by Heather Meliski
Due to our work schedules we weren’t able to go far away for spring break this year, so we decided instead to take a long weekend in the mountains to rest and recharge. My husband found an awesome rental home for our family and our friends so we packed up the kids for the short drive to Blue Ridge, Georgia.
Blue Ridge is a great destination and is only about an hour and a half away. This cute little town is full of great shops and restaurants, and the area has tons of outdoor activities such a hiking, fishing, and boating. There are a wide variety of cabins for rent, as well as, small hotels and bed and breakfasts.
There are a lot of great hiking trails in the area offering varying levels of difficulty. Some of the more popular trails include Long Creek Falls, Toccoa River Swinging Bridge, and Benton MacKay Trail. During our stay we went hiking on the Toccoa River Swinging Bridge which was a perfect hike with young kids. They really enjoyed jumping on the bridge to make it bounce up and down. (Me? Not so much.) One word of caution is to make sure you have a four-wheel drive vehicle if you hike this trail if it’s been raining. It had rained heavily the night before and we had quite a time getting out from the trailhead in our SUV.
Another fun activity is fishing and there are many places to go. We decided to head to Lake Blue Ridge with the kids. Our boys had never fished before so after grabbing some fishing rods and bait we found a nice, quiet spot to show them how to cast. They were super impressed with mom’s skills baiting the hooks. Unfortunately, it was too cold that day to catch any fish. Fishing in Georgia requires a license and you can grab one online that is good for a year through the Department of Natural Resources website – www.gadnr.org.
The Blue Ridge area also has several great local wineries, many of which are family-friendly. One of the most popular wineries in the area is Serenberry Vineyards which is a low-key vineyard that has a tasting house, fire pit, and huge outdoor area for kids to run around. Nearby, Young Harris has Crane Creek Vineyards and in Ellijay is home to both Engelheim Vineyards and Chateau Meichtry.
Train fans will love the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. This four-hour round-trip train ride goes from Blue Ridge to McCaysville to Copperhead, Tennessee with a two-hour layover for lunch. Make sure you check the schedule for departure dates and times as the train doesn’t run every day.
We had a great time and really enjoyed a respite from the hustle and bustle of Atlanta. And for me this was a ‘real’ vacation since I didn’t have to do any of the planning. It was a really nice treat to just enjoy the long weekend without worrying about the details. We hope to go back in the fall to check out the foliage and nearby orchards in Ellijay. If you’re looking to slow down for a few days, I highly recommend Blue Ridge!