Whether you have little ones or not, there’s tons of fall fun to be had in the North Georgia mountains.
But run, don’t walk!
The weather and growing seasons will not cooperate for too much longer.
Growing up in Maine, this has always been a much loved fall tradition for me and my family. The only difference now is that I am usually sweating versus freezing when plucking my harvest. While riding on a tractor and hoarding way more apples than I’ll ever be able to eat is always a good time, the real draw to the apple orchard for me is the donuts (and pies, and cakes, and cider, and…).
While North Georgia boasts many orchards, why not head to the biggest and best? Mercier Orchards – the biggest apple orchard in the Southeast – is about two hours from Atlanta, but the stunning scenery and gluttonous amounts of treats sold in its store make it worth the drive. Included in its bounty are hard ciders and apple wine – which you can both purchase and taste on premises (for a small fee). Mercier Orchards also has a deli and some outside seating, so you can really make a day of it if you want to. But hurry up! The U-PICK season for apples ends in October!
(If it’s pumpkins you’re after, I didn’t spy too many of those at Mercier this year, but many of the orchards in Ellijay on the way to Mercier have them.)
Don’t forget about this awesome activity that the mountains has to offer – especially if you are traveling sans kiddos. North Georgia has a number of wineries, but my favorite is Cartecay Vineyards (conveniently located in Ellijay on the way home from Mercier). I like this little charmer because it is small, laid back and peaceful. Not to mention that they also offer a killer cheese plate to go with the wine.
For $8, you get a generous sampling of five wines and a gorgeous view. Sitting outside is the best, but sometimes the yellow jackets get extra aggressive, so you have to go inside. I do really wish the vineyard owners would do something to block patrons from the bees so we could enjoy their lovely outside seating all the time. Unfortunately, last time I was there the sommelier had to fish four bees out of my wine for me before I gave up and went inside! I still love this place though.
I love me a good hike because it counts as exercise but does not bore the crap out of me like the treadmill does. North Georgia is chock full of hiking opportunities. Some of the good ones I have tried include Amicalola Falls, Tallulah Gorge, Blood Mountain, Vogel State Park and Unicoi State Park. (Mount Yonah was not my favorite because the trails are very rocky [read: dangerous] and are not well marked.) Just do your research before you go, as some trails are harder than others!
Also make sure you go prepared. You don’t want to carry a bag that weighs a ton, but it would be wise to bring essentials like water, snacks, sun screen, bug spray, tissues and hand sanitizer. I was also thankful that someone brought Benadryl spray on one of our hikes, as a bunch of us got stung by bees and the spray definitely took the edge off. Also make sure your phone is charged in case you get lost. And always dress in layers because you will likely be freezing at some points (when you first start, and when you get to the top) and sweating at others (pretty much the rest of the time).
That is how I roll in North Georgia, but they also have some corn mazes for the kids up there, as well as Oktoberfest in Helen, GA for the adults. There’s also the amazing North Georgia Premium Outlets in Dawsonville if you want to get your shopping on (and stock up on Xmas presents) before it gets too cold. I think I’m going to head up to the outlets next weekend since I hate everything in my closet. Winter will be here before you know it, so don’t let these last few precious weeks of fall go to waste!Tags: Apple picking, Atlanta, fall fun, Hiking, Mercier Orchards, North Georgia, wine tasting