Aerial view of Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge, Georgia

Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Photo by @visitblueridgega

Georgia's Peaks of Perfection

For unbeatable scenery in every season, award-winning vineyards and outdoor adventures, you can't miss Blue Ridge, Clayton and Ellijay.

Take the high road and visit the North Georgia mountains for jaw-dropping scenery, award-winning vineyards and idyllic small towns with plenty to explore, including Blue Ridge, Clayton and Ellijay. The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest stretches across the state’s northern border, and the southern end of the Appalachian Mountains peppers the landscape with spectacular summits — the perfect start or end to any Appalachian Trail trek.

Scenic vistas transform with the seasons and top-notch hiking trails, rolling rivers and pristine lakes (dreams for anglers), and the cooling spray of rushing waterfalls are fantastic ways to experience them. The area is also rich in history, with ties to Native American heritage, Southern Appalachian folk culture and more. Walkable downtowns, restaurants that leverage the region’s signature fruits, cozy cabins and B&Bs, and cultural treasures ensure there are plenty of ways to relax on getaways of any length.

Aerial view of downtown Blue Ridge, Georgia
Aerial view of downtown Blue Ridge, Georgia. Photo by @visitblueridgega

Things to Do in Blue Ridge

Consistently ranked one of the South’s top destinations, Blue Ridge is a quintessential American mountain town. It’s a true escape from the everyday, nestled amid miles of gentle peaks, forested trails, trout-filled streams and Lake Blue Ridge. When visitors have had more serene natural encounters than they can handle, the walkable, artsy downtown awaits with noteworthy places to eat, wet their whistles and share fish tales with other blissed-out locals and visitors.

The Toccoa River’s pristine waterway has a reputation as the trout-fishing capital of the state, and it’s equally popular for kayaking and tubing. Mercier Orchards, family-owned since 1943, lets guests pick their own apples from more than 50 varieties. Pick up treats such as apple butter, fried apple donuts and hard cider.

Hiking on the Appalachian Trail in North Georgia
Appalachian Trail in North Georgia. Photo by @kalebeastphoto

For a taste of the famed Appalachian Trail, head to Springer Mountain. It’s the 2,190-mile hike’s southern terminus and the spot where day hikers will find paths in varying levels of difficulty along with sweeping mountain views. Connect with Hike the Ridge for guided sunset or sunrise hikes. 

For those looking for views from a more relaxed position, several scenic drives fan out from town (stop by the welcome center for maps) through mountainous areas, lush countrysides and leafy wilderness, as well as several waterfalls, including Amicalola Falls — the tallest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River. For more water refreshment, hook up with several outfitters just outside town for an Ocoee River whitewater adventure or splash into the Toccoa with Blue Ridge Tubing.

Carve out plenty of time to meander around downtown. There, you’ll find upscale shops, curated galleries with work from local artists, farm-to-table restaurants and breweries. Hit up the tasting rooms of Angry Hops Brewing and Bear Claw Vineyards to sample the region’s bounty. 

View of Lake Blue Ridge from Lake Blue Ridge Dam Recreation Park in Blue Ridge, Georgia
View of Lake Blue Ridge from Lake Blue Ridge Dam Recreation Park in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Photo by @visitblueridgega

Venture outside downtown to take in glistening Lake Blue Ridge’s 65 miles of shoreline populated by campsites, boat ramps, a marina and swimming areas. At Blue Ridge Boat Rentals, get yourself onto a pontoon, ski boat, Wave Runner, wakeboard, lily pad, kayak or paddleboard. Take a short hike on the Benton MacKaye Trail to see the Toccoa River Swinging Bridge.

Where to Eat and Drink in Blue Ridge

Exterior of The Black Sheep in Blue Ridge, Georgia
The Black Sheep in Blue Ridge, Georgia

Everyone’s welcome at The Black Sheep, where the spacious patio on the Butt House (built in 1914) is a top spot for brunch. Favorites include the chicken and red-velvet waffles and the crab-cake eggs Benedict.

Classic Cuban sandwiches, sweet plantains and beef-picadillo empanadas are standouts at family-owned Rum Cake Lady Cuban Cafe. Don’t walk out without a signature rum-soaked bundt cake.

Find yourself on a guided wine tasting at Serenberry Vineyards & Winery and enjoy snacks or a picnic in the pastoral, open-air barn. Follow that with dinner at Harvest On Main or Southern Charm, and your Blue Ridge to-do list will be complete.

Where to Sleep in Blue Ridge

Cabin in Blue Ridge, Georgia
Escape to Blue Ridge cabin in Blue Ridge, Georgia

Get the true mountain experience — and plenty of peace and privacy — by booking a cabin. Choose from local rentals like Escape to Blue Ridge, offering scenic mountaintop or river-side views.

The shiny new Hampton Inn by Hilton is centrally located across from the historic train depot. Take in the summit views from the rooftop bar, and enjoy pet-friendly rooms and complimentary breakfast.

If You Like Blue Ridge, You Also Might Enjoy...

Downtown Clayton, Georgia
Downtown Clayton, Georgia. Photo by Jake Tekippe


Nature lovers won’t want to miss Clayton, home to numerous fishing spots, breathtaking waterfalls and wildflower views, along with Black Rock Mountain State Park, the highest-elevation state park in Georgia. Nestled at the base of Black Rock Mountain itself, Clayton has also earned a reputation as the state’s farm-to-table capital. Taste the artfully prepared agricultural bounty at The Market at the Clayton Cafe and Fortify Kitchen & Bar. Fuel up for outdoor adventures, such as watersports on Lake Burton or any number of spectacular hikes. For a moderate trek, pick up Dicks Creek Gap to Bly Gap Camp — an 8.7-mile section of the Appalachian Trail — to follow the famed path as it slices through the forest’s fern-carpeted floor.

Mother and child at Hillcrest Orchards in Ellijay, Georgia
Mother and child at Hillcrest Orchards in Ellijay, Georgia. Photo by @prescillavee


The state’s apple capital of Ellijay allures year-round with festivals (including fall’s annual Georgia Apple Festival), orchards and restaurants leveraging the region’s signature fruit. Sample fruity treats from nearly a dozen farms, including Panorama Orchards and Farm Market, or pick your own at Hillcrest Orchards and the Red Apple Barn. Savor the crisp flavor of Georgia apples in a different form at Reece’s Cider Co. or take a tasting tour of the area’s numerous vineyards. And Ellijay is as much for outdoors lovers as it is for foodies. Go tubing on the Cartecay River, hike along miles of secluded trails or test your skills on a mountain bike. Nearby Carters Lake is perfect for boating, camping, picnicking, birding or simply soaking up the views.

Published: May 2024
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