Masters of the Que



Throughout the South, BBQ reigns as the premier cuisine. Though Texas waves their 10 Gallon hats boasting that they are the king of the Que, few know that Georgia is where smokin’ meats all evolved. The word “barbecue” comes from the Caribbean word “barbacoa.” Originally, barbacoa wasn’t a way of cooking food, but the name of a wooden structure used by Taino Indians to smoke their food. In 1540 Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto’s expedition through Georgia came upon a deserted Taino camp and discovered meat left roasting on a barbacoa, the embers of the fire still warm.

Originally, usage of the verb barbecue meant “to preserve (meat) by drying or slowly roasting”; the meaning became closer to that of its modern usage as a specific cooking technique by the time Georgia was colonized. But barbecue isn’t just a verb, it’s also a noun. It’s something you attend, and going to a barbecue is one of the gatherings we Southenerners just can’t resist. So it’s not surprising that when one vacations here in the north Georgia mountains, BBQ  is the cuisine most sought out. 

Rembrandt, Picasso, and Warhol are all celebrated master artists, putting paint to canvas, yet yielding a different effect. Barbeque in the South is more than just the slow burn of meat, it’s a subculture with wide variations of techniques, seasonings, textures, and sauces.  With well over a dozen BBQ joints in a twenty-mile radius of Blue Ridge, we’ve chosen to highlight three different experiences, much like the three artists we mentioned. They are masters at the Que, but they are different.

Mike’s  Trackside BBQ

Photo Courtesy of Mike’s Trackside Bar-B-Que

If you agree that what makes the best restaurant experience is great food, atmosphere, and service, then Mike’s has you eating off his black checkered lined metal trays. With only 5 tables inside and 4 more on the porch, this tiny place packs a huge punch! Let’s talk about the atmosphere first. It starts with that 1939 Chevy pick up truck parked outside. Walk around it and imagine hauling around the dirt mountain roads of eighty years ago in this prize jalopy. This is just the beginning of your museum tour. The porch and the whole indoors is covered ceiling to floor with tons of fun historical memorabilia.

Mike’s Trackside Bar-B-Que 1939 Chevy

 If you can manage to take your attention away from the décor and turn it to the menu, you might find it difficult to decide what to order before they close.  With their meats selection, they more than have you covered. There’s the traditional smoked brisket, pulled pork and baby back ribs. Add smoked chicken wings, smoked sirloin, pulled chicken breast, and their famous all-beef “Kiolbassa”  and your decision becomes even tougher. 

Mike’s Trackside Bar-B-Que Brisket

Though the protein is usually the main event at a good BBQ, the sides complement the fare, and Mike’s has some very noteworthy offerings.  We recommend the Mountain Dew stewed apples with walnuts, an old fashion fresh-squeezed lemonade, and the Texas toast. Yes, even their Texas Toast is called out as the best in Trip advisor reviews.  All this is served up with a friendly, helpful staff, and if you decide to get it to-go (check out these picnic spots) you’ll find it will be packed up with TLC and everything you need to dig right in once you get to your destination.

Mike’s Trackside BBQ
Open Monday through Thursday 11-6 and Friday-Saturday 11-7. Closed Sundays.
3950 E First St, Blue Ridge, GA |(706) 258-2533

Carroll’s Barbeque

Up the hill and across from the Blue Ridge Post Office is a small, unassuming strip center. On the facia, in large block letters, it reads “ Carroll’s Barbeue”. The size of the letters matches the Que experience diners get here.  Walk inside and you’ll get the old country jive. Not only are the optics there, but you’ll get that smell of smoke rendering the fat that emanates from the real wood-fired pit, and the hunger pains spike the brain and you gotta have everything on the menu. 

3 Meat Combo Plate at Carroll’s Barbeque

This is some of the most tender and tasty of briskets you’ll find in these parts. The ribs are “fall off the bone” good!  They have pulled pork, pulled chicken, and smoked wings. But the one meat that they are legendary for is their smoked turkey, available on a plate, stuffed in a large sandwich or covering up a fresh salad for those who eat just a little lighter. They also have a few unique items on the menu that, when dining with a group, are great sharing treats. The BBQ Burrito (baked beans & shredded cheese in a flour tortilla, topped with Brunswick stew) is stuffed with your choice of pulled pork or pulled chicken. Then there’s “Tater Hill”. Carroll’s takes a large, classic baked potato, covers it in their white sauce, pile it mountain high with pulled pork, mac & cheese, baked beans, and coleslaw and then drizzles it with mild & sweet sauce.

