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Georgia Mountain Laurel Magazine

5 Fabulous Day Trips to Experience Near Rabun County

Jun 27, 2016 06:02PM ● By Melanie Heisinger

Helen, GA. Photo courtesy of the Helen, GA Facebook Page.

It's always nice to take a vacation, but sometimes staying over somewhere can add up fast. Luckily, here in lovely Georgia, there are beautiful local spots that can easily be driven to. We've compiled are our top 5 picks for some local-area places to spend the day, and some fun things to be done and seen while there. 

Hiawassee, GA

Hiawassee, GA. Photo courtesy of the City of Hiawassee Website.
If you are looking for great hiking trails and lovely swimming holes, Hiawassee is a must-visit destination. According to Explore Georgia, "Hiawassee is an Appalachian Trail community. The Southern Highroads Trail passes through Hiawassee and alongside Lake Chatuge, a TVA reservoir popular for swimming, boating, jet skiing, paddling, sport fishing, and other water sports. There are several entrances to the Appalachian Trail at various locations in the area."

There are also other fun things to do before and after your hike or swim. The Anderson Music Hall at the fairgrounds hosts great shows with top name stars each year. 

Anderson Music Hall Photo courtesy of the Georgia Mountain Fair Website

Anderson Music Hall - Hiawassee, GA

Anderson Music Hall has hosted countless musical legends since it was constructed in 1979. This 2,900-seat theatre is an ideal spot to take in a performance during the many musical events... Read More » 

For some lovely sights, head to Hamilton Gardens and enjoy the sight of more than 3,000 azaleas and rhododendrons. 

Hamilton Gardens - Hiawassee GA

Hamilton Gardens - Hiawassee, GA

Planted in 1982, Hamilton Gardens houses over 400 varieties of rhododendrons, making it one of the largest and most diverse collections in the southeast. Between the rhododendrons and th... Read More » 

Continue exploring Hiawassee and step into the ArtWorks Artisan Center to enjoy local artists and the wonderful pieces created there, and possibly find the next staple art piece for your home. They also offer weekly classes so if you are feeling adventurous enough, try you hand at creating your own art! 

ArtWorks Artisan Center - Hiawassee GA

ArtWorks Artisan Center - Hiawassee, GA

ArtWorks is a store maintained by Mountain Regional Arts & Crafts Guild, a non-profit organization supporting local artisans and arts &crafts classes. Paintings, woodworking, q... Read More » 

To fuel up for the ride home, (or for the day, depending on your timing!) head to the Bear Meadows Grill for some tasty burgers that are sure to satisfy. 

Helen, GA

Helen, GA. Photo courtesy of the Helen, GA Facebook Page.
A re-creation of a Bavarian Alpine village known for its artisan shops, Helen is an ideal place to spend the day shopping for unique, hand-crafted items, as well as exploring the lovely Unicoi State Park. The Chattahoochee River also flows gently through Helen.

Explore Georgia says, "Helen now has more than 200 specialty and import shops offering everything from candle making and glass blowing to cuckoo clocks and quilts. Dining options range from traditional German fare to traditional Southern."

Unicoi State Park - Helen GA

Unicoi State Park - Helen, GA

Unicoi State Park and Lodge offers plenty of reasons to go outside! Explore our beautiful 1029 acres of Georgia adventure activities and experience a few of our mountain marvels, like our... Read More » 

For a great place to begin the shopping experience, head to Helen Souvenir and Candle Company LLC and hand-pick your perfect candle. 

Habersham Winery boasts not only tasty wines, and reasonable wine-tasting prices, but beautiful views. Stop by after hitting the shops and kick back. 

Habersham Winery - Helen GA

Habersham Winery - Helen, GA

Habersham Winery has been producing award winning Georgia wines since 1983 and is one of Georgia's oldest and largest wineries. Located in the North Georgia Wine Country, one half mil... Read More » 

Feeling hungry after all that shopping? For some "Georgia Ice-Cream," otherwise known as grits, visit Nora Mill Granary

Nora Mill Granary - Helen GA

Nora Mill Granary - Helen, GA

Established in 1876, ​Nora Mill Granary is an operational gristmill sitting alongside the Chattahoochee River in the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains. At Nora Mill, we utilize... Read More » 

Franklin, NC

Photo courtesy of
Franklin, NC is known for its wealth of natural beauty. You’ll discover magnificent waterfalls & breathtaking mountain vistas. Try your hand at gem mining, go for a trek on the Appalachian Trail, find a fishing hole, or explore the mountains on your bike or motorcycle. You’ll also discover great shopping including handmade arts & crafts, antiques & much more. Of course, you can always just kick your feet up and relax.

