Winter Romance in Blue Ridge, Georgia

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600-01235291Cozy up in a cabin or luxury mountain home for the perfect retreat.

Situated about 90 minutes north of Atlanta off Interstate-575, Blue Ridge ignites romance with cozy cabin settings and casual upscale dining. Winter views are spectacular and offer a different perspective than any other season. Get inspired with hiking excursions to tumbling waterfalls and driving tours that highlight nature’s finest. Then, savor sips at area wineries, shop downtown boutiques or retreat back to the cabin.

It’s a fact that exercise-induced endorphins can ignite romance. Get your blood pumping on one of the many trails in a system of over 300 miles which includes short trails suitable for beginning hikers. The Aska Trails, a popular 17-mile trail system near Blue Ridge, has hikes that intersect and loop ranging from 1- to 5.5-miles. A short distance away, and part of the larger Benton MacKaye Trail, is Fall Branch Falls a double waterfall with mountain laurel and rhododendron growing along the trail and creek bank. The hike to the falls is about 30 minutes round-trip.

One of the greatest outdoor adventures in the world, the Appalachian Trail, begins in Fannin County at the top of Springer Mountain. The hike to Long Creek Falls is a great way to experience the Appalachian Trail. This adventure includes a scenic 5.3-mile drive into the forest following Noontootla Creek to the Three Forks Area where you will begin your two-mile round-trip hike following Long Creek to a beautiful cascading waterfall with two drops totaling 50 feet. Take a picnic and a thermos of hot chocolate to enjoy at the falls.

Insider tip: Visit the Self Guided Tours page on www.BlueRidgeMountains.com for complete descriptions and driving directions.

Rethink “eating in”
After a day trekking the great outdoors, refuel with tempting treats while kindling romance, all without leaving the comfort of one of Blue Ridge’s cozy cabins.

With thousands of vacation rental cabins in and around Blue Ridge, Chef Douglas Olsen, of Cabin Cuisine, creates meals in the comfort of a serene mountain setting.

“Picture a chef walking through your front door, looking like he just walked off the set of a Food Network TV show. He prepares a magnificent meal, serves you on white table cloth with candles and flowers, and if that is not enough, he even cleans-up afterward!  I call that VERY special and as far as I know, unique to the Blue Ridge area,” says Olsen, who feels blessed to have the ability to share his talents with others in a way that creates a most memorable experience for clients that will be remembered and shared with others for years to come. www.CabinCuisine.com

Sophisticated eating in a charming small-town setting: top picks for romantic bites

Harvest on Main – The area’s most eclectic dining satisfies the palate with a growing menu of options. At Harvest on Main, local ingredients are used whenever possible, many grown at The Cook’s Farm, a garden plot farmed by Chef Danny Mellman and his wife, Michelle. Chef Mellman smokes his own meats, makes his own pickles and pasta, resulting in imaginative dishes like the three onion and apple soup, which will have you craving seconds. 576 E. Main Street; HarvestonMain.com, Facebook: www.facebook.com/HarvestonMain

Blue Ridge Grocery – So successful, Harvest on Main expanded their offerings in 2013 with the addition of Harvest’s Blue Ridge Grocery, featuring home baked breads, breakfasts, sandwiches and take out cuisine for the cabin. 560 East Main Street, Facebook: www.facebook.com/BlueRidgeGrocery

Black Sheep Bar and Patio – Another can’t-miss is the new Black Sheep Restaurant, located in a house once visited by Margaret Mitchell, which serves gourmet Southern comfort food. 480 West Main Street, www.BlackSheepBlueRidge.com

Christy Lee’s Courtyard Grille – Christy Lee’s Courtyard Grille welcomes guests with outdoor fire pits, live entertainment and a menu with temptations like bacon wrapped scallops and cedar plank salmon. 588 East Main Street, www.ChristyLees.com, Facebook: www.facebook.com/Christy-Lees-Courtyard-Grille

Blue Ridge Brewery – Locals call it the place “where everybody knows your name,” but Blue Ridge Brewery is more than a local pub with outstanding live entertainment on weekends. The Brewery offers some excellent comfort food as well. 187 Depot Street, www.BlueRidgeBrewery.com

The Sweet Shoppe – Take home some award-winning cupcakes from The Sweet Shoppe, located just below Harvest on Main and next door to Christy Lee’s, where owners have bragging rights from their win on the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars.” 576 East Main Street D; www.SweetShoppeBlueRidge.com

More choices…

Blue Ridge has some outstanding one-of-a-kind local spots and destinations including Toccoa Riverside Restaurant, with beautiful views and an extensive menu including locally-caught North Georgia Rainbow Trout; Cantaberry Restaurant, featuring simple, homemade gourmet sandwiches, soups, salads and desserts; and, Southern Charm, open every day, serving downhome comfort food – including family-style Sunday dinners.

If you go

From lake-view with a mountain vista and room for 20 to cabins hidden away and built only for two (hot tub included!) find links to cabin rental companies at www.BlueRidgeMountains.com.

Fire and Ice on Valentine’s Day

Plan a three-day romantic getaway for Martin Luther King Weekend or for President’s Day Weekend. Blue Ridge’s Fire and Ice Chili Cookoff, held each President’s Day weekend, combines cool ice sculptures with hot chili, cold beer and entertainment – it’s a perfect event to build your weekend around.

Fannin County Chamber of Commerce, www.BlueRidgeMountains.com, 1-800-899-MTNS.