Early on the morning of Oct. the 19th, Chris and I headed for the mountains of Blue Ridge, GA. New clothes were packed, especially new shoes and a new purse for me ;), plus anything, else I could think of that we might need on our 5 day trip. Yes, I am my mother’s daughter. Things are planned. I’d been watching the fall foliage reports for the Blue Ridge area to see when the peak time to visit would be best. And that time would be Oct. 19th!
New shoes and crossbody bag
Shoes are from Dillards in gray
Bag is from Belk. It’s a Jessica Simpson bag and I got it on a great sale.
I already had a Jessica Simpson bag, but even empty it was too heavy. I didn’t realize that until after I purchased it. Walking around shopping, etc. it’s just too much to carry. So going on vacation, I decided I needed a crossbody bag.
Carlie, who does my hair, gave me a great idea about using the crossbody bags. She said that she packs all her essential stuff (phone, keys, wallet, etc) in her crossbody and then when she’s going to need the whole kitchen sink she just puts the crossbody bag into her larger bag. Great idea!
Destination: Blue Ridge, GA
Chris and I have been going to Blue Ridge, GA for several years. This is probably our 3rd trip. It was recommended by one of his friends at work. Blue Ridge is a tiny little town. You don’t have to contend with crowds or traffic. There’s also not a lot of places to stay and we haven’t run across a mall or Walmart yet. They do have some strip malls and fast food places, but no chain restaurants like Outback, Olive Garden, etc. Hmmm …. why should you go there then? Keep reading.
Blue Ridge is probably not a place you’d want to go with the kids. We like to go to Blue Ridge because it can be used as a “hub” for day trips to other places. And we like staying there because of the fact there’s no crowds, no traffic, good food and boutique shopping. The people there are very friendly and you always feel safe.
Blue Ridge is close enough to make day trips into GA, TN and NC and we decided years ago that if you want to see the prettiest fall foliage, you have to go to NC. I don’t know if it’s the higher elevation or the types of trees they have, but there’s something about NC’s fall foliage that doesn’t often disappoint. But you do have to be there at the right time of year. This year we were off a few days, but the weather was so perfect we really didn’t even mind too much.
Where to stay …
When we stay, we always stay at Blue Ridge Comfort Inn & Suites. It’s easy access (at a light), clean, nice staff, free breakfast and the hotel is nice with plenty of parking. I don’t think we’ve ever had a complaint there. Great bed and pillows. 🙂 If you’re going at a peak season, make sure to book early … remember I said, not a lot of places to stay. 😉 They book up fast.
Mountain range out front of the hotel
This picture reminded me of the weather. While we were there you could not have asked for more perfect fall weather. It was gorgeous and perfect every day! The lows were in the 30s and the highs were in the 60s or low 70s. I wore my coat a couple of times and Chris had to scrape ice off the windshield one morning. Perfect! I hated to come home to the heat and humidity.
Chris actually planned this trip. Gasp! 😀 Last year’s trip was really hard on him because it was a lot of driving. (another blog post) So this year he planned an easier trip.
Chris never gets in a hurry to get to a destination. But, the first day we got there in time to hit Blue Ridge for dinner. Be aware … everything closes earlier there, too. We’d eaten before at Christy Lee’s Courtyard Grille, but they are closed on Mondays, so we went back upstairs to eat at Harvest on Main … where we’d also eaten before. There was a 30 min. wait so we wandered back downstairs, taking pictures, where we discovered Harvest Underground. Harvest Underground is the bar area of Harvest on Main. Lucky us … there was no one else in the bar area! We were served quickly and the food was divine.
I was not in blogging mode at the time so I did not take a photo of our food, but I had the best duck with sausage …. mmmm. It was so succulent!! It came with sweet potatoes cooked with cardamom and red slaw. I wasn’t crazy about the cardamom in the sweet potatoes, but by the second bite, I didn’t even pay any attention to it. I don’t eat cabbage, but I did taste the slaw and it wasn’t awful.
