one of those special towns where there’s always something going on – it’s a festival town, but also a destination for events – big ones and small ones – some tied to traditional holidays and some that have been created with care by locals who are passionate about books, music, the outdoors, or the arts.

A listing of festivals and events in Blue Ridge usually begins at the beginning – in January – but the beginning of the summer season starts with Memorial Day, when the pools are filled, the boat motor is tuned up and wineries and restaurants typically return to extended hours. So, let’s start with that.

Spring Arts in the Park – Memorial Day Weekend – May 25 & 26

Location: Downtown Blue Ridge City Park
Host: Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association

Photo Courtesy of the Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association

Arts in the Park is not just a spring kickoff to the festival season in Blue Ridge, another Arts in the Park brings things to a close in October. In both instances, artists and artisans, including musicians, fill the expansive Blue Ridge Downtown City Park with activities, performances and even some dancing. More than 200 juried art, craft and food booths are featured. This event is recognized as one of the Top 20 Events by the Southeastern Tourism Society. The Festival is held rain or shine. Pets are welcome as long as they are leashed and well-behaved. Weekend Admission: Adults $5 and children 12 and under are free!

Ride the Rails Festival – June 22 & 23

Location: Mineral Bluff Depot
Host: Tri-County Railroaders

Photo Courtesy of Shanna Beavers

You’ve seen ‘em, although you may not have known what you were seeing, railroad motor cars. They were used to monitor track conditions along stretches of railways. During a two-day Ride the Rails festival weekend, you’ll have a chance to actually ride in one in a five-mile round trip from the Mineral Bluff Depot, through the historic Iron Bridge and over the beautiful Toccoa River and back.  The trip begins (and ends) at the Mineral Bluff Depot, where there’s also a scale model railroad, built and maintained by the Tri-County Railroaders. Food and beverage will also be available. For railroad enthusiasts, and the intellectually curious, this is an event not to be missed!

Blue Ridge Mountains Wine & Jazz Festival – June 22

Location: Merciers Orchards
Host: Blue Ridge Mountains Wine and Jazz Festival

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Wine and Jazz Festival

Blue Ridge is becoming (if it isn’t already) a cultural tourism destination. That means wine, of course, and music. The wine will come from around the world, including those made locally in North Georgia and North Carolina and all you have to bring is a blanket or a few lawn chairs. Set wine, hard cider and some groove music against the gorgeous mountain backdrop of Merciers Orchards, and you have a classy and cultural event.

Independence Day – 4th of July Parade & Fireworks – Saturday Closest to July 4th

Locations: Downtown Blue Ridge, Lake Blue Ridge and McCaysville
More Information: Fannin County Chamber of Commerce

Photo Courtesy of Teresa Foster Bidez

It’s the ideal 4th of July weekend package: Independence day in a small patriotic town that also likes it’s fun and a beautiful lake to provide the perfect backdrop for fireworks. Blue Ridge’s Independence Day parade is a “blast” You will have a ball seeing floats that show creativity and a good sense of humor.  The Fabulous Fireworks will be shot off near the Lake Blue Ridge Dam and can be viewed from there as well as Morganton Point Recreation Area, Tammen Park and Lake Blue Ridge Marina. The marina will have live music and barbecue throughout the day. And if it’s an old-fashioned 4th that appeals to you, the small town Independence Day celebration in McCaysville is just the thing, featuring an impressive fireworks display from Tater Hill in downtown McCaysville-Copperhill. Here’s a thought – ride the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway to the fireworks for a totally unique Independence Day experience on July 5.  

Blue Ridge Kiwanis Rodeo – August 17 & 18

Location: Kiwanis Fairgrounds in Blue Ridge
Host: Blue Ridge Kiwanis

Photo Courtesy of Rick Young

The Wild Wild West has nothin’ on Blue Ridge. Every August, for the last 22 years, you would swear (but please don’t) that you have landed in Laramie, Wyoming or Tucson, Arizona, because Georgia’s red clay is being pulverized to dust by broncs and bulls. This is a classic western style rodeo, complete with bull riding, saddle bronc riding, calf roping, bareback, steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing and special events. There’s great food and fun for all ages!

Plein Aire Festival – September 5-8

Location: Horse Creek Stable Rescue Sanctuary
Host: Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association

It sometimes takes a while to recognize and realize what’s happening in a town or out in the country, when you see artists standing stock still in front of easels and canvases, recreating a visual or a vista. When you approach the artist you can see what they see – beautiful mountains, or unique downtown scenes you may not have noticed (but they have – they’re artists, after all). If you peer over their shoulder you’ll see that these images are being captured in watercolors or charcoals or any number of arts mediums. It’s all part of an arts event that brings artists from across the region to Blue Ridge to capture the scenic beauty of this mountain community. Artists from across the southeast are encouraged to get outside and recreate nature’s beauty!

