Downtown Ellijay, Georgia. Photo by Rick Lucas
Guide to Ellijay
Top tips for things to do, places to stay, 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 and lake. 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 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, take in a show and explore the legend of Sasquatch.
Most travelers come to Ellijay in the fall for apple picking.
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 and also sell vegetables.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Places to Stay
Lay your head at one of Ellijay’s cozy cabins, at a unique campsite or at one of the hotels in Ellijay.
Elatse’Yi is unique glamping experience, with a geodesic dome, Airstream, and cabins with outdoor showers and open air kitchens. Goats and chickens live on the site.
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.
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.
Where to Eat
Sit down at one of Ellijay’s longtime favorite restaurants.
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.
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.
There’s no shortage of events in Ellijay, especially in the fall.
Georgia Apple Festival, October
Typically, the Georgia Apple Festival spans two weekends with more than 300 vendors with food, art and crafts. However, the 49th annual Georgia Apple Festival Arts & Crafts show has been cancelled for October 2020. Make plans to visit in October 2021 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary Georgia Apple Festival.
Dancing Goats FolkFest, September
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. It is cancelled for September 2020 but plans to return in 2021.
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.
Taste of Ellijay, May
Taste of Ellijay highlights Gilmer County’s best restaurants every Memorial Day. It’s free to attend, and tastings cost $1-3, but there’s also live music and other entertainment.