Chris had a New York Strip that I tasted of and it was yummy, too. So eating at Harvest on Main is a definite two thumbs up! Other menu items are: shrimp and grits, meatloaf, trout, bolognese …
I do have pictures of the restaurant from another day. This is Harvest on Main at street level.
Go down these steps to get to Harvest Underground. It’s down there on the right. Christy Lee’s Courtyard Grille is on the left. The striped patio tables you see on the left are for Christy Lee’s. You can also park in the back and enter the businesses from the back entrances. That’s something that’s relatively new that makes for easy access.
This is Harvest Underground. Go there! 🙂
Beside it is a cute little candy shop. We didn’t go there.
Other places in town to see. Before I start posting the pics, I wanted to mention a store that I went into called Blue Ridge Cotton Company. I am a big fan of cotton and everything in the store is made of cotton. The owner was very nice and he carried some nice things at a reasonable rate. So if you’re a cotton lover, stop in the store and pick you up a t-shirt or hoodie. I’m sure you’ll find something you like. I got myself a hoodie that I LOVE. It is so soft and Chris wishes he had one. He’d wandered off, so he got a t-shirt. 😉
Chris wanted to stop at Three Sisters Fudge – we didn’t eat fudge, but we did put their outdoor furniture to use and try out their ice cream. Nope, no Blue Bell. 🙂 I’m about ready to give up on ice cream until Blue Bell returns.
There’s construction going on in Blue Ridge so new businesses are coming to town I’m sure. There are lots of shops and things that I didn’t take photos of. I just took some of the ones with interesting store fronts like the one below. I didn’t actually go inside. The shops are always ever changing. Every time I go up there I’ll find a shop with things I love and the next time I go back it won’t be there and there will be another shop with something else I love. So the shops come and go, just like the people who shop there.
I thought the “bottle garland” below was interesting. Looks like it started off with them hand painting the bottles and they ran out of steam and just started going with the plain bottles. Would have been really interesting if they’d kept up with the hand painting. Just something different. This was an outdoor patio for a restaurant.
This moose is my very favorite photo of the whole trip. They did a great job. Love it!
Going to McCaysville
This is the train that you can ride to McCaysville. It’s a 3.5 hr round trip. McCaysville sits on the line of McCaysville, GA and Copperhill, TN. There’s a blue line that you can stand astride in town that divides the town into two states. You can stand with your feet on each side of that line and be standing in two states at one time. We didn’t ride the train up, but the first time we went up to McCaysville, the town seemed to be pretty busy. This year when we went up it seemed like it had lost momentum. Nothing was open. Maybe we just caught it at a bad time.
Trivia Fact: Chris is a trivia nut. He has a head full of useless knowledge. 😉 When we were driving around up there (Copperhill, TN) he told me to look at the brown rock formations. The reason they are brown instead of gray is because of the copper. Yeah, he’s always trying to educate me.
Christy Lee’s Courtyard Grille
Ok, before we leave Blue Ridge proper, I’ll introduce you to Christy Lee’s Courtyard Grille which I’ve already mentioned. Like Harvest on Main, we’ve eaten there prior to this trip and enjoyed it. No complaints. As a matter of fact, I had some of the very best wine I’ve ever had there. I’ve yet to run across it again … and I’ve looked. Some kind of Italian Moscato with an unpronouncable name. Anyway, back to this trip. When we did finally make it back there, we went early to make sure to get there before closing so it was about 6:30 pm. We’re seated quickly, but notice while waiting a new sign since last time that says something like “this isn’t a fast food restaurant and expect to wait on your food”. Ok, we’ve gone out to eat dinner enough to know that we’ll have to wait on our food, not a problem.
We have a bubbly server who comes out, gets out drink order and we order starters which we normally don’t do. We’re sitting out on the patio and it’s kind of nippy, but then I’m a cold natured kind of person. I can see the firepit, but not feel it. The outside heaters are not lit. Later we find out that the propane for the heaters has not yet arrived. Chris ended up having to go to the car to get my coat and he wasn’t the only husband making that trip.
