Hidden among the hills and peaks of the North Georgia Mountains lies the small community of Ellijay. Despite its small size and rural nature, this area around Ellijay is becoming a popular destination for people interested in the great outdoors. If you’re looking for vacation rentals that let you explore the nearby Chattahoochee National Forest and other mountain destinations, here are the top 11 places to look for the perfect Ellijay vacation rental.

1. Ellijay

Ellijay itself is a popular place to stay due to its friendly atmosphere and convenient location. While catering to visitors with numerous restaurants, boutiques and souvenir shops, Ellijay still retains its old-fashioned feel. Several local artisans have workshops and stores in Ellijay, and the annual Georgia Apple Festival, held in October, draws in even more artists and craftsman from all over Georgia. A popular golf course and several large parks are also located in town.

2. East Ellijay

Just outside of Ellijay lies East Ellijay. These towns are so close in character that it’s hard to tell when you pass from one to the next. While East Ellijay lacks its neighbor’s historic downtown district, it makes up for it with spectacular access to the wilderness. East Ellijay lies right on the edge of the Chattahoochee National Forest as well as the banks of the Chattahoochee River itself, so you can find a secluded cabin and get back to nature.

3. New Hope

This small community blends rural charm and upscale living. New Hope was historically a small farming community, but it has become a popular destination for people who work in Atlanta but prefer the lower cost of living and slower pace of New Hope. Although it is a little more than an hour from Atlanta, it is also conveniently located on two major highways for quicker commutes. Vacation rentals here can range from old-fashioned farmhouses to newly built luxury homes.

4. Chatsworth

Filled with historic brick buildings and friendly people, Chatsworth has a wholesome, welcoming atmosphere. One of the most popular attractions in town is Fort Mountain State Park, which is home to excellent hiking as well as a mysterious ruined wall created by Native Americans around 1,500 years ago. Although the wall was most likely built for religious reasons, plenty of fun local legends surround it, and Chatsworth residents love to share them with visitors.

5. Blue Ridge

A scenic 20-minute drive through the Chattahoochee National Forest takes you from Ellijay to Blue Ridge, a popular mountain destination. In addition to the great hiking and biking trails, some of the area’s best white water rafting is nearby on the Ocoee River. The town itself has a modern, artsy atmosphere, with plenty of galleries, boutique shops and great restaurants. It is also located very close to the Tennessee and North Carolina borders for quick access to those states.

6. Jasper

Although visiting Jasper feels like staying in a small town, this community has a surprising number of amenities. Jasper is known for its excellent and often locally grown foods, and several wineries are located nearby. Two golf courses in town let you take a day off from hiking to hit the links. The area is also known for producing fine marble, so don’t be surprised to see an unusual number of marble statues in the local galleries.

7. Oakman

If you can’t think of a better way to spend a day than relaxing by a scenic lake, look for a vacation rental in the unincorporated community of Oakman. This town lies on the shores of Carters Lake, a 3200-acre lake surrounded by mostly undeveloped shoreline. Pick up snacks and essentials at the full-service marina and boat shop. The rustic beauty of the area is worth the trip to its relatively isolated location.

8. Fairmount

This quaint town is particularly well-known for its large, well-maintained parks, which are a great place to while away a summer day or stroll through after dinner. Family-friendly festivals and events on Memorial Day and Fourth of July are local favorites. Vacation rentals in this area typically include small cottages, newer single-family homes, and townhouses or condos. Fairmount is conveniently located near I-75 and several major state highways.

9. Talking Rock

The picturesque town of Talking Rock, which holds the title of the third-smallest town in Georgia, is home to two antique stores, a museum, a beautiful public park and about 50 permanent residents, so you can expect a sedate, friendly atmosphere. Although its small size means that amenities are limited, it is located just a 10-minute drive from Jasper for access to additional shopping and dining.

10. Cherry Log

Completely surrounded by the Chattahoochee National Forest, this spread-out, unincorporated community has a rustic mountain feel. Tall trees and abundant wildlife can make you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, even though Cherry Log is just a short drive from Ellijay. A few galleries and restaurants are scattered throughout the area.

11. Morganton

Near the town of Blue Ridge lies Morganton, a quiet mountain community surrounded by the Chattahoochee National Forest. It’s home to Morganton Point Recreation Area, a waterfront park known for its family-friendly atmosphere. Picnic sites, a swimming beach and trails with varying levels of difficulty cater to the whole family. Only 300 people reside in the city itself, but it’s so close to Blue Ridge that you can still find plenty of shopping and dining nearby.