Stuffed Potato at Carroll’s Barbeque

All servings are generous, as is the hospitality at Carroll’s. Only open on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday for lunch and dinner, you want to plan a trip here with plenty of time to chow down your main plate, and then rest up a little before you indulge in a couple of their famous desserts, including homemade banana pudding served warm with a meringue topping or their show stopper, the Skillet Brownie Sundae. 

Carroll’s Barbeque
Open Thursday, Friday and Saturday 11am – 8pm
39 Lance St., Blue Ridge, | GA 706-946-1126

The Pink Pig

Combination Plate at The Pink Pig

This smokehouse has been an institution in these mountains for over 50 years, and it is still cared for daily by the family of Granddaddy Holloway who first manned the smokers. Just down the road from Blue Ridge, in Cherry Log, GA, The Pink Pig stands out from the roadside. The Pink is not a subtle hue, but then every artist has its shade. And speaking of shade, The Pink Pig is one of our favorite places to outdoor dine, especially with kids. Lots of places to spread out as a family while eating succulent ribs with sauce all of your face and fingers.

The Pink Pig’s Garlic Salad topped with Fried Chicken

The Pink Pig’s menu has some twists to it that you won’t find at many other  Que’s. They receive five-star reviews every day for their garlic salad (it’s the garlic brine the lettuce is soaked in- yet stays crunchy- they keep coming back to devour). You can get this salad veggie style or top it with grilled chicken, fried chicken, smoked pork, or brisket. Signature offerings like Bubba’s Brisket Nachos and SJ’s Brisket Tacos are the distinguishing brushstrokes that make this a Picasso of fine BBQ dining.  The entrée menu includes a mouth-watering Ribeye cooked perfectly on the grill. Sandwiches and burgers can be topped with peppers, mushrooms, and onions. We like that you have a choice in the size of your sandwich, too. Those with a hearty appetite won’t be disappointed. 

Apple Cobbler & Ice Cream at The Pink Pig

You might want to leave room for dessert because the Holloway family has a way with a cobbler that is served warm with a healthy scoop of vanilla ice cream all cuddled up next to that fresh seasonal fruit and topping. And note: they are open on Sundays and also stay open till 9 pm.

The Pink Pig
Open Thursday through Sunday 11am – 9pm
824 Cherry Log St. Cherry Log, GA | 706-276-3311

Your Furkids are Welcome Here



Bringing your dog with you on your Blue Ridge mountain vacation can enrich a trip in so many ways. You’ll meet and talk to dog-loving strangers who otherwise would have passed right by you. You’ll travel to dog-friendly parks and other places that wouldn’t ordinarily be on your itinerary. You’ll have a built-in reason to go outside, exercise and have fun. Most meaningfully, you’ll have your best friend at your side. We are glad that you and your four legged pooch have decided to stay with us, and we thought we’d take this opportunity to share some of Blue Ridge’s favorite canine and people friendly spots.

Let’s Get Our 20,000 Steps In

Photo Courtesy of @celine_celeste_great_danes

Fido isn’t wearing a Fitbit, but he does have twice as many legs that welcome the fresh air and exercise that come as a vacation bonus here in the foothills of the Appalachians. The Chattahoochee National Forest is dog-friendly. When combined with the Oconee National Forest, the Chattahoochee National Forest spans nearly 867,000 acres across 26 counties and features thousands of miles of clear streams and rivers, 850 miles of recreation trails, picnic areas, and areas rich in natural scenery, history, and culture. Hikers bringing their dogs on the trails must keep them under verbal or physical restraint at all times—using a leash in crowded areas is highly encouraged.

