If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the importance of living life to the fullest and making the best use of our time. And now that the world is opening up, many are yearning to go out and explore. Some may even be thinking about relocating so they can live a life that’s more rewarding. Only 90 miles away from the city of Atlanta lies Blue Ridge, a small mountain town, sitting at the edge of the Chattahoochee National Forest. Surrounded by 300 miles of hiking trails, 100 miles of trout streams, and more than 750,000 acres of forest land, it’s a location that offers visitors abundant recreational activities, and a truly outstanding home for residents. From the Appalachian Mountains to the Ocoee River, Blue Ridge’s natural environment offers so much to see and do, or just simply enjoy.
Table Of Contents
- Best Things to Do in Blue Ridge, Georgia
- Fun for the whole family
- Take kid-friendly hikes
- Soar through Blue Ridge Mountains
- Ride on historic trains
- Go on a treasure hunt
- The adventure of a lifetime
- A meaningful pace of life
- Unforgettable dining experiences
- Year-round festivals and events
- Finding a home is more than just buying a property
Fun for the whole family
Take kid-friendly hikesBlue Ridge has access to some of the best hiking trails in the USA. While some are recommended only for experienced hikers, you can take your kids on easier – but just as enjoyable – hiking trails like the Fall Branch Falls route along the Benton MacKaye Trail and Long Creek Falls route along Aska Road. You can also take a short hike down the Benton MacKaye Trail to the Toccoa River and its famous Swinging Bridge.
Soar through Blue Ridge MountainsIf you and your family are looking for a more thrilling way to explore the Blue Ridge Mountains, get a bird’s eye view through an hour-long Zipline Canopy Tour of Blue Ridge. Once you’re ready for more action, take the kids to the Aerial Challenge Course at Blue Ridge Aerial Adventure Park, an obstacle challenge course on suspended bridges and tight ropes for ages 10 and above. It’s a great way to challenge the kids but also yourself after many months of sedentary living.
Ride on historic trainsRailroads have played a huge role in making Blue Ridge the town that it is today. Give your kids an experience of living history on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, a 26-mile round trip journey along the Toccoa River and the North Georgia countryside. There’s also a two-hour layover at the charming vintage towns of McCaysville, Georgia and Copperhill, Tennessee.
Go on a treasure huntThere’s a lot of hidden treasures around Blue Ridge – metaphorically and literally! Geocaching, for example, is a great way to explore new places, and even to re-discover ones you’ve been to before. There’s plenty of caches to find in Blue Ridge, from Tammen Park all the way to the Blue Ridge Marina. You can read more about geocaching with the whole family here. If your kids have an eye for shiny things, you can bring them to the Lilly Pad Village and Huck’s Lost Mine for a fun and educational gem mining experience! See them light up whenever they find colorful gemstones, such as emeralds, rubies, moonstones, and more.
The adventure of a lifetime
Hike through the wildernessBlue Ridge is the beginning of many great hiking journeys, from the great Appalachian Trail and Benton MacKaye Trail to the Aska Trails and Cohutta Wilderness Trails. Many outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers start their adventure in this town, and you can too. Here are some daring trails to follow:
- Three Forks and Springer Mountain. Both are starting points to the Appalachian Trail. Three Forks is at the intersection of the Appalachian Trail and the Benton MacKaye trail, which can lead you on a 3.7-mile hike to Springer Mountain. From here, you can follow the Appalachian Trail on its 2,200-mile journey north to Maine.
- Jacks River Trail and Hemp Top. These trails go through the Cohutta Wilderness. The Jacks River Trail is 16.5 miles long going downhill with numerous river crossings, so hiking experience is strongly recommended. Hemp Top, on the other hand, heads uphill to one of the highest points in the Cohutta Wilderness.
Follow the river’s courseFrom tranquil lakes and streams to whitewater rapids and turbulent waterfalls, Blue Ridge is a center point for water adventures. The months between March and October are particularly exciting for whitewater enthusiasts and paddlers; it’s the best time to go rafting, canoeing, or kayaking in the Ocoee River and the Ocoee Whitewater Center. Beginners can also join in the fun through tubing and paddling on the calmer waters of the Toccoa River and Lake Blue Ridge. And if you’re planning to go hiking, you might want to make a detour and visit the area’s beautiful waterfalls, such as the Fall Branch Falls along the Benton MacKaye Trail, Sea Creek Falls in the Cooper Creek Scenic Area, and Long Creek Falls near the Three Forks Trail.
Bike the long way aroundBiking is one of the best ways to explore Blue Ridge, which provides scenic views and challenging routes. We recommend the following routes:
- Old Dial Road. This is one of the easier mountain biking routes, which can lead you to the bridge along Toccoa River and the Sandy Bottoms Canoe Launch and Campground.
- Ocoee Whitewater Center Trails. Besides whitewater sports and hiking, mountain bikers of all levels can ride along the Tanasi Trail system at the center.