(after everyone but us had left … not true, but seemed like it)
Eventually our starters came and they were good. Chris and I always taste of each other’s dishes. I don’t care for crab and his crab cake was yummy. My stuffed grilled portabella mushrooms were great, too.
Chris and I sat there and enjoyed our starters, the crisp air, the flames and each other for an hour and a half and still no food. The couple that came in ahead of us ate and left. We were discussing how long was too long when our server came along to mention that she was going to have the manager serve our food, which he did. Chris mentioned the time frame and the manager said he’d take care of that. Which he didn’t. Chris was not happy.
The food was great. The service was not. Our tab was pennies short of $100. Maybe they were having a bad night. I just read in a book that everyone deserves a second chance. So yes, I’d go back again because the food is great …. but I’d want to sit inside. 🙂
I was so frustrated with the whole waiting in the cold situation that I forgot to take photos of our food. I barely even ate mine after all that and wouldn’t take it with me. Chris got locally caught trout and I got eggplant parmesan. Both of them were soooo good! Chris did not have my problem. He did not leave a bite of his on his plate. 🙂 I hate this turned out the way it did, because the service really overpowered the food.
The last stop I’m going to write about in Blue Ridge is Mercier’s Orchard. We hit Mercier’s every time we go there and it’s changed every time we’ve been there. I think they have so much business they are constantly growing and changing to meet it. They were building something out in one of the orchards when we were there and you couldn’t go out into the orchard to pick apples. I don’t know if not picking apples was temporary or permanent. So if you go, I’d recommend going as early as possible. This place is very popular, especially with the tour buses.
If you want something apple related, Mercier’s has it. They have a bakery with fried apple pies that people rave about. Chris got us one and I didn’t care for them. I’m not big on fried pies though. You can buy fresh apples, apple doughnuts, ice cream, whatever. They have a gift shop and now even have a restaurant. I never buy that much, but I like to look around.
And if you need a John Deere toy to make your little one happy … they have it. Gunner loved his tractor and trailer.
The lake by the orchards. You can see the apple trees on the hills. There are a few picnic tables across the lake.
Geese landing on the lake. When they flew away one stayed behind. We watched to see if he would follow, but he didn’t. Then we saw why. He was really a white swan. He’d just flown over from the other lake with them. 🙂
Day Trip to Helen, GA
When you stay in Blue Ridge, one of the places you can day trip to is Helen, GA. It’s another tiny little tourist town designed to look like a Bavarian town. The first time we went there we actually spent the night and the next day everything was still closed by the time we had to leave. But we did get to take a carriage ride. So this time, I just wanted to walk around and take a peek into the shops.
Like McCaysville, this town seemed a lot brighter when we visited before. The merchandise in the shops seemed dated. Kind of like going to a craft festival and seeing crocheted toaster covers. And a couple of the shops that I did go into didn’t have the nicest of shopkeepers. Tsk tsk. There is a nice Christmas shop there and I stopped into a glass blowers shop and picked up Dakota a necklace. The necklace was very inexpensive. It was a glass blown heart with her name written on a grain of rice. I thought she’d get a kick out of the novelty of it. I watched the girl add her name so I could tell Dakota how they do it and she was very interested. She never even got to wear it before the pendant came off the chain, but at least I can fix that.
We ate at The Troll Tavern which is by the river. Nice spot for lunch. They were very busy and short handed, but it was a great day to sit out on the deck. Perfect weather!
Chris had a Black Angus Burger which he said was wonderful and I had a Muffelatta and a Frosty Navel. The sandwich was good, but the drink was great!
There’s an inn above the restaurant that looks like it would be a fun place to stay.
After lunch you can stroll along the river. You can’t stroll far, but you can stroll.
When we stayed here before, they were having October Fest in some big hall. They had beer (blech) and food and polka music (not my thing). But they did have a couple of people playing those really long horns like in the Ricola commercials. Now that was cool to experience. Chris loved all that and wanted to do it again. Toooo bad they weren’t doing it while we were there this time. Yeah, tooooo bad. 😉
Before we did the carriage ride at night and that was fun.