If your dog loves to socialize with her canine counterparts, then a visit to the Humane Society of Blue Ridge Dog Park is a must. An off leash park there offers both Big dog and Small Dog areas. There are toys to play with or you are welcome to bring your furkids favorite fetch toy. Clean up bags are provided, but you need to do the heavy lifting and disposal into the litter cans. The park is open sun-up till sun-down, 7 days a week.

Shopping is GRRRRReat

Watson greeting customers at Blue Ridge Cotton Company

Blue Ridge Cotton Company is a dog-friendly clothing store, located in downtown Blue Ridge. Inside the store, you’ll find an extensive pet section, including gifts, books, leashes in a variety of colors, treats, and more. There’s even more irresistible human stuff, too. Additionally, Blue Ridge Cotton Company donates one percent of every purchase to a number of animal charities in the local area.

If it’s a girls day out, then the two of you need to head over to Humble Pie Ladies Boutique. A pet-friendly ladies outfitter in Blue Ridge, the clothing they stock is Bohemian-style, unique, affordable and comfortable. Dogs are welcome to join you in the dressing room as you decide which flowing dress or headband best suits you.

Love Dogs and Cats Too is a pet-friendly store full of items for Fido and Fluffy. They stock everything from healthy treats and snazzy leashes to plush toys and comfy beds. Dogs are welcome inside to sniff out their birthday gift or drop some hints as to their favorite kind of toy to take home.

Drinking out of a bowl, frosted mug or goblet

Photo Courtesy of Bear Claw Vineyards & Winery

Eventually you and your pet are going to get thirsty. Though your four legged friend isn’t old enough to legally indulge in liquid spirits, he/she will still love to socialize with you as you test out some of the finest in craft beers and wines produced in our region. Hanging out on the patio seating at Grumpy Old Men’s Brewing will actually put you all in a good mood. Fannin Brewing Company is another favorite for Fido travelers and the Ale beer connoisseur on the other end of the leash. Just up the road from downtown Blue Ridge is Bear Claw Vineyards & Winery, a boutique farm winery with vineyards where production of handcrafted wines are offered in the tasting room which also includes a dog friendly patio. Salud!

This Movie Rates 5 Bones

Photo Courtesy of Kaysi and Grey Darrah

When was the last time you took your pooch to the movies? Here in Blue Ridge you can bring Chunky with you to catch Call of the Wild (or Lady and the Tramp if she’s into chick flicks) on the biggest screen she’s ever seen – at  the Swan Drive-in Theater. Screening since 1955, this drive-in features 1st run blockbusters & an old-school snack bar with burgers. You’ll love the nostalgia, your pet will dig the burger bar outdoor patio and you’ll both enjoy the movie.

French Fries to Fine Dining

Photo Courtesy of The Black Sheep

It’s vacation, and McDonalds isn’t going to do for either of you. It’s time to try new gourmet delights, something that didn’t come out of a can. Toccoa Riverside Restaurant, located in Blue Ridge, GA, is a casual eatery that serves up a variety of delicious American fare. Best known for their local trout dishes, it’s best not to mention to your pet that there is also catfish on the menu. Spot is welcome to join you at one of their pet-friendly outdoor tables while you enjoy your meal. (They even offer a special menu just for pups with options like hot dogs, burgers, chicken, rice, and more!) And there is live entertainment for your pet too, as they quack up watching the ducks waddling along the river bed. 

Photo Courtesy of Toccoa Riverside Restaurant

You don’t have to be a Polish Greyhound to enjoy the patio dining at Margo’s Gourmet Polish Kitchen. Margo makes everything fresh daily, and Cuddles will appreciate that she refers to her famous steamed weiners as sausages, not hot dogs. If you are both preferring something more like a pizza than a pierogi, upstairs from Margo’s is where Blue Jeans Pizza is located. Rated #1 Blue Ridge Pizza on Trip Advisor, this Italian-American eatery also serves up menu options like appetizers, salads, burgers, pizza, strombolis, calzones, subs, pasta, wraps, and more. And your furry bambino is welcome to join you at their outdoor patio seating.

When the palate calls for something more upscale or a certain date night ambience, then be sure to sniff out these two places. Harvest on Main has comfortable seating on their patio under the porch for both you and your furkid. Don’t share the menu though. Cuddles will have you ordering the Smoked Duroc Bone-In Pork Chop served with Red Skinned Garlic Mashed Potatoes & Pork Collard Greens, topped with Mushroom Ragout. Guess who wants the bone? 

