Top tips for things to do, places to stay, mountain wineries, great restaurants and best times to visit this charming North Georgia mountain town.
The North Georgia mountain town of Ellijay is quintessentially charming, welcoming visitors with its hiking trails, historic downtown and wineries. Heritage apple orchards make the town known as Georgia’s Apple Capital. Settled in the 1830s, it was a remote area until the arrival of the Marietta and Northern Georgia Railroad brought in the timber industry. The name Ellijay comes from the Cherokee word Elatseyi.
Things to Do
Ellijay is an outdoor lover’s wonderland. Go hiking and mountain biking on area trails, pick up seasonal produce at local orchards and farms, relax at a local winery, play golf, shop in downtown boutiques, dine with mountain views and explore the legend of Sasquatch.
Come to Ellijay in the late summer and early fall for apple picking, apple pies, apple dumplings and apple cider!
Red Apple Barn
The entire family is sure to love Red Apple Barn, which has games, picnics and fields with apples, pumpkins and flowers. The farm has been family-owned since 1927, and their market sells products using their produce, including apple fritters, candied apples and jellies.
Hillcrest Orchards is one of the popular destinations, open since 1946. In addition to the U-pick orchard, there’s playgrounds, wagon rides, a petting farm, and a market selling their famous apple cider and donuts.
R & A Orchards
R & A Orchards started as an FFA school project in 1983, but is now home to more than 60 acres of apples, as well as 10 acres of peaches and nectarines. They welcome visitors for apple picking, flower picking and also sell vegetables and preserved goods.
B.J. Reece Orchards
Stop by B.J. Reece Orchards for U-pick apples every September and October. In addition, the farm has peaches, pears and nectarines, and it offers hayrides, pony rides, a corn maze and a pumpkin patch.
Aaron Family Orchards
Open August-December, Aaron Family Orchards is the place to load up on apple butter, apple cider vinegar, apple chutney and freshly picked fruit.
Panorama Orchards & Farm Market
Panorama Orchards and Farm Market is a family fruit farm established in the 1920s to produce and market apples. Today, they have more than 20 varieties of apples, as well as peaches and vegetables. This large market also has homemade baked goods, fudge and apple-related products.
Penland's Apple House
Growing Gilmer’s best since 1936! The family-owned and -operated (five generations and counting) Penland's Apple House offers fresh peaches, apples, vegetables, ciders, jams, and various baked goods, including homemade fried pies and apple fritters.
Cartecay Vineyards offers wine tastings in the Southern Appalachia region. The Tasting Barn is an 1890s barn that makes for the perfect backdrop to sample vidal blanc, traminette and other varieties.
Chateau Meichtry Family Vineyard and Winery
Chateau Meichtry is open year-round, 12-6 p.m and has two tasting rooms, gorgeous grounds, winery tours and a summer concert series. Come for a tasting or a glass while enjoying the beautiful scenery. On weekends, enjoy live music entertainment from an array of Georgia musicians every Saturday and Sunday from 1:30-5:30 p.m.
Ott Farms and Vineyard
With 180-degree views of the North Georgia mountains and music and food trucks on the weekends (and a love story that will warm your heart), Ott Farms and Vineyards is a gorgeous place to spend an afternoon tasting wines like “Cherish” and “Make Me Blush.”
Buckley Vineyards is tucked into the countryside with a relaxed feel. Buckley is locally famous for their incredible, dry wines made from apples. They also have delicious reds and whites named after family members, and plenty of seating both inside and outdoors. Weekends feature food trucks and musicians.
Grapes and Ladders
This smaller, unpretentious, farm winery with a country view and a laid-back atmosphere is popular with those who want to slow down and enjoy their wine. Grapes and Ladders Winery is open Wednesday through Sunday 12-6 p.m. with food trucks and musicians on occasion and wine slushies in the summer.
Roo Mountain Vineyards
Located only 4 miles from downtown Ellijay, with rolling hills covered in lush vines, epic views, a restaurant, amphitheater and two tasting rooms, Roo Mountain Vineyards will open in 2023 but is available now for private tours. Featuring 6,000 square feet of rooftop gardens and a concert series, you won't want to miss Roo!
Engelheim Vineyards is owned by an Army veteran, who named the site for the words “angel home” in German. The 100% Ellijay estate-grown wines have earned top prizes at national wine championships.
Mountain Valley Farm Store
This little farm store on the edge of town is renowned for its quality locally sourced meats, cheeses, sauces, butter and eggs. Try their unique ice cream flavors, take home a perfectly marbled ribeye or stock up on charcuterie goodies for your wine tour. It's all at the Mountain Valley Farm Store. Baby goats, chickens, bunnies, sheep and cows are on-site for a mini-petting zoo experience, too!
