photo by Fannin County Chamber of Commerce & CVB
From mountain air and scenic views to shopping, destination dining and easy outdoor excursions, Blue Ridge, Georgia, is a perennial favorite among vacation spots.
This chic and casual charmer, about 90 minutes north of Atlanta via I-575, was named by Southern Living Magazine as one of the South’s Best Mountain Towns in 2022. Currently, it’s in the running for Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine’s “Top Adventure Towns,”
a reader’s choice voting contest, in the category of “Tiny Adventure Towns.”
Blue Ridge gets plenty of votes for good reason: Centered around the historic 1905 Blue Ridge Depot and surrounded by sweeping views, downtown’s restored buildings blend perfectly with modern industrial and mountain architecture, showcasing the arts, antiques, unique shops and restaurants. Bordering the Chattahoochee National Forest in Fannin County, Blue Ridge is also known for hiking trails, waterfalls, wineries and outdoor activities.
For a true Blue Ridge experience, many prefer to park the car and walk to a dazzling array of dining, art and antique galleries and artisan shops. Here are six reasons to stay in downtown Blue Ridge with its unique accommodations, lively vibe and leisurely exploration.
1. A heart for art
The Art Center is headquarters for the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association, located in the historic Fannin County Courthouse. Peruse pieces from their 600 member artists, and watch some of them at work. The Association produces two beloved Arts in the Park festivals each year on Memorial Day weekend and the second weekend in October. Visit the website for a complete schedule of events and exhibits: www.blueridgearts.net.
Among the fine art galleries in Blue Ridge is 4 Elements Art, which also offers wine and art workshops. Look for the amazing mural on the side of their building. Don’t miss High Country Artand Multitudes Gallery, within walking distance. Want to roam a little? For a treasure-hunt shopping adventure, take the Antique & Uniques Self-Guided Tour featuring 24 local favorites along a winding trail from Blue Ridge to McCaysville. Click Antiques and Uniques Shopping Guide to download the free printable maps.
Love music and performances? Take a quick drive or a fifteen-minute walk from the Visitors Center to the Blue Ridge Community Theater for live concerts from nationally- and internationally-recognized artists, general-audience and children’s plays and more. (2591 East First St., across from The Swan Drive-in)
Enjoy live music most weekends at restaurants and breweries in Blue Ridge. Find more entertainment on the Blue Ridge Events calendar.
2. Easy Excursions
No need to drive to have an excellent adventure. Climb aboard the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway (241 Depot Street), where vintage climate-controlled and open-air rail cars take passengers on a winding ride alongside the Toccoa River, with a stop in the intriguing twin border towns of McCaysville, Georgia, and Copperhill, Tennessee. Depending on the schedule, visitors have a layover with plenty of time to eat lunch, shop for unique crafts and antiques, snack on ice cream and other treats.
3. Destination Dining
Blue Ridge is a true North Georgia foodie destination, and many visitors plan a visit around the memorable meals to be found here. With a cornucopia of casual, fine and late-night restaurants located throughout the downtown area, one could enjoy great dining for weeks without going to the same place twice. There are plenty of outside patios, decks, balconies and even a rooftop bar/restaurant to take in the view. Click here for a map and list of dining.
4. Sudsy Sips and Tastings
The craft beer scene is well-established in Blue Ridge, and each brewery has its own personality and philosophy. Tipping Point Brewing Co. offers a multitude of craft brews and seltzers, seven days a week. Enjoy indoor and outdoor seating on the second floor of Trackside Station, directly across from the Downtown Blue Ridge City Park. Angry Hops Brewing offers around 16 beers on tap from two craft brew veterans, along with live music and food trucks on the weekends. Pets are welcome on the patio. Just across the street, have a beverage of your choice while your pup socializes in the off-leash pet playground at the new Blue Ridge Adventure Dog. Enjoy crisp, cold canned cocktails, top of the line wine and craft beer as well as snacks for humans and canines.
5. Superlative Shopping
Of all the towns in North Georgia, Blue Ridge has the largest array of specialty shops, boutiques and galleries for fine furnishings, art, antiques, clothing and jewelry. More than 100 locally owned shops offer out-of-the-ordinary items that make perfect gifts and are perfect for yourself. Explore kids and pet boutiques, bazaar-worthy international wares, outdoor outfitters, outdoor art, flea markets and even upscale and thrifty resale shops that donate to favorite causes. Looking for unique artisan-crafted items? Blue Ridge has been named one of the “Top 10 Towns for Craft Lovers” in the country.
Think men don’t like to shop? With so many unexpected options this the perfect place to change his mind. Split up to happily shop within walking distance of each other or join him at the stores that catch his interest (secretly make notes for your gift list). There’s a wide array of outdoor outfitters, two music stores, both offering vinyl records and memorabilia, a coin shop and a cigar store/café for relaxing. There’s an upscale, curated gentlemen’s accessory store and two outstanding fly-fishing shops. One sells flies and fishing gear and organizes guided fishing trips, the other builds exquisite custom-tailored bamboo rods and offers fly rod crafting classes. Those looking for home and man-cave accessories will be delighted with the choices, including a shop selling bear and mountain themed furnishings, and a gallery featuring eye-catching minerals and fossils, carved wildlife, driftwood, teak furniture; live-edge and petrified wood sinks and tables, custom fireplace mantels and more.
Check out the downloadable Blue Ridge Shopping map and find more details here: www.BlueRidgeMountains.com/shopping/
6. Intown Accommodations Close to Everything
With so much to do and see, many prefer to be close to everything, including the unique Blue Ridge vibe. Intown, stay in an 1890s B&B or a new, stylish hotel featuring balcony rooms and the city’s only rooftop bar/restaurant. Secluded overnight options include chic lofts with hidden balconies, fireplaces and sheltered outside lounge areas overlooking the town. Follow this link to discover all intown Blue Ridge lodging.