And talk about the right canine atmosphere to indulge in culinary perfection, check out the 200 year old tree that Cuddles can rest under while you indulge in what’s been voted the best weekend brunch in Blue Ridge at The Black Sheep, just a short walk down Main Street. 

Did someone say walk?

7 Family Friendly Diners



In Blue Ridge there is an amazingly diverse, reasonably priced, restaurants designed with families in mind. It’s not all just chicken fingers, tater tots, and buffet lines. Dining out with children, especially if you’re on a budget, is tough. But if you approach things differently, and look at it more as a family outing, you will be much more satisfied, and to be honest, so will the kids.

You might be surprised by the variety. You might also be surprised at the way in which many restaurants have managed to cater to families’ needs, including recognizing that, with all there is to do in Blue Ridge, dining out is an important part. So, in addition to providing good food at a good price, their approach is more – “ya’ll take your time, enjoy your meal and plan your day”; or “don’t worry about a thing, we can move things along quickly to get you out there enjoying your day”.

In the end, it all comes down preferences and choices, and Blue Ridge has many choices to choose from. Sample traditional Southern cuisine, classic barbecue, or everyone’s favorite – pizza! The following is a list of tried & true places to go that your kids (and Mom) will like, but that won’t break the bank.

Southern Charm

Photo Courtesy of Southern Charm

What’s in a name? Well, quite a lot actually, when you can simply say what you are. Southern Charm is Southern and it is charming! But it’s location, in the heart of Blue Ridge, makes this a great starting spot that will appeal to all members of the family.

This is traditional family style dining, featuring Southern cooking in a casual setting. Biscuits and apple butter? Yup. Fried chicken? Of course. Collards? Need you ask? Expect to be called “honey” or “darlin” by the attentive staff. Reasonably priced and worth every penny!

Sue’s Burgers

Photo Courtesy of Sue’s Burgers

How can you be so bold as to pronounce, in large block letters, on the front and side of your building, on your website, and in your advertising that you have the “Best Burgers in Town”? Well, it seems when you have testimonial confirmations online, in local “best-ofs” and random people-on-the-street recommendations for where to go for a great burger, and it all comes back to “Sue’s Best Burgers in Town”. Sue’s is most loved for their crispy, crinkly fries and fabulous desserts.

Affordable? Yes. Fast food burger prices? Sue’s Burgers is the oldest restaurant in town, family owned and operated since 1976, and will settle for nothing less than the best in food quality, service, and friendliness!

The Trailer Drive-In

Photo Courtesy of the Trailer Drive-In

When was the last time you ate at a place that accepted cash-only? Now that is indeed old school. And this throwback Trailer Drive-In diner is old school. It’s actually exactly what you expect – delicious food, large portions, outdoor picnic table seating, monstrous breakfast biscuits, a chicken sandwich that can’t be beat, and ridiculously good sweet tea! This is one of those under-the-radar kind of places, but your kids will love it! They can be sloppy outside, if you decide to dine outside, and it’s decidedly dog-friendly.

Mystic Mountain Pizza

Photo Courtesy of Mystic Mountain Pizza

No list of family-oriented, affordable restaurants would be complete without the obligatory entry from the pizza category. In this case, Mystic Mountain is not your ordinary pizza joint. It comes with extra sauce – live music! Plus it’s Blue Ridge’s “grooviest pizza parlor”. But seriously, folks, Mystic Mountain is family-friendly, relaxed, trendy, and colorful. Oh, and by the way, they also have great pizza, cooked in oak-fired brick ovens, unique hot dogs (like a Deep South Texas Dog), and crazy tasty wings, plus sandwiches and salads. It’s a great place for a family to be laid back. Like totally, man.

Mike’s Trackside BBQ

Photo Courtesy of Mike’s Trackside BBQ

You knew we’d get there. You just knew it! After all, who doesn’t like barbecue? You are in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Georgia!! And you deserve some great barbecue. Which is why we are recommending Mike’s Trackside BBQ. Mike’s is another one of those tiny places with a big heart for food and great service. Although barbecue is in the name, you might want to be adventurous and try their extraordinary, fall-off-the-bone ribs or the chunked smoked chicken.

