Weekend in Blue Ridge, Ga., one of three ways: on a budget, spending a bit more, or when the getaway calls for a splurge.
The more than 300 miles that make up Fannin County’s major trail systems (all abilities) include some of the most legendary in the United States, including access to the Appalachian Trail, which extends for more than 2,000 miles to Maine through many Eastern states. Plan a day to hike along rushing rivers and to cooling mountain streams and waterfalls. The quaint downtown is popular for walking tours, galleries, shops and restaurants. Visit www.blueridgemountains.com/selfguidedtours.html for area driving, walking, hiking and pub crawl maps.
Getting there: A world of adventure is just 90 minutes north of Atlanta via I-575.
Stay: Reid Ridge Lodge features fully renovated guest rooms with luxury bedding on two levels (no elevator). Gather in the evening at the fire pit for s’mores. Rates from $129 include continental breakfast. The lodge is 2 miles from downtown Blue Ridge. 30 Overview Drive, 706-632-4444, www.reidridgelodge.com.
Eat: Start the morning with breakfast ($7-$12) at L & L Beanery. Built in the town’s historic bank building, the cafe has a high tin ceiling, a stone fireplace and antique seating. Enter the original bank’s walk-in safe to buy coffee, specialty foods and local crafts. 260 W. Main St., 706-632-3242, www.llbeanerycoffeecafe.com. Family-owned and -operated Mercier Orchards is the place to stop for fresh fruit, cider, fried pies and deli items for a picnic, or for your rental cabin. 8660 Blue Ridge Drive, 706-632-3411, www.mercier-orchards.com.
Experience: Hit the trails to Jacks River Falls, the most visited site in the Cohutta Wilderness, a 40,000-acre wilderness in both Georgia and Tennessee. Another popular spot is Long Creek Falls. Hike down a short side trail from the intersecting Appalachian Trail and the Benton MacKaye Trail, a 300-mile-long foot path with access to some of the most remote wilderness areas in Blue Ridge. Take the kids to the Swan Drive-In, one of Georgia’s four remaining drive-ins, established in 1955; $8 adults, $5 ages 4-11. 651 Summit St., 706-632-5235, www.swan-drive-in.com.
Stay: Rent a cozy cabin for two or a luxury home for a friends and family reunion. Choose from lake, creek, river or forest settings or mountain views to pet-friendly. The downtown High Country Cottage features two bedrooms and a fully equipped kitchen from $145 a night. Southern Comfort Cabin Rentals, 240 W. Main St., 706-258-3737, www.southerncomfortcabinrentals.com.
Eat: The Black Sheep Restaurant is housed inside a 102-year-old house with vintage decor and outdoor seating. Venison chops and elk are prepared on weekends. The signature dish is southern-Asian fused tuna nachos, $16-$40. 480 W. Main St., 706-946-3663, www.blacksheepblueridge.com.
Experience: Ride the Blue Ridge Railway along the beautiful Toccoa River. From the historic 1905 downtown depot, board vintage climate-controlled cars and open-air rail cars. The four-hour 26-mile round trip includes a stop in the quaint sister towns of McCaysville, Ga., and Copperhill, Tenn. Adults $42; $34 military; $27 ages 2-12. 241 Depot St., 1-877-413-8724, www.brscenic.com.
Stay: Take in the sunset views and views of Little Sugar Creek and Bear Claw Vineyards from the TreeHouse. Amenities include front porch rocking chairs, a barbecue and fire pit, wine refrigerator, one queen loft bed, queen sleeper sofa, and a bathroom steam shower with massage jets. Rates are $229, Sundays-Thursdays; $275, weekends; $325, holidays. Downtown Blue Ridge is less than 4 miles away. 2555 Tennis Court Road, 706-223-3750, www.blueridgetreehouse.com.
Eat: Spend an afternoon on a three-hour guided walking and tasting adventure at five to six unique restaurants, food shops and eateries. Go behind the scenes and mingle with culinary chefs and restaurant owners, many of whom have pioneered the revitalization of downtown Blue Ridge. www.blueridgemountainfoodtours.com.
Experience: The oldest outfitter on the Toccoa River, Toccoa Valley Campground, offers rental equipment (with life jackets) for tubing or kayaking 6 miles of the river. Rafts for families and couples: two-man ($40), four-man ($60) and six-man rafts ($80), and one- and two-person kayaks ($40) and tubes with bottom and handles ($10). 11481 Aska Road, 706-838-4317, http://toccoavalleycampground.com. Rolling Thunder River Company offers a six-hour whitewater rafting trip on the Upper and Middle Ocoee River (Class III and IV); $90-$98 (minimum age 12). 20 Hughes St., McCaysville. 1-800-408-7238, www.rollingthunderriverco.com.
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Clara Bosonetto is a retired travel consultant.