A Perfect Fall Weekend in Dahlonega, Georgia

On the deck overlooking the river.
On the deck overlooking the river.

Every fall my family goes to a cabin in the North Georgia mountains. We typically stay near the town of Blue Ridge, but this year my mom booked this cabin in Dahlonega. I’m glad she has taken on the booking because I’ve always tended to stick with rental companies and this was VRBO. It was right on the Chestatee River with two large decks on the house and another separate deck with outdoor fireplace right on the river. There were three bedrooms and an adorable loft, which I would have loved to sleep in were it not for the overly-energetic three-year-old we brought with us. It was probably the cleanest and best-stocked cabin I have stayed in for a while. The weather being perfect was just the cherry on top.

I was torn as we headed up since I hadn’t been there since the eighth grade field trip from which I hold two memories — panning for gold in freezing water and an angry shopkeeper who didn’t like middle schoolers tramping through her shop (it’s entirely possible she was egged on. Ahem). I wanted to relax, but I also wanted to do everything in the area. Okay, mostly I wanted to drink wine along the Georgia Wine Trail. It worked out well. The cabin was so close to downtown, the vineyards and other sites, that I got the perfect mix of relaxing and drinking exploring.

Photo of the cabin from deck on the river with fireplace.
Photo of the cabin from deck on the river with fireplace.

Downtown Dahlonega

We had just happened to book our stay the same weekend as the Gold Rush Days Festival, so we decided to head into town on Friday before places got too packed. In case you somehow miss the relaxed, small-town feel driving in (you won’t), you’ll get it when you see stores with approximate hours. Yeah, I’ll open sometime between 10 and 11 — you know, when I get here. Here are some of my favorite spots from the weekend:

Dahlonega Tasting Room – I consider it nothing short of a miracle I didn’t leave with eight bags of wine paraphernalia, from silly magnets to wine glass pendants.

Bear Cub Gifts – I’m not so into the smocked look, but then again, I have a boy. But we did find an adorable Thanksgiving shirt for my son, and there were lots of other adorable items.

Dahlonega General Store – Are there people who can resist the temptation to peruse the odd assortment of items at any general store?

Now a centerpiece for my parents' table.
Now a centerpiece for my parents’ table.

Gateway Antiques – So much cool stuff that even my husband had fun. Check out the antique/vintage tool booth. The guy who owns it finds some really cool pieces and cleans them up. My husband talked to him about his grandfather’s tools for quite some time. I also liked Antiques & Collectible of Dahlonega.

Dahlonega Fudge Factory – Surely I don’t have to explain why I’m sending you here, right?

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Crimson Moon Coffee
Crimson Moon Cafe

Picnic Cafe and Dessertery – We grabbed a quick lunch here. The special was a pimiento cheese sandwich. They had me at pimiento. We also had the chance to eat at Crimson Moon Cafe for breakfast on Sunday. Great atmosphere with a cozy coffee shop in back and a stage for intimate music performances in the front. Service was friendly, but very slow given that we got there early and it didn’t start filling up until we left. It also needs more than one bathroom, but still worth checking out.

Vineyards and Wine Tasting

I didn’t get to all the wineries, but I did manage to check three off the list.

Tinkerbell lives and work at Cavender Creek. She will offer you a mellow, but friendly greeting on your arrival...if she's not napping.
Tinkerbell lives and work at Cavender Creek. She will offer you a mellow, but friendly greeting on your arrival…if she’s not napping.

Cavender Creek Vineyards – We went here first. If you are coming from one of the other wineries, expect a simpler look and farmhouse feel. The tasting room is rustic and comfortable. Rocking chairs adorn the front porch, wine barrels make the indoor decor and a back deck provides additional tables. I found it very charming. For $10 you can sample four wines and take a souvenir glass (though I’ve since read in some reviews that the tasting is only $5 if you decline the glass). Even at $5, this is the cheapest souvenir wine glass I saw.

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Wolf Mountain Vineyards & Winery – Wolf is large and elegant. A gorgeous deck offers sweeping views of the property and mountains. We did a six-wine tasting for $15. No glass included. We also snacked on the tasty thin-crust gourmet three-cheese pizza (though the menu lists four cheeses being on it — I’m not complaining).

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IMG_7405Frogtown Cellars Vineyards – They have a massive deck with gorgeous views. The fruit and cheese plate was phenomenal. Something was missing for me inside, though. Something about the building made me feel like a tourist at the bar, so from that standpoint, it was not my favorite. But sitting on the deck was lovely.

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My parents went up earlier on Thursday and had lunch at Montaluce Winery & Estates, which they described as feeling like they had been plopped down in the middle of Italy.

Chocolate at Montaluce
Dessert at Montaluce. Photo c/o JoAnne Martin.

That leaves Three Sisters Vineyards Winery and Montaluce for my next trip. And a redo of the others, naturally.

Festival

Gold Rush Days – We hadn’t planned to be up there for a festival, but that’s how it worked out. Gold Rush Days turned out to be a huge festival that went on Saturday and Sunday. Though we hadn’t planned to go into town for it, we decided to grab breakfast at Crimson Moon on the way home, and since it was early, figured we’d take a chance on the crowds. We did have to pay to park, but we beat the incoming crowds and walked through the booths before we headed home. There really was a fantastic assortment of local artists selling their work.

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The weekend left me questioning how I could have let two decades pass between visits. I look forward to a spring/summer visit so I can checkout the kayaking and tubing on the river.

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