Looking for the absolute best things to do in North Georgia? I’ve got tons of ideas for you!
I’m just going to say it: North Georgia is a massively underrated destination. With the Blue Ridge Mountains, the start of the Appalachian Trail, numerous cute towns, waterfalls and viewpoints galore, and a rich history, there seems to be no end to interesting things to do here.
North Georgia is also really conveniently located between major cities. Popular destinations like Atlanta and Nashville are just a couple hours away, and Charleston and Savannah are both under 5 hours away. I’ve been absolutely delighted with the several trips I’ve made to North Georgia, and these are some of my favorite activities, attractions, and places to go in the area!
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34 Fun Things to Do in North Georgia
There are six categories of places to visit I want to highlight in this article:
- Beautiful Overlooks
- Gorgeous Waterfalls
- Epic Hikes
- Cute Small Towns
- Historic or Cultural Attractions
- Other Fun Activities
Additionally, for the purposes of this article, I’m saying North Georgia is anywhere in the North Atlanta metro area and above (but does not include downtown Atlanta).
Thanks to the Blue Ridge Mountains, there are a lot of places to go in North Georgia for some really amazing overlooks.
1. Brasstown Bald
Brasstown Bald Observation Deck is one of the best things to do in North Georgia, with its grand viewpoint being based on the highest point in Georgia!
From the parking lot, you can either hike up the 0.6 mile trail, or take a shuttle to the top for $2. The trail is fairly steep, but paved and has nice shade. You will gain about 800 feet in elevation gain in that 0.6 miles.
Once you arrive at the top, you are rewarded with gorgeous 360 degree views over the North Georgia mountains from the observation deck. Placards throughout the observation deck show you what you are looking at, with different peaks, cities, and features noted.
To the north, you can see Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and a little part of Tennessee. You can also see part of the Appalachian Trail. Ridge after ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains are visible wherever you look. It’s absolutely beautiful.
I spent just over an hour here between the hike up and the observation deck. There are bathrooms and a gift shop at both the bottom of the trail and at the top.
- Price: $7 per person, or, since Brasstown Bald is part of the National Parks Service, you can use your National Parks Pass
- Hours: 10am-5pm. The last shuttle is at 4:30pm, and leaves the top at 5pm sharp
2. Drive the Richard B Russell Scenic Parkway
The Richard B Russell Scenic Parkway is a beautiful, winding, ~40 mile scenic road through the mountains just north of Helen, Georgia. There are many hikes and waterfalls accessible just off this road (some of which I’ll mention later), including a section of the Appalachian Trail (or AT).
There are also many unmarked pull-off spots where you can enjoy the view. In fall, this road is absolutely jaw-dropping, with the colorful fall foliage everywhere you look!
Exercise caution as you drive, as the road is winding and you are gaining quite a bit of elevation as you climb into the mountains. Also, keep an eye out for wildlife. I saw a bear on the Parkway – I turned a corner and it was probably 20 yards ahead of me, right in the middle of the road! I stopped and squealed as I watched it lumber off the road and up the cliff wall next to us.
3. Hog Pen Gap Overlook
This is one of the absolute best scenic viewpoints along the Richard Russell B Scenic Parkway. It’s high up in the mountains and offers a fantastic view of the Hog Pen Gap, which is essentially a little “canyon” or gorge between the mountain ridges. You can see line after line after line of mountain peaks in the distance.
This is a beautiful spot any time of day, but is particularly stunning at sunset, when the sky lit up with pinks and oranges behind the mountain ridges. If you fancy a hike, the Hog Pen Gap trail (part of the AT) starts from this spot as well.
4. Bell Mountain
Bell Mountain overlooks Bell Creek (which is actually a lake) and the Blue Ridge mountains, and offers breathtaking views.
To get here, you need to drive up a very steep, very narrow, and very curvy road. Now, if you go read the Google reviews, you might – like I almost was – get talked out of coming up here. The road is described as super scary and dangerous and a place where they “just about died.”
However, after talking to the ladies in the Helen Welcome Center, who said it was no big deal, I decided to go. And wow. Just wow. I’m glad I did! The road was indeed very curvy, steep and narrow, but just take it slow, hug the right, and you’ll be fine.
When you arrive at the summit, you are rewarded with a viewing platform with sweeping views over the many inlets and craggily coastline of the lake, weaving in and out of the trees.
Definitely head up the stairs to the top viewing platform. The view is even better higher up, and the staircase makes for a really great photo op.
