view of the North Georgia mountains

35 Things To Do In North Georgia (By Local!) 2024

Morgan and Alan have lived in Georgia for over 30 years each and know the North Georgia mountains like the back their hands. Are you looking for excursions that only a local would know about?

Check out our list of things you should do while in our neck of the woods.

Laid Back Things You Should Do While In North Georgia

Looking for a relaxing way to spend the day? Check out one of these fun options!

1. Visit Jaemor Farms

Jaemor Farms is a family owned farm in Alto, Georgia that was founded in 1912. You can check out the full history of Jaemor Farms here.

What we love about Jaemor Farms is they have fresh produce in their market and they share their picking season online. You can check out their Produce Calendar and see what time of year would be best for your visit.

Their sweet corn and watermelon – YUM!

They also have amazing jams, jellies, pies, and gift boxes for sale. If you are looking for a gift that will be well received, you cannot go wrong with any of these.

2. Go to a Winery (or Two)

The North Georgia mountains are sprinkled with wineries. In fact, there are so many wineries around this could be a post of its own. Our recommendation – pick an area you want to visit for another reason and find a winery nearby to try.

North Georgia winery

3. Visit Moonrise Distillery in Clayton, GA

If wine is not your thing, maybe Moonrise Distillery will have something more to your taste instead!

In all seriousness, Moonrise Distillery is a great place to visit if you want to learn more about how distilling works. They offer a tour and tasting experience most days between 12-1:30pm; you can build your own flight of samples and try them while participating in a guided tour of the facility.

Moonrise Distillery has an indoor and outdoor seating and often has live music.

4. Ride a Train!

Are you interested in a train-ride through the Appalachian Foothills? Then you need to check out the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway! This 4-hour adventure starts in downtown Blue Ridge. Then you take a 1 hour train ride to another mountain town, have about 2 hours to explore the area, and then have a 1 hour return trip.

Depending on the time of year, they offer both open-air and enclosed train cars. The open-air cars have bench seats that face outward and are not climate controlled; this is a great way to experience the nature in the area.

Reservations are encouraged but not required.

5. Shoot the Hooch!

If you are not familiar with the local lingo, this means go tubing on the Chattahoochee. There are several rivers in North Georgia and any of them will do.

tube North Georgia mountains

Keep in mind the water in North Georgia tends to be cooler, even during the summer so this is a great refreshing choice for a hot day.

6. Go to the Highest Point in Georgia – Brasstown Bald

The Brasstown Bald Visitor Center is the highest point in the state of Georgia at 4,784 feet above sea level. There is an observation deck that provides a 360° view that encompasses 4 states – Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

The Visitor Center is typically open from 10am-5pm daily during the spring, summer, and fall. There is a fee per person over 15 to enter. The observation deck and trails are open year-round. Be sure to check their website for the most up to date information.

7. Go Apple Picking In Ellijay

This is another seasonal activity which typically runs mid-August through early-November. There are other places in North Georgia where you can pick apples (Blue Ridge, McCaysville), but Ellijay is known for their prime apple picking.

If you have never picked an apple directly from the tree and eaten it, you NEED to try it this year.

apples in Ellijay (North Georgia)

Most of the orchards also offer a market area with homemade goodies, tractor rides, and anything “apple” that you can think of – apple cider, apple fritters, apple pies, and candied apples. This experience can be fun for the whole family, a group of friends, or a sweet stop on an intimate getaway.

8. Go Panning for Gold!

Gold was found in Dahlonega Georgia in 1828 on Cherokee land. The area quickly became a popular destination for those looking to “strike gold”. According to the Dahlonega Gold Museum, over 6 million dollars in gold coins were created between 1938 and 1961.

We highly recommend visiting the museum, touring a mine, and panning for gold.

9. Attend Gold Rush Days Festival

The Gold Rush Days annual festival is held in the Dahlonega square and draws quite a crowd. Plan for a lot of walking! This local event occurs every year on the third full weekend in October (October 19-20, 2024).

There are vendors, arts and crafts, music, and fun! There is a parade and the crowning of the Gold Rush Days King and Queen.

10. Check Out Babyland General Hospital

Babyland General Hospital, home of the Cabbage Patch Kids, opened in Cleveland Georgia in 1978. You are able to freely walk through the building and explore at your leisure; you can watch as the Cabbage Patch Kids are created.

For anyone interested in adopting a Cabbage Patch Kid, they come with a birth certificate and adoption papers.

This unique experience is encouraged for those with children.

11. Goats on the Roof

Yes, you read that correctly. In North Georgia, you can go see goats on the roof of a building. We highly encourage you to stop in and say hi (to the people, not the goats)!

They are open to the public Friday through Monday and welcomes visitors (FREE ADMISSION). You can watch the goats, feed them, and the kids can play on the playground. There is a food truck on site, a gift shop, and some amazing ice cream and fudge.

Check out the Goats on the Roof website to see a picture and bio on each of the goats. Once you do, you won’t pass up the opportunity to see them in person.

