Clayton GA is the county seat in Rabun County, located in the beautiful North Georgia Mountains. It’s moments from the North Carolina border…and a world away. You’ll find eclectic shops, waterfalls, great Southern food and so much more. We’ve got the scoop on how to spend your vacation here – and where to stay!
The city of Clayton is fairly small — with a little over 2,000 people — but they’re big on outdoor activities here. This awesome Georgia town in the Blue Ridge Mountains is full of good eats, awesome things to do, and good people.
Here’s everything you need to know to have an amazing time in Clayton GA!
Best Things To Do Around Clayton GA
- Minnehaha Falls. This a short, easy, kid-friendly hike on Lake Rabun in North Georgia, to a beautiful, towering, cascading waterfall (pictured above). Read More: 33+ Best Waterfalls in Georgia You’ve Just Got To See
- Warwoman Dell. This wooded hiking area includes two waterfalls along Bartram Trail – Becky Branch and Martin Creek. It’s an easy 1.5 mile loop to Becky Branch Falls, and the kids will enjoy it.
- Black Rock Mountain State Park. Black Rock Mountain is the highest state park in Georgia, offering excellent views and fun hiking trails. Just note that this park does close during icy weather.
- Wander North Ga. You might already follow these guys on Instagram or Facebook – they have great content! But they’re also a store in Historic Clayton. I have major love for these guys and hope to meet them in person one day!
- Kudzu Factory. This man has taken that pesky kudzu and turned it into true art. We stopped by to see dinosaurs, a witch and other sculptures fabricated from kudzu and rebar.
- Georgia Mountain Market. This indoor flea market covers 45,000 square feet, and it’s filled will all sorts of treasures. It’s open Friday through Sunday. You can see our list of other exceptional fleas markets here.
- Foxfire Museum. The Foxfire Magazine and anthologies are about the self-sufficient life of the Southern Appalachia people of long ago. Students of this program used proceeds from the book to replicate a town from this period. Visitors to the Foxfire Museum can roam the “community.” You will see homes, a chapel, workshops, and so much more. The museum is located next to Black Rock Mountain State Park.
Where To Eat in Clayton GA
According to Explore Georgia, Clayton GA is a “farm-to-table capital of Georgia that offers up award-winning chefs cooking dishes with buttery biscuits and tender, fresh-from-the-farm, local meats and vegetables.” Check out a few of our favorites.
- The Rusty Bike Cafe. This is definitely a local’s place, and there is a reason. It’s homey with great food. We went for breakfast and had to wait a bit for a table but it was worth it. The omelet and hashbrowns were awesome, and the boys loved the chocolate chip pancakes.
- Clayton Pharmacy. Tucked inside this pharmacy is an old-fashioned soda shop with milkshakes, hot dogs, and more. I also read their egg salad sandwiches are awesome for packing on a hike.
- Fortify Kitchen and Bar. A tad more upscale that the Cafe or Pharmacy, but still kid-friendly. They focus on farm to table fine dining with veggies and meats from local farmers.
- Universal Joint. The ideal spot for a beer and a burger. There is also a patio open for warmer weather.
- Fromage. I really wanted to visit here, if for the name alone! Next time! They’ve got soups, salads, and sandwiches…and the cheese plate looks amazing! They also have specialty cheeses to go, so grab an assortment for enjoying by the fire later.
Wineries Close By
It’s no secret that North Georgia has some of the best wineries. Here are a few we suggest trying if you appreciate good wines and nice views of the mountains.
- Tiger Mountain Vineyards. This vineyard has won HUNDREDS of awards for its wine. Stop in for a tasting, a bite at the cafe, or one of their regular events. Did you know that Tiger Mountain Vineyards was the first Georgia Vineyard to establish European vines here in North Georgia successfully? You do now!
