The 10 Best Georgia Mountain Towns to Visit

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There are lots of quaint Georgia mountain towns that offer Southern hospitality, and spectacular views, with Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains vistas stretching for miles. 

The mountains in Georgia are a playground for nature lovers, with fun activities ranging from amazing hiking trails and waterfalls to river tubing, kayaking, horseback riding, zip lining, and more. 

After a long day of exploring the great outdoors, coming back to pet-friendly hotels, B&Bs, or cozy cabins in these Georgia mountain towns provides a chance to unwind while surrounded by natural beauty. 

Some of our favorite places to visit in Georgia, these small towns also have plenty of boutiques, gift shops, museums, and restaurants to keep you entertained. 

Read on for our guide to the best mountain towns in Georgia, including an overview of our favorite activities and attractions in each town. 

READ MORE: The 15 Best Romantic Getaways in the North Georgia Mountains


Planning a North GA getaway? These are some of the best places to stay!

  1. Paradise Hills Winery Resort & Spa  (Cozy, rustic cabins in Blairsville w/good food & wine)
  2. The Dogwood Inn  (Upscale, romantic Blue Ridge B&B w/mountain views)
  3. The White Birch Inn  (Downtown Clayton B&B w/exceptional breakfast)
  4. Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa  (Beautiful resort near Hiawassee w/excellent food, spa & views)
  5. Forrest Hills Mountain Resort  (Dahlonega resort w/private cabins, good food & horseback riding)
  6. Valhalla Resort Hotel  (Dog-friendly Helen resort w/beautiful views)
  7. Sylvan Valley Lodge and Cellars  (5-star hotel in Sautee Nacoochee w/tasting room)

Best Georgia Mountain Towns Guide

  1. Blairsville GA
  2. Blue Ridge GA
  3. Cartersville GA
  4. Clayton GA
  5. Dahlonega GA
  6. Ellijay GA
  7. Helen GA
  8. Hiawassee GA
  9. Lookout Mountain GA
  10. Sautee Nacoochee GA

READ MORE: 101+ Fun Things to Do in North Georgia

mountain towns in georgia - Union County Historic Courthouse in Blairsville GA
Union County Historic Courthouse on the Blairsville Square

1. Blairsville GA 

Size: 1.11 square miles • Population: 526 • Official Website

Located 85 miles from north metro Atlanta, the tiny town of Blairsville GA is a haven for outdoor recreation.

The area is home to one of our favorite lakes in Georgia (Lake Nottely), lots of waterfalls to splash around in, and fantastic hiking trails (including 80 miles of the Appalachian Trail). 

This North Georgia town is also near Brasstown Bald, the highest point in Georgia (4,784 feet), which offers sensational views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Visitors can hike the half-mile Summit Trail or take a shuttle bus to the top. 

Blairsville is also home to the gorgeous Vogel State Park, which features a lake, waterfall, excellent hiking options, as well as state park cabins and campgrounds.

If you visit Blairsville, don’t miss Helton Creek Falls, which plummets 100 feet and is surrounded by hardwood forest. 

READ MORE: The 20 Best Things to Do in Blairsville GA & Union County

best Georgia towns - Lake Blue Ridge in Blue Ridge GA
Lake Blue Ridge GA 

2. Blue Ridge GA

Size: 2.68 square miles • Population: 1,244 • Official Website

The North Georgia town of Blue Ridge has grown by leaps and bounds over the last 20 years, with excellent Blue Ridge restaurants, lots of cool shops and boutiques, an Art Center, and even a historic drive-in theater.

In terms of outdoor attractions, Blue Ridge GA is home to 100,000+ acres of the Chattahoochee National Forest, hundreds of miles of hiking trails, and Lake Blue Ridge (one of the most beautiful lakes in the state). 

There are also Blue Ridge waterfalls to explore, and kayaking, whitewater rafting, and/or tubing the Ocoee/Toccoa River.

If you love trains as much as we do, the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway has a depot downtown, offering scenic train rides all throughout the year. 

Visit Blue Ridge in last Summer or early Fall to go apple picking at Mercier Orchards, which also has a huge farm market where you can purchase fruit, jellies, jams, and some of the best hot apple pies and donuts in the state!

