Travel Guide: Blue Ridge, Georgia

9:47 AM Life in Between 3 Comments


June 1, 2016



Quick Stats
Population: 1,264
Climate: On average, there are 204 sunny days per year in Blue Ridge, Georgia. The July high is around 85 degrees. The January low is 27.
Getting around: You will need a car.
Family Friendly Rating: 10 out of 10
Best time to visit: Any time of year. Just be weary that snow can severely impact travel.
Where to go: 

Sometimes, you just need to get away.

When I heard about a little town in Georgia that had cozy cabins, quiet walks through nature, orchards, wineries, and delicious food...I was sold. My friend and I immediately booked a cabin on Airbnb that rested atop Cherry Log Mountain. The log home had two bedrooms, an open kitchen, fireplace, screened-in porch, hot tub and more. We left on a Friday afternoon ready to enjoy a three-day Memorial Day weekend in the deep woods of north Georgia.

Driving in the dark was, of course, a challenge on the backroads of Alabama. Deer roamed everywhere, but we pressed on. When we finally made it to Cherry Log, the service on our phones faded away and we continued to drive into the dark up a long winding road. "We just passed Ghost Road," I said. "And this road's name is Journey's End. Couldn't they have named the roads something less sinister?" The only noise in the dark was the car crunching gravel as we neared a dead end. "The instructions say to turn right on Arrowhead Pass." A carved, faded plank of wood was nailed to the tree in front of us labeled Arrowhead Pass. We slowly turned and began driving downhill. "It's the sixth house on the left."

We found the cabin nestled on the edge of a hill. The lights were off, but a dim blue light was shining from the windows in the living room. As I creeped up the steps I heard a noise. "It's my party and I'll cry if I want to...cry if I want to..." Why was music playing inside? Who had turned on the TV? I looked at my friend who was shuffling behind me. "This is how horror movies begin." He just shook his head. Time to open the door.

The lock didn't require a key--it was code accessed. The door opened and we flipped on the lights. It was beautiful! All fear of being in unfamiliar territory passed away as we explored the cabin. The decorations were carefully placed. The couch was garnished with heavily embroidered bear pillows. From the moment you entered the screened-in porch you would find bear knickknacks, bear paintings, stuffed bears and bear paws. I was beginning to sense an adorable theme. The cabin was perfect--absolutely perfect!

With very little energy left, we melted into the couch and began reading the guestbook full of visitors who had stayed at the cabin before us. It was interesting to see where they came from. One couple came all the way from the Netherlands to experience Blue Ridge. Every guest suggested a few places we had to visit: Mercier Orchards, Chateau Meichtry Winery and Harvest on Main. This determined our plans for the next few days.

Day 1: Mercier Orchards and Downtown Blue Ridge

The warm light spilled into my bedroom. Birds scuttled outside my window trying to wake me up so I could greet the morning. I decided I didn't want to meet that particular morning, and went back to sleep. A few hours later, I sluggishly peeled myself out of bed and made my way into the kitchen. My trip companion was busy making chocolate chip pancakes from scratch. The smell escaped from the room onto the porch as I walked outside to soak in some nature. The sun was dancing from treetop to treetop. I finally felt like my stress was a world away.

We shoveled in the carb-loaded breakfast and washed it down with iced coffee. "I think we should explore the orchards today." He smiled, "sounds good."

The drive to Mercier Orchards was a short one. The parking lot was packed, but we managed to find a place close to the lake near the apple trees. Up a small hill sat the Mercier Orchards general store where everything from fresh fruit and veggies to crisp hard cider was sold.

We ambled about the general store to inspect its different selections--bakery, wine bar, produce, hot sauces, jams, toys, candy. There was enough to interest anyone of any age. The bar caught our eye and we headed over to ask Marilyn, the woman serving the hard cider, for a flight of four for only 6$. In the end, our selections included:

  • Blackberry Winter - Semi-sweet wine with that blackberry twang
  • Lone Tree - A sweet/tart cider made from end-of-season apples, with a crisp flavor
  • Old #3 - Mercier Orchards' original hard cider made from Goldrush apples 
  • Pearody Hard Cider - Made from pears and back-sweetened with blackberry juice, light and sweet berry, with a hint of pear on the finish

The Blackberry Winter wine was my favorite. It was unlike any wine I had tasted before, so we ended up leaving with a bottle for later.

We escaped to the orchard and strolled through the apple trees, skipped rocks and enjoyed the sunshine. It was a perfect afternoon. 

But, it was time to grab coffee. We headed to L&L Beanery in Downtown Blue Ridge to try the local brew. The L&L was converted from the town's first bank built in 1926--the old vault is still in place for visitors to walk inside. A small establishment, L&L serves everything on a standard coffee shop menu including lattes and small sandwiches; although, they stopped serving food at 2:30 p.m. on this particular day.

The rest of the downtown area was lovely. It was Memorial Day weekend and the town was having its annual Local Art Festival near the Historic Train Depot in the middle of the square. Even with all of the festivities going on, it still wasn't as crowded as some other tourist destinations in Georgia and Tennessee. It reminded me a lot of Gatlinburg, without the tourist hype. In the place of a Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum and Laser Tag Arcade were small boutiques, antique stores, quiet bookshops, homemade fudge, and rustic restaurants.

Men of every age sat outside the antique shops talking to each other about times gone by as their wives and girlfriends disappeared into the next dress store. The art of conversation took center stage on the narrow streets of Downtown Blue Ridge.

