Clayton GA sits in Rabun County 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 – and where to stay!
Clayton Georgia is a city in Rabun County within the United States. The population was 2,003 at the 2020 census. The city is the county seat of Rabun County and is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains and has a ton of outdoor activities to enjoy.
BEST THINGS TO DO AROUND CLAYTON
- Minnehaha Falls. This a short, easy, kid-friendly hike on Lake Rabun in North Georgia, to a beautiful, towering, cascading waterfall (pictured above).
- 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 Beck Branch Falls, and the kids will enjoy it.
- Black Rock Mountain State Park. Black Rock Mtn is the highest state park in Georgia, offering excellent views and fun hiking trails. Just note that the park is closed in winter (usually until mid March.)
- 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 are free to roam the “community.” You will see homes, a chapel, workshops, and so much more.
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.
In all honesty, we ate most of our meals at the cabin because of the full kitchen. However, our hosts were kind enough to leave us the scoop on their favorite places (and some research validated that these were the places to grab some great grub.) Have you been to any of these? Would you agree??
- 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 will celebrate its Grand Re-Opening on Memorial Day Weekend 2022! 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. Georgia’s newest park with hiking trails and a beach.
- 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. I was so disappointed that this was closed when we visited. It will be open again shortly; they are renovating the house. It’s here you will find over 30,000 Elvis objects – the largest and most unique collection in the world.
- Toccoa Falls. This is the attraction on our list that is the most far 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 seven-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 gorge without the 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 Falls 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 half-way to the swinging bridge, or all the way to the floor. We decided to only make a short stop here with the grandparents, but still enjoyed the views from three overlooks all within 1/4-miles of the visitor center.
- Minnehaha Falls. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
About now, you’re heading into Clayton. Don’t skip the full list we have above for this area…but keep going up 441 to the border because there’s more fun to be had.
- Rabun Flea Market. This is an open-air flea market you’ll want to visit on Friday nights in the warm months. They serve a catfish buffet!
- Dillard House. We’ll be visiting here later this year to give you the full scoop. 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.
LAKE BURTON WATER SPORTS
A short drive from Clayton GA (about 30 mins) is beautiful Lake Burton. With 2,800 acres and sixty-two miles of shoreline, it’s a perfect destination for water sports! 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.
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