The Blue Ridge Mountains provide picturesque mountain views and are a blissful getaway. While the mountain range stretches across nine states, you can find many of the best small towns to visit in north Georgia.
In this article, I’ll explore a little more about the best mountain towns to travel to in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia. Read on to find out why these 8 towns are top destinations for both national and international travelers.
Overview: Best Towns in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia
Georgia mountain towns are scenic and peaceful, but also filled with outdoor adventures! And as the Blue Ridge Mountains are a part of the Appalachian Mountains, the history and culture of these quaint towns are a rich piece of Appalachian culture.
To make the most out of your trip, here are my top eight recommendations when it comes to North Georgia mountain towns to visit:
- Blue Ridge, GA
- Helen, GA
- Cleveland, GA
- Ellijay, GA
- Blairsville, GA
- Clayton, GA
- Dahlonega, GA
- Dillard, GA
Travel Top: If you’re going on a road trip, check out the Blue Ridge Parkway! It’s a scenic drive along the stretch of the Blue Ridge Mountains and allows you to hop from one small town to another.
Don’t forget to bring a cooler to keep snacks and drinks fresh on the trip too.
- Luxurious cabin rentals
- outdoor recreation sites
- water tubing
- waterfall hopping
- great mountain fishing
- breweries and wineries
Blue Ridge is a city in Fannin county popular as a mountain getaway. There’s an array of lodging from cabin rentals to treehouses. It is the perfect place for outdoor enthusiasts to go hiking, water tubing, waterfalls hopping, and trout fishing.
Best Time to Visit Blue Ridge, Georgia
The best time to visit Blue Ridge is in the seasons of spring or fall. Tourism peaks during the month of October.
However, if book your stay during the summer months, you can avoid larger crowds and have just as much fun.
History of Blue Ridge, Georgia
The town of Blue Ridge was founded as a town in 1886 by Col. Mike Mckinney. This was around the same time as the construction of the Marietta and North Georgia Railroad.
Since its establishment, it has served as the central point for Fannin countyâ€™s agricultural products until it became known for outdoor recreation and tourism.
What Should You and Your Family Do for Fun in Blue Ridge, GA?
Ride the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
Visit local wineries and breweries
- Bear Claw Vineyards and Winery
- Cartecay Wine and Craft – Blue Ridge
- Grumpy Old Man Brewing
- Fannin Brewing Company
Pick some apples at Mercier Orchards
Go hiking on these trails
- Benton MacKaye Trail
- Aska Trails
- Appalachian Trails
- Long Creek Falls Trail
Check out the Toccoa river swinging bridge during your hike
Spend a day at Lake Blue Ridge
Explore the Blue Ridge downtown area
Tryoutdoor activities at Blue Ridge Adventure Park
- Challenge Course
- Zip and Climb Combo
Official Tourism Website: blueridgemountains.com
2. Helen, GA
Known as: The go-to place for a festive Oktoberfest
Tourism Website: helenga.org
Visiting Helen, GA, especially during October, will not disappoint. It is the site for one of the most vibrant Oktoberfests in the country. You’ll see people dressed in traditional German costumes, listen to live music, and drink locally crafted beers.
But if you go to Helen any other month, you will find plenty of other activities to enjoy, such as:
- outdoor adventures
- wine tasting
- local arts and galleries
- romantic things for couples
The diversity of fun things in Helen makes it the third most visited spot in Georgia.
The history of Helen stretches back to 1912. Back then, it was a popular spot for lumber production. However, the logging business declined, and the town needed another plan for success.
This gave birth to the idea of creating a tourist hub that was based on being a mini-Germany. Helen became modeled as a Bavarian mountain town, complete with Alpine architecture.
As a result, the town became a popular tourist destination.
What To Do in Helen, GA
Visit the Bavarian Village
Learn about Helen’s heritage and history
Explore local waterfalls and mineral springs
Go hiking on different trails
- Raven Cliff Falls Trail
- Dukes Creek Trail
- Laurel Ridge Trail Loop
Check out the Unicoi State Park
Mine some gems with the kids
Known as: The city of mountain breezes
Tourism Website: cityofclevelandga.org
With its historic sites, recreational parks, vineyards, and antique shops, youâ€™ll have a memorable solo or family vacation in Cleveland, Georgia. It covers half of Mt. Yonah, with Helen on the other side.
Filled with stunning views and rich history, you are in for a treat when visiting this Blue Ridge Mountain city.
History of Cleveland, GA
Named after war figure Colonel Benjamin Cleveland, the chartered town of Cleveland was the designated seat of White County in 1857. It was initially an agricultural community until the city evolved into a business district with the widespread use of electricity.
Since then, Cleveland has made a name in tourism. It’s the birthplace of the popular Cabbage Patch Kids Dolls.
What To Do in Cleveland, GA
ðŸ·Go wine tasting in local wineries and vineyards
Taste locally crafted beers at Tantrum Brewing Company
Visit different Antique Shops
Go fishing and hiking at Boggs Creek Recreation Area
Swing by the Babyland General Hospital (origin of the Cabbage Patch Kids Dolls)
4. Ellijay, GA
Known as: Georgia’s Apple Capital
Tourism Website: gilmerchamber.com
Ellijay is known for its apple orchards. The area is an incredibly popular Fall destination for apple picking, with the peak season in October. But aside from getting afresh Georgia apples, you’ll find many other fun things to do in Ellijay.
