Barker's Creek Mill at the Hambidge Center in Clayton, Georgia

Barker's Creek Mill at the Hambidge Center in Clayton, Georgia

Guide to Clayton

Originally inhabited by Cherokee tribes, the town of Clayton was incorporated in 1821 by European settlers. The mountain community is known for its thriving downtown, unique lodging, outdoor recreation and restaurants, earning it the title of Farm to Table Capital of Georgia. The nearby wineries make for a popular day trip, each offering stunning views.

Things to Do

From offbeat to beautiful, the attractions in and around Clayton are sure to keep you entertained.

Goats on the Roof near Clayton, Georgia
Goats on the Roof near Clayton, Georgia

Goats on the Roof

Goats on the Roof is a longtime favorite roadside attraction, featuring a family of goats that run around on the roof of the building, fed snacks by a pulley system. The shops below sell Amish foods and furniture, along with gifts, homemade fudge and nitro ice cream.

Moonrise Distillery

Clayton is in the mountains where the original moonshiners operated, but Moonrise Distillery is the area's legal distillery. Owner Jim Harris welcomes visitors for guided tours of the facility, which was established in 2012. He crafts whiskey, bourbon and fruit brandies with locally sourced ingredients.

Tallulah Gorge State Park

Spend the day or longer exploring Tallulah Gorge State Park, named for its 1,000-foot-deep gorge. Walk across the 80-foot-high suspension bridge, hike to one of the many waterfalls, go geocaching or camp at one of the sites.

Black Rock Mountain State Park

But that’s not the area’s only state park. Black Rock Mountain State Park is the highest state park in the state, showcasing 80-mile vistas, four hiking trails, and campsites where visitors can spend the night.

Horses at the Dillard House
Horses at the Dillard House

Dillard House Stables

Go for horseback rides with Dillard House Stables, which operates scenic trail rides along the river of varying length for all ages. They also run fly fishing excursions, which are appropriate for all experience levels.

Andy's Trout Farm

Located on more than 300 acres, the 50-year-old Andy's Trout Farm is the perfect place to spend the day fishing and exploring. The farm has everything you need, including rentals and bait, as well as overnight accommodations, including cabins and campsites.

Stonewall Creek Vineyards

Visit the small artisan Stonewall Creek Vineyards, known for its exceptional grapes and fine dry wines. Their wines, including the Petit Manseng and the Cabernet Franc, have won awards. Stop by their tasting room for samples.

Wines at Tiger Mountain Vineyards
Wines at Tiger Mountain Vineyards

Tiger Mountain Vineyards

Located on a hillside in the Northeast Georgia Mountains, Tiger Mountain Vineyards feature individually tended vines and hand-picked grapes. Their red wines are barrel-aged for 12 to 24 months, which visitors can sample in their tasting room. They also have a cafe open on weekends.

12 Spies Vineyards

The views from the tasting room at 12 Spies Vineyards are unrivaled with sprawling gardens on nine acres. Visitors can sample their range of sweet, semi-dry and dry wines on their covered deck.

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Places to Stay

Spend the night at one of Clayton and Rabun County’s cozy accommodations.

Beechwood Inn Bed & Breakfast in Clayton, Georgia
Beechwood Inn Bed & Breakfast in Clayton, Georgia

Beechwood Inn Bed & Breakfast

Named one of Southern Living’s Best Inns and winner of the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, Beechwood Inn Bed & Breakfast is a welcome country retreat. The five-acre property has luxury suites with mountain views and a farm-to-table restaurant. Celebrities like John Travolta and Judd Apatow have stayed here.

White Birch Inn

Set in a 100-year-old brick building in downtown Clayton, White Birch Inn is charming and elegant with six uniquely decorated rooms and suites. All have ensuite bathrooms, and suites have fireplaces. One even has a copper soaking tub. Guests have access to the gym, sundeck, breakfast room and bar.

Kingwood Resort & Country Club

The new Kingwood Resort & Country Club offers countless recreation opportunities, including an 18-hole championship golf course, full-service spa, indoor and outdoor swimming, tennis and a waterfall hiking trail. Chow down at one of their many restaurants or venture out to the nearby wineries.

Parker Ranch

The pet-friendly Parker Ranch is the perfect place to disconnect on six acres, but it’s only a mile from downtown Clayton’s shopping and dining. The ranch features covered porches and areas to unwind as well as five bedrooms with private baths. Breakfast is included with your stay.

River Falls at the Gorge

Open year-round, River Falls at the Gorge has RV and tent campsites along the Tallulah River. In addition, they have “glamping” accommodations, including RV rentals, rustic cabins, tiny cabins and treehouses.

Rabun Manor Resort in Clayton, Georgia
Rabun Manor Resort in Clayton, Georgia

Rabun Manor Resort

The 186-year-old mansion now operates as Rabun Manor Resort, a bed and breakfast with five luxury rooms and two cottages. They also have a restaurant and event venue, WiFi and stunning mountain views.