It seemed that every ten feet we saw another dog. Blue Ridge is very dog-friendly. A lot of the shops put out food and water, or even allowed them inside. So, if you are looking for a place to bring your dog, Blue Ridge is your answer.

After working up our appetite, we stumbled upon The Sweet Shoppe of the South. It was the winner of Season 6 on Cupcake Wars and offered a variety of cupcakes, cheesecakes, treats and--wait for it--cronuts. Now, I have been waiting for years to try a cronut. For years I heard that a cronut would change your life and make every other pastry look less appetizing. When I saw it on the menu there was no question. I was going to devour that cronut.

I am happy to report that the cronut was amazing. It had a thick, creamy center surrounded by a flaky--yet doughy--pastry shell, topped with white cream frosting and chocolate shavings. It was the last of its kind at the shop that day. They were nearly sold out. My recommendation? Visit The Sweet Shoppe early in the morning to stock up on your daily treats and to eat a cronut warm out of the oven. Or, warm it up a little bit before you eat it. It will make all the difference.

After eating our dessert first, as our adult selves were allowed to do, we ventured to Fightingtown Tavern nearby. It had a dive bar vibe and waiters wore shirts with bold lettering that said, "Your Liver is Evil--Punish It." The food was traditional American fare like burgers, chicken sandwiches, fries, beans, and salads. But this actually turned out to be my favorite place we ate in Blue Ridge.

I ordered the grilled chicken sandwich with fried apples and goat cheese. It was delicious. My friend went for the Ruben sandwich with a side of one of their specialties--sweet chili beans. I highly recommend them. They had a smoky BBQ flavor with a kick of heat in the aftertaste. They also have flights of whiskey available for anyone interested. Some say it's the smoothest whiskey they have ever sampled. I liked this place so much that I was unable to get a picture before I dug in. I owe my aunt Richi, a food blogger, all the apologies in the world for not doing my job properly.

As day one came to a close, we made the short drive back to cabin and sat on the porch until nightfall. We rocked in our rocking chairs and listened as the birds stopped chirping and silence fell over the forest.

Day 2: Chateau Meichtry and Harvest on Main Restaurant

After a night of deep sleep, we made plans to drive to Chateau Meichtry. We had heard many things about this particular winery and we were hoping it lived up to its reputation.

Located on a family-owned farm, Chateau Meichtry is a spot where locals come to taste great wine, listen to live music, and enjoy the countryside. The first thing you will notice is the beautiful house on the property, the next is the rows and rows of grapes that are growing in the vineyard. Finally, you will make your way to the Tasting Room where everyone gathers around a bar to sample different wines. We ended up ordering a flight of five wines, and here is what we got (descriptions provided from Chateau's tasting menu):

  • Vidal Blanc - A dry white wine, has notes of fresh green apple and honeysuckle.  You will find zesty citrus, including pineapple in the notes, and finish with a light oakey palate.
  • Golden Harvest - A sweet white Muscadine, light and fruity with notes of tropical fruits and a hazelnut finish. 
  • Sunrise - A white Muscadine wine with hints of Georgia peaches in every glass.
  • Ole Blue - A dark, rich Muscadine wine, with more than a hint of blueberry. 
  • Chardonnay - Barrel fermented in 100% new Hungarian oak for 9 months. Weekly stirring of the lees brings this complex chardonnay layers of Pineapple, Citrus and caramel. 

After sampling them all, I decided on the Sunrise and my friend ordered a glass of Vidal Blanc. We prepared our plate of cheese and crackers to sit outside to enjoy the view. We slipped into relaxation as we watched the breeze create waves through the grassy fields at the old farm. 

Time passed, and we realized we needed to make it to our next destination: Harvest on Main. We had tried to get in the day before, but this place is always packed. If you plan on going, be sure to make a reservation. We were placed on a wait list, and we got lucky. Harvest on Main looks like something out of Beauty and the Beast. I'm almost positive Gaston was their decorator. But, it fit quite nicely with the local flavor. We were seated at our reservation time and got a spot next to the fireplace in the main room. 

There was a nice selection of food. The Pecan-crusted Bramlett Farms Trout with pecan sweet potatoes, citrus beurre blanc and lemon-arugula salad looked good to me. My trip companion chose the Seared Duck Breast with cinnamon, coriander, house-cured merguez sausage and red cabbage-bacon slaw. If I could go back in time, I would have ordered the duck. It was wonderful--probably the best duck I have eaten. If you visit Harvest on Main, I suggest you go with the duck. Also, the restaurant does provide a complimentary bread service before the meal, so don't feel obligated to order any appetizers. 

We were full. So we packed up our leftovers and headed back to the final night in the cabin. On the way, we debated going to the local drive-in movie theatre, Swan Drive-in. But we were too tired to move. More than anything, I just wanted to enjoy my last few hours of stress-free living. 

I stood alone on the porch and looked at the creek at the bottom of the hill. I tried to remember what was weighing on my mind before I came there, and I couldn't. There's something about being tucked away in a cabin, surrounded by trees that makes you forget your worries.

Visit http://www.blueridgemountains.com/ for more travel tips and advice. 


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3 comments:

  1. Great read! Also loved the Disney post!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Christy! Yes, my grandparents had a wonderful time in Disney World! I appreciate the kind words!

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  2. There are also homes available in the country areas close to lakes, civil war historical areas, the great hiking of the Blue Ridge Mountains, or even near the ocean in Augusta. real estate blue ridge ga

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