Nestfeathers - Franklin NC

Nestfeathers - Franklin, NC

Housed in a former furniture store built in 1948, vendors display their wares throughout the 3 story, easily accessible building. You are welcomed to this fun shop by beautiful flowers in... Read More » 

Franklin, NC is known as the “Gem Capital of the World” for good reason. Gem mining in Franklin has a rich tradition, with native rubies and sapphires, both members of the corundum family, having been mined for years in the historic Cowee Valley.

Click here to download a Gem Mining Map. 

Photo courtesy of

Taking in the scenic beauty of the Franklin, NC area is a must when you visit. Experience every season’s unique beauty with breathtaking mountain vistas and fantastic waterfalls. 

For some detailed information about places to drive, visit the Discover Franklin website. 

Need to kick back after walking the Appalachian Trail, or Gem Mining? Lazy Hiker Brewing Co. is close by and sure to satisfy. 
Lazy Hiker Brewing Co - Franklin NC

Lazy Hiker Brewing Co. - Franklin, NC

Lazy Hiker Brewing Company is a craft brewery way up in the mountains of Western North Carolina. We started as a dream to bring something new and beneficial to the town of Franklin, NC wh... Read More » 

 Clarkesville, GA

Clarkesville. Photo courtesy of
According to Explore Georgia, if you are looking for a little bit of history, Clarkesville is the place to visit. "The downtown is bustling with antiques, art & collectibles shops, dining for all tastes, a theater and other interesting stores. Landmarks in Clarkesville include Grace-Calvary Episcopal Church and the De Soto monument across from the Courthouse, which describes how De Soto passed through Habersham County on his travels. Moccasin Creek State Park is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains on the shores of Lake Burton and offers camping, boating, fishing and hiking." 

Historic Calrkesville. Photo courtesy of

Looking for a fascinating walking tour through historic sites in Clarkesville? They have several guided maps that are easy to follow. Stroll through historic sites with a loved one and seep into history. 

Download the self-guided map 

After taking a stroll through history, wine is always a good idea. Head to 
Wild Berry Cottage Wine Tasting Room for a taste of local wine. It's also an excellent place to get some trinkets and gifts. 

Wild Berry Cottage Wine Tasting Room  - Clarkesville GA

Wild Berry Cottage Wine Tasting Room - Clarkesville, GA

Our biggest challenge was finding the right partner for the tasting room. Enter Cartecay Vineyards, one of Georgia's newest Farm Wineries. With a growing selection of Georgia made wines... Read More » 

Hiking in Clarkesville is plentiful. There are quite a few places nearby to choose from, including Black Rock Mountain State ParkMoccasin Creek State ParkTallulah Gorge State Park, and so much more. 

Moccasin Creek State Park - Clarkesville GA

Moccasin Creek State Park - Clarkesville, GA

Sitting on the shores of lovely Lake Burton, Moccasin Creek prides itself on being “where spring spends the summer.” Despite its mountain location, the park is relatively flat, offering e... Read More » 

 Blairsville, GA

Photo courtesy of

 Blairsville-Union County is located in the North Georgia Mountains. Outdoor lovers will hike endless trails; see breathtaking views atop Brasstown Bald, Georgia’s highest elevation; visit rushing waterfalls and relax on serene Lake Nottely. Enjoy horseback riding, golfing, and antiquing year round or plan your trip around one of many unique festivals.

Georgia's highest peak, Brasstown Bald, affords dramatic 360 views of 4 states plus hiking trails & a museum. As the state's highest peak — 4,784 feet above sea level — Brasstown Bald is also among the first to display the season's riotous fall colors. Even in summer, you'll find the mountain a worthy escape thanks to its picturesque location amid the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest and its refreshing temperatures.

Brasstown Bald Visitor Center  - Hiawassee GA

Brasstown Bald Visitor Center - Hiawassee, GA

Brasstown Bald, GA, rising 4,784 feet above sea level, is Georgia’s tallest mountain. Its incredible 360 degree view allows you to see Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and South Carolin... Read More » 

 For some tasty and fresh seafood, American Catch is the ideal stop in Blairsville. Be sure to try their New Orleans BBQ Shrimp! See their full dinner menu here

American Catch - Blairsville GA

American Catch - Blairsville, GA

American Catch serves Blairsville’s freshest seafood in a casual environment and offers a locally and seasonally inspired menu. The kitchen utilizes sustainable and local seafood caught o... Read More » 

Horseback Riding. Photo courtesy

Inhale the unmistakable smell of fresh hay! One of the best ways to get back to nature and explore the countryside around Blairsville and Union County is on horseback. Stables cater to riders of all levels, even children. The Union County Saddle Club hosts rodeos and horsemanship competitions all year long! 

For more detailed information on local horseback riding lessons and tours, head to the Visit Blairsville website. 

What is your favorite spot to Day Trip? Did we include it here? Let us know by contacting us.

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