man standing in field of sunflowers
Credit: Gilmer County Chamber

Flower Field at Aaron Family Orchards

5 Reasons to Experience Ellijay in 2024

With heirloom orchards and unparalleled vineyards, exciting outdoors, and endless mountain magic, Ellijay is full of unforgettable adventures. As 2024 unfolds, Ellijay invites you to embark on a journey to explore lush orchards, conquer rugged trails, and immerse yourself in local culture. Discover Ellijay’s hidden gems, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Top 5 things to do in Ellijay: 

  1. Agritourism
  2. Outdoors & Activities 
  3. Events & Festivals
  4. Downtown Ellijay 
  5. Appalachian Gothic


Couple eating apple pie

BJ Reece Orchards, Credit: Outlive Creative

1. Agritourism

With more than 22 varieties of apples harvested from June – November, Gilmer County is known as the “Apple Capital” of Georgia. Visit the area’s orchards and wineries for farm-fresh flavors you won’t find anywhere else.

Open year- round, B.J. Reece Orchards, is a family favorite and offers a variety of fun farm activities, including a petting farm, giant farm slide, pig races, corn maze, cow milking, pony rides, and apple picking. Stop by the market and bakery for apple cider donuts, fritters, breads and their world-famous fried pies. You can’t miss apple picking in the fall to complete your farm experience.

woman drinking a cider beer
Reece’s Cider Co., Credit: @natalieincolor_

The first cidery in Ellijay, Reece’s Cider Co, produces hard cider from freshly picked fruits at B.J. Reece Orchards. Enjoy a flight of farm- fresh hard ciders, savoring the Ellijay Apple, Apple Pie, Georgia Peach, and Poppy’s Pick, named after the owner’s late grandfather.

Beyond orchards, Ellijay is home to many farm stores that offer fresh foods and fun activities, such as petting farms and flower picking. Ellijay Mushrooms is a family-owned sustainable farm dedicated to cultivating high -quality shiitake and oyster mushrooms. They recently expanded to include the delightful experience of flower picking. Visit their farm store to build your bouquet of flowers and purchase quality mushrooms and souvenirs.

Mountain Valley Farm Store is a family-owned farm featuring the cutest animals and Appalachian-grown goods. After admiring their goats, bunnies, chickens, and sheep, make your way to their farm store to load up on butchered meats, cheeses, butter, honey, and delectable ice cream. Savor your treats with a picnic in the vines or beside a cozy fire in one of Ellijay's charming cabins.

Explore Ellijay's newest farm, Cress Creeks Farms, where the bounty of nature meets wholesome delights. This sheep farm offers a variety of fresh meats, local honey, irresistible baked goods, blended coffee, and okra chips - a local favorite. Don't miss out on the annual fall season corn maze adventure, spanning 8 acres of picturesque fields.

woman drinking wine at winery
Breathtaking views at Cartecay Vineyards, Credit: @maddiechastain__

In 2007, Ellijay became home to Cartecay Vineyards, Ellijay’s first vineyard. Since then, Ellijay’s wine scene has grown to include more than 15 wineries, vineyards, breweries and cideries. Cartecay Vineyards has several Instagram-worthy spots, like its picturesque chimney patio, perfect for a girls trip or romantic getaway. September comes alive at Cartecay Vineyards during Crush Fest, when visitors can enjoy stomping grapes, vineyard tours, great music, food trucks, and of course, wine!

Located just four miles from Downtown Ellijay with breathtaking, pristine mountain views, Roo Mountain Vineyards is Ellijay’s newest vineyard. Roo is your destination for comfortable luxury. Taste and savor a curated selection of wines and hard ciders, fresh from the vineyard and made by their team of experienced winemakers. After you have found the perfect glass, sit back, and enjoy the beautiful mountain views, or explore the winery, tasting room, and rooftop garden bar.