Reece's Cider Co.
This new addition to Ellijay is across the street from B.J. Reece Orchards in the heart of apple country and was opened by the Grandson of B.J. Reece. The hard apple ciders at Reece's Cider Co. are made right on site, and they have eight varieties on tap to taste in a flight or full glass. Take home a jar of your favorite, like the “Ellijay Apple” or “Reece’s Reserve.” There is music and food trucks on the weekends.
Cartecay River Experience
Float the Cartecay River with Cartecay River Experience in Ellijay, which offers a fun, family atmosphere. They provide safe and proper equipment, and all safety gear is included with their rentals. Sit back and relax!
Ellijay River Outfitters
Whether you want to lazily ride down in a tube, or fight the waves in a kayak, Ellijay River Outfitters will meet all your needs for a fun day on the water. All the necessary gear is provided; inner tubes, or kayaks with paddles, life jackets, and shuttle service to the river.
Carters Lake - Pontoon Boat Rentals
Spend a day splashing into one of the deepest lakes in Georgia! With more than 3,200 acres of water, spending a day with the family on Carters Lake is a dream with a boat rental from Carters Lake Marina & Resort. Capacity and rental rates vary by boat.
Whitepath Golf Course
Tee off at Whitepath Golf Course, a challenging 18-hole course named for a famous Cherokee chief. It’s open to the public.
Georgia Link Jr. Gilmer Arts Playhouse
Catch a performance at the George Link Jr. Gilmer Arts Playhouse, a community theater that has served Ellijay and Gilmer County since 1992. It’s home to local chorus, theater and arts groups.
Located in neighboring Cherry Log, Expedition: Bigfoot is one of the state’s most unique attractions, focusing on the history and mystery surrounding the urban legend. There’s a permanent display of artifacts, photos, sketches, and sighting maps.
Ellijay has an estimated 2,000 rental cabins, from one-bedroom retreats to 11-bedroom lodges, featuring mountain top views and locations near the lake, river or the heart of town. Ellijay also opened a luxury RV park in 2021 and has picture-perfect bed and breakfasts, as well as studios in the heart of downtown. With a few small hotels and motels, as well, there is somewhere for everyone in Ellijay.
North Georgia Glamping
North Georgia Glamping is a unique glamping experience, with a geodesic dome, Airstream, and cabins with outdoor showers and open-air kitchens. Goats and chickens live on the site.
Gingershack Farms Cabins
Gingershack Farms is located in the beautiful North Georgia mountains in Ellijay and has a series of new, two-bedroom cabins that are perfect for families and family reunions, sports teams or even a romantic weekend off the beaten track. They welcome you to a simpler time where lazy creeks flow, families gather, nature surrounds and days end around the campfire.
Talona Ridge RV Resort
Coming by RV? You won’t want to miss one of the county's premier RV resorts right here in Ellijay. Talona Ridge is a spectacular resort with a mountain-top swimming pool, club area, and meticulously planned RV slots with fire pits and stunning views.
Dragonfly Dreams Luxury Cabin Rentals
Offering “boutique” cabin rentals, Dragonfly Dreams Luxury Cabin Rentals has unique cabins and professional services. They can arrange massages, flowers and even personal shopping, or set up activities like kayaking and horseback riding.
Blue Sky Cabin Rentals
For more traditional cabins that can accommodate even more guests, book with Blue Sky Cabin Rentals. Located between Ellijay and Blue Ridge, these cabins have rocking chairs and swings, hot tubs, indoor fireplaces and game rooms. There are even pet-friendly cabins!
The Villas at Coosawattee River Resort
The Villas at Coosawattee River Resort has won awards for its resort facilities, including lodge rooms, cabins and villas with one, two or three bedrooms. Some even come with hot tubs, lofts, and river and mountain views.
Stressbuster Cabin Rentals
Leave the chaos of city life behind when you arrive at Stressbuster Cabin Rentals, which come fully furnished. Set on the river, these cabins are a short drive from the shops and restaurants of Ellijay and Blue Ridge.
Mulberry Gap Mountain Bike Get-A-Way
As the name implies, Mulberry Gap Mountain Bike Get-A-Way is a mountain biker’s retreat, surrounded by trails. They provide breakfast and dinner as well as shuttles to trailheads, guided tours, events and cozy rooms.
Bed & Breakfast Inn
Ellijay River House Bed & Breakfast
The charming Ellijay River House is just a short walk to downtown Ellijay's shops, bars, restaurants, yoga studios, spas and theater. Relax in one of four beautifully decorated rooms with a private bath, and wake up to a scrumptious Southern breakfast that you can enjoy on the veranda or even on a riverside deck.
