11 Must-See Attractions in North Georgia
The North Georgia Mountains offer some of the prettiest scenery in the state. The area is especially popular with tourists, who visit year-round for the area’s many festivals, lakes, hiking trails, and more. But with so much natural beauty around, some of the area’s best attractions can go unnoticed. If you’re planning a trip to North Georgia soon, or just want to find something new to do in your hometown, here are some must-see attractions that we highly recommend.
1. Toccoa River Swinging Bridge near Blue Ridge
One of the most well known attractions in North Georgia is the Toccoa River Swinging Bridge. Located about 48 minutes from the town of Blue Ridge, this 270-foot-long suspension bridge is the longest swinging bridge east of the Mississippi. You can access the bridge via a short (less than half a mile) hike along the Benton MacKaye Trail, which shares a trailhead with the Georgia section of the Appalachian trail at Springer Mountain (spoiler alert: see Number 8 on this list).
2. Blue Ridge Scenic Railway in Blue Ridge
The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway (BRSR) is one of the last remnants of the days when trains were the only option if you wanted to travel long distances quickly, though now the line exists only for tourism. The 4-hour route starts in Blue Ridge and travels an hour north along the Toccoa River to McCaysville, Georgia. After a two-hour layover, during which passengers can explore the town, shop, or eat lunch, the train turns around and makes its way back south to Blue Ridge.
3. Fred Hamilton Rhododendron Garden in Hiawassee
The Fred Hamilton Rhododendron Garden is one of the most breathtaking places to visit in North Georgia. This botanical garden is perched on the edge of sparkling Lake Chatuge in Hiawassee and features 1,100 different plants, including magnolias, dogwoods, wildflowers, and more than 400 varieties of rhododendron. General entrance is free, or you can take a guided golf cart tour for $5/person. And because the garden is a non-profit organization, you can even write the tour off on your taxes.
4. Consolidated Gold Mines in Dahlonega
Did you know that North Georgia was the site of the first major gold rush in the U.S.? Gold was discovered in Dahlonega in 1828, a full 20 years before the better known California Gold Rush. Today, you can have the chance to strike it rich at the Consolidated Gold Mine in Dahlonega. The mine is the largest hard rock gold mine east of the Mississippi, and offers guided underground tours and gold and gemstone panning.
If you’re in the area on October 21-22, you can also visit the annual Dahlonega Gold Rush Days festival. See the details in our previous blog, Mark Your Calendar: 8 North Georgia Festivals You Don’t Want to Miss.
5. Wineries and Vineyards in North Georgia
North Georgia is also home to a surprisingly robust wine industry. There are more than 30 local wineries in the area, all of which offer their own special vintages. Plan a visit to the one closest to you, or book a tour with Drive For You Winery Tours to visit several in one day. Enjoy your visit, but please, don’t’ drink and drive.
6. Fall Branch Falls Near Ellijay
Fall Branch Falls is one of the prettiest waterfalls in North Georgia. It’s known for its double cascade and its accessibility — it’s about a quarter mile from the trailhead, making it a half-mile round trip. And though the hike is mostly uphill, it’s got an easy terrain and is kid and pet friendly. Looking for a hike that’s a bit more challenging? Check out our list of 8 Spectacular Waterfalls in the North Georgia Mountains.
7. Scenic horseback rides in Blue Ridge
What better way to take in the North Georgia scenery than from the back of a horse? The area has several horseback tour companies that offer rides for any experience level, from beginner to expert. Our favorite is Adventure Trail Rides, which offers trail rides at two different difficulties and horses that are great with families and children.
8. The Head of the Appalachian Trail near Ellijay
The Appalachian Trail is one of the most well-known hiking trails in the entire U.S. The trail spans more than 2,000 miles, the first (or last) 78.6 of which stretch through North Georgia. You can find the southernmost blaze of the Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain, which is accessible via an 8.5-mile (15 miles round trip) approach trail.
9. Historic Union County Courthouse in Blairsville
Blairsville is home to the oldest working courthouse in the state of Georgia. It was built in 1899, but fell into disrepair in the 1920s. In the 1970s, the building was condemned and nearly demolished, but was saved by the Union County Historical Society. Now restored, the building is home to offices and meeting rooms on its second floor. The first floor is home to the Old Courthouse Museum, which gives visitors a glimpse of the North Georgia settlers’ lives.
10. Bell Mountain in Hiawassee
Bell Mountain is a unique area attraction that’s also a bit controversial — it’s the site of a failed mining attempt from the 1960s, which left the top of the mountain disfigured. Later, the mountain became a haven for off-roaders and hikers, but lately has become riddled with graffiti and vandalism. Spray paint aside, the peak offers stunning panoramic views of Lake Chatuge, Hiawassee, and the surrounding area, and is easily accessible by way of newly constructed stairs.
11. Zipline through the Blue Ridge Mountains
If the horseback rides sounded appealing to you but you crave a little more adventure, than a zipline tour of the North Georgia forests might be right up your alley. Several adventure companies in the area offer zipline courses that zipzag through a variety of scenery — you can whiz through the Georgia hardwoods, breeze through meadows, and dip across creeks and rivers. And if you’d rather practice in a more controlled environment first, some zipline companies offer an aerial adventure park as well.
Learn what makes North Georgia so special
This list is just a few of the attractions and sights that North Georgia has to offer. Are you planning a visit or move to North Georgia? If so, we’d love to show you more of what makes the area so special. You can learn more about the area here, or contact us to see some of the area’s beautiful homes for sale.