In our current world, busy-ness is glorified. The busier you are, the more important you must be, right?
But do you remember….When we used to talk to each other in person? When we didn’t get our messages until vacation was over…from a machine back at home?
Remember when family time meant playing games in the evening, catching fireflies, dancing to music, singing songs, and watching the birds fly through the tree canopies?
It’s not too late; you can re-live those moments.
Take a break from the busyness of life, from the concrete jungle, from cellphones and video games…..and unplug in Blairsville, Ga.
Take the #urbanchallenge, and unplug today. Reconnect with your family. Sometimes slow is just the perfect speed. We’ve got dozens of ways for you to turn off the noise, and revive that close family feeling.
Trails and Waterfalls
Helton Creek Falls. Helton Creek gets my vote for best family-friendly waterfall in Georgia. It’s only a short walk from the parking lot, and the lower falls offer plenty of flat sandy surface for younger kids to play in. We regularly visit, and can easily spend an entire day here. Don’t skip the view of the upper falls, too.
Insider Tip: You can slide the rocks in the lower falls, and older kiddos will love the swimming hole offered at the base of the upper falls!
A Step Above Stables. Breathtaking stables in the mountains offer the perfect opportunity for a family trail ride. We love that they are open everyday of the year (except Christmas.) You can pick three different levels of trail riding, ranging from $35-60 per person (1 or 2 hours,) and there are pony rides for little ones. Guided tours lead you through the mountains and around gorgeous Lake Nottley. Another reason to love them? Heavier riders and young children can be accommodated! We recommend a reservation.
Blood Mountain. Blood Mountain is one of my most favorite Georgia hikes for families. The views are unmatched. Kids will adore the boulders and the AT shelter along the route. It’s a moderate hike, but well worth the effort. You might even run into an AT hiker or two (so maybe pack a few extra candy bars to hand out.)
Vogel State Park. Vogel sits at the base of Blood Mountain and offers beautiful Lake Trahlyta. You’ll find water activities, mini golf, a man-made (but still pretty) waterfall, and more! The proximity to Helton Creek Falls, Mountain Crossing and the Downtown district make this a great place to lay your head for the weekend. Ask about the newly renovated cabins. We stayed at one right on a stream bed, which kept my boys occupied well into the evening.
Brasstown Bald. Take a short hike (or shuttle) to the summit for idyllic views of Georgia, Tennessee, and North and South Carolina. A visit is great any time of year, but especially spectacular in Fall. Just remember that as Georgia’s highest point, the leaves turn earlier here than in other parts of the state. Don’t skip the museum and movie at the visitor’s center up top.
Nottely Reservoir Trail. This waterfront hike just opened last spring and is already a local favorite. Whether you would like to stroll, hike or bike, enjoy a moderate 1.7 miles of wooded trails that meander around beautiful Lake Nottely. Access to the Trail is approximately 1 mile past Nottely Dam on the left when coming from 129.
Lakes and Marinas
Lake Nottely. The most glorious lake in Blairsville has to be 4,000+ acre Lake Nottely. The kids will adore fishing here, with largemouth bass, spotted bass, crappie and striped bass and more. What’s also neat about the lake is that the 106 miles of shoreline are pristine – no construction detracts from incredible views or Mother Nature. Don’t miss getting a cabin here – there are some incredible options on AirBnB.
You can bring your own boat or rent a pontoon, jet skis, kayaks and more from local marinas and outfitters like Nottely Marina, Nottely Boat Club, or North Georgia Water Sports. We have more about Lake Nottely coming soon, so come back!
Lake Winfield Scott. At only 18-acres, this lake packs a lot of fun in a small space. Visit the recreation area for camping, picnicking, boating, fishing, swimming and hiking. They also offers Paddleboard rentals, so you can try your hand at this new sport.
Insider Tip: The wonders of Lake Winfield Scott have not yet been discovered by most, so you’ll find it to be an uncrowded camping location. Plus, it’s a great place to ride bikes!
