Things To Do in Blue Ridge, GA
Things To Do in Blue Ridge, GA
November 16, 2020
Blue Ridge is a mountain getaway under two hours outside Atlanta. The town was built up in 1886 when the Marietta and North Georgia Railroad was extended. It sits in Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, where 300 miles of hiking trails and 100 miles of trout streams beckon outdoorsy types. Ride on an old school train, sip local craft beer and wine, peruse a few galleries, and surround yourself with nature on this overnight trip to Blue Ridge.
To help combat the spread of Covid-19, some venues below may be closed or by appointment or reservation only. Note that masks are required in all venues except when you’re eating.
Things are changing rapidly. We do our best to update openings, closures, and hours. All information published below was correct at the time of writing.
Lake Blue Ridge. Photo by Ralph Daniel, courtesy of Georgia Department of Economic Development
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway in Downtown Blue Ridge. Photo by Ralph Daniel, courtesy of Georgia Department of Economic Development
From Atlanta, head north on I-75 N/I-85 N and continue on GA-5 N/GA-515 E/State Rte 515 to E 1st St/Old Hwy 76/Old U.S. 76 in Blue Ridge. Depending on traffic, the drive should take about two hours.
Before you go, book advance tickets for the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. The two-hour “express” is at either 3pm or 4pm; the Winter train is usually at 11am; the Santa Express is at 10am, 12pm, 2pm, and 4pm (until Dec. 23).
Day One: Pizza and Pasta, Strolling Downtown, and A Scenic Train Ride
On arrival, stretch your legs with a stroll around tiny downtown Blue Ridge. If you left Atlanta early and prefer a little caffeine to lunch, go to Das Kaffee Haus. Sit outdoors with a cup of coffee made with the Whirling Dervish Blend (molasses, chocolate, and cherry notes) from roaster Batdorf & Bronson.
For lunch, walk around the corner to Masseria Kitchen & Bar, a Mediterranean-Continental restaurant serving warming dishes like white bean stew with Tuscan kale, parmesan, house prosciutto, rosemary, and sage, pizza, and house-made pastas. Enjoy it on their covered patio.
The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway departs from downtown and rolls through the surrounding countryside on a track laid down in 1886. It’s a beautiful ride, the rails flanked by forests of trees—green and leafy in spring and summer, aflame with foliage in autumn, and prettily bare in winter. If you’ve booked the two-hour express ride, you’ll have a couple of hours between lunch and your trip.
Here are a few places to visit in Blue Ridge while you wait for your train to depart:
Blue Ridge Cotton Company: One percent of every purchase at this clothing store is donated to a local charity like Snack in a Backpack, which fights food vulnerability. For sale are Blue Ridge-branded T-shirts in adult and kids’ sizes.
- E. Quinn Booksellers: New, antiquarian, rare, and secondhand books in a welcoming space run by a very friendly and engaging bibliophile.
Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association. Photo courtesy of Fannin County Chamber of Commerce & CVB
After your ride along the trails, adjourn to Bin 322, a New American restaurant and wine bar with a well-curated wine list representing Hungary, South Africa, France, Austria, Italy, Portugal, Chile, New Zealand, Spain, Israel, and California. Sip a ripe, juicy Central Coast cabernet sauvignon from Roots Run Deep as you tuck into a Spanish or Italian meat and cheese board, or go for crab cakes, shrimp in a spicy-sweet chili sauce, or stuffed tomatoes.
Day Two: Hiking, A Picnic, And A Pint
Chattahoochee National Forest in fall, Blue Ridge, Georgia
Chattahoochee National Forest in fall, Blue Ridge, Georgia. Film courtesy of Fannin County Chamber of Commerce & CVB
Hiking on the Long Branch Loop, Chattahoochee National Forest. Photo courtesy of Fannin County Chamber of Commerce & CVB
Fannin Brewing Company. Photo courtesy of Fannin County Chamber of Commerce & CVB
From here, it’s just under two hours back to Atlanta.
Hero image: Aska Road through Chattahoochee National Forest, Blue Ridge. Photo courtesy of Fannin County Chamber of Commerce & CVB