Blue Ridge Blues & BBQ Festival – September 14 & 15

Location: Downtown Blue Ridge
Host: The Blue Ridge Lodging Association

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Blues & BBQ Festival

One rule of thumb in the events realm is anything that starts with a crawl is going to be a good thing! So, the Blue Ridge Blues & BBQ Festival starts with a Blues Crawl on Friday night, followed by great blues and barbecue on Saturday. So, what is a Blues Crawl?  Well, it’s kind of a meander through eight different restaurants, enjoying live music, food and drink, kicking off the Blues Weekend in the mountains. Then on Saturday it’s on to the blues and barbecue portion of the festivities with barbecue smells from local and regional cookers filling the air downtown and blues musicians performing from stages set around Blue Ridge City Park.

Fall Foliage Train Rides – October to November

Location: Downtown Blue Ridge Historic Train Depot
Host: Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

And winter, and spring and summer… The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway is an icon in downtown Blue Ridge, and all along the line to McCaysville and back. You can enjoy the brilliant colors of fall on a special train ride during October and early November or you can ride during the winter, spring or summer seasons as well! Learn about this region’s history along the way and you will have a deeper understanding about the beauty of this incredible part of the country!

Paws in the Park – 2nd Weekend of October

Location: Downtown Blue Ridge
Host: Humane Society of Blue Ridge

Photo courtesy of Humane Society of Blue Ridge

This is the perfect annual event for pet lovers! You can have a great time with your pets and get a few critical things done that need to be done before the end of fall, like a rabies vaccine at the rabies clinic and/or micro-chipping. Other pet friendly events include a pet parade, 5K race, pet education and demonstrations, a costume contest, prizes, photos and more for a fun day with your favorite pet!

Blue Ridge Fall Fest Arts & Crafts Show – 3rd and 4th Weekend in October

Location: Blue Ridge Farmers Market
Host: Fannin County Fire Explorers

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Farmers Market

Fall Fest features local arts, crafts, food and fun on two separate October weekends! This event has historically been called the Homemakers Fall Festival, but the event has stretched to include artisans as well as heritage crafts and food vendors. Come out to the Blue Ridge Farmers Market and experience the best in mountain creations.

Halloween Safe Zones – October 31

Location: Downtown Blue Ridge and McCaysville
Host: Blue Ridge Business Association

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Business Association

There’s nothing better than seeing the excitement that surrounds a group of kids all dressed up for Halloween and ready to head out to an early evening of trick-or-treating. The only thing better is knowing that where they’re going is safe. Kids of all ages get to trick or treat from shop to shop in downtown Blue Ridge and McCaysville. Pumpkin carving, costume contests, food, and entertainment are also part of the evening festivities!

Holiday Art Show & Sale, Light Up Blue Ridge & Hometown Christmas – Each November-December

Location: Downtown Blue Ridge, McCaysville, & Copperhill
More Information: Fannin County Chamber of Commerce

Photo Courtesy of Light Up Blue Ridge

Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association sponsors a regional arts and crafts event where you can shop for regional art and crafts at the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association from Thanksgiving through Christmas. Downtown Blue Ridge and Downtown McCaysville hold their Christmas festival on the day after Thanksgiving with music, refreshments, caroling and all-day activities. Official lighting of the Christmas tree in downtown Blue Ridge takes place at dusk and then Santa arrives! Santa’s arrival, food, refreshments and entertainment and the lighting of the bridge all are on the agenda that same night in McCaysville. 

AND SO BEGINS 2020 …

Fire and Ice Chili Cookoff – President’s Day Weekend

Location: Downtown Blue Ridge
Host: Blue Ridge Business Association

Photo Courtesy of Fire and Ice Chili Cook-Off

Is it really cold enough in Blue Ridge, Georgia in February to hold an ice carving competition? Yup.  It is – so bundle up. But you also have to be prepared for the heat – the heat of homemade chili that comes in all kinds of flavors and a range of hotness. The contrast of cool and hot also perfectly describes the weekend festivities that kick off the festival season. The event is cool – attracting thousands to City Park in downtown Blue Ridge and the ice sculptures are hot with a wide range of ideas and images that emerge from a block of ice. The event in 2020 will be the eighth annual, and it continues to grow every year!

