The Georgia mountain town of Blue Ridge lies 90 miles north of Atlanta along I-575. Book a vacation rental in Blue Ridge, and you’ll have access to an outdoor playground. Hiking trails through the Chattahoochee National Forest, boating on Lake Blue Ridge and fishing or kayaking on the crystal-clear waters of the Toccoa River make this the perfect vacation destination. Escape to a log cabin rental deep in the woods, and wake up to fabulous mountain scenery or rent a lodge with a riverfront location, and let the sound of the water lull you to sleep each night. Alternatively, make your vacation home-from-home close to the downtown area so you can experience the small-town charm first-hand.

1. Climb Aboard the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

The four-hour excursion on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway is a great way to explore the area. Head out to the historic depot in downtown Blue Ridge, and climb aboard one of the vintage rail cars. The train travels alongside the Toccoa River and stops for a two-hour layover at the quaint little sister towns of McCaysville and Copperhill, which straddle the state line between Georgia and Tennessee. Make sure your kids find the special blue line on Toccoa and Ocoee Street, where they can stand with a foot in each state. While you’re there enjoy lunch, visit the model railway and take a stroll to explore the area before boarding for the return trip.

2. Take a Hike Along the Appalachian Trail to Long Creek Falls

Strap on your walking boots, pack the rucksacks with drinks and snacks and set off to hike the local section of the Appalachian Trail. This easy-to-navigate trail takes you alongside a series of creeks to the magnificent Long Creek Falls. These spectacular falls can be extremely noisy after rain, so you might hear them before you see them. You must drive 25 miles to the Three Forks parking area on Forest Service Road to get to the start of the trail.

3. Go Fruit Picking at Mercier Orchards

Take the kids to Mercier Orchards to pick their own fruit and enjoy a tractor tour of the farm that boasts the largest apple orchard in the southeast. Fill up with a country breakfast or sandwiches at the farm’s deli, and have your pick of the most delicious fried fruit pies from their bakery. Mom and pop can visit the farm’s winery and tasting room to test the hard apple cider. This unique product is grown, pressed, fermented and bottled at the orchards.

4. Go Whitewater Rafting

If you’re a thrill-seeker, you and your kids aged 12 or older can experience whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River. Located just 30 minutes from Blue Ridge, the Ocoee Adventure Centre has highly trained guides who can safely introduce you and your family to the excitement of rafting on the Ocoee’s class three and four rapids.

5. Go Gem Mining at the Lilly Pad Village

For more gentle activities, take the 7-mile drive out to Lilly Pad Village for a fun-filled day. Activities include gem mining, fishing, hiking and playing mini-golf in the woods. Open every day from 10 a.m. through 5 p.m., this village has friendly staff to help you make the most of your visit. Watch your kids’ eyes widen in amazement as they search among the dirt for gems such as emeralds, sapphires, rubies and tigers eye, then, see their discoveries polished into precious keepsakes.

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6. Explore Lake Blue Ridge by Boat, Canoe or Kayak

Visit Lake Blue Ridge Marina to rent a boat to take out onto the water. The whole family can pile aboard a pontoon boat and explore the area together. Be sure to make a reservation in advance, as weekends and holidays book up fast. For a more active family excursion, hire a fleet of canoes, kayaks or paddle boards. Remember to bring towels and a change of clothes so you can dry off after your adventures. Then, head off to the Boat Dock Bar and Grill to share plates of loaded nachos, smoked wings or hot dogs.

7. Go Swimming

Pack the family’s swimwear, water shoes and inflatables and spend a day at Morganton Point recreation center. For a small parking fee, you can enjoy swimming from the pebble beach, access to bathrooms and use of picnic tables. There is also a covered picnic shelter that you can hire from the National Recreation Reservation System. Concessions on site include kayak and paddleboard rentals, hot dogs and snacks. The center is open from April through October.

8. Go Zip lining

Have fun soaring through the treetops at Zip Line Canopy Tours, located just 6 miles from Blue Ridge. Their two-hour tour features 13 zip lines, giving you an amazing 1 mile of soaring. If it’s your first time, you might opt for the one-hour tour that takes you through 7 zip lines. If your kids are hungry for further excitement, the company’s Aerial Adventure Park provides an obstacle challenge course high up in the air. Children must be 10 years or older to participate in these activities.

9. Visit the Chattahoochee National Fish Hatchery

Spend a uniquely educational and fun day at the Chattahoochee National Fish Hatchery. The visitor center has exhibits about raising trout, showing the fish at various stages of development. While you’re there, introduce the kids to fishing at Rock Creek so they can get even closer to these creatures. Take your own gear and bait, and make sure you have your Georgia fishing license handy. The center is open Monday through Friday, and admission is free.

10. Watch a Movie at the Swan Drive-In Theater

Blue Ridge is home to the Swan, one of Georgia’s four remaining drive-in theaters. Instead of staying in your vacation rental to watch movies on TV, take the kids to experience film-watching the old-fashioned way. Treat the kids to the tasty delights on sale at the concession, including popcorn, funnel cakes, and deep-fried Oreos. Be sure to bring cash, as they don’t accept payment by card, and there is no ATM on site.

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