The Appalachian Mountains in North Georgia are a haven for visitors who enjoy peace and quiet, as well as adventurers seeking outdoor thrills. Whether you’re traveling with your family or planning a weekend escape with friends, there are plenty of spacious North Georgia Mountains vacation rentals situated close to the area’s top attractions. Hike along the Appalachian Trail, pick blueberries, explore a true Alpine village, and sample fine blends at one of the numerous wineries lining the roadways. Consider these top 10 things to do during your stay in the North Georgia Mountains.

1. Take a Ride on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

Set out for a day of adventure on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. The train departs from the train depot in the quaint town of Blue Ridge. The ride takes you along the Toccoa River to the sister towns of McCaysville, Georgia and Copper Hill, Tennessee before taking you back to Blue Ridge. Choose from a vintage open-air train or a climate-controlled car. Every trip has a two-hour layover in McCaysville where you can stop in Georgia Boys BBQ for a bite to eat, or grab a t-shirt at the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway Gift Shop. If you vacation in December, you can sign up for the themed Santa Express ride.

2. Pick Blueberries at Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge

Mercier Orchards is one of the top places in the state for picking fruit. In the spring and fall you can grab a basket and pick fresh blueberries, apples, strawberries, and cherries to take back to your vacation rental for a snack later. Stop in the shop for honey, jams, and small gifts, and there’s even a restaurant with chicken salad that’s a top favorite. Afterwards, step inside their ciderey and see how they make their fresh cider, and grab a gallon to take home with you. Kids can ride the horses, or pet the goats, and the place has such remarkable views, you may even see a wedding take place on the farm.

3. Hike the Appalachian Trail in Blue Ridge

If you are an avid hiker, you can cross one item off your bucket list by walking along the trail head of the Appalachian Trail. Start at the Springer Mountain trail head and hike your way to the summit for spectacular views of the valley below. You can go it alone or sign up with Blue Ridge Mountain Outfitters, who can take you up to nearby Amicalola Falls, or to the Three Forks valley to have a picnic by the streams.

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4. Explore the Alpine Village of Helen

Tucked away in the mountains of Georgia is the tiny village of Helen. Modeled after the villages in the Swiss Alps, this tiny town has amazing architecture, plenty of shops, and it is located along the Chattahoochee River. Zip across the River with Cool River Ziplines, or rent a tube and go tubing down the Hooch with Cool River Tubing. Visit the Nora Mill Granary and see how they mill flour, then head to The Willows Pottery and make your own vase or ceramic pot. When you are ready to satisfy your sweet tooth, visit Betty’s Country Store for fudge and baked goods, and you can even watch as they create beautiful works of art at the Glassblowing Shop.

5. Attend the Ellijay Apple Festival in Ellijay

Also known as the Georgia Apple Festival, the Ellijay Apple Festival started in 1969 and is held annually in Ellijay. hundreds of vendors set up to offer food, crafts, and attractions. Sign up to participate in the Apple 5K that starts at the Ellijay Elementary School, or browse the collection of antique cars at the car show. Pick your own apples to take back to your vacation rental, or grab a spot and watch the parade go by.

6. Pet the Alpacas at the Lasso the Moon Alpaca Farm in Blairsville

Alpacas are probably the last thing you would expect to see in the North Georgia Mountains, but Blairsville provides a home to several dozen friendly alpacas. Sign up for a felting class and learn how to gather the wool, or stop by the gift shop for alpaca-related items. There’s a restaurant on-site with sandwiches and chips, and you can stop by the petting zoo to get up close and personal with the animals.

7. Climb to the Top of Brasstown Bald in Blairsville

Climb to the highest point in Georgia at Brasstown Bald in Blairsville. Standing 4,784 feet above sea level, the Brasstown Bald Observation Tower offers views of the Atlanta skyscrapers on a clear day. The tower is home to a collection of art works and crafts, and there’s even a shop for souvenirs. if you prefer not to hike, there is a tram that makes its way up to the summit several times a day.

8. Tour the Foxfire Museum in Mountain City

The Foxfire Museum and Heritage Center is a must-see attraction in Mountain City. This Museum hosts a collection of artifacts gathered during the writings of the Foxfire Book Series. The center sits on over 100 acres and there are several cabins to explore along with several other structures. View photographs of contributors, and even glimpse through some of the books.

9. Attend the Georgia Mountain Fall Festival

If you enjoy bluegrass and country music, you’ll love attending the Georgia Mountain Fall Festival. Held annually in the fall at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, the festival has a host of vendors selling everything from hot dogs to funnel cakes. You can also purchase handmade items, like dolls and jewelry, and then sit and listen to the concerts from both locals and big name country stars. The festival lasts nine days, and one of the highlights is the Georgia Mountains Fiddlers Convention.

10. See Where the Trail of Tears Began in Calhoun

History buffs can step back in time to where the Trail of Tears began at New Echota in Calhoun. This small Cherokee Village features 12 original structures that you can explore, which include a print shop, general store, smoke houses, and barns. Purchase reference materials on the tragic event of the Indian Removal, and then stop in for a short movie presentation that details the history of the Cherokee Indians in Georgia. There’s also a trail that leads to a small beaver pond where you can fish and take pictures.

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