Annual Blue Ridge Writers Conference – Early April

Location: Downtown Blue Ridge
Host: Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association Art Center

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Writers’ Conference

Writers write – that’s what they do. But writing is a solitary pursuit and sometimes writers just have to get together to compare notes and chat about what they do and how they do it. The annual Writers Conference is a literary tradition and unique cultural asset enjoyed by our many writers and aspiring writers each Spring as they gather in Blue Ridge to learn more about their special craft.

Blue Ridge Trout Fest & Outdoor Adventures  – Last Weekend in April

Location: Downtown Blue Ridge
Host: Blue Ridge Mountain Trout Unlimited #696 and the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Trout Festival

There are a lot of trout in Georgia. They are stocked, and caught, and eaten in large numbers. There are also several trout festivals designed to help anglers learn about and appreciate one of America’s favorite fish – the trout. But there is only one Official Trout Festival in the state of Georgia – and this is it. The festival includes great exhibits by outdoor organizations and businesses, education on trout fishing, entertainment, food trucks and more in downtown Blue Ridge’s City Park. 

Where To Stay?

Summit Escape

And as always, when you are looking to Escape to Blue Ridge, we have your best mountain accommodations. From cozy two bed cabins to massive six bedroom lodges. Not only can you enjoy festivals, but there is always live music in town, great shops to explore and fabulous restaurants to enjoy. When you’ve had enough “people” time, escape to nature and explore all the natural beauty that surrounds us. You’ll be happy you did.

Salsa or Sushi?



Even though a trip to the mountains hints at a hankering for sausage gravy slathered over big fluffy biscuits, with a side of smoked baby backs and a dish of collards with ham hocks, you will find lots of exceptional cuisines that aren’t best washed down with sweet tea and a to-go container of banana pudding.

Here are some of the restaurants that are within a 35 mile drive of Blue Ridge that will more than satisfy your craving for either salsa or sushi:

The Rum Cake Lady Cuban Café

Photo Courtesy of the Rum Cake Lady

Yes, Miss Elizabeth is best known for her four different varieties of Rum Cakes which she ships all across the globe from her mountain bakery. But those who are fortunate enough to have eaten at one of her two café establishments know that it’s just as much about the true Cuban cuisine, not just the cakes. With two locations to serve you, the downtown Blue Ridge Café is similar to a Cuban walk-up window, or “La Ventanita”. When after a morning of hiking or tubing, you are hungry and you don’t want to shower before a hearty lunch – this is the ideal place to visit. 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. A guava and cheese pastelitos or a caramel flan with a café con leche is not a problem on your diet. After all,  you are on vacation. Oh, and grab a couple of rum cakes for those you left back at home. Located at: 205 First St. Blue Ridge GA & 111 Ocoee St. Copperhill TN.

Asiano

Images courtesy of Asiano

When the urge for Asian cuisine hits, there always seems to be an issue with which style will you treat yourself tonight. Will it be sushi or Thai? Japanese Steakhouse or Chinese? And rarely will two people agree, much less a family of four. This is when to head straight up the 515 corridor to the beautiful lakeside town of Hiawassee.

For the past two decades, Koo and his family have been serving great food and even entertainment, as the personable hibachi chefs show off their superior knife skills around the large griddles of the Japanese Steakhouse side of the restaurant. The menu for each style of Asian fare is quite extensive, with all food fresh and sauces made in house. Whether it’s their traditional sweet and sour soup or their untraditional Philly cheesesteak eggroll, you won’t be disappointed with the number of options to satisfy that Asian craving.  Located at 1382 Hwy 76 (515) Hiawassee, GA.

Las 2 Hustecas

Photo Courtesy of Las 2 Hustecas

You won’t need your passport, but this Mexican food is so authentic, you’ll have wondered if you crossed the border and stumbled into a small village cantina. There are often two sure signs that a Mexican restaurant serves top-notch authentic cuisine. Yes to both at Las 2 Hustecas. A good percentage of the clientele is Hispanic and the best chefs in the region are often seen eating here on their nights off.

Rated nearly five stars on every online review service, the reviewers consistently mention that they were served the BEST guacamole, the biggest burritos, the smallest seating (so expect to wait or opt for takeout) and the highest quality fresh food, all at ridiculously low prices (there’s a breakfast menu, too). In fact, the main complaint from out of town visitors is they don’t have Mexican food this good when they go back home. Located in a little strip center, no frills 4114 E. Main St.  Blue Ridge, GA.