- Aska Adventure Area. This local favorite offers a wide variety of mountain biking trails that provide both uphill routes to mountain views that are worth the challenge and downhill routes towards lakeside shores. Some trails also travel along streams and a range of forested areas.
- Boardtown Road Ride. For those who just want to cycle fast and uninterrupted, try going along Boardtown Road from Blue Ridge to Ellijay, GA. This route provides beautiful countryside views as far as the eye can see.
A meaningful pace of lifeLife in Blue Ridge tends to be unhurried and intuitive, making it the perfect place to have wonderful experiences, reflect, and build meaningful connections with what’s important to us. Take a break from the stress of daily life by spending the day at one of Blue Ridge’s peaceful parks, orchards, and recreations areas:
- Bear Claw Vineyards and Treehouse. Known for its breathtaking mountain views, top quality wine, and relaxing ambiance, Bear Claw Vineyards is a place to unwind and reconnect with the whole family. You can enjoy live music, play cornhole, or just lounge by the fire pit with a glass of wine. You can even rent out their amazing treehouse for a day or two!
- Lake Blue Ridge Dam Recreation Area. Nothing beats a lakefront view, and this park has the best views of both Lake Blue Ridge and the largest earth dam in North America. It has everything for a perfect day out with the family: picnic tables, benches, ramps for handicap accessibility, and an information kiosk. It’s also a great launching point for canoes and kayaks for trout fishing.
- Tammen Park. Located right beside the Toccoa River, it has an area for kayak and canoe launching and access points for river fishing. In addition to picnic amenities and playgrounds, this park also features a large softball field.
- Mercier Orchards. This family- and veteran-owned apple orchard goes all the way back to the 1940s. Today, they have grown to be one of the top destinations in Georgia, where you can pick your own apples, enjoy breakfast and baked goods at their Farm Café, and bring home other fresh produce from their Market Store.
- Deep Roots Orchard. This orchard by the hillside stays true to its roots by providing visitors a step back in time to old Appalachia. What makes Deep Roots Orchard unique are its events, ranging from yoga classes to their Fire on the Mountain experience. They also offer wagon rides, farm tours, and homecooked goods in their herbal apothecary.
Downtown Blue Ridge City Park. You don’t have to be away from the Downtown Blue Ridge to enjoy a nice picnic in nature. This Park is an endearing green space complete with picnic tables, grills, and a kids’ playground. It’s also the main venue for most of the town’s annual festivals.
Unforgettable dining experiencesMany of our most poignant childhood memories are often related to food. Maybe you were lucky enough to have a grandmother who made homemade treats every time you visited. Or perhaps you remember dad conquering the fire at a barbeque. To its 1,461 residents, Blue Ridge has flavors that rekindle the happiness of sharing good food with family and friends. With food ranging from locally sourced trout and southern-inspired barbeque to brick-oven pizzas and chocolate delicacies, you should make it a point to try out the following restaurants:
- Toccoa Riverside restaurant. Located in the Aska Road Adventure Area, you can savor the taste of fresh trout, top-quality steak, and fried oysters right beside the sparkling waters of the Toccoa River in this elegant restaurant.
- Harvest on Main. Led by renowned Chef Danny Melman and veteran food writer Michelle Moran, this award-winning restaurant provides global cuisine with a Southern twist, using only the best quality ingredients and locally sourced produce.
- Black Sheep Restaurant Bar and Patio. Enjoy tender steaks and fresh seafood under a 200-year-old Oak tree in Blue Ridge’s largest outdoor bar and covered patio space. They also have a fully stocked raw bar and an extensive list of craft cocktails and beer.
- Mystic Mountain Pizza. This groovy local favorite offers fresh salads, gourmet hot dogs, and brick oven specialty pizzas, paired best with an ice-cold craft beer. And the dining experience itself is one to remember, with its funky 80s-inspired décor, live music, and friendly staff.
- Misty Mountain Hops. Misty Mountain Hops pays homage to some of the greatest music and rock bands while serving great food. It’s the perfect place to relax or socialize. We recommend their fire on the mountain burger and southwest buddha bowl, accompanied by your choice of local beer.
- Hansen’s Grill. Just a walk away from the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, this restaurant offers amazing Southern comfort food like French toast, bacon eggs benedict, and biscuits and gravy. Wash it down with a good cup of coffee or one of their infamous mimosas.
- The Chocolate Express. Homemade fudge, bite-sized truffles, coconut cluster chocolates, creams and jellies, nuts and berries, peanut butter cups, and even an assortment of sugar-free sweets, all made from scratch and local ingredients. This little store has everything a sweet-toothed chocolate lover can dream of.
- Das Kaffee Haus. In the middle of all these Southern flavors and hospitality, this quaint coffee shop will remind you of the old traditional cafés in Europe. We recommend the cold brew with one of their divine apple strudels. You can also try their unique lavender-flavored latte paired with some handmade truffles.
- The Annual Blue Ridge Writers Conference
- Spring and Fall Arts in the Park
- Spring and Fall Plen Aire Festival
- Spring and Fall Old Farmers Market Craft Fair