Northeast Georgia Road Trip: 14 Things To Add To Your Itinerary
Thinking about doing a road trip around Georgia?
In April, I attended a conference in Columbia County (which is near Augusta) to meet with some tourism folks from around the state of Georgia. I experienced the area and then proceeded to explore parts of the Northeast Georgia Region after the conference. I had never been to Georgia before but I am always up to explore more of the United States. I have a few friends from Atlanta but don’t know much about the state at all, to be honest. Other than a few days in North Carolina, I have not spent much time in the south.
It was a 7-day whirlwind of a trip. I don’t usually travel so quickly and prefer to experience less but do more. I wanted to share some of the highlights from the trip that you may enjoy.
If you’re into active holidays, Columbia County is a great place to visit. The only thing most people know about Columbia County is the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta but there’s a lot more to the area than golf. While I was there I got to kayak on Betty’s Branch which is a tributary of the Savannah River as well as learn how to play disc golf. There’s lots of running trails in the area as well as places to go fishing, biking, play baseball, golf obviously, and even skateboard.
We went kayaking on Betty’s Branch
Richard B. Russell State Park
We spent the night at Richard B. Russell State Park in Elberton. If you’re not a tent camper, they have cabins that are well equipped with supplies and even WiFi! This is a perfect place to go for friends or with kids, swim, fish, and barbecue.
Quiet morning on the lake – I loved how quiet things were in Georgia
High Cotton Music Hall
High Cotton Music Hall is an intimate music venue located in a town called Hartwell. I became really enamored with this little space and it would be epic to see a live show here. If you’re visiting or near Athens, it’s not too far.
Check their website for upcoming shows!
Currahee Military Museum
I’m not a fan of war but I am quite interested in military history. In a town called Toccoa is the Currahee Military Museum which is home to memorabilia of men who trained to become paratroopers at Camp Toccoa. The history of the 501st, 506th, and 517th Paratrooper Infantry Regiments are on display. If you’re familiar with the movies The Dirty Dozen, Saving Private Ryan, and/or Band of Brothers, you are in fact a bit familiar with the men who trained at Toccoa.
Horse stables turned living quarters. Photo courtesy of Dalton on Flickr
Training helmet. Photo courtesy of Dalton on Flickr
Toccoa Falls is actually located on the Toccoa Falls College campus. They are 186 feet high, the highest non-cascading waterfalls in the Eastern United States. These falls are easy to get to and are wheelchair accessible.
If you’re a waterfall fan, there’s an app for North Georgia waterfalls!!!
We stopped for the night in the town called Cornelia. There was a great little growler fill shop called Whistle Top Brew Company where we sampled craft beer and got to taste some tacos for an event they were having the following night.
In nearby Demorest was a very cool and unexpected museum called the Mason-Scharfenstein Museum of Art. It is home to a collection of art by 19 and 20th century American and European artists. While I was there I purchased some ceramics by a student artist named Chance Hunter, whose graduation project “Together We Are Alone” was on display.
My personal highlight was a lady by the name of Judy Taylor who runs the Chamber of Commerce for the county of Habersham. She was so cute and southern, I became slightly obsessed with her. Should you go into the chamber and meet her, I will guarantee you’ll love her too!
At Whistle Top with owner Scott Hulsey
Inside the museum
Together We Are Alone by Chance Hunter
Tallulah Falls State Park
Tallulah Falls State Park is a state park between Rabun and Habersham Counties. Within the park is Tallulah Gorge, a 1000 foot deep and two-mile-long gorge as well as six waterfalls known as Tallulah Falls. There are trails for hiking with several viewpoints or you can try to get one of the 100 per day permits to hike the gorge floor. There is a suspension bridge that is 80 feet high that gives you great views of the river and waterfalls. Please note there are some 300 plus steps down and then back up just to the bridge.
Sadly we didn’t have too long here but I definitely want to come back during the summer to hike and swim!
The suspension bridge. Photo credit: Alan Maxy Photography
Goats On The Roof
Goats on the Roof is a funny little roadside stop in a town called Tiger. You can stop in here for snacks, nitrogen ice cream, fudge, and to feed the goats on the roof.