I noticed that there are lots of Jerky stores in this area and most of the restaurants have meatloaf. Thought that was interesting. That’s not common where we live.
A pretty little park in the middle of town
The last time we were there, this was a working windmill. Must have learned that on the carriage ride.
Here’s a link to some photos from 2008 when we were there. I was using a real camera not an iphone so that could be the difference in the photos.
Helen, GA 2008
Day Trip to Ellijay, GA
Ellijay is only about 15 min. or so from Blue Ridge. The first time we wandered into town, just happened to be there for their Apple Festival. The Red Apple Barn had a huge tent set up with their wares, but we’d already found the real deal on our way into Blue Ridge. The Red Apple Barn is at 3379 Tails Creek Rd. It’s not a big operation at all, but their apples are good and that Cherry Jam …. yum! Bought that Sweet Potato Butter for my dad and I haven’t tried the Pepper Jelly yet.
Going to Ellijay is like going to Blue Ridge, you’re always going to find something different than the last time you were there. About the only thing I remember being the same was the pottery gallery on the corner. We ate lunch in the same place we’d eaten before, but it was a totally different restaurant. So it was almost like visiting a different town. 🙂 And like Blue Ridge, you always feel safe, there’s free parking at the church (thank you!!!) and it’s small enough and with little enough traffic that you can walk around and shop all the boutique shops. And they have everything from pottery, to antiques, to clothes, to food … and I didn’t even go check them all out. And the shopkeepers were all very nice in the ones that I did go into. That’s a biggie with me. With as much competition as there is in retail, or in any service industry, their service needs to be top notch or they need to reevaluate their business. And being nice is free … costs them nothing. Not being nice could cost them their business. (could someone help me down now 😉 )
This is one of the first displays I saw at Misty Hollow and I fell in love with those pumpkins!
The largest one was priced over $100, so not something I would purchase, but it did validate the thoughts that I’ve had that I have expensive tastes. 😉
These were just down the sidewalk … so cute! Someone is very creative!
We had lunch at 1907, so named because the building was built in 1907 and the owner’s grandmother was born in 1907. (I asked …. you know, for the blog 🙂 )
The walls were so cool. Chris said they were not real neat with their mortar. The bricks looked like they were maybe handmade, too. And there was some type of support beam running through it as well.
But beyond the building, Chris said they served possibly the best Black Angus burger he’d ever eaten. So if you get to Ellijay, stop by. Two thumbs up!!
Update: It’s been almost a year now and Chris is STILL talking about this hamburger!! He says it was the absolute best he’s ever had. Nothing has topped it and he compares everything to it. Kudos to 1907!!
Day Trip to Highlands, NC
On the trip up to Highlands on Hwy 106, if the time is right, you will see some of the most beautiful leaves you will ever see. That is a gorgeous ride. We do it every time. Even if we don’t stop in Highlands. I don’t have pictures because there’s no where to stop, I just have the memories.
The first two times we went to Highlands it was so busy there was hardly a place to park. This time when we went we must have gotten there earlier because it was wide open. This is another tiny town full of boutique shopping. Not a lot of places to eat though. We had to really hunt for a spot for lunch.
We finally found the Sports Page for lunch. Very nice people and the sandwiches were yummy. I got a pastrami and pepper jack and Chris, of course, got a hamburger.
Then we went to wander around town and peek into some of the shops.
I found this one shop I LOVED!! I don’t know why I didn’t take any photos there. Maybe I was too busy spending money. I bought my daughter’s birthday and Christmas gifts there, (shhh!). I will definitely go back there again. So if you go to Highlands, go to DUTCHMAN’S. Go there! Yes, go there!!
When you finish shopping in Highlands, there are all kinds of natural beauties you can visit. Right out of town and right on Hwy 64 are Bridal Veil Falls and Dry Falls. Beware, parking is very limited. We were not able to park at Dry Falls this time even though we tried twice. 🙁
Bridal Veil Falls
(this photo is from Pinterest. it’s much better than the shot I
had. the original is here:
You can walk behind both Bridal Veil and Dry Falls. Of course, the amount of water coming off them depends upon the weather that year.
