Beat the Winter Blues in Blue Ridge, Georgia

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serenity-in-the-mountainsShop, dine and wine with a three-day weekend that screams, “Girls just want to have fun”

Gather the gals for a three-day getaway with this easy-to-follow itinerary to guide explorations of Blue Ridge, Georgia, about 90 minutes north of Atlanta via Interstate 575:

Day 1: Rent a luxury mountain home with lots of room, a beautiful view and a hot tub–the ideal home base for the ultimate girls’ weekend. Then, head downtown to discover the area’s Appalachian heritage and historic areas. The town of Blue Ridge was founded in 1886, when the Marietta and Northern Railroad came to Fannin County. The rail line at Blue Ridge, with an altitude of 1,751 feet, was reported to be the highest in Georgia at that time; Fannin County was called “the Switzerland of the South” in promotional brochures. Learn about historic buildings in Downtown Blue Ridge by following the Historic Blue Ridge Walking Tour map guide. When you return to your cabin, savor the sunset with a glass of wine on the deck of your cabin. And, don’t forget to stargaze while roasting s’mores by the fire pit.

Day 2: Get moving! Spend the day exploring Blue Ridge’s major trail systems, including access to the Appalachian Trail which extends for more than 2,000 miles to Maine through many of the states on the Eastern Seaboard. The most popular of the waterfalls in Fannin County is Long Creek Falls, which can be seen by hiking down a short side trail from the combined Appalachian/Benton MacKaye Trail.

Then, rejuvenate with a trip to the spa. A full service spa, Serenity in the Mountains(59 McKinney Road) promises the R&R every woman craves and draws guests from both around the corner and around the country. Choose from restorative options like the Neuromuscular Massage, Body Scrub or the Refresher Facial. Whether in search of a hot stone facial, a relaxing massage, a haircut or just a manicure, this is the go-to destination to get away from it all. For in-town pampering, try Teatrees Boutique Spa(3293 East 1st Street). Indulge in a Vanilla Lavender Sugar Scrub or a French Rose Body Wrap. Book a “spa party” for four or more girlfriends and enjoy complimentary refreshments as well as 10% off lunch at Harvest on Main.

In the evening, sample a Georgia Wine Tasting at The Vine, A Wine Bar and Bistro Restaurant (632 East Main Street) where they also serve local wines and craft beers alongside simple, delicious and fresh food best enjoyed to the tunes of the bar’s live entertainment on the weekends. Tip: Each Friday at 6 p.m., Paul John Kearins of Chocolatasm guides guests through a six glass, six artisan chocolate pairing at The Vine. Chocolatasm chocolates are handcrafted in Blue Ridge using only natural and organic ingredients. The program consists of three white wines and three red wines, originating from the USA and South America, paired with one-of-a-kind ganache bonbons and infused couverture pieces. Make reservations before the preceding Thursday afternoon; 706-946-8463.

canoeDay 3: Round out your Blue Ridge adventure with a shopping excursion. First stop: a visit to Blue Ridge’s very own Canoe (624 East Main Street) where Lynn Kemp showcases wearable art. What began as GawdyBobbles, the name of the company for the majority of the 11 years it has been in operation, is now Canoe–and Kemp’s business has grown from primarily jewelry to a complete line of leather bags, totes and accessories. Kemp’s products, all of which are handmade in Blue Ridge, can be found at nearly 700 independent retailers nationwide. Visit her Blue Ridge retail store, where she can be found helping customers pair leather totes with jewelry for a one-of-a-kind look. Stop into the Blue Ridge Olive Oil Company (511 East Main Street, Suite 100) and treat yourself to a gourmet selection of more than 65 varieties of olive oil and balsamic vinegars–such as roasted walnut or blood orange infused oil–and the opportunity to taste these remarkable innovations from around the world. Hunt treasure at High Country Art and Antiques (715 East Main Street). Peruse this gallery for traditional and impressionist fine art, folk art, photography, pottery, jewelry, sculptures, antiques and collectibles. Find more treasures at 3 Monkeys Antiques (2380 East First Street), featuring the works of local artists among vintage finds. At Turning Leaf Wood Art(651 East Main Street) see works of more than 50 exclusively American artists. Pop next door to Wrapsody in Blue (652 East Main Street) for home furnishings, accessories and gifts that emulate the beauty of the mountains, lakes and rivers of the area. Top off a visit to Blue Ridge with a stop at Multitudes Gallery (801 East Main Street), owned by Michael Lacey and featuring high-end glass work, art and jewelry. Inside, also find Fishbone Studios–home to Betty Wassmer Ceramics, showcasing the original creations of this noted ceramicist.

If you go
Savor bites with breakfast at The Vault (260 West Main Street). Built in the town’s historic bank building, it’s no surprise that in the original bank’s walk-in safe you find an ample supply of their valuables: coffee. Start the day right with the Banker’s Choice Breakfast featuring eggs, biscuit and a choice of bacon, ham or sausage-serve with hash browns or cheese grits. Enjoy lunch at Harvest on Main (576 East Main Street). Harvest on Main uses seasonal products whenever possible to support the local economy, farmer and artisan. Another great mid-day option: Christy Lee’s Courtyard Grille (588 East Main Street) welcomes guests with outdoor fire pits, live entertainment and a menu with temptations like Bacon Wrapped Scallops and Thai Chicken Wraps. Linger longer over dinner at Black Sheep (480 West Main Street), serving Southern comfort food in a historic residence once visited by Margaret Mitchell, author of “Gone with the Wind.” End a perfect Saturday by satisfying a sweet tooth with confections from The Sweet Shoppe of the South (576 East Main Street D) where owners Nikki Gribble and Susan Catron can boast of their win on the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars.” TIP: Book a guided three hour Blue Ridge Mountain Food Tour or Brew House Tour at www.BlueRidgeMountainFoodTours.com, 678-697-1120. Each tour will make five to six stops to various eateries offering a wide variety of food and beverage tastings from artful appetizers, decadent desserts, to local craft beer and wine. Get an insider’s view from a local tour guide who will provide you with fun facts and tidbits of history about the quaint mountain town.

Find links to rental companies for mountain cabins with lake-views and room for 20 (hot tub included!) at www.BlueRidgeMountains.com.