10 Best Mountain Towns in Georgia, According to Locals

These are the best mountain towns in Georgia for outdoor adventures, family-friendly trips, and unforgettable weekend retreats.

<p>Explore Georgia</p>

Explore Georgia

North Georgia is one of those regions that feels like a secret to those who aren’t familiar with its mountainous terrain, natural wonders, and unique destinations. It’s underrated but simultaneously magnificent — and it’s the perfect getaway from the heavy traffic and fast-paced way of life of the state’s larger cities. Not to mention, the region provides much-needed relief from the summer heat, with slightly lower nightly temperatures and a variety of refreshing lakes and rivers.

“There’s an authentic spirit that seems tied to the fresh mountain air, cooler temperatures, and lush, rolling landscapes when you cross into North Georgia,” David Friederich, president at Barnsley Resort, tells Travel + Leisure. While prevalent throughout this part of the state, this atmosphere is best experienced in a mountain town — whether it’s Blue Ridge, the “trout capital of Georgia,” or Helen, a Bavarian-style village. “You feel like you’ve traveled far from the hustle and bustle of the busier metro areas, but these charming towns are almost all located within just a couple of hours from Atlanta,” he says.

With summer on the horizon — and fall foliage following suit — now’s the time to book your dream adventure to the Peach State’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Read on to discover the best mountain towns in Georgia, according to local experts.

Related: 15 Best Places to Visit in Georgia — From Charming Mountain Towns to Sandy Beaches


<p>rodclementphotography/Getty Images</p>

rodclementphotography/Getty Images

A trip to the mountains in the fall wouldn’t be complete without a stop in Ellijay, otherwise known as “Georgia’s Apple Capital.” Make several stops at the apple orchards along Highway 52, or “Apple Alley,” to pick your own apples right from the trees. And if your schedule doesn’t allow for an autumn visit, don’t worry; this 2,000-person town has plenty of activities and reasons to visit all year round. “Ellijay's quaint downtown offers some fantastic eateries, such as Cantaberry, for lunch and dinner. Their salads, soups, and sandwiches are fabulous, and the atmosphere is light and fun,” says Tammie Mason, owner of Blue Ridge Mountain Food Tours. Oenophiles will also appreciate the various wineries in the area:  “Ellijay has some great wineries including Chateau Meichtry Family Vineyard and Winery and Cartecay Vineyards,” she adds.


<p>Atlantagreg/Getty Images</p>

Atlantagreg/Getty Images

“Of course, I might be partial to the charms of Adairsville since it’s just a few minutes away from Barnsley Resort,” says Friederich, “[but] the local community has a warm and friendly sense of pride that centers around the downtown.” The entire town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, so it’s not surprising that this a destination where the past plays a prominent role. “The Adairsville Depot History Museum highlights the area's rich history connected to the railroad that runs through the center of town,” says Friederich. Visitors who want to stretch their legs can walk down the tree-lined streets of the historic district, admiring the period homes that have housed Adairsville residents for well over a century.

Blue Ridge

<p>Explore Georgia</p>

Explore Georgia

The small mountain town of Blue Ridge punches above its weight when it comes to outdoor activities, shopping, dining, and more. “Blue Ridge is simply unbelievable,” says Mason, who recommends biking or hiking to local waterfalls or enjoying the area from the water on Lake Blue Ridge. Downtown Blue Ridge may be small, but it has something for everyone. “Folks can find high-end art, local soaps and candles, unique gifts, and jewelry at an array of storefronts — all within walking distance downtown,” she says. Or, if you’re interested in trout fishing, Mason recommends “enjoying fabulous catches in mountain streams or making [your] very own bamboo rods at Oyster Bamboo Fly Rods.”

Related: How to Plan the Perfect Trip to Blue Ridge, Georgia


<p>Explore Georgia</p>

Explore Georgia

Named America’s Best Small Wine, Beer, and Spirits Town by T+L in 2023, Dahlonega has no shortage of places to grab a drink — or pockets of charm. In fact, it’s been a filming location for a few Hallmark films, so it’s quite literally picture-perfect. When you’re not sipping an adult beverage at Montaluce Vineyards, Etowah Meadery, or Big Creek Distilling Co., you may find time for visiting Red Oak Lavender Farm, tubing down the Chestatee River, or picking out sweets at The Fudge Factory. Travelers who plan to stay overnight should book a room at 27 on Park, a boutique property located in the historic square in downtown Dahlonega.


