Plan a Winter Retreat to Blue Ridge, Georgia

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santa-express-train-blue-ridgeSeize the season with shopping, spa-ing and relaxing in this North Georgia community

Get away with the gals or escape with your special someone to Blue Ridge, Georgia, about 90 minutes north of Atlanta via I-575. Soothe the soul with spa treatments, food, vineyard and brewery tours. While in town, browse local shops featuring handcrafted goods perfect for giving during the holiday season.

Start your tour
Ease into your getaway with relaxing sips at area wineries and breweries.

  1. New in 2017, Bear Claw Vineyard’s beautiful backdrop sets the scene for relaxation, overlooking the vineyards and on-site Blue Ridge Treehouse (available for overnight stays). Outdoor seating offers the ideal setting for sipping chardonnay, Vidal blanc, cabernet sauvignon, white Riesling and Cayuga. BearClawVineyards.com
  2. Mercier Orchards is the only apple orchard in Georgia that grows, presses, ferments and bottles their own hard apple cider and farm wines. Mercier Orchards is also the first producer of hard cider in the state. Visit their 400-acre farm and enjoy a round of tasting; hard ciders include Grumpy Granny, Rock Steady Red, Adele’s Choice, Pearody, Black Bee, Lone Tree, Old #3 and Just Peachy. Their farm wines include Fall Harvest Apple, Blackberry Winter and Summer Sweet Peach wines. Mercier Orchards also has tastings of regional wines produced in the Georgia Mountains. Open: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week. Hard cider and wine tastings are offered 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday-Saturday, 12:30 p.m.-6 p.m., Sunday; 706-632-3411or www.Mercier-Orchards.com.
  3. Serenberry is a charming farm winery just a few country miles from downtown Blue Ridge. The farm winery has seven to eight wines in the bottle, including Railroad Red and Blue Ridge Red. Relax on the open air patio in a beautiful setting while savoring sips. Tasting room hours are from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and on Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Call 706-623-8463; www.SerenberryVineyards.com.
  4. Grumpy Old Men Brewing, A “Nano Brewery,” is home of sought-after beers like Moon Over Blue Ridge Wheat, Aska Pale Ale, Devils Den IPA and Hells Holler Porter. Established in 2012 by two “old retired guys” who were home brewing in an outdoor shower and graduated to their brewery on East Main in Blue Ridge, Grumpy Old Men Brewing’s corporate mission is simple: “If we don’t like it, we don’t drink it. If we don’t drink it, we don’t sell it.” Open for tastings from 1 to 5 p.m. on Thursday; 1 to 6 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 1-5 p.m. on most Sundays. Call 770-331-8870 or 404-966-2665; www.GrumpyOldMenBrewing.com.
  5. Blue Ridge Brewery, “The Brewery,” is Blue Ridge’s brewpub, with the capacity to pour six house brews and eight beers from other craft breweries. The Brewery also serves food and offers live acoustic music on Friday and Saturday nights starting at 6 p.m. Open Wednesday through Saturday for lunch and dinner. Call 706-632-6611; www.BlueRidgeBrewery.com.
  6. Fannin Brewing Company’s Tom Fennell brought his brewing skills to Fannin County for two simple reasons: Fresh air and fresh water make for fresh beer. Being local is important to Fannin Brewing; it’s in the name of their beers: Hiawassee Golden Ale, Toccoa Brown and Blue Ridge Lager. The brewery often features live music and also sources local ingredients in many of their beers. Their Tasting Room is open Thursday and Friday from 4-8 p.m. and on Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. Call 706-258-2762; www.FanninBrewingCompany.com.

Blue Ridge’s pubs pair locally made brews with delicious food. Create your own ‘pub crawl’ using the route on the Chamber of Commerce’s digital Blue Ridge Brews and Wineries map, which highlights places to grab a bite to eat and a drink, including:

  1. Chester Brunnenmeyer’s Bar and Grill–733 East Main Street: A rustic American bar and grill with an extensive wine list, signature cocktails and regionally crafted beer.
  2. Fightingtown Tavern–511 East Main Street: A rock-themed tavern offering scratch made eats and cool brews.
  3. The Last Stop–500 East Main Street, #105: Beer, burgers and wings in a laid-back hangout with sports on TV, weekly trivia nights and live bands.
  4. Boro Inn Irish Pub & Restaurant–150 West Main Street: An authentic Irish pub.

TIP: Not into DIY when it comes to a pub crawl? Book a guided three hour Blue Ridge Mountain Food Tour or Brew House Tour at www.BlueRidgeMountainFoodTours.com, 678-697-1120.

Sip Blue Ridge local flavors at these haunts:

  1. Relax and unwind at Black Sheep, serving Southern comfort food–including cocktails featuring their house-produced moonshine and desserts like the bread pudding–in a historic residence once visited by Margaret Mitchell, author of “Gone with the Wind.” 480 West Main Street
  2. Masseria–Kitchen & Bar embodies a Mediterranean concept, serving fresh vegetables, seafood, hand-made pastas and pizza alongside cocktails featuring crafted syrups. 67 Roberts Way
  3. The Vine Wine Bar offers a Georgia Wine Tasting which you can pair with chocolates to complement sips, all against the backdrop of live entertainment on the weekends. 632 East Main Street

Drink responsibly. Always have a designated driver or call one of Blue Ridge’s local cab and transportation companies:

  1. A2B Transit, 844-354-6622
  2. Howard Jabaley Taxi Service, 706-455-0082; 706-492-3244
  3. Mountain Transportation, LLC, 706-851-9465

Shopportunities
This holiday season, multi-task and check people off your “good list,” finding handmade goods at local shops while enjoying your getaway.

  1. Don’t miss Blue Ridge’s very own Canoe (1425 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Find more treasures at 3 Monkeys Antiques (2380 East First Street), featuring the works of local artists among vintage finds.
  5. At Turning Leaf Wood Art (651 East Main Street) see works of more than 50 exclusively American artists.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

Save the Date
Plan your getaway during festive seasonal events:

You’re sure to be “laughing all the way” aboard the Santa Express Train through the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. While onboard, hear “Twas The Night Before Christmas,” sing Christmas carols and, of course, enjoy a meet and greet with the Jolly Ol’ St. Nick! The train takes off November 24 and rides throughout December.

Light Up Blue Ridge–November 25
Downtown Blue Ridge
Santa and Mrs. Claus will parade through town. Enjoy festivities throughout the day, including live band performances, caroling, refreshments and the lighting of the great Christmas tree in the downtown area. LightUpBlueRidge.info 

Holiday Art Show and Sale–November 18-January 6
Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association
Pick out regional art and handmade crafts for the special ones on your list. The Sale runs from November 18-January 6. For more information, call (706) 632-2144.
www.BlueRidgeArts.net/holiday-show.html

If you go
At Serenity in the Mountains, make getting away easy with package deals themed for girlfriend getaways or couples. For additional options, find links to rental companies for mountain cabins with lake-views and room for 20 (hot tub included!) at www.BlueRidgeMountains.com, 1-800-899-MTNS.