12. Check Out Local Indian Mounds

North Georgia’s history has significant ties to Native American tribes as the land was originally theirs. This means that you will still find historical landmarks throughout the area. You can drive down portions of the Trail of Tears or you can visit some of the local Burial Mounds.

Nacoochee Indian Mound Landmark sign
Nacoochee Indian Mound

Pictured above is the Nacoochee Indian Mound outside of Helen, GA.

13. Go to the School Bus Graveyard in Alto, GA

The School Bus Graveyard is open daily from 8am-6pm for visitors outside. You will see a wide assortment of school buses and vehicles that have been spray-painted to form some beautiful, and some funky, pieces of art.

When we first heard of the School Bus Graveyard, Morgan thought it was a weird spin on the Cadillac Ranch on Route 66. Check it out and let us know what you think.

14. Explore a German-Themed Town: Helen, GA

downtown Helen GA

Visit the quaint town of Helen, Georgia that was inspired by Bavarian villages in Germany. Whether you spend a few hours or an entire weekend, Helen has a lot to offer including authentic German food, accommodations and restaurants on the Chattahoochee River, tubing, ziplining, and the only mountain coaster in the state of Georgia.

view of the Chattahoochee River in Helen

Best Things to Do in North for Adventurous Souls

Looking for activities that might get your adrenaline pumping? Want to try something new? Then this portion of this list is for you!

15. Ziplining in the Mountains (or by the River)

There are several locations where you can go ziplining in North Georgia. Here are a few: Helen (Cool River Adventures), Amicalola Falls State Park, & Unicoi State Park.

Alan ziplining

16. Walk on a Suspension Bridge!

The Toccoa River Suspension Bridge was built in 1977 by the Forest Service and can be found on a portion of the Benton MacKaye Trail. Depending on where you start your journey, this hike to the bridge can be as short as 0.5 miles round trip and has some amazing views and experiences.

The suspension bridge will sway or bounce with every step you take as it is truly suspended in the air. Are you daring enough to walk across all 270 feet?

17. Try Fly Fishing

The rivers in North Georgia are teaming with trout and it is not uncommon to see people fly fishing. There are plenty of guide companies to choose from if you want to make a stab at the sport.

Trout season runs from March through October.

In Georgia, you are required to have a fishing license and a trout license if you are over the age of 15. All the requirements can be found at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources website.

Fly Fisherman in North Georgia (Helen)

18. Go Off-roading (Personal Favorite)

Whether you have your own off-road vehicle (ORV) or need to rent one, we have some great suggestions for you. If you are not into hiking on foot, the North Georgia mountains are scattered with trails, parks, and Forest Service Roads that offer another great way to get into nature.

Jeep offroading down waterfall

Some popular destinations include:

  • Nimblewill Gap
  • Beasley Knob
  • Tray Mountain
  • Iron Mountain Resort: Georgia Offroad Park (they have side by sides for rent)

Depending on what you want to ride (dirt bike, 4 wheeler, side by side, jeep, etc), your preferred destinations may differ.

We love off-roading and go frequently!

19. Whitewater Rafting

There are several options for Whitewater Rafting in North Georgia with the Toccoa River/Ocoee River and the Chattooga River being the most common.

If you are feeling especially adventurous but want a skilled guide, this option may be perfect for you. This is a warm weather activity as you should prepare to be drenched with cool water.

The Best State Parks in North Georgia

We recommend these State Parks because they offer more than just hiking. Whether it is camping, birdwatching, fishing, or more, these locations are prime destinations if you have not explored much of North Georgia.

20. Amicalola Falls State Park

This is our first suggestion because there is more than just hiking available at Amicalola Falls State Park. In fact, you can stay on site, hike to the waterfall, learn archery skills, or go ziplining.

Amicalola Falls

Accommodations: rooms in the lodge, cabins, glamping, and campsites available

Parking Fee: $5 per vehicle

Hike to the Falls: moderate trail with a significant amount of steps – the final portion of the hike includes 425 steps! This may seem daunting but if you are physically able, it is worth the hike to see the view.

21. Unicoi State Park

Unicoi State Park also offers fun for the whole family. Try out ziplining or take an easy 2.2 mile stroll around the lake “Unicoi Lake Loop Trail”. There is also archery, a gun range, mountain biking, paddle boarding, and fly fishing

  • Accommodations: rooms in the lodge, cabins, glamping, and campsites available
  • Park Hours (if you are not staying on site): 7am – 10pm
  • Parking Fee: $5 per vehicle

22. Vogel State Park

Another fun location for anyone to visit is Vogel State Park located in Blairsville at the base of Blood Mountain. There is a 22 acre lake with a sandy beach area, a playground, and a general store. Options to entertain yourself include playing in/near the water (fishing, boating/kayaking, swimming, paddle boarding), hiking, and miniature golf.

  • Accommodations: cottages, campsites, and primitive backpacking sites
  • Park Hours (if you are not staying on site): 7am – 10pm
  • Parking Fee: $5 per vehicle

This park is definitely worth a visit and is the perfect location for a relaxing weekend (or wedding or family reunion or whatever other reason you come up with). Do it!

