Play Hard, Play Safe
Make Your Fall Visit Fun and Healthy
Fall in the mountains is good for the soul, with fresh air and beautiful views to spare. Whether you’re visiting for the first time or the 100th, you’ll find North Georgia is nature’s remedy for the quarantine blues.
While Georgia’s governor has “reopened” the state, it’s not quite business as usual. Guidelines are in place to help discourage the spread of COVID-19, but it’s nothing that should negatively affect your trip. Just plan ahead, choose sensible things to do and follow some precautions to make the most of your visit.
Before you head out, check that the attraction you’re planning to visit is open. You’ll find phone numbers and websites here, so you can verify hours and days of operation. Plan ahead for social distancing or consider less crowded options.
North Georgia has an abundance of fun, low-cost outdoor activities that are perfect choices for social distancing. Most of the Chattahoochee National Forest trails and recreation areas are open, including the Appalachian Trail and Benton MacKaye Trail (the swinging bridge is a must-see). Visitors are welcome at all state parks around the area, including Vogel near Blairsville, Amicalola Falls near Dahlonega and Fort Mountain near Chatsworth.
You’ll also find an abundance of waterfalls within a short drive from downtown. Stop in a Fannin County Visitor Center or go online to download a map of destinations, including Fall Branch Falls, Long Branch Falls, Benton Falls and Helton Creek Falls.
While you’re out exploring, brush up on your history with a stop at the Reece Farm & Heritage Center, just south of Blairsville. This historic site explores the life of famed “farmer poet” Byron Herbert Reece with early-1900s buildings and exhibits that capture rural life in Appalachia. There’s a poetry walking trail, petting farm and museum, too.
Look for Adventure
Located along the shores of Lake Chatuge in Hiawassee, the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds plays host to several popular events. The annual Georgia Mountain Fall Festival has been downgraded to a weekend arts & crafts show. Then between Thanksgiving and Christmas, you can enjoy the Mountain Country Christmas in Lights, when the fairgrounds are transformed into a magical holiday light show.
Just across the border in Murphy, NC, lies a popular destination for family fun: WagonMaster Adventure Ranch. There’s something for everyone here, including gem mining, gold panning, paintball, skeet shooting, mini golf, wagon rides, bounce house and more. Spend the day or rent a cabin and stay the weekend.
For some high-flying fun, it’s hard to beat a zipline adventure. With seven spectacular ziplines and over 6,000 feet of adrenaline-pumping fun, trips with Ocoee Canopy Tour last over two hours! Make a full day of it by combining your zipping with a whitewater rafting trip. RaftOne will put you in a wetsuit so you can stay warm while taking on the Class III and IV rapids of the famous Ocoee River. Or contact Southeastern Expeditions to ride the wet-n-wild Chattooga River near Clayton.
Spread out on a scenic family trail ride over the mountains and through the forest full of colorful fall foliage. At Blanche Manor, even the littlest buckaroos can saddle up for a spin around the ring with a guided pony ride, while the adults can take a 1-1/2 or 2-hour trail ride, sunset ride, private ride or proposal ride. Blue Ridge Mountain Trail Rides offers guided 1-hour trail rides for everyone from beginner to expert beginning at age 7. And Appalachian Trail Rides welcomes riders ages 6 and up for 1- or 2-hour rides, private rides, proposal packages and dinner rides.
Play a Round
Looking for golf courses? You’ll find them sized for both adults and kids in North Georgia!
Old Toccoa Farm is a semi-private course open to the public six days a week (reservations required). This Bunker Hill-designed course is a par 72, links-feel course totaling 6,707 yards. The course winds through 125 acres of ridges and meadows, featuring over 280 feet of elevation change with spectacular mountain views and Toccoa River frontage.
For the little golfers in the family, line up your putt at one of our three mini-golf courses. When the weather doesn’t cooperate, play indoors at 2nd Story Entertainment on Main Street. Or head out to The Lilly Pad Village for nine holes in a challenging mountain setting. Cohutta Cove Mini Golf offers a classic layout with three chances to win a free game with a hole-in-one. All three offer refreshments and additional family- fun activities.
Have Fun, Stay Safe
While COVID-19 has certainly put a damper on things, there’s no shortage of activities still available if you just know where to look!