Lake Trahlyta. This pretty lake is the centerpiece of Vogel State Park. We love waking up from a slumber at the park and enjoying coffee on the lake’s bank…with an amazing cover of fog dusting the horizon. You can walk the perimeter of the lake easily, enjoy fishing here, or take out one of the peddle boats. Don’t miss the walk to Trahlyta Falls that are created from the lake.
Hidden Gems In Blairsville
Sleepy Hollow. See the works of a former Disney designer. Explore the whimsical “fairy houses” and then tour the store. The colorful creations will delight your soul.
Track Rock Gap. Imagine reading a story told by Cherokee Indians over 1,000 years ago! You can do that at Track Rock Gap. We made this pit-stop by accident, and I am so glad we did! Tucked into the mountain side, you can see rock carvings, or petroglyphs, in the soapstone.
Tips from the website: Track Rock Gap is open to public visitation and no fee is charged. We have several suggestions to enhance your visit. Please print the drawings of the boulders on this site to take with you. This will help you to identify the figures you see at the site. Intensity of natural lighting can influence how much you are able to see. Bright mid-day sun makes it hard to see most of the figures, and the best times to visit are early or late in the day, when the light is at a low angle. Please be respectful of other visitors and the people who made these carvings. Previous visitors removed pieces of the boulders, thus depriving future visitors of the chance to see what they thought was so special.
I admit, it is a small selection….maybe not worthy of a special trip (unless you’re a budding archeologist specializing in Native American petroglyphs,) but if you are in Blairsville, this is a must-see. At first, we had a difficult time detecting the etchings, but here is another little tip….when we held the camera phone over the rock, the highlights and shadows became more apparent in the phone screen. With that information, our eyes adjusted to better pick them up on the rocks.
I encourage you to watch the video and read about the boulders before you go. I wish we had done this…it would have made for a more rich experience for the kiddos…but it was still amazing. Good stories never die.
Byron Herbert Reece Farm. Explore the farm of this famous poet, take a hike and stroll along the gorgeous creek.
Byron Herbert Reece Farm and Heritage Center is just a few miles from Vogel State Park. It had just been open a short time when we stopped in for a visit. We started in the Visitor Center, which doubled as a gift shop and museum. The boys like the old fashioned spinning wheel here.
Want to keep the kids occupied? Send them on a scavenger hunt to find items we used before computers and iPhones….can they locate a typewriter? A radio? A telephone? (Do they even know what those things look like??)
Then we headed outside, following the walk along the Poetry Trail. The large stones here each represent a season, with an inscription of Reece’s poetry. It was a lovely way to introduce him to the kiddos. Using the map we picked up earlier, we followed the trail through five barn buildings, a replica of his home, and a trail along the water.
Mountain Crossings. Special thanks to Atlanta Trails for turning me on to this place. It’s a fun shop to nose around, with gear and books and whatnot. The best part is the story behind the building. It’s the only covered section of the AT! You can catch a glimpse of thru-hikers or see their boots hanging from the rafters. Some weekends you’ll hear live music, too. Be sure to climb the stairs behind the building for more great views.
Another fun fact? This is the only part of the Appalachian Trail that is covered; the trail runs right along the side of the building! Even if you don’t walk the length of the AT, you can walk the width of it and still say you’ve been on the AT!!!
SunDance Gallery. If you’re looking for a souvenir to commemorate your visit, this is the place to stop. Pick from pottery, adorable socks, jewelry…we love the glass art particularly. Everything you find here is American made!
Meeks Park. Enjoy batting cages, a nice playground, disc golf, a dog park and skateboard park. There is also a kayak ramp and an outdoor adult exercise area. Walk the 4+ miles of trails or take a dip in the seasonal pool (for a small fee.) Many of the city’s best festivals are also held here. You’ll find plenty of picnic tables dotting the side of the river through here, so pack a lunch! When it starts getting warm, cool off in the splash pad by the pool. Whew, this park is packed with awesome adventures!
