Georgia’s mountains are the ideal getaway from the chaos of the city, located a short drive away. The towns like Dahlonega, Helen, Young Harris, Cleveland, and Blue Ridge are ripe with activities for you and your gal pals, but it’s the wineries that are the biggest draw.
Enjoy dozens of vineyards dotted around the area, each specializing in a type of wine. In addition to the wineries themselves, towns have tasting rooms where you can also enjoy the varietals and shop for art and gifts. No matter the time of year, you’re sure to have a great time in Georgia wine country!
Southern restaurants are the most popular in this area, with down-home eateries in just about every town. While most are casual, you can also find a few upscale eateries for a night out.
The Picnic Cafe and Dessertery– Open for breakfast and lunch as well as coffee and dessert, the mom-and-pop spot hosts live music on Friday nights. Head over early before the lines start as seating is limited. The menu includes breakfast sandwiches, soups, salads, and regular sandwiches. Dahlonega
Cleveland Donuts– Stop by this local doughnut shop for the best treats that aren’t a chain. Get yours glazed, powdered, and frosted with coffee, either by dining in or taking to-go. Cleveland
Das Kaffee Haus– Start your day with European-inspired coffee and breakfast in downtown Blue Ridge. They have cakes, pastries, and other light bites. Blue Ridge
Grapes & Beans– This little restaurant started as a coffee and wine shop and is now one of the best restaurants around. The menu focuses on local and seasonal ingredients for lunch for dine in or carry out. Favorites on the menu include soups, salads, and vegetarian entrees. Clayton
The Smith House– One of a few family-style eateries nearby, The Smith House is located in a home dating back to the 1800s. The large portions of fried chicken, collard greens, corn muffins, and other Southern favorites make this a necessary stop on your weekend. Dahlonega
Hofer’s– It’s not uncommon to see a line out the door at this German bakery and restaurant. You’re met with a large case of pastries as you enter. Breakfast should include doughnuts or apfelkuchle, a baked apple dish. They’re also open for lunch, where the hot pastrami is the best. Helen
Bernie’s Restaurant– Run by a mother and daughter with over 40 years of combined experience, this restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. Entrees include steak au poivre, piccata, and roasted duck with wine from local vineyards. Sautee Nacoochee
The Dillard House Restaurant– Another family-style restaurant, this one has been in operation since 1917. Bring your stretchy pants for a meal of country style steak, fried green tomatoes, and fruit cobbler. The menu changes daily. Rabun Gap
Fortify Kitchen and Bar– A surprising find in a small town, Fortify brings in ingredients from the local farming community. Enjoy the trout, grit bowl, or salads with specialty cocktails. Clayton
It may be wine country, so you’ll find mostly wineries here, you can also find moonshine distilleries, beer bars, and coffee shops. We’ve selected a few of our favorites here.
Higher Ground Coffee & More– Grab your morning brew at this community shop, open daily at 9:30 am. You’ll find your favorite coffee, tea, and lattes as well as smoothies. Helen
Sweetwater Coffee House– At this quaint shop, you’ll find only the finest fair trade and organic selections like their chai latte, cold brew coffee, and yerba mate mint tea. They also serve breakfast and lunch options, including bagels and pastries. Sautee Nacoochee
Wolf Mountain Vineyards– Perhaps there is no better spot for you and your friends than at Wolf Mountain, which has the best views around and a full restaurant. Open for brunch, grab a glass of their bubbles, the specialty. Dahlonega
Crane Creek Vineyards– Come to this winery’s tasting room for views of the surrounding mountains for live music and events. The drinkable wines are in the French style. Young Harris
Yonah Mountain Vineyards– The two hundred-acre winery is named for the mountain that sits in the background. Here they grow grapes to make sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, and merlot. Tours of the facility include a visit to their wine cave. Cleveland
Moonrise Distillery– Made in the tradition of illegal moonshine, Moonrise makes small-batch spirits including whiskey, bourbon, and fruit brandies. The distillery uses Appalachian water sources and the tasting room is open to visitors. Clayton
Relaxing, Beauty and Fitness
Pamper yourself in between trips to wineries. Drop in on one of the area’s yoga studios, get a treatment at one of the nearby spas, or just connect with nature.
