Amicalola Falls in Dawsonville, Georgia
Guide to Dawsonville
Home of Georgia's tallest waterfall, the start of the Appalachian Trail and NASCAR driver Bill Elliott, Dawsonville is a favorite destination for family fun year-round.
Around one hour north of Atlanta, Dawsonville is home to the southern terminus of the famous Appalachian Trail, which starts at Springer Mountain, accessible from Amicalola Falls State Park. The area has a tradition with moonshine and NASCAR, and is known as the stomping grounds of race car driver Bill Elliott. In the fall, pumpkin patches and farm fun attract visitors to this scenic North Georgia town.
Things to Do
Amicalola Falls State Park
Dawsonville is ideal for outdoors lovers, especially at Amicalola Falls State Park, home of the state’s highest waterfall at 729 feet. There are dozens of trails, including the one to Springer Mountain, the southern end of the 2,175-mile Appalachian Trail.
Georgia Racing Hall of Fame
The legacy of Bill Elliott and his contemporaries is memorialized at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame. It has a museum with vintage cars, trophies and other items related to professional racing.
Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery
Conveniently located next door to the Racing Hall of Fame and City Hall, the Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery uses the traditional recipes from more than 150 years ago when “white lightning” wasn't legal. They offer tours of the facility and tastings.
Etowah Valley Sporting Clays
Try your luck at clay shooting with Etowah Valley Sporting Clays, set on 150 acres in the foothills of the North Georgia mountains. There are two 13-station sporting clay courses, two 6-station sporting clays courses, a 5-stand, and a wobble trap for beginners and professionals.
Atlanta Motorsports Park
Atlanta Motorsports Park was designed especially with drivers in mind, whether that be automotive buffs, car manufacturers or curious individuals. Anyone 12 years or older can rent a kart, or adults can test out a luxury car on the track.
North Georgia Premium Outlets
Browse for bargains from top brands like Coach, Nike and Restoration Hardware at North Georgia Premium Outlets. More than 140 stores feature discounts of between 25 and 65 percent off. There is also a food pavilion and children's play area.
Around Back at Rocky's Place
Around Back at Rocky's Place is a folk art gallery featuring the work of regional, self-taught artists. This includes well-known artists as well as local painters, potters, wood carvers, and fabric artists.
Fausett Farms Sunflowers and Horse Trails
The family-owned Fausett Farms Sunflowers and Horse Trails has been a North Georgia icon since 1858. For many years, they operated in poultry farming, but in 2011 became known for their seasonal sunflowers in the fall. During the rest of the year, visitors can enjoy horse riding trails.
During the fall, Burt's Farm is a must-see, but pumpkins aren't the only thing you'll find. They also have Indian corn, gourds, hayrides, boiled peanuts, jams, pies and scenic hayrides. They're open from the beginning of September to mid-November.
Uncle Shucks Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch
Another fall favorite is Uncle Shucks Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch, a 12-acre complex that weaves paths through the cornstalks. Kids love getting lost in the maze, going on hayrides, roasting marshmallows and feeding the goats.
Places to Stay
Adventure seekers can stay at the Hike Inn, Georgia's only backcountry lodge that is only accessible via 5-mile hike from Amicalola Falls. Guests can enjoy soft beds, hot showers and communal meals.
Racers Retreat Bed and Breakfast
The newest addition to Dawsonville's community, the Racers Retreat Bed and Breakfast is set on a wooded lot for scenic views. Rooms feature private baths and access to the relaxing front porch. A full hot breakfast is prepared daily, and coffee is available throughout the day.
Amicalola Falls Lodge
Take advantage of the natural surroundings with a stay at Amicalola Falls Lodge, which has hotel-style amenities including a stunning view and an in-house restaurant. The state park also has cottages and a campground.
Paradise Valley Resort
The Paradise Valley Resort offers something different as the area's only clothing-optional resort. They have amenities like nature trails, sporting courses, pools and a tiki bar. They welcome both first-time visitors and returning members.
Dawson Village Inn
Conveniently located near the outlets, Dawson Village Inn has amenities like pillow-top mattresses, blackout curtains and free daily breakfast, including eggs, waffles and fresh fruit. Rooms also have HBO and are pet-friendly.
Under the Hemlock Cabins and Campground
For a rustic experience, stay at Under the Hemlock Cabins and Campground, just outside Amicalola State Park. The camping cabins have picnic tables, king beds, refrigerators and microwaves, and air conditioning. RV and tent sites also have access to the bath house.
Quality Inn & Suites and Super 8 by Wyndham
There are also chain properties like the Quality Inn & Suites, a pet-friendly property with WiFi, mini fridges, free hot breakfast, an outdoor pool and a fitness room. The Super 8 by Wyndham has free daily breakfast, free Internet, a refrigerator and microwave, and an indoor pool and spa.
Where to Eat
Dine at one of Dawsonville's eateries for the full experience.
The Maple Restaurant
The state park has its own restaurant, the Amicalola Falls Lodge and Restaurant, called The Maple Restaurant. It has a buffet and a la carte menu of American and Southern dishes with stunning mountain views.
Big D's BBQ
Chow down with the smoked chicken, pork, and brisket at Big D's BBQ. In addition to the barbecue with all the fixings, they also have juicy steak burgers, jumbo buffalo wings, and cathead buttermilk biscuits.
Inspired by home-cooked family recipes, Papa's Place welcomes guests to be treated like family. Dishes like omelettes, biscuits, sandwiches, salads and burgers are prepared with love at this friendly diner.
The Blue Bicycle
The Blue Bicycle opened in 2005 as a casual bistro that is chef-owned and -operated. Menu highlights include French-inspired dishes like steak frites, foie gras and Escargot en Bouchée. They also have lighter options for lunch.
For a taste of Japan, Kani House has more than 50 specialty sushi rolls, hibachi, bento boxes and tempura items. They also have menu items for children, and dishes that are vegan and gluten-free.
Dawsonville Pool Room
Made famous by owner Gordon Pirkle, Dawsonville Pool Room is a NASCAR-themed restaurant featuring memorabilia related to local legend Bill Elliott and moonshiners. The menu includes made-from-scratch burgers with fresh-cut fries.
The Varsity Jr.
Just like its counterpart in Atlanta, The Varsity Jr. has burgers, hot dogs, fries and shakes.
Plan your visit around one of Dawsonville’s annual events.
Mountain Moonshine Festival
Held in October, the Mountain Moonshine Festival combines a vintage car show at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame and a "moonshine run."
Mountain Madness 15K Trail Run
Mountain Madness 15K Trail Run takes place at Fausett Farms in March, crossing streams and trails along the way with views of Amicalola Falls. It's one of the region's most challenging 15K races.
Shine Pedalers Metric Bike Ride
Another favorite race is the Shine Pedalers Metric Bike Ride, held in July. The challenging ride starts and finishes at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame and includes breakfast, support stops and swag bags.
Christmas Parade, Jingle Market and Tree Lighting
Ring in the holiday season at the Downtown Dawsonville Christmas Parade, Jingle Market and Tree Lighting. The market features crafts from local vendors and the parade winds through town. The merriment ends with music, dancing, pictures with Santa and hot cocoa.