Mike’s is located exactly where it says it is – trackside. That doesn’t mean you can bet on the ponies from there. It means you’ll hear that lonely train whistle loud and clear, and you might even be inspired to load the family onto the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway after lunch for a ride that will be long-remembered.

Pete’s Place

This is an American-styled restaurant that’s rustic and homey, and it’s Southern enough to have great grits. We recommend you trying the delicious, locally-caught, and freshly-prepared trout, but any of their classic choices like chicken parmesan or pecan chicken salad will delight your palate. At Pete’s Place the prices are reasonable, the service is great, and not only do they welcome your children, but they also welcome your furbabies to dine on the patio!

Rum Cake Lady Cuban Café

Photo Courtesy of @gluten.freed

And now for something completely different. Okay, calm the kids. We’re gonna get a little crazy here. We’re moving off into something far, far away from hot dogs and brown beans. But we will survive, and maybe even thrive. Besides, the name of this restaurant has “cake” in it so that, kids, is a good thing, because, very likely, there is dessert at the end of this meal!

Indeed, the Blue Ridge rum cakes are amazingly delicious. But so are the sandwiches, plantain chips, and the Cuban food bowls. This is called adventure. Striking off into the wild Cuban yonder to discover new foods. Try it. You’ll like it!

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. 

From Field to Fork



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

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

Harvest On Main

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

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

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

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

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

The Sawmill Place

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Black Sheep



History, architecture, and flavor combine to bring you the most incredible Blue Ridge dining experience at The Black Sheep Restaurant. From the moment you walk up the marble steps, taking note of the pet friendly patio, and the door swings open to welcome you, there is no question that you are about to have a divine experience. From the attentive staff and thoughtful menu items, The Black Sheep is clearly not your average, ordinary run-of-the-mill dining establishment. It is in fact, an elevated, stylish, and classy restaurant that believes in fresh food that’s locally sourced and artfully prepared.

What to Expect

Expect your taste buds to do jumping jacks! Seriously, Executive Chef Greg Cornelius is an absolute master with his culinary talents and abilities.  He specializes in taking your favorite American fares and elevating them about twenty notches. For example, you may think a hamburger or meatloaf is an odd item to find in at fine dining restaurant, but once that first taste of meat crosses your lips, you will become a believer because it will be like no other you have ever tasted! Of course, you will find traditional upscale dishes like rack of lamb or duck breast but add a gorgonzola cream or gorgonzola polenta and we’ve just crossed the line from ordinary to extraordinary!

You know what else you can expect? A Raw Oyster Bar! That’s right, the only one you will find in Blue Ridge. You can choose classic on the half shell oysters or if raw is not your thing, they can be prepared Rockefeller style. On Wednesdays and Sundays, you can select the Three Course Dinner Special. For either $19.99 or $26.99 you can enjoy an appetizer, main course, and dessert! Oh, and we’re not done yet. Saturdays and Sundays now feature a decadent Brunch menu. From 12pm – 4pm you can feast on Crab Cake Benedict or Corned Beef Hash, but the Chicken and Red Velvet Waffle is so good it’ll make your tongue jump out and lick the eyebrows right off your head!

Dine on the Black Sheep’s Pet Friendly Patio!

Happy Hour

The Black Sheep features not one but two bars to enjoy craft cocktails, beer, and wine. In fact, their wine cellar is so superb that they have been recognized by Wine Spectator for their impressive selection of vino. Both the owner, Brandon Lofton, and the General Manager, Patrick, are sommeliers and can help you pair the perfect bottle with your menu selections.

Have you heard of the Blue Ridge Lavender Smash? Made with fresh blueberry, lavender, lemon & Sipsmith London Dry Gin, this refreshing cocktail is the hit of the season! You can order one at the inside bar or step out to the patio and enjoy an adult beverage on the largest outdoor bar in Blue Ridge. Here you can take in the sights and sounds of Downtown Blue Ridge while sampling the Bar Bites like Truffle French Fries or Tuna Nachos, watching the game, and chatting it up with both old friends and new.