This is a beautiful place any time of day, but I highly recommend it for sunset. The sun dips below the horizon exactly in front of the viewpoint, right against the mountain ridges – it’s absolutely spectacular. This was definitely one of my absolute favorite spots in North Georgia.
Also…. unfortunately, be prepared for a lot of graffiti on the rocks at the base of the stairs, and some graffiti on the stairs and upper viewing platforms. It’s incredibly unfortunate to defile such a spectacularly beautiful place. Thankfully, when you’re at the top of the stairs, most of the graffiti is hidden from view.
- Cost: Free
- Hours: 8am-11pm
5. Point Park at Lookout Mountain
Okay, this one is just a little bit of a cheat – Point Park actually straddles Georgia and Tennessee, with the south end in GA and the north end in TN, overlooking the city of Chattanooga. While Point Park is technically in Tennessee, we’re calling it close enough, as the view over the city and the river is gorgeous!
Besides having some really stellar views, Point Park is also an important and interesting historical site. A major battle in the Civil War was fought on Lookout Mountain, and today several plaques, markers, and quite a few old cannons are set up around the site.
Whether you’re spending a few days in North Georgia or a weekend in Chattanooga, Point Park is not to be missed.
Georgia, and in particular, North Georgia, is a hotspot for lovely cascading waterfalls – there are literally hundreds of them throughout the region. Chasing waterfalls is one of the most peaceful things to do in North Georgia – there’s just something undeniably soothing about the sound of cascading water!
All of these waterfalls require some kind of hike to them, but they’re well worth the effort! These are some of my can’t-miss waterfalls in North Georgia:
6. Dukes Creek Falls
This is a beautiful, easy trail to a waterfall off the Scenic Highway. The trail starts paved, then switches to boardwalk, and then becomes a dirt trail through the woods. As far as trails go, this was a really nice one, as it was quite wide and level (not a ton of big rocks or roots in the trail). Oh, and a good portion has a stream babbling along next to the trail – although the trail is ~ 20 feet higher than the stream.
It’s a nice, gentle slope down to the waterfall, and it definitely felt like what I associate with a mountain hike, as there were a lot of tall, skinny trees alongside the path.
The endpoint is a large, wooden viewing platform that offers views of the falls. And boy, it really took my breath away! There are actually two streams (Duke’s Creek and Dodd’s Creek) that meet and converge at the falls. The first waterfall is exceptionally tall, cascading down several points through the trees.
The second waterfall is not nearly as tall and has a more gentle descent over several ridges. The combination of them together is stunning, and sitting on the benches on the platform and listening to the crashing waves is very relaxing.
- Distance: 3 miles round trip
- Elevation Change: 600 feet
- Difficulty: Easy
- Cost: Day Use Pass is $4, or National Parks Pass
7. Cloudland Canyon State Park Waterfall Trail
Cloudland Canyon is a beautiful park with a deep gorge. There’s a rim overlook trail you can walk along, but for this post, we’re focusing on the Waterfalls Trail that takes you down into the canyon.
The Waterfall Trail gives you a lot of bang for your buck, as you get to see 3 different waterfalls in less than 3 miles. This hike starts along the rim, and you get some good lookouts over the canyon. The trail starts as a dirt path, but fairly quickly transitions into staircases heading down, often passing by big boulders and cliffs.
When you get about halfway down into the canyon, the trail splits. Heading right takes you to two waterfalls much farther down, and going left takes you to one, much closer waterfall. Of course, I recommend you do both paths!
Heading right takes you down to Hemlock Falls and Sitton’s Gulch Waterfall. There’s a wooden viewing platform at Hemlock Falls, where you see a thin waterfall dropping off a cliff through the trees. I will say, there wasn’t a ton of water flow when I visited in October.
An offshoot right by Hemlock Falls will take you to Sitton’s Gulch Waterfall. The falls are shorter and there’s no official viewpoint here, so you can get up close and personal with the waterfall. I liked how this waterfall seemed to just emerge from a secret spot in the rock.
Head back up to the fork in the path, and head left for Cherokee Falls. This one was the grandest, and was my favorite of the three waterfalls on this hike. The waterfall came over a curved ridge that made the area kind of bowl-shaped. The water drops into a nice, clear pool of water at that is lined by big boulders to sit on. It was all around just a lovely spot.
I will say, when I went, there were a lot more people at Cherokee Falls than Hemlock and Sitton’s Gulch.
- Length: 1.8 miles round trip
- Elevation Gain: 561 feet
- Difficulty: Moderately difficult (while the elevation gain isn’t that bad, the many staircases make for some very steep sections)
- Cost: $5 for parking or a Georgia State pass
8. Minnehaha Falls
Minnehaha Falls is a pretty waterfall with a short and easy hike near the beautiful and winding Lake Rabun. The water in these falls cascades over layers of shale steps of rocks and continues down a burbling creek out to the lake.
