Should you take the kids to Ellijay Ga? YES! By all means. But…should you also plan a date night escape there without them? Double YES!
Dan and I visited this north Georgia mountain town (which happens to be the county seat for Gilmer County) for a summer date night escape, and I was blown away by all there is to do! We’ve created an itinerary for you below, with all the best things to do in the small town of Ellijay, Georgia, and take in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountain views.
COOLEST PLACES TO STAY IN ELLIJAY
- Best Tried and True Hotel: Our favorite tried and true hotel in Ellijay is The Comfort Inn & Suites East Ellijay. Guests can enjoy the indoor heated pool and fitness center here.
- Best for History Buffs: Bordering Georgia’s Rich Mountain Wilderness, this Budget Inn Top of Ellijay features a basketball court and free property-wide Wi-Fi. Guests can also explore American history 1 mile away at the Civil War Museum and Library.
- Best In Downtown: The Ellijay Inn is in downtown Ellijay, a 30-minute drive from Amicalola Falls State Park. This motel offers guests free Wi-Fi and cable TV in each room.
FRIDAY IN ELLIJAY GA – ARRIVE AND EXPLORE
LUNCH AT BACK PORCH BISTRO
Ideally, you’ll be able to escape work a little early and head to the town of Ellijay by lunchtime. We recommend you grab a quick and easy (but delicious) lunch at Back Porch Bistro. It’s right off the square, with plenty of free parking.
Dan and I both had the half-and half…with half a sandwich and a bowl of soup. It was really delicious. We also heard that the owner makes a mean apple cake!
EXPLORE THE SQUARE
Since you’re there, take some time to explore the shops on the Main Street in Downtown Ellijay. Here is the scoop on a few of my favorites:
- The North Star Emporium sits in the “front” of Back Porch Bistro. It is a cute place with vendor spaces and tons of trinkets.
- Mountain Treasures has super cute clothing, furniture, decor…and wine! You can sample a selection of wines from Cartecay Vineyards (an Ellijay winery) as well as Moonshine. After your tasting, try the wine slushy. Blueberry was my favorite.
- At Green Willow Soap, the owner makes all the soaps right in the back. We picked up bath bombs for our kids, and soaps for Grammy. They also have awesome soap bars for shaving…I love them!
Friday evening, we met friends over at the Gilmer Arts Center. The 3rd Friday of each month features a gathering called Acoustic Blends, where local artists show off their musical talents. It was AWESOME and the live music was wonderful.
It starts at 6 p.m. sharp and it’s free, though I’m sure they’d appreciate a ‘thank you’ in the tip bowl to help keep things going. We had a great time there!
A SATURDAY ELLIJAY GA ADVENTURE
BREAKFAST ON THE SQUARE
Wake up early and get your breakfast on. You can enjoy a breakfast spread at Cornerstone Cafe on the square. I recommend the omelet with homefries!
You’re going to want to adventure on Ellijay’s Carter’s Lake this morning. Carter’s Lake is perfect for outdoor activities because of its 62 miles of natural shoreline. There are no private docks or development along the edge, so it’s great views in every direction.
There are a number of ways to enjoy the lake.
- Rent a pontoon boat from the Carter’s Lake Marina and float your cares away.
- Visit Harris Branch Beach and enjoy the sandy beach area.
- Bring your bike and ride the 3.5 mile Amahady Trail. It ranks easy/moderate and should take about an hour.
- Take a hike – there are many hiking trails for all levels!
- The Big Acorn Trail is the shortest and easiest if you feel like taking it easy.
- You can extend that walk by including the moderate Talking Rock Nature Trail. It begins near Northbank Park and is the most strenuous.
- Oak Ridge Nature Trail is another moderate option, and runs a little over 1.5 miles. There are places to swim here, too.
- Tumbling Waters is a fun walk at the Ridgeway Park entrance. There is a towering bridge and interesting forestry.
- Hidden Pond Songbird Trail is an exceptionally peaceful and easy trail with opportunities to see great wildlife. It begins at the Carters Lake South Reregulation Park.
