We’re continually on the hunt for experiences that add richness to our lives. In the spirit of the revival of road trips, we are proud to feature a monthly section featuring destinations within driving distance of Charleston. We feel that our smart and savvy readers will find these trips interesting and entertaining.
Driving six hours southwest of Charleston takes you to North Georgia. The area is filled with adorable mountain towns, each offering its own flair and fun. Just between the towns of Young Harris and Hiawassee, you will have an abundance of things to see and do on your weekend getaway. The winding and curvy roads will make you feel like you are in the mountains of West Virginia.
WHAT TO SEE & DO IN NORTH GA
Hiking (especially the Appalachian Trail) and chasing waterfalls are the top things to do in North Georgia. Some falls can be seen from a walkout area, but others require hiking to get there. Blue Hole Falls is a one-mile hike through an amazing landscape. A swimming hole at the bottom of the falls provides a refreshing drink or cool-down spot at the bottom. You’ll find a second waterfall, High Shoals, on the same trail.
You will experience an exciting drive and amazing 360-degree panoramic views as you wind your way up Bell Mountain, a park and historic site in Hiawassee. Similar to driving Route 60 around Hawks Nest, once you park your car at the top, walk to the plateau for the colorful graffitied rock formations and epic views of Lake Chatuge. Brasstown Bald, the highest point in Georgia at 4,784 elevation, is another must-see overlook in North Georgia.
You can rent pontoon and ski-boat, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and jet skis from Young Harris Water Sports to spend time on Lake Chatuge, a recreational hotspot. Fishing is supreme in North Georgia, where spotted and hybrid bass are abundant. Don’t be surprised if you catch dozens of fish without really trying.
Kids (and adults, too) will love Splash Island at Ridges Resort, an on-water obstacle course with inflatables, slides, swings, and bouncing platforms. There are river tubing and zip line places around the area, as well.
Do some shopping in North Georgia at roadside antique shops (each loaded with treasures and trinkets), C&J Mountain Outfitters, TATA on Main, and Hometown Quilt Studio. One of the best Christmas stores you could imagine is Always Christmas, connected with other nice clothing, home decor, collectibles, and souvenir shops.
Brasstown Stables (Young Harris) offers horseback riding in a charming country setting. Choose between a one or two-hour ride or hand-led rides for children under seven.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
Sundance Grill (Hiawassee) is perfect for breakfast dishes such as a Gyro Omelet, Breakfast Sandwiches (with double sausage and cheese!), and Stuffed French Toast. For lunch, eat at Mary’s Southern Grill (Young Harris), a southern cooking restaurant with burgers, sandwiches, salads, and 15 choices for a veggie plate. Try the dill potato salad and stewed tomatoes—both absolutely delicious! The Happy Hawg (Hiawassee) is the top-rated Trip Advisor restaurant, serving smoked meats, pulled pork, fried corn-on-the-cob, and hot dogs.
An excellent place for dinner is the Dining Room at Brasstown Valley Resort in Young Harris. The Brasstown Meatloaf, a chef’s specialty, is bursting with flavors and covered with mouthwatering mushroom gravy. It comes with two side items, all for $19. Sand Bar (a more relaxed offering) is a sandy beach eatery with lake views, a food truck, live music, corn hole, and kid’s activities. Try the Pimento Cheese Dip with tortilla chips or Boneless Wings, both tasty choices.
Drop by Hiawassee Brew for a funky Cherry Cordial Stout or Hop Dang Diggity IPA. Enjoy a glass of wine from Crane Creek Vineyards, with award-winning varietals: Hellbender Red, Seyval Blanc, and Villard Noir Rosé.
WHERE TO STAY IN NORTH GA
The premier place to stay in Young Harris is the Brasstown Valley Resort and Spa. This rustic lodge has a choice of luxurious accommodations (lodge, cottages, spa suite), 18-hole championship golf course, tennis, fishing, hiking trails, spa, and a plethora of amenities. You will be awe once you see the spacious lobby with a massive stone fireplace and scattered seating groups. The lobby affords views of the 503-acres of stunning Blue Ridge Mountain scenery and golf course.
Other choices include a Holiday Inn Express, Boundary Waters Resort & Marina in Hiawassee, and several Airbnb or cabin rental properties.
MOUNTAIN TOWN GEMS
If you’re concerned about traveling with COVID, North Georgia is a seemingly safe place, with plenty of fresh mountain air, room for social distancing, and businesses following suggested measures. The affordability and flexibility of the area only enhance the amazing outdoor attractions and picture-perfect scenery that will be good for your soul. Travel well.