Best Western Mountain View Inn
If you’re looking for hotel amenities, try the Best Western Mountain View Inn, which has dramatic views of the surrounding mountains as well as an indoor heated pool and hot tub, sun decks, suites, and bike washing stations.
Comfort Inn & Suites
New in East Ellijay, the Comfort Inn & Suites has more than 50 rooms as well as meeting space, an indoor pool, complimentary daily breakfast, free parking, and easy access to the highway and downtown Ellijay.
Sit down at one of Ellijay’s longtime favorite restaurants or one of the new eateries that have opened recently. Ellijay's foodie scene is booming! From farm-to-table experiences, chefs at your cabin rental or rooftop dining, Ellijay has something to feed your soul and tummy.
A newer addition to Ellijay, The Roof features a rooftop dining experience with views over the historic town and the mountains beyond. The menu is fresh and varied, and features local produce like mushrooms from Ellijay Mushrooms with their popular meatloaf. Don’t forget to grab a craft cocktail!
Emily's Bar & Restaurant
Emily's is a family-owned restaurant located in the heart of historical downtown Ellijay. They offer seasonal and regional shareable plates, fresh seafood and prime steaks, and they work with local farmers that raise food ethically. They have ever-changing menus to highlight what the seasons have to offer.
This “funky little shack” with a bright and creative menu is perfect for those looking for something a little different. With bubble tea, poke bowls, Thai, Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese-influenced dishes, you can’t go wrong at The Shack of Ellijay.
With daily fresh-baked breads like focaccia and sourdough, sandwiches, scones and coffee, too, the smell alone will bring you into Arlowe’s Bakehouse. Grab what you need for a day of hiking or biking, and get those carbs to get you moving!
A Little Baked Bakery
If something sweet is what you crave, you will find a precious little bakery downtown Ellijay to make your tastebuds sing! A Little Baked Bakery is an Ellijay favorite for lemon bars, Kentucky butter cake, custom birthday cakes, and other treats too long to list.
Cantaberry Restaurant is one such, specializing in homemade soups, gourmet sandwiches, fresh salads and decadent desserts. Menu highlights include the tomato basil soup and chicken salad.
River Street Tavern
Another local hangout is River Street Tavern, which has an extensive drink menu with 13 beers on draft and plenty more in the bottle, as well as wine and cocktails. The food menu includes dishes like wings, burgers, sandwiches, and their famous Greek Salad.
Charlie's Italian Restaurant
Enjoy Italian favorites at Charlie's Italian Restaurant, which has menu items like Neapolitan and Margherita pizzas, baked gnocchi and chicken saltimbocca. They’re open for lunch and dinner.
The Ellijay Coffeehouse is where locals go for their morning jolt, set in a restored 1940s building downtown. It’s the perfect spot to relax with a book or work with free (and fast!) WiFi while sipping on cold brew and snacking on freshly made pastries.
When in North Georgia, you must eat barbecue, and Pink Pig in Cherry Log is one of the area’s best. The pit-cooked barbecue comes with Bud’s special sauce and is best paired with a cup of Brunswick stew, made in an old-school iron pot. Open Thursday through Sunday.
Col. Poole's BBQ
You can't miss the kitschy pig signs on the hill at Poole's Real Pit BBQ Pig Hill of Fame, a North Georgia barbecue staple. Open since 1989, favorites include beef brisket and pulled pork with sides like Brunswick stew and macaroni and cheese. Open Thursday through Sunday.
There’s no shortage of events in Ellijay, especially in the fall.
Georgia Apple Festival, October
The Georgia Apple Festival and Apple Arts Festival are two separate festivals in Ellijay that span two weekends with more than 400 vendors with food, art and crafts. Make plans to visit in October to celebrate Ellijay's apple heritage with a 5K race, parade, car show and much more. Always the second and third weekends in October.
Dancing Goats FolkFest, Fall
Dancing Goats FolkFest celebrates and preserves the cultural traditions of the region, especially the self-taught artists from Appalachia. There’s also live music, crafts, and storytelling.
Georgia Apple Blossom Festival, May
In the spring, the apple orchards change color with blooms, honored by the Georgia Apple Blossom Festival. More than 50 regional vendors with food, art and crafts set up for this free, family-friendly and pet-friendly event.
For a full list of events by date, including the Farmer's Market, Georgia Mountain Warbird Weekend, Songwriters Festival, Wine About Winter, summer concert series at area wineries and much more, contact the Gilmer Chamber and Welcome Center at 706-635-7400 or follow #pickellijay on Facebook and Instagram.