- Finally, if you have your own kayak, set off from the Ridgeway Recreation Area via the Coosawattee River. I’ve read several reports of small waterfalls along the edge that are great to see, hear and feel – the gentle breeze from the falling water must be exhilarating.
CUBANS FOR LUNCH
After you work up an appetite, it’s time for lunch. You’ll want to make your way to Country Corner Kitchen. If you ask me, this is Ellijay’s best kept dining secret…it sits inconspicuously next to a gas station.
You won’t find white table cloths or fancy wait staff…but you will have the best darn Cuban cuisine imaginable! Seriously…I would drive to Ellijay JUST for a sandwich here.
You’ll want to order seconds at Country Corner Kitchen, but don’t…save room for a wine tasting at Engelheim Vineyards. The wine tasting includes 4 wines for $14.
The tasting room is open 7 days a week from 12:30-6 pm., and they feature live music on Sat & Sun from 1:30-5:30. During their peak months, they host a concert series called “Live on the Vine” on Friday evenings.
If you enjoy wineries, then be sure to visit a few other special places in Ellijay:
- Cartecay Vineyards
- Chateau Meichtry Family Vineyard & Winery
- Ellijay River Vineyards
- Fainting Goat Vineyards & Winery
SIP ON CIDER
Reece’s Cider Co is the first cidery in Ellijay. They offer craft hard cider using estate fruits. They only use the best ingredients in their cider consisting of juicy apples & pure cane sugar.
You’ll find live music, events, food trucks, and plenty of delicious hard cider here.
CASUAL DINNER DINING
To be honest, we didn’t have an opportunity to stay for another dinner (babysitter called!) but we would recommend a more casual experience at River Street Tavern (burgers, wings, great beer selection).
Also, make sure to check out Cantaberry Restaurant for fried lobster tails, Emily’s Restaurant and Bar for delicious shareable plates, The Shack of Ellijay for bubble tea and poke bowls, or Ellijay Wood Fired Pizza for authentic, Italian pizzas.
SUNDAY-FUNDAY ON YOUR LAST DAY IN ELLIJAY GA
As you may know, Ellijay is really known for their amazing apple orchards – it’s the apple capital of Georgia! Head to B.J. Reece Orchards (9131 Highway 52 East, Ellijay) and visit their bakery to grab a bite to eat for breakfast – even if it’s not apple season. May we suggest an apple cider too?
TUBING OR KAYAKING
You can enjoy GREAT tubing and kayaking via Cartecay River Experience. You can catch a shuttle to the put-in spot and enjoy a trip down river. The entire experience is about 3 hours, depending on the river height.
There are far fewer people here than Helen, which can make it a little more relaxing if you ask me!
Before you head home, make a stop at Expedition: Bigfoot, where you can tour the country’s largest permanent display of genuine Bigfoot artifacts. You’ll see sketches and exhibits, listen to recordings of sightings, see a movie in the Sasquatch Theatre, and more.
TABOR HOUSE MUSEUM
The Tabor House Museum honors the history and heritage of our county and region. Gilmer County was the location of the historic Lower Towns of the Cherokee Nation of Georgia up until the Indian removal in 1838. The museum contains artifacts and donated items related to Cherokee history, military history, and much more.
MORE ABOUT ELLIJAY
If you love mountain biking, then be sure to check out Mulberry Gap Adventure Base Camp. My goal is to get there one day, rent a bike, take a guided tour…and stay the night in one of their cabins…unplugged!
Of course, most people know Ellijay primarily because of their Georgia Apple Festival and plethora of U-pick apple farms. The apple festival is always a great excuse to go – but bring the kids. They’ll love the adventure!
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO GEORGIA
- YOUR GEORGIA VACATION
- NORTH GA MOUNTAINS: North Georgia Mountains: 120+ Amazing Ways To Have Fun
- FALL: Sunflower Farm Georgia: + 6 More Incredible Ways To Enjoy Fall in the Georgia Mountains
- HIKING: 125+ Best Places for Hiking in Georgia (Kids & Beginners)
- APPLES: Apple Season Georgia: Types of Apples & the Best Time To Pick Them
MORE PLACES TO STAY IN ELLIJAY
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