Mountains, Moonshine and Magical Memories Abound in Blairsville

Written By: Julie Hostetter

Blairsville is one of those North Georgia towns that has something to please even the most persnickety traveler. Looking for some relaxation? How about unwinding on Lake Trahlyta. Need to stretch your legs? Then get your heart racing with a hike to the top of Brasstown Bald, Georgia’s highest mountain peak. Would you like to mingle with friends and let the conversation flow? Then a stop to sip wine at Paradise Hills Winery or perhaps a swig of ç is more to your taste. Fancy frolicking on an alpaca farm? Well, book a visit to Lasso the Moon Alpaca Farm. This quaint mountain town nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains may only boast roughly 652 residents, but after your stay, it may just bump up to 653 because you’ll never want to leave.

Vogel State Park in Blairsville is one of the oldest and most prized parks in Georgia.

Where to Wander

You may want to make a beeline to one of the oldest and most prized of state parks ­— Vogel State Park. This Georgia beauty is perched in the heart of the Chattahoochee National Forest and offers 233 acres of fishing, hiking, kayaking and swimming. At 2,500 feet above sea level, Vogel State Park rests peacefully at the foot at Blood Mountain, which is the highest summit on North Georgia’s portion of the Appalachian Trail. In fact, nearly two thirds of Union County is in the Chattahoochee National Forest, so you are in for some wonderful wilderness adventures here.

At that elevation, the park regularly boasts cool evening temperatures, even throughout summer. The location is a popular camping spot, so make reservations early. There are a variety of trails to choose from, including the most popular 4-mile Bear Hair Gap loop, which loops around the lake and leads to Trahlyta Falls. If you prefer a more rigorous outdoor excursion, then you can take on the 13-mile Coosa Backcountry Trail. Families traveling with children should consider checking out the mini golf course or sharpen your wits with a geocaching outdoor adventure game that uses your own GPS device to find “treasures” hidden around the park.

Once you’ve gotten some dirt on your shoes, make an appointment with Lasso the Moon Alpaca Farm, sure to be a hit with children, animal lovers, and artists at heart. Here you can meet and pet the gentle alpacas while the farm’s owner and master fiber artist, Holly Williams, explains the alpaca’s origins and upkeep as well as how their baby-soft fur is processed into fiber and used to create wearables and art. Luckily for you, the tour ends in her Lardworks Glass and Fiber Studio and store so you can feel the lush products for yourself. Feeling a little artsy? Williams also offers studio classes for an array of items such as felted flower necklaces, ponchos, wristlets and scarfs. The alpaca farm is open by appointment only, so please text 706-897-2379 in advance of your trip. Be sure to check if their upcoming lunch and trail with alpacas’ adventure is available yet! Because who wouldn’t want to tour the beautiful North Georgia mountains with an adorable alpaca in tow?  

Panoramic view of Downtown Blairsville with its Historic Blairsville Courthouse.

If you hunger for some local history, stop at the Historic Blairsville Courthouse, which was constructed in 1899 and serves as the heartbeat of the town. Inside you can see artifacts from Blairsville’s past, along with an impressive collection of World War I memorabilia and weaponry. And if you find yourself here on a Friday night in summer, check out the free concerts performed by local musicians, from country and bluegrass to jazz and folk. Just be sure to grab your seat early, as this is a popular event in town that fills up fast.

Where to Shop

Speaking of the historic square, this is also where your shopping adventure should begin. If you are looking for locally handcrafted furniture, then head to Rustic Mountain Décor, found in Merchant’s Walk, whose mission is to provide “affordable quality” cabin furniture and decoratives. If you are looking for a trendy souvenir shirt or hat, then stop in at Blue Ridge Cotton Company, where 1 percent of every purchase is donated to charity every day. Do you love to find a bargain? Then off you go to the Picker’s Barn, where more than 50 vendors offer consignments and goods for you peruse in the area’s largest inside mall.

But no visit to Blairsville is complete without a pit stop at the famed Sunrise Grocery that proudly sells “a little bit of everything.” This quaint country store has been servicing the area since the 1920s and is the perfect place to drink in some local flavor. Here you can get the finest sundries the Appalachian hills can provide, from barbecue sauce, local honey, homemade jams and jellies, stoneground grits as well as soaps, candles, souvenirs and some of the most stunning photography artwork of North Georgia.

