Amicalola Falls is the tallest waterfall in the state of Georgia and is one of its biggest tourist attractions. But there’s more to see in the area than just the falls. The starting or ending point for the Appalachian Trail is within the park, so visitors can see a few places along the way before hitting the trails. Take detours to the towns of Ball Ground, Dahlonega, and Ellijay during your visit. All of the places listed are less than an hour’s drive from the state park.
What to Do
Once you’ve seen the falls and hiked through the parks trails, what else should you see? Hop in the car to check out nearby attractions.
Gibbs Gardens– These stunning gardens started as the private grounds of a successful landscaper but are now open to the public. Their daffodils and Japanese gardens are especially popular.
Georgia Racing Hall of Fame– Learn about the state’s legacy in racing, especially NASCAR, and famous names like Bill Elliot. Exhibits include the cars used in these races along with uniforms, awards, and other memorabilia.
Dawsonville Moonshine Dstllry– Located in the same building as the racing hall of fame, as well as city hall, visitors can sample “white lightning” made from family recipes. While now a legal version, you can see an example of an illegal still.
Expedition Bigfoot– Skeptics and believers alike will enjoy a visit to this offbeat Bigfoot museum in Cherry Log. There are exhibits and artifacts related to the legend as well as drawings and accounts of sightings.
North Georgia Premium Outlets– Pick up necessary gear at Eddie Bauer and Under Armour or additional clothing, home decor, and gifts at this sprawling outlet mall.
Reece Apple Orchards– During the fall, pick apples at this Ellijay orchard. They also have a petting zoo and wagon rides as well as apple cider and pies.
Burt’s Farm– Also open seasonally, Burt’s sells pumpkins and also has hay rides and a country store. It’s just down the street from the state park.
FAUSETT FARMS– Another Dawsonville farm, Fausett is known for its 30 acres of stunning sunflower fields. They’re open only during the fall.
Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site– Learn about the town’s origins as the site of a gold rush at this museum in the heart of the historic square.
Where to Eat
Amicalola Falls State Park is a 30 minute drive from the closest grocery store and at least 25 from the closest restaurant, so plan accordingly.
Home Restaurant– Located outside the Big Canoe community, this dinnertime favorite has a menu of elevated regional fare you’d expect in Atlanta. Try the beet salad, flatbreads, and burgers.
Mary’s Bread Basket– It’s easy to miss this strip mall building that sells the most incredible deli sandwiches on fresh baked bread with Boars Head meats. They make for the perfect picnic before your hike.
Ball Ground Burger Bus– Just as it sounds, this burger restaurant is located inside an old school bus. Choose from one of their burgers or hot dogs with a side of tots.
Picnic Cafe and Dessertery– One of the best eateries in town, this student favorite has breakfast and lunch sandwiches, pastries, and salads.
The Smith House– Get your fill at this family style Southern restaurant where dishes change daily. They’re open for lunch during the week and dinner on weekends.
Wolf Mountain Vineyards– Just one of the Dahlonega wineries with a restaurant, people come to Wolf Mountain for the views, the sparkling wines, and their Sunday brunch.
Back Porch Bistro– For hearty and healthy options like sandwiches and soups, head to this Ellijay favorite.
Where to Stay
Rest your head in a tent at one of the area campsites, at a unique glamping resort, or even in a rental house, depending on your interests.
Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge– Choose from lodge hotel rooms, independent cabins, or tent and RV campsites at this state park.
Len Foote Hike Inn– Only accessible by foot, hike the 5 miles to this mountaintop retreat for a stay unlike anywhere else in the state. The trail leaves from the top of the waterfall.
Big Canoe– This nearby community is mostly residential, but there are also rentals for larger groups. Big Canoe also has its own shops and restaurants as well as golf, tennis, boating, and trails.
The Martyn House– Get away from it all at this quirky farm, which has cottages and glamping tents. They also have a property in town and a coffee shop.
Elatse’yi– Part glamping resort, part alpaca farm, Elatse’yi is unlike anywhere else you’ve ever stayed. Choose from an Airstream or a geodesic dome tent.
Montaluce Winery– This Dahlonega winery also has villas for rent, putting you as close as possible to the tasting room.