The Foxfire Magazine was a quarterly magazine started and published by students who went to a private school called Rabun Gap Nacoochee School in 1966. It was an experiment by a teacher and his students and they published interviews and stories of Appalachia culture. Articles were later collected and published into books and they becambest-selling books. The Foxfire Museum houses artifacts, tools, folk art, and more and gives you an idea of what Appalachian life was like.
York House Inn
The York House Inn, located in Rabun County, is Georgia’s oldest bed and breakfast. It was opened in 1896 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s a cute inn and the friendly owners, Stan and Christine Penton, have plenty of experience in the hospitality industry. There isn’t a lot of for hotels in the region so if you are looking for a nicer place to stay for the night, the York House Inn is a great choice. The breakfast was really tasty and the lounge area where we sat and drank cocktails are awesome.
York House Inn
Bull Sluice is a rapid on the Chattooga River which is on the border between Georgia and South Carolina. You may recognize the area from the movie “Deliverance”. You can go swimming, kayaking, and rafting here but in certain areas, it’s more advanced so you would want to go with an outfitter like Southeastern Expeditions.
Bull Sluice on the Chattooga River
Blue Ridge is a small town in the mountains of Northeast Georgia. I wasn’t sure what to expect here but I really liked this town. There’s a small “Main Street” area that is lined with shops and restaurants. Some highlights for me were:
- wine and cheese tastings at Out of the Blue
- amazing olive oil (I brought home several bottles!) from Blue Ridge Olive Oil Company
- if you’re a chocolate lover, try out “Chocolatasm” at The Vine Wine Bar
- craft beer at Grumpy Old Men Brewing
- southern food like rainbow trout, deep fried okra, and corn nuggets
Since our time was short we only did a quickie tour but if you’re interested in hikes there’s lots of trails and waterfalls in the area.
I had the lemon pepper trout!
Blue Ridge Olive Oil Company
I’m super into farms and agritourism. If you’ve ever followed me on social media you will always see me at farmers markets or even farms themselves. Mercier Farms is one of the biggest apple growers (they also grow other fruit too!) in the state of Georgia. It’s a family operated business with their 4th generation being involved now. You can pick fruit yourself or you can purchase fruit as well as baked goods and other food product in the market shop and bakery. You can also eat here too! I had a delicious southern breakfast here with grits and biscuits! There’s also a hard cider tasting room!
Strolling through the orchard
Red and green tomatoes for sale at Mercier Orchard market store
Hand pies guys!! You bet I bought some :)
When I think about American food, the one thing that is unique to the US is southern food. You can get burgers and hot dogs everywhere in the world but you can’t get proper southern food everywhere. If you’re a health freak, it may not be an ideal diet but it’s definitely worth the experience.
I was able to try fried green tomatoes at the Cateechee Golf Club in Hartwell
I ate shrimp and grits at Clifford’s at Beaverdam Marina in Elberton
I tried (and wasn’t a fan of) boiled peanuts at Goats on the Roof in Tiger
I ate a few hush puppies (deep fried cornmeal ball) at Natalie Janes in Cornelia
Deep fried okra at Toccoa Riverside Restaurant in Blue Ridge
Corn fritter (battered cornball that is deep fried) at Toccoa Riverside Restaurant
Pork rinds at Clarks on Main in Clayton (I’ve had them before but never seen them served on tables)
Biscuits in the south are just better! These were at Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge
Fried chicken and waffles at Freight in Woodstock – available everywhere but better in the south!
Craft beer – you know I need to have some!
- Breweries to visit: Grumpy Old Men in Blue Ridge, Whistle Top Brew Co Growler Shop in Cornelia and Reformation in the way back to Atlanta in Woodstock
And that was my road trip through Georgia!! These are 14 things I things that I enjoyed and think are worth adding to a Georgia road trip itinerary. It was my first time in Georgia but it is definitely not the last. One thing that isn’t really a thing to add but to experience is the people. Everyone was so nice and hospitable. As a Canadian living in America, one thing I always notice is how nice and gracious people are or aren’t. In the south, hospitality is their specialty and it really was a highlight of my trip. It was also interesting to learn so much about American history in the south. Another great thing about traveling in the south is how cheap it is! From food to gas, it’s such a bargain!