You can walk on the rocks at the base of the falls and walk along the stream a little bit after the falls. I saw several people coming up with a picnic – the flat, smooth rocks to sit on, and a gentle stream nearby does make it an ideal picnic location.
- Distance: 0.5 miles round trip
- Elevation Gain: 85 feet
- Difficulty: Very easy
- Cost: No entrance fee
9. Helton Creek Falls
After a short, easy hike down a dirt trail/log staircase, you arrive at the falls! There are 2 different waterfalls to view here, with 2 viewpoints for the first and smaller falls.
This waterfall gently cascades down and against a rock ledge into a pool of water – the pool is pretty shallow and the water isn’t too agitated, you could definitely wade in here during the summertime.
The lower viewpoint is just on the rocks by the pool of water, while the upper viewpoint is a wooden overlook looking down the top of the falls.
From the upper overlook, continue another 20 yards to the second waterfall. This cascade was much taller, and the viewpoint was further back from the falls. You cannot wade in the water here, but it’s a beautiful viewpoint.
A quick note on getting to Helton Creek Falls. The final 1.5 mile approach is on an unpaved and sometimes bumpy dirt road. I did fine in my minivan, but watch out for the occasional big pothole.
- Distance: 0.3 miles round trip
- Elevation Gain: 29 feet
- Difficulty: Very easy
- Entrance fee: None
10. Anna Ruby Falls
Anna Ruby Falls is easily the most popular and well-known waterfall near Helen, GA, and it really does deserve the attention – a beautiful creekside trail leads to a stunning double waterfall.
You will actually drive through Unicoi State Park to reach the entrance to the Ruby Falls trailhead (although it’s not in Unicoi itself).
From the parking lot, you will do a short hike on a paved pathway that follows the stream, crosses the stream, and then follows it again to the waterfall. Despite being paved, there are some steeper sections of the trail, but I saw a lot of kids doing it, so I’d still classify it as pretty easy.
The falls themselves are spectacular – with two tall waterfalls plunging down the cliff right next to each other and then converge at the pool at the bottom of the falls. There are several viewing platforms – I actually preferred the view from the farther platform the most.
This is a very, very popular hike – expect to share the trail with plenty of other people. For context, I did this hike on a weekday in the middle of September. I had done a bunch of other hikes and waterfall trails that week and rarely saw anyone, but there were quite a few people at Anna Ruby. I expect weekends and holidays to be bustling here.
- Distance: 0.9 miles round trip
- Elevation Gain: 219 feet
- Difficulty: Moderately easy
- Hours: 9am-4pm. Last entrance is at 3pm
- Price: $5 per person over 16 years old. Since Anna Ruby Falls is part of the National Park Service, you can get free entrance with a National Parks Pass.
11. Amicalola Falls
Amicalola is truly jaw-dropping waterfall, as it is over 700 feet tall, making it the tallest waterfall in Georgia and the third tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi. Part of what makes it so gorgeous is there are many different drops and cascades as it descends into the valley.
This waterfall is the main attraction of the Amicalola Falls State Park, and is also the site of the Appalachian Approach Trail.
The map and trail system was a little confusing at first, as I was just expecting a sign saying “trailhead for Amicalola Falls here.” In actuality, there are several different trails you can take throughout the park, but all the trails do lead to the waterfall.
I decided to take the Creek trail up. This hike starts alongside the creek (shocking, I know), passes by the reflection pool, and takes you to the base of Amicalola Falls.
This is definitely one of those moments when pictures do not do it justice. The sheer size and scale of the falls really took my breath away.
From the base of the falls, you can climb the 175 stairs to the bridge that crosses in front of the waterfall.
From the bridge, its another 255 stairs to the top of the falls. Thankfully, there are about 14 different rest points/viewpoints along the entire staircase section to take a breather if/when you need it. Some of these spots even have benches.
Despite being a pretty steep hike overall, this was absolutely worth the effort. If the number of stairs feels daunting, I would go only to the bridge halfway up the falls. I thought the view from the top wasn’t as good, anyway.
Also, there is a parking lot at the top of the falls, and you can just walk down the steps to the bridge, but I do think the experience is better coming from the bottom up.
- Cost: $5 per vehicle, or a Georgia State Pass
Where to Stay: Amicalola Falls Lodge
12. Vickery Creek Falls at Roswell Mills
There are a few different access points to the trails in this recreation area, with many taking you to the waterfall. There is also a covered bridge you can visit. I took the route from the Vickery Trails parking lot off of Riverside Road to the waterfall.
