Group-Friendly Culinary Experiences: From Mountain Wines to Macon Soul
Grab a Georgia map and take a journey perfect for groups filled with memorable bites and sights.
Admit it: One of the best parts of a road trip is stopping to eat somewhere you've never been. So why not create a tour focused on the food itself? When it comes to culinary experiences, Georgia is teeming with options, so deciding where to go requires some planning. Whether you crave a farmers' market stroll, a landmark-filled city food tour, a mountainside vineyard escape - or all of the above - these Georgia standouts pack plenty of sensational Southern food and crowd-pleasing fun into your journey.
The Dillard House, Dillard
Start your adventure from on high - but only two hours from Atlanta. This resort sits on a plateau surrounded by gardens, pastures, and the Blue Ridge Mountains. In the restaurant, award-winning Southern cuisine is served family-style, and the fried chicken and strawberry cobbler keep coming until you say stop. Accommodations include rooms, cabins, and cottages (rockers on the porch: check). On-site activities include horseback riding, trout fishing, and swimming. Don't miss the petting zoo or the gift shop. Call for group rates.
Montaluce Winery & Restaurant, Dahlonega
Imagine Tuscany, but with views of the Appalachian Mountains and shrimp and grits on the menu. Weekend Wine Hikes ($45) follow trails along the headwaters of the Etowah River, through the vineyard, and back to the patio for a wine tasting. Short, week-day winery tours (free) offer a pleasant intro as do wine flights enjoyed in the Tasting Room. Call weeks - not days - ahead to arrange private group tours, tastings, and inquire about villa rentals.
The Smith House, Dahlonega
Situated one block from Dahlonega's bustling town square, this historic venue has welcomed guests since the 1920s. Take a seat at one of the long communal tables and enjoy dishes that have been served here for generations (country ham, fried okra, yeast rolls). Don't leave without a copy of The Smith House History Cookbook and check out the famous mine shaft that's on view in the basement. Groups are welcome, with banquet rooms and "inn blocks" available for booking.
Overnight in Dahlonega
57th Fighter Group Restaurant, Atlanta
This hideaway is ideal for aviation and history buffs or anyone with a penchant for cocktails, straightforward American cuisine, and sunset views. A rambling affair with a bunker vibe, the venue links dining rooms, bars, and expansive patio with fire pits, and a dance floor. You'll get a birds-eye view of planes, including the retro bi-plane rides, taking off and landing at DeKalb Peachtree Airport (a.k.a. "PDK"). The Vietnam Room is among the options for larger parties.
Atlanta Food Walks, Atlanta
Since a local writer and food historian owns this operation, expect no culinary stone to go unturned. the Southern Downtown Food Walk (Thursday-Monday) is going strong, and now there's a new Grant Park Past & Future Food Walk (Friday-Sunday). Ramble through one of Atlanta's oldest neighborhoods as you indulge in 12 modern and Southern fusion tastings from five locally owned food stops. End with a stroll through historic Oakland Cemetery. Private group tours offered.
Chick-fil-A Backstage Tour, College Park
From the corporate Support Center, you'll learn the story of S. Truett Cathy who, with his brother Ben, opened a tiny diner in Hapeville in 1946, cooking for shift workers from the Ford assembly plant and Delta Air Lines. Today, the fast-food giant serves millions. (Plan a lunch detour to The Dwarf House, the original Chick-fil-A, nearby.) Tour highlights include Cathy's vintage car collection, a grill museum, and a visit to the late founder's office, featuring family photos, mementos, and an open Bible.
Overnight in College Park
Blue Willow Inn, Social Circle
This Greek Revival mansion is about an hour from Atlanta, but feels a world away, as if Scarlett O'Hara might descend the staircase at any moment to join the buffet line. Enjoy regional staples prepared to simple perfection. Be sure to tour the patio dedicated to Southern humorist Lewis Grizzard and the themed rooms upstairs. The gift shop offers the restaurant's namesake cookbook, plus an earful of delightful gossip about the site's connection with Gone With the Wind author Margaret Mitchell.
Farmview Market, Madison
Choose from a plethora of organic, artisanal goodies inside this sleek, culinary-themed barn with the Big Green Rooster out front. Here, Georgia suppliers purvey farm-fresh produce, meats and seafood, cheeses, breads, preserves and sauces, and grains and grits (ground on-site). Shop for gifts or treat yourself to custom-blend coffee beans, heirloom garden seeds, soaps and candles, olive wood serving boards, and kitchen-themed stationery. Pack a cooler for provisions and make time to dine in the care. Inquire ahead about tours for groups.
H&H Soul Food Restaurant, Macon
It's as much a part of The Allman Brothers Band lore as The Big House down the road (home to the band in the early '70s, now a museum). If it weren't for chef "Mama" Louise feeding the cash-poor musicians back then, who know how things might have played out. The room has a smattering of tables and chairs, plus church pews as banquette benches. Large groups, call ahead. Check out band photos and vintage posters while digging into to some pork rinds 'n' pimento cheese.
Don't-Miss Dining: Flavor Tour, Rome
Roman "chariots" await to whisk you past the iconic clock tower and on to a mix of hotels, bistros, bakeries, bars, and restaurants. Well-curated bites may include: trendy food truck grilled cheese, craft brews with river views, stuffed pork loin, fried catfish and green tomatoes, chocolate mousse cake, or street tacos with margarita sippers. Smaller groups of eight to 10 are ideal.
Must-Stop Shopping: North Georgia Premium Outlets, Dawsonville
Arrive well-fed, rested, and ready to power shop at this mega complex featuring top names in apparel, purses, shoes, athletic and outdoor wear, home design, kitchenware, bath and beauty, and more. Newer stores include Tory Burch, Palmetto Moon, and Z Gallerie. Groups may book tours online (call to confirm). Coupon books are sold at Guest Services at the food pavilion.