Blue Ridge Lavender Smash!

Distinctively Unique

The Black Sheep has been historically known as a place to go for special occasions and while that is still true, their mission is to cater to the every day patron while making each dining experience special. Speaking of catering, you don’t have to be onsite to enjoy the gourmet flavors of The Black Sheep. Treat your corporate partners or family and friends to decadent eats for your meetings or festive celebrations. If you prefer the ambiance of the restaurant, you may choose to make use of one of two private rooms – The Wine Room or The Library Room for large parties, banquets or special events.

Photo courtesy of Candy Murdock-Hagerman’s Birthday Celebration!

Since we’re talking about events, The Black Sheep likes to mix things up and keep fresh ideas flowing along with their fresh cuisine. Last summer they premiered their Outdoor Movie Nights on the front patio under the big oak tree. This year not only will they host Movie Nights, but they will also add Yoga on the Patio. Just picture this: Brunch, Mimosas, Bloody Mary’s, and Yoga. Oh yeah!  Keep an eye on their Facebook and Instagram pages for all the latest happenings and upcoming events.

Beauty, Brains & Bayou

Deep in the bayou of Louisiana, a young chef took his passion for Cajun cooking and restaurant management to work for a large restaurant conglomerate in Southern Florida. By chance, Brandon Lofton found himself in an airport in Puerto Rico making conversation with a beautiful corporate executive, Ashlee, also from the Ft. Lauderdale area. Eventually they would marry and purchase a vacation home in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Brandon and Ashlee love the outdoor life – hiking, biking, and boating, but after one fateful trip, the whole game changed. The Lofton’s went back to Florida and made the decision to leave Corporate America, become entrepreneurs, and make the move to be full time mountain residents. If you ask the owners of The Black Sheep if they made the right move, you will get an unequivocal..YES! It’s the best decision they ever made. They love being a part of the Blue Ridge community. They also love having the great outdoors so accessible and all the great people they get to meet along the way!

After settling into the mountain lifestyle and getting his restaurant where it needs to be, Brandon wanted to be able to showcase his Cajun side. In partnership with his GM, Patrick, Lulu’s Gumbo Shop can now be seen in their branded tent around town at festivals, during special events with partners like Grumpy Old Men Brewing, and at private events like weddings. Lulu’s specializes in chicken & sausage Gumbo and Jambalaya – a shrimp and crawfish combination, made from old family recipes straight out of LA.

Ashlee has also become a certified yoga instructor. Her business, Yoga Over Blue Ridge, is a mobile yoga studio. She offers private instruction and lessons and destination yoga classes. These are perfect for Girlfriend Getaways, Bachelorette parties, or any private yoga party. Recently she has partnered with Bear Claw Vineyards for a Namaste & Cabernet class. Yoga class + wine tasting? Yes, please! She’s also partnering with local breweries for Bend & Brew events. That’s right, yoga and a flight of beer! Keep an eye on her social pages to find out about future events.

If all of this wasn’t enough, the power couple recently purchased Blue Ridge Brewery in downtown Blue Ridge. Located less than a quarter mile from The Black Sheep, Blue Ridge Brewery is located at 187 Depot Street. You can look forward to new beers crafted by an expert brew master, a new menu designed to delight the taste buds, and a stellar lineup of live music and events!

Up Next For The Sheep

A new menu was just released and includes amazing dishes like an heirloom tomato Panzanella salad and seared diver scallops with lemon risotto and smoked tomato coulis. If you haven’t yet been to The Black Sheep Restaurant, what are you waiting for? Put it on the top of your must do list. If you haven’t been in a while, you need to come back and check it out. The vibe is comfortable and not pretentious, the food is on point, and the atmosphere will make this your favorite downtown spot. If you’ve been there recently, then you know what’s up!

Heirloom Tomato Panzanella Salad topped with Ricotta Salata

As a special treat just for Escape to Blue Ridge Fans, The Black Sheep Restaurant is offering one free appetizer per table if you tell your waiter that you are the “Black Sheep of Your Family”. How cool is that? Now don’t be sheepish, make your dinner reservations today!