There are quite a few trails that crisscross in this system, and it’s not obvious which ones to follow when you’re on the trail, so I recommend pinning “Vickery Creek Falls” and then having Google maps up – it’ll show all the pathways and you can see which ones to follow to get to the falls.
When you get there, there’s an overlook on the trail right to the falls, and there’s also a rougher, steep trail to get to the base. I would definitely go down to the base, as the views are really pretty here! Definitely a unique waterfall in North Georgia, as the water falls over a long, straight ledge to the base.
The stream – called Big Creek – feeds into the nearby Chattahoochee River. You can also park at “Vickery Creek Trail Parking” and walk by the old mill and covered bridge on your way to the waterfall.
- Distance: 2 miles RT
- Elevation Gain: 315 feet
- Difficulty: Easy
With the Blue Ridge Mountains filling the landscape in North Georgia, it’s no surprise that there are a lot of excellent hiking trails to do in the area. Now, while there are a lot of hiking trails that go to waterfalls, as noted in the previous section, the trails in this section are not centered around waterfalls.
13. Springer Mountain Hike on the Appalachian Trail
The most popular and famous hiking trail in Georgia is the Appalachian Trail (or AT), which runs 2000 miles from Georgia to Maine. The southern terminus of the AT is at the top of Springer Mountain.
If you are doing a section of the Appalachian Trail, and want to start at the official start point at the South Terminus, you have two options: you can hike the Appalachian Approach Trail, that starts at Amicalola Falls and ends at the South Terminus on Springer Mountain, or you can park in the Springer Mountain parking lot, hike on the AT to the top of the mountain, and then turn around, come back down the way you came, and continue on the trail.
Or, if you’re like me and just want a taste of the AT and want to visit the South Terminus, you can just hike Springer Mountain and call it good 😉
One tricky thing about starting the trail is that it actually starts across the road from the parking lot. While there is a big informational sign by the parking lot with some obvious trails adjacent to the sign, none of these are the trail to Springer Mountain.
When you’re driving up, you’ll turn from the dirt road into the parking lot, and then walk back across this road to pick up the trail. This was confusing to me and a couple other people there, so just make sure you cross the street to find the trail.
The trail itself was easy-moderate difficulty and steepness, with some rocks in the trail.
The summit is a clearing with two different markers. A picture is obligatory!
- Distance: 1.9 miles round trip
- Elevation Gain: 374 feet
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Cost: None
14. Tesnatee Gap Trail to Cow Rock Mountain
If you are looking to do a small part of the AT to a beautiful viewpoint over mountain ridges and valleys, the Tesnatee Gap Trail to Cowrock Mountain is a great trail for you.
After climbing just over a mile on a fairly steep trail, the summit is a smooth rock overlook.
The trailhead is accessible from the Richard Russell Scenic Parkway near Helen, Georgia.
15. Tallulah Gorge State Park
Tallulah Gorge State Park has one of the most epic landscapes in the state – a river cutting through a 1000 foot deep gorge, which feels like you’re in a small mountain valley when you’re in it. It offers a chance to enjoy landscapes and terrain not usually available in the southern United States.
There are several trails in the Tallulah Gorge state park, and most visitors do either the North Rim, the South Rim, the Hurricane Falls loop, or the Gorge Floor trail.
While the views from the Rim Trails and the Hurricane Falls loop are fantastic, if you want a bit of an adventure, do the Gorge Floor trail!
To hike the Tallulah Gorge Floor Trail, you’ll first need to get one of the 100 permits issued each day. Then, you’ll hike along parts of the Rim trail and Hurricane Falls trail, descending over 500 stairs, crossing the suspension bridge over the river, until you reach the canyon floor.
At the canyon floor is where the Gorge Floor trail starts, and it is definitely a challenging hike! What makes it challenging? Well the very first part of the hike is jumping between boulders in the river. Then, once you reach the other side, there’s no real “trail,” you’re just climbing on boulders along the shoreline.
- Hours: 8am-5pm
- Cost: $5 parking fee, or the Georgia State Pass
16. Swinging Bridge on the Toccoa River (Benton MacKaye Trail)
This fun swinging bridge crosses the Toccoa River near the towns of Blue Ridge, Ellijay, and Blairsville.
This trail is also the start of the Benton McKaye Trail, which ends at the Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain. The real fun here is the swinging bridge that crosses the Toccoa river. It’s a short, easy hike down to the river, which is a relatively gentle and shallow river.