Planning a visit to Ellijay Wine Country? The Ellijay Sips Trail Mobile Pass is a free pass to guide visitors through the best of Ellijay area wineries. Earn points with every purchase and redeem for swag, or enter sweepstakes for a chance to win an Ellijay getaway. Sign up to begin earning points today!

couple biking on a path

Scenic mountain biking in Ellijay, Credit: Outlive Creative

2. Outdoors & Activities

Known as the Mountain Biking Capital of Georgia, Ellijay is home to renowned mountain biking trails. For advice and gear, stop into Cartecay Bike Shop Brewery, a full-service bike shop, offering rentals, group rides, performance gear, maps, and even a backyard bike park for all skill levels. New in 2024, the shop also offers craft beer passionately micro brewed onsite.

man and woman hugging a tree
Gennett Poplar at Bear Creek Trail, Credit: Gilmer County Chamber

Did you know that Ellijay serves as a gateway to the Appalachian Trail? The southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail is Springer Mountain in Gilmer County. Lace up your hiking boots and embark on a memorable hike that offers breathtaking vistas and a sense of adventure that is unparalleled.

Bear Creek Trail is a fun trail with creek crossings that leads to the Gennett Poplar, Georgia’s second largest tree. Tumbling Waters is one of our family favorite hiking trails located in Ellijay’s Carters Lake. The trail winds along the banks of Carters Lake and features scenic views of cascades and the North Georgia mountains.

With three rivers, endless creeks, and Georgia’s deepest lake, Ellijay is full of opportunities to explore waterways. One of the easiest ways to experience Ellijay’s rivers is by booking an experience with a local tubing company. Cartecay River Experience allows river rats to book either a kayak or a tube, be shuttled to the inlet, and be picked up at the end of their route.

older man and younger woman fly fishing in a river
Reel ‘Em In Fishing, Credit: Outlive Creative

If you prefer boating, Carters Lake Marina offers a selection of boat rentals. Try your hand at fly fishing, and catch largemouth bass, catfish, and more in the lakes surrounding Gilmer County. Be sure to book a guided experience with a local fly-fishing guide like Reel ’Em In Guide Services to get access to some of the area’s best fishing holes. 

3. Events & Festivals

Known for its breathtaking scenery, downtown area, and warm hospitality, Ellijay is a beloved destination. However, what truly sets Ellijay apart is its vibrant festival scene, which brings the community together throughout the year. Here is a glimpse into this year’s exciting festivals.

Woofstock Ellijay

Get ready for a doggone good time in Downtown Ellijay on April 13, 2024, as a plethora of partying pets promenade in apparel for a paws cause! Enjoy vendors, food trucks, and pet contests to benefit shelter animals in Gilmer County.

Georgia Mountain Needle Arts Festival

April 26-28, 2024, delight in a weekend filled with vendors, enriching classes, and endless crafting inspiration. Immerse yourself in the world of needle arts in the heart of Georgia’s stunning mountain scenery.

woman and man walking a dog at the apple blossom fest
Georgia Apple Blossom Festival, Credit: Lindsay Ann

Georgia Apple Blossom Festival

The Apple Blossom Festival is back and better than ever! Set to take place May 25 - 27, 2024, from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m., this vibrant celebration showcases the very best in arts, crafts, and food. With free admission and kids' activities, there's something enchanting for everyone here over Memorial Day weekend.

Ellijay Farmers & Artisans Market

Are you a fan of fresh produce, unique crafts, and a vibrant community atmosphere? The Ellijay Farmers and Artisans Market is your go-to destination for a delightful experience. Every Saturday from May through September, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the market is conveniently nestled behind the Downtown Ellijay Welcome Center. Don’t miss the opportunity to soak up the local charm and take home some treasures.

Blue Ridge Mountains Wine & Jazz Festival

Blue Ridge Mountains Wine and Jazz Festival brings great music, great wines, fine art, and delicious cuisine to beautiful Ellijay on Sept. 7, 2024. Enjoy wines from around the world and the local area, while listening to top jazz performers from the region.

