Blue Ridge On a Budget
SightsIn Blue Ridge, Georgia the main attractions are the mountains. The town is well within the vicinity of the Chattahoochee National Forest, which makes for acres upon acres of unspoiled mountain woodland beauty. The Blue Ridge Lake and the Toccoa River also make for good examples of the region's natural assets. From the mountaintops you can look over sweeping valleys and follow pristine ridges. One of the best ways to see the sights perhaps is to take a ride along the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. Passengers have the options for vintage climate control or open air cars that take a 26 mile journey, winding along the scenic Toccoa River for a 2-hour layover to enjoy the quaint sister towns of McCaysville, Georgia and Copperhill, Tennessee. The entire journey takes about 4 hours-one hour there, one back, and two in between to enjoy the sights of the McCaysville/Copperhill area.
While the natural features surrounding Blue Ridge do steal the show, Blue Ridge itself is a charming town lined with historic buildings, shops, galleries, restaurants, and places to stay. On the outskirts you might come across one of the county's many orchards, vineyards, or riding stables. Mercier Orchards is one of the more popular destinations, featuring fresh fruit every day, baked goods, homegrown products, wine tastings, and a full calendar of events.
NeighborhoodsDowntown Blue Ridge is the hub of the area, hugging Main Street and dotted with endless options for shopping and dining. Store fronts are many and varied, showcasing items for home décor, furniture, clothing, jewelry, shoes and leather supply, candles, soaps, outdoor apparel, and many other specialty goods. There are also opportunities for antique shopping as well as a handful of art galleries. High County Art & Antiques, for example, has a mix of both-located in the heart of the downtown and housing a selection of traditional and impressionist fine art, folk art, photography, ceramics, pottery, jewelry, sculptures, antiques, and collectibles. As far as entertainment goes, the Blue Ridge Community Theater on East 1st Street has a full calendar featuring events like unique plays, dramas, comedies, musical productions, and concerts. The Swan Drive-In Theater, located on the outskirts of town on Summit Street, is another fun way to enjoy an evening out the good ole fashioned way.
ActivitiesMost people come to Blue Ridge as a home base for all of the outdoor activities that the mountain landscape has to offer. Hiking, backpacking, camping, and horseback riding are popular along many of the mountain trails, while activities like kayaking, tubing, and whitewater rafting are choice options along the Toccoa River. With the Blue Ridge Lake nearby as well, this too, has become a well-traveled spot for trout fishing, pontoon renting, and many other water sports.
Aside from the unbeatable outdoor adventures, Blue Ridge has much to offer in shopping and entertainment, with plenty of downtown shops, a live theater, as well as a drive-in movie theater. And if that isn't enough, the region is full of local breweries and wineries worth a visit. Some of which include Grumpy Old Men Brewing, Fannin Brewing Company, Mercier Orchards, Habersham Winery and Vineyard, Serenberry Vineyard, and Crane Creek Vineyards, amongst others.
Food and DiningIn the state of Georgia, and in most of the southern United States, barbeque is a favorite pastime. All types of meat are prepared grilled and smothered in thick sauce, but pork is traditionally the most common in the state. If you find yourself in Blue Ridge and are looking to grab a quick plate of the savory stuff, look no further than Mike's Track Side BBQ. Everything is fresh, fast, and flooded smoky flavors. Other popular BBQ restaurants include The Pink Pig BBQ, Joe's Barbeque, and Blue Ridge Mountain BBQ, each just as satisfying as the next with all of the sides, fixins, and mouth-watering aromas. If you seek a nicer, sit-down meal, a few choice options include places like Harvest on Main, Southern Charm, Blue Ridge Brewery, and The Black Sheep. And as far as dessert goes, the Sweet Shoppe remains the go-to with gourmet cupcakes, truffles, cake pops, and more.
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By car from Atlanta, take I-75 North to I-575. This becomes the Georgia Mountain Parkway (Hwy 515) at the Cherokee County - Pickens County border. Continue on this road for 55 miles to Blue Ridge.
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