The views from the middle of the bridge are absolutely gorgeous, and you can go down near the water on both sides of the shore and relax for a bit. I would NOT recommend going in the water, though, as it is still too deep and fast near the shore to be safe for wading or swimming.
You can continue on the Benton MacKaye Trail after the bridge, or you can just enjoy the bridge, river, shores, and scenery and head back.
- Cost: None
➡️Cute Small Towns To Visit in North Georgia
Visiting the cute small towns scattered around the region is absolutely one of the best things to do in North Georgia. These are five of my favorite small towns in North Georgia:
Helen is a tiny little alpine town in the Georgia Appalachian mountains designed to look like a German Bavarian village. The whole town is on theme, but most of the shops and restaurants are between the bridge and the park.
All of the buildings are half-timbered and have some Bavarian architectural design. Most of the restaurants in town serve German cuisine, although there are some spots with American options as well. The area is just really cute and charming, and the Chattahoochee River runs right alongside the town.
Now, compared to actual Germany, Helen is a little kitschy and felt a little bit like Disney-style Germany. There was German style “polka music” playing through the loudspeakers in town (adding to the feeling of Disney-style Germany, ha!).
There are a lot of shops to explore in town, including one that sells wooden toys, one for specialty hats or specialty socks, and a few Christmas stores (these were closed when we were there, though).
You can also find a lot of souvenir shops, a bakery that sold authentic German ingredients and souvenirs, a store selling Dutch products, and a variety of snack shops (donuts, ice cream, funnel cakes, candied nuts, chocolates).
Our favorite place, though, was the Hansel and Gretel Candy Shop for their delectable array of chocolates, caramels, and other candies. I also really enjoyed Haufbrauhaus restaurant, which had great Bavarian-style pretzels, schnitzel, and German potato salad.
Come to Helen in October for Oktoberfest, and back in December for the Christmas market, parade, and decorations!
18. Rome, Georgia
I was NOT expecting to love Rome, Georgia as much as I did. Seriously, this town had all the charm of a small town, but also had a bunch of interesting sites to see as well. So, what is there to do in Rome?
First, the downtown area is top notch. There’s many blocks on Main Street with white painted or brick buildings holding cafes and restaurants and locally owned stores. I had a great time window browsing!
You can also walk by the clocktower that stands on a hill, or cross the pedestrian bridge over the river, or stroll along the many pathways by the rivers in town. Stop by the Town Green or the Rome Area History Center, and admire the sculpture of First Lady Ellen Axson Wilson.
Pick up some pastries from the Honeymoon Bakery (their display cases are insane!), and then go across the river to Myrtle Hill Cemetery, a historic cemetery with great views over the town. Enjoying all the attractions in Rome is one of the best things to do in North Georgia!
19. Berry College
While not a town, Berry College is large enough by acres (27,000! – the world largest college by size) and historic enough to be included in this list of small towns to visit in North Georgia.
Check out the Ford reflecting pool by the Ford Dining Hall and Auditorium for some really really great architecture! This square was one of several spots in Berry College used as a filming location for the movie Remember the Titans. Also of note – the Martha Berry Museum on campus was used in filming Sweet Home Alabama.
20. Cave Spring
Just 20 minutes from Rome, GA is the truly tiny town of Cave Spring. While there is a cute town square and a historic Van Cherokee cabin in the town, the main attraction is the actual cave spring, found in Rolater Park.
The cave is open to visitors every day during the summer and on weekends in the off season ($2, cash only), but anyone can come fill up their water jugs for free from the spring, shown in the picture above. Apparently, the water from the cave spring is 99.999% pure!
21. Blue Ridge
This small town in northwest Georgia is really adorable. The main draw of this town is the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, which offers 2 hour or 4 hour scenic train rides through the rolling Georgia countryside. The downtown area is small, but cute and charming, and you can walk right along the trains and train tracks set smack dab in the middle of the city.
You can’t visit Blue Ridge without stopping at the Sweete Shop, a bakery and cupcake shop that was a Cupcake Wars winner. I tried a couple of their cupcakes and can confirm they are delicious!
➡️Historic and Cultural Sites
This next section is full of interesting and important historic sites or cultural sites throughout Georgia. There’s a wide variety of types of sites here, but I really enjoyed them all and thought they all merit a visit!
22. Nacoochee Indian Mound
Just south of Helen is the Nacoochee Indian Mound. This mound was a burial site for an ancient group of Native Americans, and over 75 graves have been found on the mound. Much later, in the 1500’s, the Cherokee Tribe used the mound as a site for their rituals and townhouses.