The View Grill at Butternut Creek in Blairsville.

Where to Eat

For a meal with a stunning view, head to The View Grill at Butternut Creek that overlooks the Butternut Creek Golf Course and the North Georgia Mountains. Here the portions are hearty, and the wine is ever flowing. But if it’s Southern home cooking you most crave, then The Sawmill Place is your desired destination. Here locally sourced, farm-fresh Southern staples like fried chicken, brisket, homemade Georgia pecan chicken salad, fresh-made biscuits and all the fixins’ await, prepared from a smorgasbord of local sources, such as Big Branch Valley Farms, Logan Turnpike Mill, Mercier Orchards and Union County Farmer’s Market. And for a special treat, you may try a taste of the many Waynesville Sodas, with such flavors as blueberry basil, lavender lemon and strawberry rhubarb. (However, may we recommend the delicious hand-crafted raspberry cream soda?) Once the meal is done, it may be a good time to walk around the store’s market shop to purchase some of those locally harvested foods for your trip back home.    

Now you simply must make room in your belly for a stop at Melissa’s Custom Cakes & Goodies and try some of her famed desserts, such as sweet breads, truffles, cookies or muffins. But a stop here would not be complete without trying her famed Pecan Crispies, which are the talk of the town. Want to spice things up? Check out Lala’s Kitchen in the Mountains for Latin-American Caribbean fusion restaurant.

But truly no culinary tour of Blairsville would be complete without a visit to Grandaddy Mimm’s Moonshine and Distillery and Museum in the popular Pappy’s Plaza, a tourist destination in its own right. Now I am not one for hard liquor, and moonshine smacks of very hard liquor to me, but even this lightweight couldn’t resist the Fresh Peach Cobbler Moonshine. But for those to whom drinking is more of a sport, then be sure to take a swing at the Mule Kicker 140, which boasts a heart-pounding 140 proof, so be sure to designate your driver. You can also add to the fun and get a tour of the distillery, but take note, like all good old Grandaddy’s in the world, the distillery rests on Sunday, so be sure to plan your visit Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Grandaddy Mimm’s Moonshine Distillery & Museum in Blairsville

Where to Stay

If you are looking for a picture-perfect place to rest your head after a day of exploring, we suggest staying at Vogel State Park, which offers 34 cottages, 90 tent, trailer and RV campsites and one Pioneer Campground. The air-conditioned and heated cottages offer a choice of 1- to 3-bedroom cottages and a choice of standard and premier. Standard includes a kitchen, shower or bath, barbecue grills, linens, picnic table and especially prized, a fire ring for toasting s’mores under the stars. The premier cabins include updated stylish furnishings and other creature comforts. We suggest you reserve your cabin online through gastateparks.reserveamercia.com well in advance of your trip to ensure the best selection.

View from the Grand Vista Cabin at Paradise Hills Winery Resort and Spa. Check out our video tour on our North Georgia Living Magazine YouTube Channel.

            If you prefer a little less woodsy and little more tipsy, then book your stay at Paradise Hills Winery Resort and Spa, which offers guest an array of options sure to please. Here you can choose from 1- to 4-bedroom cabins, hot tub cabins, dog-friendly cabins, and two off-site cabins named Tranquility and Grand Vista that offer a bounty of privacy and luxury for your mountain vacation. From March 20 – 29, you can participate in the resort’s Wine Highway Weekend, an annual self-guided tour where wine lovers purchase a $50 passport that includes tastings at more than 22 different regional wineries. And for the sweet tooth, don’t miss the Great American Pie Festival on May 30 where you can enjoy local pies galore, a pie eating contest, music and dancing, all for a great cause — raising money for local veterans.

            Whether you stay for the day, a night or perhaps even a lifetime, Blairsville offers a slice of Americana that will make you happily ask for seconds.  To plan your day trip to Blairsville, please visit visitblairsvillega.com

Check out our video tour of one of the off-site cabins Grand Vista available at Paradise Hills Winery Resort and spa in Blairsville on North Georgia Living Magazine YouTube Channel.

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