Mountain cabin/treehouse in Flintstone, Georgia. Photo by Ben Galland
Best Things to Do in Northwest Georgia
Outdoor adventures, historic sites, and quirky fun await your visit in this corner of the state.
Dubbed "the land of sights and legends," northwest Georgia claims more than its fair share of history and natural beauty. Go glamping on a mountaintop in the clouds, wander romantic Southern gardens, trace the footsteps of indigenous civilizations, and listen for distant drumbeats on a battlefield.
Explore an endless variety of things to do outdoors in northwest Georgia, pausing to learn about the region's history from the Native Americans to the Civil War. Explore both histories in this region, which is rich with natural beauty just begging visitors to get outside and enjoy it. Keep reading for tips from a local about where to go, where to eat and great places for kids.
Things to see & do
Hiking & biking
This rugged corner of the state compels visitors to get outside. Hike past tumbling waterfalls and one of the state's best vistas at Cloudland Canyon State Park, or hit the trails at Fort Mountain State Park for long-range Blue Ridge views. Epic mountain biking awaits at Blankets Creek in Holly Springs, Ellijay’s Bear Creek, and various other single-track hotspots. Cyclists enjoy smoother terrain along the 61-mile Silver Comet Trail, which slices through northwest Georgia on a repurposed rail path, complete with historic trestle and tunnel.
Prefer watersports? The Toccoa River and its tributaries offer the finest trout fishing in the state. Hook giant bass on Lake Allatoona, a popular pleasure-boating destination because of its size and proximity to Atlanta, or visit Carters Lake, Georgia's deepest reservoir and also one of its quietest (development is prohibited).
Fannin County is the trout capital of Georgia thanks to the Toccoa River and its year-round cold, clear water. Outfitters like Fly Shop Co. in Blue Ridge bring novice and seasoned anglers to the river and area creeks, where you might reel in a trophy spotted or rainbow trout. As a keepsake, take home a hand-engraved rod from Oyster Fine Bamboo Fly Rods, also in Blue Ridge, or learn to craft your own during the shop's recurring classes.
Sparkling water and forest-lined shores make Lake Blue Ridge the picture-perfect spot for a pontoon ride. For a faster ride, head to Cartersville’s Terminus Wake Park, where cables tow wakeboarders over ramps and rails. Finally, grab a SUP (stand-up paddleboard) from Rome’s River Dog Paddle Co. and skim the lazy Etowah or Oostanaula rivers. Reward your workout with a local brew from the shop's on-site beer garden.
This 3,000-acre Adairsville estate exudes romance. Beyond the vine-cloaked ruins of an 1840s manor lie upscale cottages and a 55-room inn, as well as a spa, sporting clays, horseback riding, and a Jim Fazio–designed golf course.
A local family's love of Coca-Cola inspired them to resurrect a crumbling former bottling plant once operated by the beverage maker. The Cedartown Museum of Coca-Cola Memorabilia is now filled with a trove of Coke artifacts, including a 1912 coin-operated vending machine, a 1926 delivery truck, and all manner of vintage ads.
Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site
See six earthen mounds and a visible town layout of the Mississippians, a Native American civilization that thrived here (near present-day Cartersville) around 1,000 AD, at Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site. Climb a staircase to the top of the largest knoll, which towers some six stories above the landscape, and visit a museum housing artifacts excavated from the site.
America's oldest national military park commemorates the 35,000 soldiers who died at Chickamauga, site of the Civil War's second-bloodiest clash after Gettysburg. Stop by the visitor center at the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park to watch an introductory film before embarking on a self-guided or ranger-led driving tour across 5,200 monument-dotted acres.
What's one thing all visitors to your region should do?
Enjoy the outdoors! Cherokee County has some amazing mountain biking trails, and our family enjoys hiking, especially at Red Top Mountain. We also love getting on the water, whether it's to kayak, tube, or enjoy a sunset on Lake Allatoona.
What’s your favorite restaurant?
That’s tough, but we love Queenie’s in Canton. Where else can you get elevated pork rinds and five-star SPAM?
Where would you recommend someone go with kids?
If your kids are adventurous, tubing the Cartecay in Ellijay is a great time.
What's something surprising about your region?
There are some really amazing small businesses thriving all over North Georgia: fantastic restaurants, great coffee, well-curated shops, and some great beer.
What do you love most about living here?
The community. People are welcoming and friendly and really care about the folks around them.