Today, a cattle pasture surrounds the mound, but you can still admire it from the intersection of Highway 75 and 17 – there’s a spot you can pull off to admire and take pictures.
Cost: There is no fee or hours
23. Dahlonega Consolidated Gold Mine
The story of the Consolidated Gold Mine is an interesting one. Gold was found in the Georgia in 1828, 20 years before the California Gold Rush. At first, miners could literally pick up chunks of gold off the ground. After that, they panned in the rivers, and tried other methods of above-ground mining.
Eventually, though, miners began drilling in the earth for gold and in Dahlonega, gold was found in a massive quartz vein. This quartz vein and then the area surrounding it was drilled, excavated, and mined for about 25 years and was shut down in 1906.
Admission to the Consolidated Gold Mine covers a gold panning experience, and the mine tour.
When panning for gold, you will learn the process of using an “authentic” gold pan. There actually are gold flakes in the dirt you’re panning, which I was surprised by. However, this gold is known as “flour gold” and is not the greatest quality (and generally not worth the cost of actual mining in the cave).
You also get the chance to go on a guided mine tour, which start every 30 to 40 minutes throughout the day and last about 45 minutes. With a guide, you descend the stairs into the Old Mine Shaft and learn about how the mine operated, and different equipment that the miners use.
There are different types of hammers and drills on display, such as the 15 lb hammer and handstills used to painstakingly dig out the rock, and you can see the leftover holes created by the miners to put dynamite in and blast out the rock.
This site is fun for the whole family, and is a great rainy day activity/historical site in North Georgia.
- Cost: $22 adults/ $15 kids
- Hours: 10am-5pm daily
24. Chickamauga Battlefield
The Chickamauga Battlefield is a historic Civil War site located right on the border of Tennessee and about 15 minutes south of Chattanooga. Chickamauga was an important battle in in the Civil War and part of a bigger operation within the deep south.
The battle here happened just before the Battle of Chattanooga at Lookout Mountain, which we referenced in #5 on this list – the Point Park at Lookout Mountain overlook.
This site is part of the National Park Service and includes a Visitor’s Center with some exhibits and an orientation film. We found both of these very helpful in understanding the significance of the area, so I’d for sure recommend starting your visit here.
If nothing else, stop in the Visitor’s Center for a driving map of the site.
The battlefields at Chickamauga cover over 9,000 acres (!!!) and there is a 7 mile predetermined driving route you can take through the fields, with plenty of pull-off spots.
As you drive, there are different plaques, markers, and monuments set up everywhere you look, marking the locations of cannons, infantry, and cavalry, where generals died, and more.
There are also a lot of placards out to explain what was happening in the battle at that location. Many markers were in blue or red, indicating Union or Confederate emplacements.
It was really, really crazy driving through the battlefields – the area is just huge and it felt like we passed never-ending battle sites. 150,000 soldiers were involved in the battle at Chickamauga, and notably, Abraham Lincoln’s brother-in-law died here.
You really can make this site be as long or as short as you want – driving by some fields and noting all the cannons and placards in the field, and stopping at others to get a closer look. Even if you’re just driving through, it’s still incredibly interesting.
If you’re visiting with kids, ask for a Junior Rangers book. These books are filled with activities and games to do as you visit the site, and when you finish a certain number of pages, you can turn it in for a little badge.
The Junior Ranger program is available at sites within the National Parks Service (which Chickamauga is), and my kids have loved getting badges at places all over the country!
- Hours: The visitor’s center is open 8:30am-5pm, and the park is open sunrise-sunset
- Cost: Free
25. Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site
This whole area used to be a Native American village. Before the mounds there is a re-creation of the houses that used to be in the village. The villages dates to 1000-1300 AD. Different placards around the site describe the society of people living here.
While I had thought that Indian mounds were mostly burial sites, at Etowah, the main mound was for the chief’s home and was also like a temple The second biggest mound was for the priest and the third mound was a burial plot for the chiefs. Most regular people were buried under their homes.
You can walk through and around the perimeter of the site, and just beyond the mounds is a river, which is lovely. You are also allowed to walk up to the top of the mounds as well!
I enjoyed this site a lot more than I was expecting – the placards were interesting and gave a lot of context to the site, and the ancient mounds themselves are just really impressive!
- Cost: Adults are $6, Children are $4
- Hours: 9am-5pm, daily
26. New Manchester Mill Ruins
The New Manchester Mill Ruins are part of Sweetwater Creek State Park. There are several trails you can walk on throughout the park, but the main attraction here is, of course, the mill ruins. It’s about 1.5 miles round trip via the Red Trail from the Visitor’s Center to the mill ruins on a flat and pretty level path (there were minimal roots and rocks in the trail, and the trail was fairly wide).
