Break Routine With A Spring Getaway To Blue Ridge, Ga.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Blue Ridge, about 90 minutes north of Atlanta via Interstate 575, is destination spring break for families looking to getaway and get outside.

Check out this bucket list of top picks for spring break outings with the family:

1. Travel along Aska Road for scenic views of the Toccoa River Rapids. Take it to water with the Toccoa River Canoe Trail, ideal for paddlers who are looking for a few rapids and some beautiful scenery along the way, as well as with float fishermen looking for cold-water mountain trout.
The put-in is located at the Blue Ridge Ranger District's Deep Hole Recreation Area, a U.S. Forest Service campground off Highway GA 60, south of Blue Ridge and north of Suches, Georgia.

2. Hike to Fall Branch Falls, where the upper portion is a series of cascades that lead to a single major drop of some 30 feet, with the water plunging into a deep pool at the base of the falls.

3. Another awesome excursion requires rambling the Benton MacKaye Trail south from Hwy 60 for three miles to be rewarded with sweeping views of the pristine Toccoa River flowing beneath a structure known simply as the "Swinging Bridge." The longest suspension bridge east of the Mississippi, the passage was built by the USDA Forest Service and the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club in the mid-1970s. 

4. Go horseback riding at Blue Ridge Mountain Trail Rides (319 Hell's Hollow Road). Also onsite, kids will love fishing in the pond, gem mining and wandering the nature trail. 

5. Then, all ages can get hearts pounding with two feet off the ground at Blue Ridge Aerial Adventure Park, featuring an obstacle challenge course in the air with suspended bridges, tight ropes, climbing walls, ziplines and other fun obstacles for every age and ability (2087 East First Street).

6. Catch a movie the old-fashioned way at the Swan Drive-In (651 Summit Street), one of Georgia's four remaining drive-ins. Established in 1955, the Swan Drive-in features a full concession stand, including funnel cakes and fried Oreos.

7. Ride the Blue Ridge Railway (241 Depot Street) and chugga-chug down the 13-miles of rails comprising the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. The 45-minute (each way) excursion is a generation-bonding adventure that starts at the historic 1905 depot in Downtown. Vintage climate-controlled rail cars or open air rail cars host more than 70,000 passengers each year for a ride that winds alongside the Toccoa River, with a stop in the twin border towns of McCaysville, Georgia, and Copperhill, Tennessee. Copperhill/McCaysville is one town with two names because it is split by the GA/TN state line, where visitors have a two hour layover (Note: layover is 1.5 hours on Sunday) with plenty of time to eat lunch, shop for unique crafts and antiques, snack on ice cream or walk around. 

8. Mine for gems, go fishing, take a hike or play a round of mini-golf, all at Blue Ridge's destination for family fun--The Lilly Pad Village. Pets are welcome, too.

9. Take a farm tour of Mercier Orchards (8660 Blue Ridge Drive) and stock up the cabin with fried pies, fresh veggies and fruits. Mercier is a family-owned and -operated, primarily apple, orchard. The must-see Blue Ridge attraction will reward your senses with bushels of apples, strawberries and other produce, fresh pressed cider, warm fried pies--but, most importantly, memories. Started back in 1943 by Bill & Adele Mercier, Mercier Orchards is now celebrating more than 70 years of fruitful harvests. Beyond apples, their onsite store serves up a variety of farm toys, pet items, kitchen paraphernalia, home decor and is host to a meat and cheese shop. Visit the tasting room, offering hard ciders and wines, including locally-produced varieties. 

10. When you return to your cabin, spend the evening cooking out and savoring sweet s'mores by a fire pit.

Where to Eat

1. Joe's BBQ: For unbeatable hickory smoked meats, including fall-off-the-bone ribs, seek out Joe's BBQ (3365 East 1st Street), featured on TripAdvisor's list of Top BBQ Joints in the USA. 

2. Blue Jeans: Find everything you need for a family-pleasing feast, including hand-tossed pizzas, fresh, daily-made pastas, salads and more at Blue Jeans Blue Ridge (11 Mountain Street C).

3. Massaria Kitchen and Bar: Sink your teeth into handmade pizza and pastas, alongside oven roasted chicken, fish and vegetables at Masseria Kitchen and Bar (67 Roberts Way), serving lunch and dinner.

4. La Pizzaria at Cucina Rustica: An extension of the popular Cucina Rustica, La Pizzeria (76 Forge Mill Road) satisfies palates with New York-style pizza, calzones, wings, subs, draft beer, wine and more.

5. Mercier Orchards: The popular U-Pick produce destination features a tasting room offering hard ciders and wines, including locally-produced varieties. Sit for a spell on the deck while enjoying sips and live entertainment on the weekend. Stay for lunch or, come early for a breakfast fit for a king, complete with local sausage, grits, apple fritters and more (8660 Blue Ridge Drive).

Don't Miss!

1. Expedition Bigfoot: Make memories at this 4,000-sqaure-foot family attraction featuring the country's largest permanent display of genuine Bigfoot artifacts, life sized exhibits, photos, sketches, large up-to-date sighting maps, and the World's only Bigfoot Research and Tech Vehicle on display. 1934 GA-515, Cherry Log

2. Huck's General Store: Step back in time with an authentic general store experience in downtown Blue Ridge, complete with barrels of candy from yesteryear. 500 E Main Street

3. Escape Blue Ridge: Bring video games to life with Blue Ridge's exclusive physical adventure game, where groups come together to solve a puzzle in a limited amount of time. 389 West First Street

If you go
Find links to rental companies for mountain cabins with lake-views and room for 20 (hot tub included!) at www.BlueRidgeMountains.com. 

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