Wineries and waterfalls are only two of the activities that draw visitors to Dahlonega, the north Georgia mountain town only about an hour from Atlanta. As those two attractions would indicate, Dahlonega (pronounced Duh-LAHN-a-guh) is a beautiful marriage of outdoor activities and access to the finer things, giving it a reputation as the Napa Valley of Georgia.
With Dahlonega’s popularity as a wedding and winery tour destination, visiting there Wednesday through Friday, rather than on a weekend, might be a way to avoid larger crowds — and reservations at wineries are highly recommended. That being said, Dahlonega is a fantastic destination for a relaxing couple of days away, any time you decide to go. Here’s how to spend your 48 hours in Dahlonega!
How to Spend 48 Hours in Dahlonega, GA
Start your adventure by dropping by Red Oak Lavender Farm and Shop, which showcases acres of fragrant purple buds and 450 varieties of lavender, as well as other cut flowers, depending on the season. Summer is the peak time to see blooms, but their products are available year-round. While lavender-growing is usually associated with the Provence region of France and the northwest United States, the owners of Red Oak found a way to make it work in Georgia’s topography.
Next, explore downtown Dahlonega, with its charming small-town vibe. Shops, restaurants, and historic buildings are set among the tree-lined square. For lunch, stop at a locals’ favorite, Capers on the Square, a casual eatery with Greek specialties and more. Save room for an afternoon treat, though; Kilwins has hand-dipped caramel apples, ice cream, housemade fudge, and other sweet treats.
As a way to enjoy fresh air, a little exertion, and the region’s wine offerings, the wine hike at Montaluce is $45 well-spent. A guide tells a bit about the wine-producing process at Montaluce and then leads guests on a two-mile hike through the vineyards and along the Etowah River (wear hiking clothes, and note that it can be hilly). Afterward, you can enjoy a five-wine tasting as part of the experience. The winery’s restaurant Trattoria offers everything from casual flatbreads and salads to Italian entrées for dinner.
Check in to The Limelight Inn, a new boutique property a few miles from Montaluce. Its farmhouse style and quiet setting nestled in the woods are appealing as a way to enjoy the north Georgia landscape (but again, note that on weekends, it might be filled with wedding guests).
It’s time to go waterfall-exploring! The Dahlonega area is well-known for its waterfalls, some drive-by, and others a bit of a climb. Dahlonega’s tourism page has a good map and list of waterfalls. Some are closer to Dahlonega proper, and others are a half-hour drive. The biggie is Amicalola Falls near the start of the Appalachian Trail; the dramatic waterfall here with a 700-foot drop is one of the largest in the east. Ten hiking trails surrounding the falls appeal to both novices and more experienced hikers, and an onsite lodge offers a place for lunch or dinner.
Another option for water-seekers: Enjoy a float! Local outfitters offer tubing, canoeing, and kayaking on the Etowah River and other waterways as a way to cool off. Two outfits to contact — Canoe Georgia and Chestatee River Adventures.
Sleep in but head to the next winery for lunchtime. Wolf Mountain Vineyards, an award-winning mainstay in Georgia’s wine country, is only open for lunch and brunch, so make sure you have a reservation to do a wine-tasting and meal (they also offer lighter wine cocktails).
Between wine touring, ambling through picturesque lavender fields, a decidedly small-town feel, and plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventure, Dahlonega is definitely worth a visit!
To learn more about Dahlonega, visit dahlonega.org. All photography by Lisa Mowry.
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