August tends to be one of those slower months in the North Georgia mountains and wine country. The kids are all heading back to school and parents are settling in to the routine of traditional home life and work. Since things are slowing down up here in the mountains, there usually aren’t any festivals to attend. Well, Yonah Mountain Vineyards and Winery has taken care of that with Crush Fest their annual August festival.
First of all Yonah Mountain Winery is probably one of the nicest wineries in the North Georgia mountains and wine country due to its location and architecture. Located 35 minutes from the inn (see map below), it is located east of Cleveland, Georgia and is a beautiful property that sits at the base of majestic Yonah Mountain. The mountain’s impressive rock face dominates your views as you sip a glass of cabernet or merlot. The winery’s building features soaring beamed ceilings with expansive windows, use of native rock for walls and porches and numerous outdoor areas as well. They are also the only winery in Georgia powered by the sun. Check out their impressive solar panel array while you are there.
Now back to Crush Fest. The day long festival has been held since 2009 and features live music from more than 10 artists, food trucks, artisan market, wine tastings and their signature event- grape stomping. While you are stomping the owners play guitar and accordion music. They claim that more than 5,000 visitors attend the event every year.
Crush Fest happens in 2019 on Saturday August 24th from 11 am to 7pm. Finish breakfast at the inn and head east to enjoy the festivities. A map from the inn to the winery is shown below. There is a fee to participate and the fee includes all festival activities plus 4 three ounce wine tastings and a souvenir wine glass.
Helen is located northeast of the inn and known as a Bavarian Alpine Village. It’s a popular destination for many visitors to our area. We find that our guests tend to have strong feelings about Helen – they either love it and want to plan future trips to the town or tell us that once was enough, but they’re glad they made the drive. You just might want to check out Alpine Helen yourself.
Years ago the town was a successful saw mill town complete with a railroad that hauled lumber and passengers from Gainesville to Helen. The saw mill business fell on hard times and in the late 1960s a group of businessmen and a local artist decided to reinvent the town into a Bavarian village complete with gingerbread adornments on the shops, restaurants and lodging. A river runs through town and has become popular for tubing. Helen is very popular for family vacations since there are a lot of things to do to keep the kids entertained. Starting every September Octoberfest happens for several months with German music, food, dance and people in costume.
If considering a visit from our inn to Helen we suggest you take the northern route through town during the busy periods (Fall and some weekends) to avoid the traffic coming from the south. The map below shows a good route. Web site links to the places mentioned are also listed at the bottom of the page.
We enjoy meandering through Helen two or three times a year and prefer the areas not located in the immediate downtown area. Here are some of our favorite stops. If coming from the north you will be close to Unicoi State Park which features scenic Anna Ruby Falls. The trail to the falls is an easy hike on an asphalt surface. Also coming from the north into town, Betty’s Grocery is a must see on the right side north Main Street before you reach the town shop area. Betty’s is a gourmet grocery with the largest craft beer selection we have seen in these parts. Last time we visited they had a neat little bar out front with a fire pit – a perfect spot to sip your wine or beer on a cool day or evening.
Leaving Betty’s and heading south you will enter the downtown shop section. You can stop and browse if you wish. There are many shops selling souveniers, t-shirts, and candy as well as places to eat. It is a good people watching area so pick a bench and enjoy. At the edge of the shop area you will see the river where there several restaurants – a few right on the river. Just a little further south on your left is a Wendy’s and behind the restaurant is a good German restaurant we enjoy called Bodensee .
Still heading south you will see the first and currently only alpine slide in Georgia on your right. We haven’t tried it, but it looks like fun! Normally you only see the alpine slides in snow ski areas. There’s a putt putt golf course not far down on the left and two other putt putt courses in town as well.
A mile south of Helen proper is Nachoochee Village. On the right you’ll find two popular restaurants Nacoochee Village Tavern and Pizzaria and Mulley’s Nacoochee Grill. Nora Mills is just south of them on your left and is an old grist mill still in operation. It is worth stopping to see the equipment in operation, check out the giant trout in the river out back, try some samples of grits, cornbread or puddin or make a purchase. We always buy a bag of their stone ground grits when passing through. Across the street visit Habersham Winery for tastings and a neat antique mall in an old multi story house. Next to the winery is Nacoochee Adventures that features the longest dual zipline in Georgia.
After leaving this area head south again and you will see the Hardman Farm on the left. The farm was owned by one of the wealthiest men in Georgia during the early 1900s who was also governor of Georgia. The mansion and other buildings have been restored and are now a State Historic Site. Take a left at the Indian mound (with the gazebo on top) to get to the main entrance and parking. If you go to the farm you can hike a new trail from the farm along the river to the southern edge of Helen. The trail was built on the old railroad bed along the river that hauled lumber and passengers from Helen to Gainesville.
Sautee Nacoochee is also located down the road where you turned at the Indian mound and features the Folk Pottery Museum which is very interesting. The Gourd Place is also not too far away which also features art, pottery and jewelry made from gourd molds.
After leaving this area you will be heading south (see map below) towards Cleveland. Before you get to Cleveland you will notice Yonah Mountain (has a rock face) on the left. Look for Yonah Burger on your right and just past the burger joint you will see Tantrum Brewery. Tantrum is the area’s first brewery and the first brewery in Georgia to grow its own hops. Stop in for a “farm to table” beer.
After leaving Tantrum you will head south again and take a right at the Ingles Grocery to get back to the inn.
Our guests come visit the Dahlonega area to enjoy the many activities available here in the North Georgia mountains. Some stay with us and ask about where they can rent a horse and go horseback riding.
Whether you’re an experienced rider or a novice, the mountains provide a great place to ride. You may love riding on a cool Fall day with the leaves changing colors or you might prefer the the Winter when you can see for miles. Our local stables are here to cater to your needs any time of year with horses chosen just for you based on your riding experience.
The horseback riding providers in the area have two significantly different approaches and you can choose based on your preferences. One rents you a horse and then sends you off on your own on the trails located on their property. Their horses know the way, and the trails are marked and obvious in terms of where to go. The other provider rents you a horse with a guide to take you on the trails.
Both horseback riding providers are open on weekends but may close based on weather. As they say if the weather is bad for you it can’t be good for the horse. By weather we are talking about rain, high heat or cold. Rentals are by the day or hour and vary among the self-guided and guided rides.
There are currently two horseback riding stables in the Dahlonega area that rent horses.
Sunny Farms North
Sunny Farms is a family owned operation located south of town. They are open most weekends, 9am-4pm, depending on the weather and may accommodate you weekdays if you call and they know you are coming. Guests like Sunny Farms because you get a horse and are then free to ride the many trails on the property on your own. It is all self guided. The horse is saddled and ready for you to go. For more information visit http://sunnyfarmsnorth.com/ or call them at 706-867-9167. Picture above from Sunny Farms. Directions from the inn to the farm https://goo.gl/maps/stKEArVuFgrfLhAz8
Gold City Corrals
Gold City is located west of town towards Amicalola Falls and only offers guided rides. You can get one and two hour rides as well as half day rides. The one hour ride is recommended for beginners, two hour for the more confident and half day for riders with some experience. They are open daily for reservations by visiting their web site or by calling 706-867-9395. Visit their web site at http://www.goldcitycorral.com/horseback-rides.php. Directions from the inn to the stables https://goo.gl/maps/ymVjogErBsPG53JLA