After an easy walk through the woods and along the river, you’ll arrive at the mill ruins. This was a 5 story mill that produced thread, yarn, and cloth from cotton in the 1800’s. This mill was burned during the Civil War in 1864.
The ruins are actually behind a fence, so you can only see them from the outside. However, the park does offer guided tours of the mill ruins, where a ranger will take you inside the ruins and give you a history lesson about the building and area. These tours cost $5 and usually happen on the weekends – check the schedule here.
Even if you aren’t able to join a tour, I think it’s still definitely worth a visit, as the outside is pretty interesting to look at. Ruins like this aren’t super common in the US (unlike Europe, where I feel like you can find cool ruins in a lot of places!) so I quite enjoyed this site.
- Hours: 9am-5pm
- Cost: $5 per vehicle parking pass, not including the $5 per person fee if you do the guided tour
27. BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu Temple
This mandir is a Hindu place of worship located just outside of Atlanta. It is an incredibly stunning piece of religious architecture! There are over 34,000 pieces of hand-carved marble, limestone, and pink sandstone, and the building is absolutely covered – inside and out – with intricate and gorgeous carvings.
Visitors are welcome to visit the Mandir and entrance is free. You can enter the temple via the side entrance on the left – take your shoes off and put them in the cubbies and then head upstairs to the main worship room.
Unfortunately, no pictures are allowed close to the building or inside the building, so you’ll just have to take my word for it when I say the inside was just absolutely STUNNING. I don’t know the last time I’ve been in a room that was so intricately designed and carved.
There were columns throughout the entire room, several domes, and plenty of arches (the arches were very similar to the arches across the columns in the picture above).
The columns, arches, ceiling, walls – literally everything except for the floor in the main room was covered in carvings. Everything was white, except for the murtis (sacred images of the gods) set in alcoves around the perimeter of the room.
It’s a short but sweet visit, as there’s really just the one room inside to visit, but that one room + the exterior is gorgeous! You can also rent an audio-guide to listen to as you walk around the mandir.
- Hours: 9am-6pm daily
- Cost: Free, small fee for audioguides
28. Booth Western Art Museum
Was I expecting to find a Smithsonian-affiliated museum in a small town in Georgia? No, but I was very impressed with what I found!
The Booth Western Art Museum is a pretty good size, has several levels, and features paintings and some sculptures of the American West, plus a few other related exhibits.
The main gallery that visitors like is the Western Art gallery. As someone who enjoys art but doesn’t love art, I actually had a great time perusing the paintings in this museum.
The landscapes of the west featured prominently in the pieces, highlighting the mountains and deserts of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Wyoming heavily. Most paintings had people in them, either American Indians or the white settlers.
Upstairs, there is the presidential hall, which had a little display for each president. The display had their name, picture, a little “fast fact” sheet about them, and a copy of the a letter written by the president.
I liked seeing all the presidents lined up in chronological order with their photos featured prominently; it was striking and something I don’t often see.
There are also sculpture galleries inside and outside.
Overall, I thought this was a really great stop for a North Georgia itinerary – I had a lovely visit here.
- Cost: $13 for adults
- Hours: 10am-5pm Tuesday- Saturday, 1pm-5pm Sunday, closed Mondays
➡️Other Activities and Attractions in North Georgia
The final section in this list includes fun activities and attractions in the North Georgia region.
29. Tubing on the Chattahoochee
There are two tubing companies in Helen that will set you up for tubing down the Chattahoochee, that runs through the town of Helen. This river is calm, relatively shallow (although water levels can vary quite a bit), and really beautiful, and is an excellent activity for a hot summer day.
Choose from two companies: Cool River Tubing or Helen Water Park. As the name suggests, in addition to tubing the river, you can also enjoy a full-on waterpark at Helen Water Park (this is a separate cost).
Tubing in Helen runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day and is a great summer activity for kids and adults alike!
30. Yonah Mountain Vineyards & Winery
The rolling hills of North Georgia are practically bursting with vineyards – who would’ve thought?? Seriously, I passed SO many as I was driving around. These wineries generally all offer wine tastings with views overlooking the vineyards.
I stopped by Yonah Mountain Vineyards, which offers a beautiful view of Yonah Mountain behind the vines. There’s an indoor tasting room and an outdoor patio where you can enjoy wines and charcuterie boards.