- 12 Spies Vineyard. This North Georgia winery and tasting room are named after the Bible’s story of when Moses sent 12 spies to investigate the Promised Land. While there, they discovered grapes so large that it took two men just to carry one cluster. They brought them back on a long staff with figs and other fruit to show their bounty.
- Kingwood Resort and Winery. Kingwood Resort’s Winery and Tasting Room is one of the newest editions to the resort property. It showcases the result of Georgia’s rich, complex vineyards in a relaxed atmosphere focused on ensuring a deep appreciation—for conversation, connection, and a great glass—is found together.
- Stonewall Creek Vineyards. Nestled in a valley of the Appalachian Mountains with a remarkable tasting room view of Glassy Mountain (3,145 ft. elevation), so named for the mica deposits that shimmer like glass on sunny days. Stonewall Creek Vineyards was named for the meandering stream on the eastern border of the vineyard. The morning fog rolls in from the Chattahoochee National Forest following Stonewall Creek all the way into our vineyards creating a picturesque scene.
Make It the Ideal Road Trip
If you’re not familiar with the northeast side of the state, then listen to my warning: it’s awesome and grand and filled with so many things you’re never going to want to come back home.
If you travel to Clayton from Atlanta, I recommend heading up 985. It turns into 23 and then merges with 441. It’s this route that offers a TON of great sites, each one is either right on the highway or not too far from it.
If you start from the south where 985 turns to 23, then head north, this is the order in which you should visit each attraction.
- Don Carter State Park. This state park is the only one located on Lake Lanier. You’ll find plenty of hiking trails, a swimming beach, a campground, and cabins.
- School Bus Grave Yard. Make plans to visit on Friday because they are closed on the weekend. You’re going to want to see the amazing art on these school buses.
- Jaemor Farms. If you’re making dinner in your cabin, then stop here for great fruits and veggies. Heck, stop here anyway for boiled peanuts.
- Loudermilk Boardinghouse. At the Loudermilk Boarding House Museum you will find over 30,000 Elvis objects – the largest and most unique collection in the world. Open Fridays and Saturdays.
- Toccoa Falls. This is the attraction on our list that is the farthest from 441, but it is still worth a trip to see the 186-ft high waterfall.
- Panther Creek Falls. This is a favorite waterfall in the mountains for most Georgia hikers, though you’ll have to work for it. The hike is 7 miles round trip, but the reward is monumental. Bring your swimsuit in summer for a dip in the water.
- Tallulah Point Overlook. If you just want a view of the Tallulah Gorge without the Georgia State Park fee, then head to this overlook (offered by a little store that’s been around since 1912). The view is free, but you can’t pass up an RC and moon pie while you are there.
- Carpenter’s Corner. This sweet little unassuming store across from the park entrance pays homage to the old trains that used to run through this area. Your kids will love the three rooms dedicated to model trains!
- Tallulah Gorge State Park. If your kids are old enough, then consider making a day of this park and hiking into the gorge. (Don’t miss your Canyon Climbers Club stamp at the park). You can go halfway to the swinging bridge for awesome views of Tallulah Falls, or all the way to the floor. (Hiking to the floor requires a free permit. Only 100 are given a day.)
We decided to only make a short stop here with the grandparents, but still enjoyed the views from three overlooks all within 1/4-mile of the visitor center. Read More: 21+ Things Every Family Should Do at Tallulah Gorge State Park
- Minnehaha Falls. We mentioned this earlier, but it’s worth another mention. These are one of our favorite falls for young kids. It’s a short hike, with plenty of shallow pools to enjoy as you watch the water. Parking is limited.
- Goats On The Roof. This Georgia attraction has been bringing people to the mountains for years. See the goats on the rooftop lawn, feed them, grab some ice cream, mine for gems and more. Open Friday through Monday.