<p>Cultura/Romona Robbins Photography/Getty Images</p>

Cultura/Romona Robbins Photography/Getty Images

“McCaysville is a pretty little mining town that sits on the Georgia-Tennessee line,” says Mason. Given its location, it’s billed as the “Stateline City,” and it shares a border with Copperhill, Tennessee. When you’re in town — perhaps arriving via the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway — be sure to stroll around the Riverwalk Shops and indulge in a waterfront meal. “Burra Burra On the River is just that — on the river! It's a fun little bar and restaurant with al fresco dining on a porch over the Toccoa River. Twisted Tomato shares the same porch for dining outside,” she says. When the weather permits, adventure seekers can book a float trip with Rolling Thunder River Company, which offers rafting, tubing, and kayaking.


<p>Explore Georgia</p>

Explore Georgia

Helen is one of the most eye-catching (and festive) mountain towns in Georgia. Modeled after a Bavarian village, the 578-person destination has a host of nostalgic and family-friendly activities in the area — including the Georgia Mountain Coaster and Unicoi State Park. In the fall, the longest-running Oktoberfest celebration in the U.S. takes place in Helen, but you can enjoy German food all year round at Hofer’s Bakery & Cafe or The Heidelberg. For the ultimate relaxing vacation, you can’t go wrong with a few nights at the luxurious Valhalla Resort, where you’ll be surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. The property even has its own spa, tennis courts, and golf course to cater to a variety of guest preferences.

Related: How to Plan the Perfect Trip to Helen, Georgia


<p>BOB WESTON/Getty Images</p>

BOB WESTON/Getty Images

“I enjoy fly fishing with our friends from High Adventure Company on the Soque River, [and] Clarkesville is a great launching point for this endeavor with a classic Main Street-style downtown with many buildings dating back to the city’s founding in 1823,” says Friederich. “Plus, there are a few great outfitters like Soaring Eagle to stock up on gear for time on the water.” In its earliest days, Clarkesville was a resort destination for travelers looking to escape the summer heat. Today, it’s a quaint town with shops, art galleries, restaurants, festivals (don’t miss the Mountain Laurel Festival in the spring or Taste of Clarkesville in early fall), and several historical points of interest, like the Mauldin House and Grace-Calvary Episcopal Church.


<p>Explore Georgia</p>

Explore Georgia

Located in Georgia’s "Farm-to-Table Capital," Rabun County, Clayton is a mountain town with a reputation for excellent culinary experiences. Whether you’re grabbing a quick bite at White Birch Provisions, lunch from The Rusty Bike Cafe, or dinner at Fortify Pi, you’re pretty much guaranteed to never have a bad meal in Clayton. In between frequenting the town’s dining establishments, you can break a sweat exploring nearby Black Rock Mountain State Park (Georgia’s highest state park) or hike to some of the waterfalls in the area — Angel Falls, Tallulah Falls, and Dick's Creek Falls, among them.


<p>Peter Baker/Getty Images</p>

Peter Baker/Getty Images

According to Friederich, Ringgold, Georgia earns points due to its “convenient proximity to all of the sites and attractions in Chattanooga, Tennessee.” While not technically in the mountains, Ringgold lies in the valley between Lookout Mountain and Taylors Ridge, giving it that classic small mountain town feel. “It’s a great place to enjoy a sense of a small town with lots of antiques and options to take a scenic drive to complement a visit to Chattanooga,” he says. Those spending the day in Ringgold, which measures in at just five square miles, should make a point to visit the historic Ringgold Depot and have a diner breakfast at Pam’s Place.


<p>Explore Georgia</p>

Explore Georgia

The Appalachian Trail passes directly through Blairsville, a small Georgia town that sits in the Chattahoochee National Forest and the Blue Ridge Mountains. In the 1800s, it was a hot spot for gold mining, an activity that continued until the early 1900s; modern-day Blairsville focuses more on outdoor recreation and water-based activities. Georgia’s highest peak, Brasstown Bald, calls the mountain town home, and some of the best hiking trails in the area include Helton Creek Falls, the Blood Mountain Approach Trail, and Sosebee Cove Trail. On exceptionally warm days, Lake Winfield Scott, several miles south of Blairsville, is great for boating, fishing, and swimming,

Related: 10 Charming Small Towns to Visit Along the Appalachian Trail

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