Equani Spa– Treat yourself at Brasstown Valley Resort’s Equani Spa, which offers massages, facials, body treatments and rituals inspired by the local Cherokee people. Use of steam room and hot tubs are included with your booking. Young Harris
North Georgia Yoga Center– Drop-in classes start at $15 for their traditional yoga and aerial yoga classes. The facility also sells yoga gear, in case you didn’t bring yours, and offers massage treatments. Classes operate daily. Dahlonega
Jolie Day Spa– Located at The Smith House, the day spa offers hot stone massages, manicures, eyelash extensions, and more. Make a reservation to ensure you get pampered while you’re there. Dahlonega
Dahlonega Healing Arts– If you’re looking for more than yoga and massages, here you’ll find even more, including reiki, tai chi, meditation, and other unique therapies. Dahlonega
Browse the shops in downtown Cleveland, Dahlonega, and Helen for crafts, gifts, and more. You never know what you might find!
Hickory Flat Pottery– Check out the works of local potters, who create stoneware inspired by north Georgia. Housed in an 112-year-old homestead, the pottery makes for the perfect souvenir from your trip to the area. Clarkesville
Nacoochee Antiques– The antique mall carries all ranges of products, including coins, pottery, quilts, folk art, and books. The antique mall is open daily. Helen
Old Sautee Store and Old Sautee Market– Part historic landmark, part general store, walking into the store is like stepping back in time. Shop for locally made soaps, cheeses, jams, books, and clothing. Sautee Nacoochee
Paul Thomas Chocolates– Chocolate is an art form at this downtown shop, which has been operating since 1975. Browse the truffles, chocolate covered bacon, and standard bars before sampling for yourself. Dahlonega
North Georgia Premium Outlets– For deals on your favorite brands like Ann Taylor, Calvin Klein, and Francesca’s, head south to the outlets. You can get additional discounts off the products by checking out the website in advance. Dawsonville
You won’t find traditional tourist attractions like you might in other destinations, but the places worth seeing in Georgia wine country are truly unique.
Tubing– Open seasonally, many outfitters rent tubes for as cheap as $5 for a few hours, allowing you to float down the river at your leisure before getting picked up.
Ziplining– There are also a handful of outfitters here, including Nacoochee Adventures in Helen, as well as the state parks at Amicalola Falls and Unicoi.
Waterfalls– Go for a swim at nearby Dicks Creek in Dahlonega or Anna Ruby near Helen. Both are open to visitors, but you may need to pay a park fee at the latter.
Hardman Farm– The 173-acre farm in Sautee Nacoochee features a gazebo-topped Indian mound and an Italianate mansion. It features original fixtures and was owned by the Nichols family in the 1870s. The Hardman family was the last to live here and preserved it until it was donated to the state.
Apple picking– If you’re visiting during the fall, stop by Hillcrest Orchards for apple picking.
There’s no shortage of places to stay in Georgia’s Wine Country, ranging from a hiker’s hostel to luxury hotels and rental properties. When traveling with friends, you’re likely better off with a rental.
Unicoi State Park & Lodge– You and your girls can complete your wine weekend by staying in wine vats turned into cabins. Other options include hotel rooms in the lodge, standard cabins, and campsites. Helen
The Dahlonega Square Hotel & Villas– Stay in the hotel, right off the square, or in one of their nearby villas, which have two bedroom options and full kitchens. Dahlonega
Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa, Young Harris– For the luxury resort experience, head to Young Harris. The property has a spa, stables, restaurants, and a golf course. Young Harris
Amicalola Falls Lodge– Room types include lodge hotel rooms, cabins, and campsites at this state park, which also has dozens of activities. It’s also the starting point for the Appalachian Trail. Dawsonville
Lucille’s Mountain Top Inn and Spa– This bed and breakfast is located in the valley with views of the mountain. A delicious breakfast is included with your stay. Sautee Nacoochee
Great post – now I need to plan a fall weekend!