A few other highly rated vineyards include:
Recommended Vineyard Tour: If you’re coming from Atlanta and don’t want to worry about drinking and driving, then a vineyard tour is a great option! On this excursion, you visit three different wineries, sampling up to 13 different wines. You’ll also have the chance to explore Helen for a while!
This tour has great reviews and over 60 5-star ratings! Read all reviews here!
31. BJ Reece Orchards + Market
The area around the town of Ellijay is known for the high abundance of orchards and farms; indeed, Ellijay is known as the apple capital of Georgia.
While there are several orchards and farms in the area, BJ Reese was of particular note to me because you can go apple picking in September and October, but there is also a large, covered market that is open year-round, not just in the fall.
Inside the market, they sell all sorts of fun food items, including fresh honey, farm fresh vegetables, a large variety of apples and pears in season. They also have a wall full of locally made jams, another wall full of locally made ciders (eg apple cider, peach cider, blackberry cider), and various hot sauces, dressings, and other fun products.
A big draw is the bakery counter, with many drool-worthy baked goods on display, and the strawberry hand pie I got was insanely delicious. The crust was perfectly flaky and tender, and the filling was sweet but not too sweet and creamy and flavorful. I practically licked the bag clean.
32. Faussett Farms Sunflower Fields
Located in Fawsonville, GA, not far from Amicalola State Park, is Faussett Farms, a 60 year old farm offering 30 acres of sunflowers for people to come and enjoy throughout September and October.
Entrance is $6/person (kids 5 and under free) and is only $35 for a photography session.
There are also miles and miles of horse trails open year round and are open to the public to bring their horse and enjoy the trails for just $10/day.
33. Hamilton Gardens
The Fred Hamilton Gardens is located at the top of the parking lot for the Georgia Mountains Fair Grounds in Hiawassee, not far from Brasstown Bald. This park features a lot of native plants and rhododendron and has several nice, mulched paths weaving throughout the grounds.
As the garden is right on the lakeshore, some of the path goes very close to the water. It’s a pretty spot, and is a short and easy stroll through.
- Cost: None, this is a public park
- Hours: 8am-sunset
34. Fred’s Famous Peanuts Store
Fred’s Famous Peanut Store is a long time fixture outside the town of Helen and is a cute shop selling a southern favorite: peanuts. Try boiled peanuts, fried peanuts, candied peanuts, pralines, peanut brittle and more.
Or, wander through the shop for more local delicacies. There are craft goods made by the owner and local artisans, and a dizzying assortment of hot sauces, jams, and jellies. Fresh produce is also available in season.
Stopping at Fred’s is definitely a must-do when in the area!
Map of Best North Georgia Attractions
What to Do in North Georgia When It’s Raining
Looking for the best things to do in North Georgia when it’s raining? These attractions are all great rainy day activities:
- Consolidated Gold Mine
- Booth Western Art Museum
- BJ Reece Orchards Market
- Shop in the small towns
- Wine Tasting at the Vineyards
- BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
Things to Do in North Georgia for Free
Trying to figure out what to do in North Georgia for free? The following things from this list cost zero dollars – score!
- Russell Scenic Parkway
- Hog Pen Gap Overlook
- Bell Mountain
- Minnehaha Falls
- Helton Creek Falls
- Vickery Creek Falls
- Tesnatee Gap Trail to Cow Rock Mountain
- Springer Mountain
- Swinging Bridge on the Toccoa River
- Wander small towns
- Cave Springs
- Nacoochee Indian Mound
- Hamilton Gardens
- New Manchester Mills Ruins (the exterior)
- BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
My 7 Personal Favorite Things to Do in North Georgia
Okay, I don’t want to suggest that anything NOT on this list means its not that good of a thing to do in north Georgia. I’m just pulling out my top highlights from this big list!
Know that it was quite hard to do this, as I really did enjoy each and every one of the spots highlighted in this post. But if I had to choose my top favorites, these are my personal standouts:
- Duke Creek Falls – For its wide level path that followed the creek, and double waterfall
- Amicalola Falls – For the jaw-droppingly tall falls
- Bell Mountain – For its absolutely stunning views and cute staircase
- Tallulah Falls – For the adventure hike and the beautiful gorge
- Springer Mountain – To be at the south terminus of the AT
- Rome – A small town with a small town feel, yet had a bunch of interesting sites
- Helen – It’s cute, it’s gotta be on this list!
Final Thoughts on What to Do in North Georgia
There are really so many interesting and exciting places to visit in North Georgia, and I was truly blown away by the beauty of the state and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Choose your favorite thing from this list and get out there and explore!