Just an hour north of Atlanta, in the Georgia foothills of the Appalachians, Dahlonega offers a pretty picture to visitors coming from any direction. It is home to the University of North Georgia and more than 30 waterfalls.
Visitors come to enjoy the magnificent outdoors, attend a variety of lively festivals, shop, dine and experience wine.
Dahlonega has more wine-tasting rooms than any other town in Georgia, making it easy to sample wines from the five vineyards and wineries here: Cavender Creek (http://home.windstream.net/ccvw1), Frogtown (www.frogtown.us), Montaluce (www.montaluce.com), Three Sisters (www.threesistersvineyards.com) and Wolf Mountain (www.wolfmountainvineyards.com). Together they’ve made Dahlonega the heart of Georgia wine country. Be sure to stop in at Canvas and Cork (www.canvasandcorkdahlonega.us), Folkways Craft Gallery and Wine Tasting Room (www.folkwayscraftgallery.com), the Georgia Winery of Dahlonega (see its Facebook page), Dahlonega Tasting Room (Facebook page), Bleu Gallery (www.bleugallery.net) and Awakening Gallery (Facebook page) . Watch artists at work while you sip wine.
Painters, potters, musicians, and writers abound here. Enjoying music on the square is a popular way to spend an evening. The Historic Holly Theater (www.hollytheater.com) offers a full schedule of stage performances.
Shopping is a favored pastime in Dahlonega, off the public square and in the Carriage House Shoppes. Downtown gives a nod to all things chocolate with the Fudge Factory (www.dahlonegafudgefactory.com) and Paul Thomas Chocolates (www.paulthomaschocolates.com).
More than 30 restaurants downtown cater to diverse tastes. Include Kevin Bishop in your dinner plans. He’s the executive chef at Corkscrew Cafe (www.thecorkscrewcafe.com), busy preparing creative American cuisine such as piquillo peppers – filled with Italian sausage and white cheddar – and salmon over a bed of sweet potato puree, pickled golden raisin, chili-garlic almonds and scallions.
If the Outer Banks is calling, you can answer right here in the north Georgia mountains at the Back Porch Oyster Bar (www.backporchoysterbar.net), famous for its extensive seafood selection. For contemporary comfort food made with seasonal, locally sourced ingredients, you’ll want to visit Yahoola Creek Grill (www.yahoolacreekgrill.com).
Enhance your visit with a stay at Forrest Hills Resort (www.forresthillsresort.com). It has 32 cabins and lodges built across 140 acres, invisible to each other for the utmost privacy. Indoors, you will find hot tubs, fireplaces and a resort spa. Outside, there is swimming, horseback riding, tennis, and hiking. Other fine lodging includes the Lily Creek Lodge (www.lilycreeklodge.com) and the Hall House Hotel (www.hallhousehotel.com).
Upcoming events in the Dahlonega area
June 13-14: Blairsville Scottish Festival & Highland Games. Enjoy bagpipes and drums, Highland music, dancing and food with a Scottish flair at Blairsville’s Meeks Park. Admission: $10 per day or $15 for both; 12 and younger, free. Details: www.blairsvillescottishfestival.com.
Family-style Old Fashioned July Fourth. Celebrate the holiday in downtown Dahlonega. The day begins with the Firecracker 5K/10K road race, followed by a pet show, patriotic ceremony, an antique auto show and music. The 5 p.m. parade is followed by fireworks . Details: www.dahlonega.org.
Aug. 22-23: Dahlonega Wine Trail Weekend. Participants are encouraged to begin the trail event at the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Visitors Center. “Passports” and maps are available there and at participating wineries. $30 per person includes souvenir glass. Details: www.dahlonega.org.