Nestled in the mountains of North Georgia approximately an hour and a half from Atlanta, Ellijay is a quaint, quiet town with friendly people, historic buildings, and a lot of charming country character. Often referred to as Georgia’s Apple Capital, Ellijay comes alive in the fall when apples are ripe for picking. During your stay in one of the vacation rentals in Ellijay, head to the calm waters of Carter’s Lake to cool off from the heat of the sun, or sample some of the local fares at one of the downtown shops. Ideal for families with children, this cozy community offers many things to do and see, starting with this list of 10 popular activities.

1. Go Mountain Biking

Wind your way up through shaded valleys and beside rushing creek waters along the Bear Creek bike trail. This single-lane trail has a fun downhill ride at the end that is ideal for riders of all skill levels. Due to the creek crossings, the lower parts of the trail are always a bit damp, which is perfect for those who like getting muddy. The uphill trek is gravel to help you get good traction. There is also an upper and a lower parking deck for those who only want to ride half the trail. Bring your bike from home to your vacation rental or rent the family bikes at the Cartecay Bike Shop.

2. Rent a Pontoon Boat

If you want to spend the day on the water, rent a pontoon boat at Carters Lake Marina and float your cares away on Carter’s Lake. Relax and enjoy the sun from the deck, pull the kids on towables, or bring some poles and equipment to fish for trout and catfish.

3. Swim at Helton Creek Falls

Experience one of the most popular swimming holes in the area along the Helton Creek Falls Trail. Start at the trailhead and make the 0.3-mile trek up to the falls. The bottom of the falls creates a sparkling blue-green lagoon that is ideal for swimming. Dry off on the wooden deck while warming under the sun. Bring your dog along with you to your vacation rental and bring him to the falls for a swim with the family.

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4. Hike Big Acorn Trail

Stretch your legs and enjoy nature along the Big Acorn Trail. You and the family can start your excursion at the visitor’s center where you’ll find maps and other necessities. There are also plenty of free things for the kids at the center. Hike the trail around the lake and up to the overlook to experience beautiful views of the valley below.

5. Kayak the Cartecay River

Rent kayaks at the Kayak and Tube Rental Center located on the Cartecay River. The lower portion of the river features calmer waters that run through the residential area. These waters are ideal for families with young children. For those who want a little more action, start around the upper portion of the river and experience Class three and Class four rapids. The long tour takes approximately three hours and is recommended for children over the age of three.

6. Tour the Bigfoot Museum

Whether you are curious about the mountain legend or a die-hard Bigfoot fan, you’ll find the Bigfoot Museum a must-see on your trip to Ellijay. Listen to the museum guides give information on sightings and sift through the endless memorabilia of photographs and exhibits. Grab some souvenirs of your trip, and kids can leave faux footprints of Bigfoot in the sand.

7. Pick Apples

Drive along the main thoroughfare in Ellijay, and you will come across a variety of apple orchards and markets to enjoy. Stop in at the Red Apple Barn for hayrides or a farm tour, and then spend some time walking through the orchard picking apples. Stop by the market for fresh fried apple pies or boiled peanuts, or head to the Reece Apple House and pet the animals at the petting zoo.

8. Explore Amicalola Falls

Travel to the Chattahoochee National Forest for an excursion at the Amicalola Falls State Park. One of North Georgia’s most popular state parks, the park offers hiking, swimming, and there is a wooden suspension bridge to cross for beautiful views of the gorge below. The falls stand 729-feet high, and it’s the perfect spot for pictures.

9. Go Tubing

Plan at least one day for tubing down the Ellijay or Coosawattee Rivers on an innertube. This popular summer activity to beat the heat offers a short hour-long tour or opt for a longer two-hour tour. Most trips end with ice creams of frozen pops for the kids. Children must be at least 4-feet tall to have a tube. Trips fill up quickly, so it’s a good idea to plan your tour in advance.

10. Ride the Rides at the Gilmer County Fair

Plan your trip around the annual Gilmer County Fair for fun and excitement. Held the second week in August, the fair offers live music, carnival rides and games, delicious foods, and a variety of exhibits and booths to explore. See some of the largest livestock in the region, and purchase some handmade crafts from local artists. Before you leave, purchase some fudge to take back to your vacation rental to snack on later.

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