Insider Tip: Can find any of the painted rocks hidden around the park. When you do, take a photo and tag it #BlairsvilleRocks
Lasso the Moon. This alpaca farm is free of charge to visit (A donation is appreciated.) It isn’t open on a regular basis, though. If you plan to visit Blairsville, call ahead to make an appointment. You’ll meet the alpacas, learn what they do with the fibers, and shop the store. There is also an open house three times a year, including July, Thanksgiving and the winter holidays. I’m dying to take one of their fiber arts classes!
Pappy’s Trading Post. Pappy’s is one of several Union County destiantions that make up the North Georgia Farm Trail – and is the one you should make a point to visit. It’s not really a “farm” though; it’s a unique shopping plaza offering everything under the sun (and maybe even a kitchen sink!) Taste the (legal) moonshine, rummage through all the tchotchkes, or grab a bite of ice cream and enjoy it while you watch the river rush by. There is a HUGE rocking chair out front that my boys love getting their picture taken in!
Logan Turnpike Mill. Visit the place responsible for the amazing grits cooked by some of Atlanta’s best-known chefs…and you can take some home yourself! The kids will love seeing the huge stone grinding wheels and picking out something from the bakery.
Local Music at the Courthouse. Tap your toe to good old fashion mountain music every Friday night in the courtroom of the historic Union County Courthouse. This free jam session starts at 7 pm, but you’ll want to get there by 6 pm if you want a seat at this popular local event. Plus, you’ll want some time to explore the military museum and dollhouse collection that are also located in the courthouse. Nearby is the Blairsville City Hall (formerly the “old” jail built in 1934).
Local Music at the Coosa United Methodist Church. If you don’t get enough local music at the courthouse, there’s another local jam session on Tuesday evenings at the Coosa United Methodist Church from 6-9 pm.
Blairsville Scottish Festival & Highland Games (June). Children can compete in their own Highland games. For the “wee ones,” there’s face painting and train rides. This is one unique festival you just can’t miss!
Mountain Heritage Festival (September). Collections of mountain-made products are showcased at this spectacular event during Labor Day weekend each year. Kids can try their hand at gold panning. You’ll enjoy plenty of live music – especially blue grass, Americana, country and gospel.
Sorghum Festival (October). Blairsville’s longest running festival celebrates the ancient art of cooking sweet syrup from Sorghum Cane. Visitors enjoy sorghum syrup making demonstrations in addition to contests and more. These are great fun for the kids, including Climbin’, Rock Throwin’, Horseshoe Pitchin’, Log Sawin’, and Biscuit Eatin’
Christmas Festivities (November/December). There are plenty of ways to celebrate in Blairsville including a shopping session at Mistletoe Market, Blairsville Holiday Stop & Shop, or the Kris Kringle Mountain Market. Take a stroll through the Community Center to peek at 30+ decorated trees during the Tour of Trees, or jump-start the season with the Holiday on the Square & Christmas Parade on the first Saturday in December. Finally, don’t skip Holly Jolly Christmas‘ music and Santa photo-ops, or the Christmas Tree Lighting at Vogel State Park, with a bonfire, caroling and visit from Santa.
For Mom and Dad
Want to unplug on an overnight “date” without the kids? Blairsville got you covered there as well. Relax in a hot tub after exploring waterfalls or taking a hike on the Appalachian Trail. There is no better place to make a wish under the stars and take in the beautiful mountain sky. Couples may decide to propose a toast to their rekindled future at a local winery or just enjoy each others company sitting by the fire in a cozy cabin.
Try a tasting at Odom Springs Vineyards, with award-winning selections. Paradise Hills offers cabins, a spa and a winery! They offer multiple money-saving package deals, so be sure to check out the website.
Late Spring/early Summer is a great time for oenophiles to visit Blairsville. It’s when they host the annual Georgia Mountain Wine & Jazz Festival. Sample amazing wine and delicious food while listening to top jazz performers from the region. You can purchase wine by the glass or bottle, bring your blanket or lawn chairs and listen to great music under the stars.
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Disclosure: 365 Atlanta Family is proudly an Ambassador for Blairsville…but it doesn’t influence what we share here. You know we’ve been avid fans of Blairsville since this blog started, and we’re happy to work with them on this post to share that love with you.