The Dillard House

Known for its family-style dining, The Dillard House also offers a variety of accommodations, including cottages, cabins and Rock House rooms. Don’t miss their restaurant and amenities like a conference center, swimming pool, tennis and horseback riding. Some rooms are pet-friendly.

Lake Rabun Hotel

Honored by countless publications, Lake Rabun Hotel was built in 1922 on the shores of the namesake lake. Rooms feature original woodwork, scenic decks, fine art and antiques, and free WiFi. The hotel also has a full bar and restaurant with complimentary gourmet breakfast.

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Places to Eat

You won't be disappointed by Clayton's culinary scene.

Shrimp & grits at Fortify Kitchen & Bar in Clayton, Georgia
Shrimp & grits at Fortify Kitchen & Bar in Clayton, Georgia

Fortify Kitchen & Bar

Fortify Kitchen & Bar has been named one of the top 100 restaurants in the nation by OpenTable. Their menu focuses on farm-fresh ingredients.

Fortify Pi

Chow down on pizzas at Fortify Pi, a large brick space with beaker light fixtures and large windows. The wood-fired pies are best enjoyed with the craft beers and local wines they have on the menu.

Clayton Cafe

Clayton Cafe has operated in Historic Clayton for more than 60 years, serving Southern home cooking. Enjoy their meatloaf, a menu favorite, and sandwiches with sides like black eyed peas and sweet potato casserole.

Nachos at Clarks' on Main in Clayton, Georgia
Nachos at Clarks' on Main in Clayton, Georgia

Clarks' On Main

Opened in 2016, Clarks' On Main is downtown Clayton’s favorite sports bar, featuring a chef-driven menu. It includes burgers, sandwiches, tacos and wings, which can be enjoyed with local craft beers.

Universal Joint

The auto-themed Universal Joint features a delicious menu with fresh salads, Angus beef burgers, sandwiches and quesadillas, as well as craft beer. Their patio is the perfect place to hang out.

Rumor Hazit

Island-themed Rumor Hazit features live music, bright murals and a menu of seafood, steak, large salads and their signature Key Lime Pie. It’s a taste of vacation in the heart of the Northeast Georgia Mountains.

Picnic from Beechwood Inn Bed & Breakfast in Clayton, Georgia
Picnic from Beechwood Inn Bed & Breakfast in Clayton, Georgia

Beechwood Inn Bed & Breakfast

Beechwood Inn Bed & Breakfast is not only one of Georgia’s top inns, but it also has one of the state’s best restaurants. Their eatery was named one of the Top 10 Farm to Table Restaurants in Georgia. The menu changes weekly and focuses on seasonal ingredients.

Grapes & Beans Cafe

For something healthy, head to Grapes & Beans Cafe, which features local and organic ingredients with vegetarian entrees. The menu features soups, salads and coffee. It’s also a wine shop.

Mama G's

Find a taste of Italy at Mama G's, a full-service restaurant offering steaks, seafood, pasta and pizza, all made from scratch using the best ingredients. They also have gluten-free pizzas upon request and can accommodate other food allergies.

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Events

There's always something going on in Clayton and Rabun County.

Celebrate Clayton

The annual Celebrate Clayton art festival is held every April and features juried artists and artisan booths. The family-friendly event has a kids area and food vendors.

Foxfire Mountaineer Festival in Clayton, Georgia
Foxfire Mountaineer Festival in Clayton, Georgia

Foxfire Mountaineer Festival

Run by the Foxfire Museum, Foxfire Mountaineer Festival is held in October. The fall event features live bluegrass music, barbecue and other food vendors, contests, crafts, a raffle and an auction.

Clayton Crawl

The streets become pedestrian-only for Clayton Crawl, a downtown festival in July featuring live music, wine tastings and food vendors.

Dillard Bluegrass & BBQ Festival

Bring your appetite to the Dillard Bluegrass & BBQ Festival, which includes bluegrass music, plenty of barbecue vendors, arts and crafts booths, cooking classes and children's activities. There are also distillery tours and history tours.

Harvest Stomp

Harvest Stomp at Stonewall Creek Vineyards gives you the chance to do your best "I Love Lucy" impersonation, stomping grapes in a barrel to earn a souvenir shirt. Try their wines and enjoy live music.

Weave shed at Hambidge Center in Rabun Gap, Georgia
Weave shed at Hambidge Center in Rabun Gap, Georgia

The Great ARTdoors Festival

Hambidge, a creative arts center, holds The Great ARTdoors Festival in October to celebrate the work they do. The event includes tours of artist studios, art installations, demonstrations, visits to their farm and live music.

Holiday Events

Celebrate the holiday season with the Festival of Trees & Holiday Shopping Extravaganza. It’s both a holiday craft market and a silent auction of decorated trees that benefits a local charity. Christmas in Downtown is another event that includes a Christmas tree lighting, pictures with Santa, refreshments and carolers.

Find more events in and near Clayton

Published: March 2019