Kizuna Sushi & Noodle

Photo Courtesy of Kizuna Sushi & Noodle

The newest restaurant to join the Blue Ridge culinary scene has opened to rave reviews. An authentic Japanese and Sushi House, Kizuna is an elegant restaurant that serves what one reviewer called “Japanese street food”. The sushi is raw and skillfully crafted. No California rolls here. This is true sashimi. Then they turn your idea of ramen noodles upside down with so many options to choose from for your Japanese bowls. The tempura is light with a variety of vegetables and seafood to tempt you to order fried. The pork dumplings have also won critical reviews.

Check out their menu before deciding to order take-out. The freshest items like sushi and Udon noodles will only be served in-house. Kizuna serves beer, wine and a nice selection of sake. Located at 140 Progress Cr. Suite 3 Blue Ridge GA

Where Do I Find Souvenirs?



This is often the toughest chore on any vacation.  There will be someone who was left at home that wishes they had been able to escape to the mountains with you. Bringing them home a little something special might just take the sting out of having been left behind. Here are a few downtown shops that make this task a pleasure, though they can’t be held responsible if you should purchase trinkets for yourself, as well!

Shopping for the Outdoor Enthusiast?

If a river runs through the heart of your special someone, then they might be (or wish they were) a fly fisherman. Fly Shop Co. of Blue Ridge has a sizeable collection of locally tied flies, as well as all the enviable apparel and gear. This shop knows how to bait you, now it is up to you to decide what you want to net. Visit their retail shop at 11 Mountain St. #4.

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Knife Company

The art of bladesmithing was developed thousands of centuries ago. The Egyptians used wrought iron in the production of swords and knife blades as early as 3000 BC. Blue Ridge Knife Company has one of the largest and finest selections of artisan and utility knives that can be found in the southeastern United States. Whether you are shopping for a hunter or fisherman, a steak lover, a bread baker or a savvy collector, you must not miss a visit to this shop located at 497 East Main St.

What to Buy the Artist or Art Connoisseur….

There are art galleries that display breathtaking works that go far beyond your souvenir budget, but Multitudes Gallery is not one of them. This eclectic shop, at 723 E. Main St., retails the works of many local and regional award-winning and collectible artists, yet everything you begin to covet is actually affordable. A hand-blown wine glass, a mosaic serving plate, a fabric covered lamp, a giant metal sculptured red ant or an antique jeweled photo frame are part of an incredible collection of works that will have you asking what their shipping policy might be, for you may not have enough trunk space to take all these works of art back home with you.

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association

So many of the artists featured in the local galleries are members and contributors to the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association, located at 420 W. Main St. The Arts Center has a wonderful collection of original works for sale, as well as prints, cards, and an art book library. If you are shopping for an aspiring artist, the center also has a wonderful selection of fine art supplies, the ideal gift to encourage someone to pursue their talents.

Shopping for the Porch Sitters can be a challenge.

Not everyone in your life wants to paint like Monet or fish for Moby Dick. Some of them just like to sit on the porch and observe Mother Nature at her finest, or read about the wonders of the world and the people who have evolved around it.

Blue Ridge Booksellers is what book stores should always be about. Allow yourself plenty of time to peruse this remarkable inventory of collectible, rare and antiquarian books for sale. In addition, there are great books that kids will love. The Booksellers, at 691 E. Main St., also has a unique inventory of militaria and maps.

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Bird Seep Company

One doesn’t have to be a life long member of the Audubon Society to enjoy birdwatching. When doing it from the porch, it does help to entice these feathered friends with food, lodging and a place to bathe. Blue Ridge Bird Seed Company is second to no other mercantile in this region when it comes to such an inventory.  You can visit the Bird Seed Company at 611 E Main St. They are open 7 days a week.

And for the “just bring me a t-shirt” person on your list…

Well, not just any t-shirt will do, right?  If you want it to say, Blue Ridge, you want to make a trip to The Blue Ridge Cotton Co. There you will be surrounded by high-quality cotton items including sweatshirts, hats, home accessories, and unique gifts. They also donate 1% of every purchase, every day, to a local charity. They are conveniently located at 550 East Main Street.

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Cotton Company

One of the first questions everyone will ask you when you return home from your cabin stay is, “did you see a bear?” We hope you have experienced a sighting or two, but to ensure that you don’t disappoint anyone, visit The Bear Store, (601 E. Main St. Suite 1) where everything is about the bears. Cute, friendly adorable and wearable ones, of course.

When you get home with your souvenir stash, we are sure you’ll be greeted with hugs of appreciation. They may also suggest you plan to bring them with you on your next visit. Here is a link to our larger cabins!