There’s a peace that’s found in the mountains. If you’re researching travel in the Southeastern states, you’ll find pictures of North Carolina dominate ideas for a mountain escape, but there’s another option that might be off your radar.
The mountain town of Blue Ridge, nestled right on the Georgia-Tennessee border, offers an idyllic escape full of farm fresh produce, exciting outdoor adventure and long-range views.
Consider Blue Ridge when you’re looking for a cool, serene mountain getaway. Here are some of the best activities in the area which are only a sample of the travel offerings available.
Scenic Downtown Known for a robust art scene and quiet tourism, downtown Blue Ridge offers shopping, dining and fun. A local favorite, Blue Ridge Cotton Company, has textiles, art and gifts. For more information, go to blueridgecottoncompany.com.
Huck’s General Store has penny candy, handmade soaps and souvenirs right on Main Street. For more information, go to hucksgeneralstore.com.
Blue Ridge Booksellers, a small, independent bookstore, offers rare volumes or a book just right for reading on a mountain porch. The store has been open for more than 20 years but only last year started its own website: “Just dedicated to ‘the book,’” the website says. Visit blueridgebooksellers.com.
For a more adventurous afternoon, buy tickets for Escape Room Blue Ridge and dive into solving mysteries themed for pirates, prohibition or magic. The “Wizard School of Magic” features an attempt to destroy the artifacts of the once-beaten Dark Lord, who is regaining strength and gathering forces. The rooms provide “fun for all ages.” Tickets are $25. Times vary. For updates, visit escaperoomblueridge.com.
Try the Trout Blue Ridge restaurants take advantage of the fresh trout available in those mountain streams, but none are as scenic as the Toccoa Riverside Restaurant nestled right on the water.
Try the trout fixed any way you like: lemon pepper, pecan encrusted, crab-stuffed, fried, broiled or smoked. Dog friendly (includes a pooch patio). Visit them online to learn more at toccoariversiderestaurant.com.
Get Your Cider On Mercier Orchards, founded in 1943, was one of the first apple farms in Georgia to grow, harvest and press their own hard cider and fruit wines.
They not only offer wine ($15) and cider ($12) flights from their own family-owned farm, they curate and serve samples from other producers. The farm offers U-pick options for blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and apples according to the season, with tractor tours to access the fields. If you’re hungry, breakfast and lunch are offered at the cafe. Don’t leave without trying the apple cider doughnuts. Learn more at mercier-orchards.com.
Believe in Bigfoot Expedition Bigfoot has 3,700 square feet of exhibits bent on proving the existence of the legendary Sasquatch, a hairy, giant, human-like creature that some say inhabits the forests of North America.
The museum is self-guided, so visitors can take their time in the life-size interactive displays or thoroughly explore information on Native American sittings. There’s also a gift shop for one-of-a-kind souvenirs.
The operators claim this is North Georgia’s ‘biggest’ attraction, and we do think they mean Bigfoot’s size, which is estimated to range from 6 to 15 feet. This museum seems humorous, but it’s run by believers who encourage anyone with a sighting of a Sasquatch to send an email or call. However, it’s open to everyone — even the skeptics. Admission is $8 for adults and $6 for children. Active-duty military and children under 5 are free. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Learn more at expeditionbigfoot.com.
Ride the Rails Traveling 26 miles in four hours, this scenic tour has stops in the charming towns of McCaysville, Ga., and Copperhill, Tenn. There’s a two-hour layover in those cities. In addition to the picturesque mountain towns, riders are treated to a trip through the foothills and by the Toccoa River. There are options for an outdoor ride, full of fresh air and views, or a premier experience with a small meal. Inside coach options and handicapped options with a lift are available. They even rent the vintage caboose as a private experience for a group, complete with snacks and drinks.
Summer prices (through Sept. 17) are $56.99 (adults), $51.99 (senior, military, first responders, teacher), $37.99 (children 2 to 12). Visit brscenic.com.
Chill out The north Georgia mountains are a wonderful choice for families, couples or solo travelers. The cooler weather is a lovely escape from the heat and humidity of the Lowcountry.
Rent a pontoon, paddle board or kayak at the Lake Blue Ridge Marina or at Morganton Point Recreation Area. Go whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River. Or hike to the Swinging Bridge on the Toccoa River. The Toccoa River is a popular destination for tubing, canoeing, kayaking and rafting for kids of all ages, the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce said.
Visit blueridgemountains.com. Whether it’s the breathtaking beauty of raw nature or the calm of the mountain lifestyle, a vacation to Blue Ridge is a retreat that will leave you renewed.