23. Smithgall Woods State Park

Smithgall Woods State Park
Smithgall Woods State Park

Smithgall Woods State Park is geared towards the more outdoorsy folks offering hiking, hunting, biking, fishing (limited schedule / catch and release only), archery, birdwatching, and more. Smithgall Woods State Park

  • Accommodations: there are 6 cottages that vary in bedroom count, amenities, and location (some are waterfront). You can hike approximately 1 mile from the cottages to Dukes Creek Falls.
  • Park Hours: 7am to dark
  • Parking Fee: $5 per vehicle or annual pass required

24. Tallulah Gorge State Park

Another adventurer’s paradise is Tallulah Gorge State Park. Tallulah Gorge is most popular for its spectacular views, suspension bridge, and rock climbing opportunities.

The Gorge spans several miles and is approximately 1000 feet deep! There are numerous waterfalls and scenic overlooks or you can take it a step further hike to the gorge floor. Dogs are not allowed on the gorge floor for safety reasons.

If you are looking for more laid-back options at Tallulah Gorge, you can lay on the beach, go swimming, paddle boarding, kayaking, fishing, biking, or play tennis.

  • Accommodations: campsites and backcountry shelters
  • Reservations / Permits: there are a limited number of climbing permits and gorge floor permits issued per day. Additionally, a permit is required for the Stoneplace Trail because it enters a Wildlife Management Area.
  • Park Hours: 8am to dark
  • Parking Fee: $5 per vehicle or annual pass required

25. Cloudland Canyon State Park

Here is another one for the adventurous souls out there – Cloudland Canyon State Park. You can try hiking, biking, fishing, disc golf, horseback riding, and even go on a cave tour. The park has beautiful waterfalls and views as well.

Morgan’s favorite part? You can stay in a yurt!

  • Accommodations: cottages, yurts, campsites, and backcountry shelters
  • Reservations / Permits: cave tours require a reservation
  • Park Hours: 7am to 10pm
  • Parking Fee: $5 per vehicle or annual pass required

Favorite Hikes in North Georgia

We know hiking is not for everyone and that is ok! We have included a wide range of hikes with everything from short, easy hikes to more strenuous options. Most of the State Parks mentioned above have hiking trails within them but here are a few more notable trails.

The info provided is based on personal experiences as well as opinions from other hikers. The details are deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

26. Anna Ruby Falls

Anna Ruby Falls in 2019
  • Moderate trail near Unicoi State Park and Helen, GA
  • Less than 1 mile roundtrip
  • Dogs welcome on leash
  • Gates are open at 9am-5pm daily
  • Attendant charges $5 per person to park/enter

27. Amicalola Falls

See the Amicalola Falls State Park section above. This hike is worth mentioning again. Seriously – go do it!

28. High Shoals Falls Trail (and Blue Hole Falls Trail)

  • Moderate trail
  • Approximately 2.5 miles roundtrip
  • Dogs welcome and there are some off leash areas
  • Free parking
High Shoals Falls Trail & Blue Hole Falls Trail sign

29. Panther Falls & Angel Falls Trail

  • Moderate trail
  • 2.2 miles roundtrip
  • Dogs welcome on leash
  • Daily fee per vehicle (or annual pass) required for parking in the lot. We have heard reports of some free parking along the side of the road but have not experienced this personally.

30. DeSoto Falls Trail

  • Easy trail
  • Less than 2 miles roundtrip
  • Dogs welcome on leash
  • Daily fee per vehicle (or annual pass) required for parking

31. Helen to Unicoi State Park Lodge

This trail starts at Unicoi Hill Park in downtown Helen and takes you to the Unicoi State Park Lodge.

Helen to Unicoi State Park hiking trail head
  • Moderate trail
  • 5 miles roundtrip (you can grab a snack or drink at the lodge)
  • Dogs welcome on leash
  • Free parking at Unicoi Hill Park

32. Helton Creek Falls

  • Easy trail with a waterfall
  • 0.3 miles roundtrip
  • Dogs welcome on leash
  • Free parking

33. Minnehaha Falls

  • Easy trail with a waterfall
  • 0.4 miles round trip
  • Dogs welcome and there are some off leash areas
  • Free parking but it is extremely limited (5 or 6 spaces)

34. Dukes Creek Falls

  • Easy trail with a waterfall near Helen, GA and Raven Cliff Falls
  • 2.3 miles roundtrip
  • Dogs welcome on leash
  • Daily fee per vehicle (or annual pass) required for parking

35. Raven Cliff Falls

  • Moderate trail with a waterfall and caves near Helen, GA and Dukes Creek Falls
  • Less than 5 miles roundtrip
  • Dogs welcome on leash
  • Daily fee per vehicle (or annual pass) required for parking

If you are looking for hiking trails with beautiful waterfalls near Helen, we have compiled the perfect list.

Conclusion: Go Explore North Georgia

But seriously! Why are you still reading this? Randomly pick a few things from the list above and you will have create an epic adventure in North Georgia.

Think something is missing from our list? We would love to know. Send us an email at