Ellijay Bacon Fest

Get ready for sizzling excitement at the 3rd Annual Ellijay Bacon Fest on Sept. 29, 2024. Indulge in mouthwatering bacon-themed dishes, groove to live music, join in the bacon eating contest, and enjoy a variety of games and activities. Best of all, your participation supports a great cause: the Gilmer Community Food Pantry.

woman with a child who is riding a pony at the apple festival

Georgia Apple Festival, Credit: Photo by Lindsay Ann

Georgia Apple Festival

Join us on Oct. 12-13 and 19-20, 2024, for the Georgia Apple Festival. In its 53rd year, this arts and crafts festival features over than 300 vendors bringing with the South’s finest handmade goods, festival food, and apple goodies. 

Apple Arts Festival

At the same time as the Georgia Apple Festival, this sister festival located behind the Downtown Ellijay Welcome Center adds fun arts and crafts and food to the downtown scene. The Apple Arts Festival is pet-friendly and accessible, and admission is free!

group of people standing in front of a christmas tree
Holiday Lights of Ellijay, Credit: Outlive Creative

Holiday Lights of Ellijay

Get ready to be dazzled by the magic of the season as Holiday Lights of Ellijay returns in November. Watch as the town comes alive with an enchanting display of shimmering lights, festive decorations, and heartwarming festivities. 

4. Downtown Ellijay

Begin your journey in North Georgia in Downtown Ellijay, where charming boutiques, antique shops, and eateries line the square. Discover the latest trendy pieces at Rustic Roots Boutique and Beauty Barre, and peruse the eclectic offerings at Little Apple Mercantile and Antiques on Main. While strolling through Downtown Ellijay for one-of-a-kind souvenirs, don't miss the chance to participate in the Ellijay Antiques Trail — an opportunity not only for fun antiquing but also for winning exciting prizes!

woman sitting on the grass with her dog
 Four-legged fun in Ellijay, Credit: Outlive Creative

Bring your furry friends on your trip to Ellijay, a pet-friendly paradise, with a plethora of pet-friendly activities. After hiking Ellijay’s trails, strolling through a riverside park, and walking through the vines, bring your pet to Pets on Main for grooming services before hitting the town. Along with pet-friendly patios to enjoy dining with your friendly companion, enjoy shopping at Mountain Hounds, a pet boutique for dogs and cats.

After a leisurely day in Downtown Ellijay, choose from a variety of dining options that will fill all cravings. For authentic Southern cuisine, Cantaberry Restaurant offers homemade soups like tomato basil, chicken and wild rice, and a popular Rueben, and comforting chicken salad. The Roof of Ellijay is a rooftop restaurant and bar offering gourmet Southern dishes while overlooking the picturesque town square. The Roof’s impressive menu features exquisite steaks and regionally caught fish, but you can’t go wrong with their signature bologna sliders. For International cuisine, The Shack of Ellijay is an Asian fusion restaurant serving Birria Ramen, a twist on the classic chicken noodle soup.

Along with a variety of dining establishments, Ellijay offers many tasting rooms serving local wine. Stop into Cartecay Wine & Craft, a tasting room of Cartecay Vineyards, to sample local wine and craft beer. Support talented artists at 29 North's unique tasting room and art gallery, where wine and art unite.

Big foot statue at museum

Bigfoot Museum, Credit: Outlive Creative


5. Appalachian Gothic

Explore the unsolved! For those intrigued by the mysterious and the unknown, a visit to EXPEDITION: Bigfoot! is an absolute must. Dive into the cryptids world as you explore the museum dedicated to the legendary creature known as Bigfoot. With exhibits featuring the country’s largest permanent display of footprint casts, life-size and interactive displays, and even a Sasquatch theater, this immersive experience is sure to spark your curiosity and ignite your sense of adventure. Don’t forget to pick up exclusive souvenirs and other one-of-a-kind items to commemorate your experience. Who knows, you may just leave believing in the existence of the elusive Sasquatch!

Explore local galleries and studios, and check out a show at Gilmer Arts while you are in town. If you like to showcase your artistic skills, book a sip and paint party at BEAU-tiful Creations. If you love cozy home decorations, consider booking a time slot at Color My Nest, where you can decorate  bird houses and decorate them to your heart’s content.

Published: March 2024

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