Soon after we left Dry Falls and continued on up Hwy 64 into NC, I realized that I could hold my camera out the sunroof of the car and take pictures while Chris drove. Yeah, we got some looks, but we’ll never see those people again. And hey, you may see people everywhere now in the mountains holding their camera out the sunroof taking pictures after you see these! 😀 And one old guy on the side of the road thought I was taking his picture and he even posed and smiled. Too bad I somehow did not get that shot. 🙁
We traveled from here back down to Tallulah Gorge in GA.
If I remember correctly, this gorge is about 1/4 mile wide and hundreds of feet deep. A guy back in the 70s walked a high wire across the gorge. You can check my facts at this little store on their viewing deck.
Inside the store you can also find some of the coolest vintage type toys. I loved looking around inside while Chris did the gorge thing.
(we’d been here before, but I didn’t remember the vintage stuff)
When Brittney was in 4th grade, we started taking her on vacation to the mountains. On every trip she had to have rock candy. Rock candy was her favorite. So when I saw jars of rock candy at this store, I had to get Dakota one of each so she could try it. Dakota LOVES candy, but she did not love rock candy. 🙁
I HAD to get Gunner some of these Little Golden Books. I kept all of Brittney’s from when she was a child, so they’d been passed down to Dakota and were now Gunner’s. But we needed to add some boy books to the mix and I had no idea you could still get them. They are certainly not the price they use to be!
Tallulah Falls is actually in the state park. There’s also a swinging bridge across the gorge if you want to hike down to it. I don’t do heights, so no swinging bridges for me … and pretty much the only hiking I do is from one end of the mall to the other.
This is not the greatest shot of the falls. Either my camera (iphone) is not the best on a really sunny day or I need a new camera. You can go to this link and see pictures of when we were there before. I was also using a real camera so the pictures are a lot better. After this, I’ve decided I need a new camera.
Tallulah Falls 2008: http://www.thevirtualvine.com/photos14.html
These were just some shots that I took out the car window on the way back to the hotel … except this one. We did pull over to take it.
Day Trip to Dahlonega, GA
We did not make it to Dahlonega this trip, but have in the past. It’s another tiny little town like Ellijay and Blue Ridge. It’s history is built on gold. It was once a gold rush town and now has a museum dedicated to that (Chris loves that kind of stuff …. blech) and I saw on Pinterest that you could tour a mine shaft. We had heard that, but did not do that.
Dahlonega also has all kinds of little boutique shops that you can spend your time browsing through.
Cave Spring, GA
That’s it for Blue Ridge, but here’s a little bonus:
On the way home we went through this little town called Cave Spring, GA. It had a couple of shops that looked interesting so Chris said we could stop and it was around lunch time so …
Well, if you get a chance to stop there, do it. Go straight to The Peddler. Loved that shop and it’s very nice owner. They have all kinds of things you need in there. Even have some Christmas things (got my Bunco ornament for the swap there and me one, too) as well as fudge and all kinds of stuff. I also got a vintage teacup for my teacup collection.
This museum is where Chris hung out while I shopped. Well here, and a little “antique” store on the corner that he said you could barely walk through that had so much stuff in it. The early 1900s classroom below was set up in the museum. He had me come see this
and then I had to sneak out while he was talking to the curator … on and on and on. 😉
We had lunch at Linda Marie’s Steak House. Sounds all formal for lunch but it was the perfect place. It was another very old building and I loved sitting and listening to the “girls” get together for lunch and laugh and talk in their Southern dialects. They were having so much fun I couldn’t help but to smile to myself.
I had a Black and Bleu burger with onion rings which was very good. We don’t eat fried foods at home, so we enjoy our food when we eat out, although I rarely eat more than half of mine.
If you stop in Cave Spring, do eat at Linda Marie’s. Two thumbs up!
On the way home, we passed field after field of cotton. Guess maybe cotton is making a come back.
I think that is the end of the road for this trip! If you’re still with me, I hope you enjoyed the ride and please leave a comment. It’s always nice to get feedback.