Read our guide on apple picking in Georgia Mountains to learn more about the apple orchards in the region.
History of Ellijay, GA
Ellijay is an anglicized version of the Cherokee word “Elatseyi” which means new ground.
Like Blue Ridge, Ellijay was a remote area until the railroad was constructed. By then, lumber production came to town, which developed Ellijay into a thriving small town.
What To Do in Ellijay, GA
Go apple picking on Ellijay’s many orchards
Play golf at Whitepath Golf Course
Experience wildlife viewing, fishing, and hiking at the Cohutta Wilderness Area
Checkout the Springer Mountain Area Hiking Trails
Visit vineyards and wineries
Swing by Tabor House and Civil War Museum
Go mountain biking and camping at Mulberry Gap – Adventure Basecamp
Enjoy tubing down the river (Top 8 River Tubing Experiences)
Known for: Home to multiple lakes and water recreation sites
Tourism Website: visitblairsvillega.com
If you are into water sports and recreation, visiting Blairsville City in the Blue Ridge Mountains would pay off your travel. Whether you are coming for a day trip or an extended stay, youâ€™ll get to enjoy the outdoor activities state parks, lookout posts and trails Blairsville has to offer.
Blairsville, one of the homelands of Cherokee Indians, was turned into a town for settlers. During the 1830s, it was the designated seat of Union County.
Interest in Blairsville increased during the gold rush when the area became the source of the purest gold in the North Georgia mountains.
Go hiking on different trails
- Lake Trahlyta Waterfall Trail
- Nottely Reservoir Trail
- Appalachian Mountains Trails
Swim at the popular Lake Nottely
Enjoy outdoor adventures at Vogel State Park
Visit Grandaddy Mimm’s Distilling Co. for a glass of moonshine
¸Check out local shops and restaurants are downtown Blairsville
Learn Blairsville history at the Historic Union County Courthouse
Trek the Brasstown Bald and see four states at once (Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee)
6. Clayton, GA
Known as: The farm-to-table capital of Georgia
Tourism Website: visitclaytonga.net
Clayton is a short drive from Dillard. Thus, you’ll get to visit two cities in the Blue Ridge Mountains whenever you stay in either town.
It is dubbed the farm-to-table capital of Georgia because of its fresh, locally grown produce. When visiting this city, you should check out its restaurants, vineyards, and recreation areas to make the most of your stay.
History of Clayton, GA
Formerly named Dividings, the town was incorporated and given a new name in 1823, which was taken from Judge Augustin S. Clayton. Originally, it was called Claytonsville, until residents requested to shorten it to Clayton, and the name became permanent.
Rabun County’s first courthouse was built between Main Street and Savannah Street in Clayton’s public square.
What To Do in Clayton, GA
See multiple waterfalls
- Toccoa Falls
- Minnehaha Falls
- Dick Creeks Falls
- Angel Falls & Panther Falls
Enjoy picnics and outdoor activities in recreations areas
- Lake Rabun Beach
- Warwoman Dell Recreation Area
Visit nearby state parks
Sample the farm-to-table restaurants
7. Dahlonega, GA
Known as: The historical site of the first major gold rush in the US
When looking for a historical city in the Blue Ridge Mountains, your top destination has to be Dahlonega. Sitting in Lumpkin county, this city was the setting for the first gold rush in the United States.
History of Dahlonega, GA
The name Dahlonega is derived from the Cherokee word “Talonega” which means gold. In 1829, gold was discovered in the area and Dahlonega became the focus of national attention.
As a result, business people and gold prospectors flooded the region, prompting the creation of a branch mint and an explosion in tourism, sealing Dahlonega as the site for the first major gold rush.
Nowadays you won’t easily find gold, but you can tour the area’s historical gold mines and museums.
What To Do in Dahlonega, GA
Explore old mining sites
Visit the Dahlonega Gold Museum
Go to the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve & Zoo
¸Book your stay at the historic Smith House Inn
Check out the North Georgia Astronomical Observatory
Experience Kayaking and Tubing at Chestatee River Adventures
8. Dillard, GA
Known as: The ingress to the Great Smoky Mountains
Tourism Website: dillardgeorgia.com
Dillard is the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains Surrounded by these mountain ranges, visitors enjoy the pristine forest, natural attractions, and outdoor activities at Dillard.
Travel Tip: Want to experience the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains? Take a scenic drive from Dillard to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for less than two hours.
When going for especially long hikes, I like to use a hydration pack like this one.
Founded by Captain John Dillard in 1794, this Blue Ridge Mountain town has had many ups and downs throughout its history.
One of its most significant points was the construction of the Dillard house, a famous inn that attracted affluent visitors. Until today, Dillard house remains a favorite local attraction with awards from Southern Living Magazine.
What To Do in Dillard, GA
Check in the Dillard House
Enjoy trout fishing at Andys Trout Farm
Go horseback riding at Dillard House Stables
Visit the nearby states park
Experience water rafting and tubing at Wildwater Chattooga Adventure Center
See different waterfalls on hiking trails
Swing by museums and galleries
Mountain cities and tiny towns go on top of our list of great places to retreat, unwind, or reconnect with nature. They may be cities by nature, but since they are immersed in the Blue Ridge Mountain ecosystem, you can expect less noise and more bliss.
So, book your stay, take a scenic drive, and enjoy your mountain vacation.