- Tiger Drive In. Take a trip back in time and experience the movies from your car like the “old days,” but with the benefits of modern amenities and high-quality digital projection. They have grass terraces, FM broadcasts, outdoor speakers, Pandora pre-show music, Wi-Fi, and the delicious TDI Grill. They accept Credit Cards, are pet friendly, have a playground for the kids, and more! So bring your picnic blanket or cozy up in your car. Read More: Drive in Movie Theater Atlanta: 5 Outdoor Screens Perfect for Movie-Watching Fun
- Rabun Flea Market. This is an open-air flea market, and you’ll want to visit Vicki’s Restaurant while here. They serve delicious southern food and a to-die-for catfish plate. Open Saturday and Sunday.
- The Dillard House. You want to make time for their gorgeous property, horseback riding and more. But, at the very least, be sure to stop in for a treat of a Southern lunch!
The Dillard House also offers guided fly fishing experiences! Fly Fishing in the Smokies and their experienced guides teach you and your family everything you need to know about fly fishing.
Read More: 25 Dreamy Resorts in Georgia Perfect for Pampering the Family
Lake Burton Water Sports
A short drive from Clayton GA (about 30 mins) is beautiful Lake Burton. With 2,800 acres and 62 miles of shoreline, it’s a perfect destination for water sports!
Lake Burton was one of the first lakes in the United States to be created for power generation in 1920. It’s an excellent destination for water sports like boating, wakeboarding, tubing, water skiing, and fishing. You can rent a boat or enjoy it from the shore. Canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards are available at some locations.
Burton Outdoor Adventures is one of the area rental companies if you and your family would like to try your hand at paddleboarding, kayaking, etc!
Don’t miss the Lake Burton Fish Hatchery. Visitors can see the trout raised here for stocking the streams and lakes of north Georgia.
Stay at the NEW Bridge Creek Inn
Bridge Creek Inn will open in Clayton, Georgia, on Labor Day 2023!
Bridge Creek Inn, as it will be known, is a rebuild of the Old Clayton Inn, which was first built on the site in the 1940s. Construction began in August 2022 and is expected to take roughly 12 months, with a target open date of Labor Day 2023.
Using the original footprint of the hotel while rebuilding the second floor and adding a third story will include 45 guest rooms & suites, a coffee shop, a lobby bar, and a full-service restaurant. The Inn will feature several event venues with 3,600 square feet of indoor and 2,000 square feet of outdoor event space.
Clayton GA FAQ
What is Clayton Georgia known for?
The mountain community of Clayton, GA, is known for its amazing downtown, great restaurants, outdoor recreation, and its proximity to North Georgia wineries. It’s the perfect place to spend a weekend exploring.
How far is Clayton from Atlanta?
The city of Clayton is a little over 100 miles north of Atlanta. It takes a little less than 2 hours to get there by car.
What mountain range is Clayton GA in?
Clayton, GA, is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains. There are lots of great hikes nearby for exploring the area.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO NORTH GEORGIA
- YOUR NORTH GEORGIA VACATION
- NORTH GA: North Georgia Mountains: 120+ Amazing Ways To Have Fun
- SWIMMING HOLES: 17+ Amazingly Dreamy Swimming Holes in North Georgia (Waterfalls, Too!)
- CAMPGROUNDS: 39+ of the Best Campgrounds in North Ga
- WINERIES: 13+ Sensational North Georgia Wineries Begging You To Indulge
Find a Family Cabin for the Weekend
We make no guarantees of any price listed on our site. We are not responsible for content on external web sites linked from ours, including linked resources, an external blog post, any partner site, hotel property sites, or affiliate sites. We only write about places we love in an attempt to help you in your adventures, but we can’t guarantee you will love them, too.
Posts may contain affiliate links at no cost to you. Several of our trips are also compensated by the respective tourism boards for the city or state we are visiting. This never impacts how we share the destination with you – opinions are always our own and we pride ourselves on that. We do not sell links or accept unsolicited guest posts under any circumstances. Don’t even ask.
United States Copyright, 365 Atlanta Family, LLC