READ MORE: The 25 Best Things to Do in Blue Ridge GA

Mound B at the Etowah Indian Mounds in Cartersville GA
Etowah Indian Mounds in Cartersville GA

3. Cartersville GA

Size: 28.74 square miles • Population: 23,222 • Official Website

Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the town of Cartersville GA offers an awesome assortment of museums, restaurants, and shops for visitors to explore. 

Housed in the 1869 courthouse, the Bartow History Museum covers 200+ years of history, from the Cherokee people to the present day, while the Savoy Automobile Museum covers transportation history. 

The Tellus Science Museum is great fun for families with kids, while the Booth Western Art Museum tells the story of America in paintings, sculptures, and other artistic forms.

If you want to learn more about America’s indigenous people, visit the 54-acre Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site, which includes 6 earthen mounds, hiking trails, and an impressive museum. 

But our favorite things to do in Cartersville GA center around Lake Allatoona, which offers boating, camping, fishing, and swimming on one of the most beautiful lakes in North Georgia

READ MORE: The 25 Best Places to Visit in Georgia

north Georgia towns -Sunrise on the Shops at Downtown Clayton GA
Sunrise in Downtown Clayton GA

4. Clayton GA

Size: 3.39 square miles • Population: 2,035 • Official Website

Located in the northeast Georgia mountains, the small town of Clayton GA is filled with charm, restaurants, shops, and lots of outdoor activities. 

To get a bird’s eye view of the town, explore Black Rock Mountain State Park. The park features a picturesque lake, great hiking trails, and some of the best scenic overlooks this side of the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

It also has a trail to the Foxfire Museum (famous for its series of Foxfire Books), a fantastic living history museum that should be a must-see for anyone interested in Appalachian culture

The town of Clayton also makes a great base for exploring other North Georgia State Parks, including Tallulah Gorge State Park and Moccasin Creek State Park

If you love water, this is really the place to be. Clayton has 5 fantastic lakes nearby, as well as wondrous waterfalls such as Minnehaha Falls, Panther Falls and Angel Falls, all of which are feed into Lake Rabun.

READ MORE: The 20 Best Things to Do in Clayton GA

towns in North Georgia Mountains - Exterior view of The Dahlonega Gold Museum in Dahlonega GA
Dahlonega Gold Museum Exterior

5. Dahlonega GA

Size: 8.869 square miles • Population: 6,654 • Official Website

Once best-known as the site of America’s first gold rush in 1828, the mountain town of Dahlonega GA is now highly regarded for its historic downtown square, tasty restaurants, and thriving live music scene.

If you’re interested in the history of gold mining in Georgia, head to the Dahlonega Gold Museum (inside the old Lumpkin County Courthouse). Then head to the Crisson or Consolidated Gold Mines to try panning for gold yourself!

Shopping at the North Georgia Premium Outlets and tastings at 8 Dahlonega Wineries are among the most popular pastimes here.

But outdoor enthusiasts will also enjoy exploring the myriad North Georgia waterfalls, kayaking and tubing the Chestatee River, and hiking nearby Amicalola Falls State Park. 

We love to visit around the holidays, when the North Georgia mountain town is all lit up for the Old Fashioned Christmas in Dahlonega celebration.

READ MORE: The 20 Best Things to Do in Dahlonega GA & Lumpkin County

Bird's Eye View of Downtown Ellijay GA
Bird’s Eye View of Downtown Ellijay GA

6. Ellijay GA

Size: 3.544 square miles • Population: 1,847 • Official Website

Widely known as Georgia’s Apple Capital, Ellijay is home to some of the best North GA Apple orchards. The town also hosts annual festivals such as the Georgia Apple Blossom Festival, Ellijay Apple Festival, and Taste of Ellijay.

Despite its small size and population, Ellijay is widely regarded as one of the best cities to visit in Georgia.

It has a bustling historic downtown area filled with antique shops, great Ellijay Restaurants (Cantabeerry, The Roof, The Shack), and the Tabor House & Civil War Museum. 

Nature lovers have lots of options to explore, including Carters Lake, the Cohutta Wilderness, the Ellijay River, and the Rich Mountain Wildlife Management Area. There are also numerous great North Georgia wineries nearby.

One of our favorite Ellijay attractions is Fort Mountain State Park, which offers some of the area’s best hiking trails and scenic overlooks, as well as campgrounds, picnic shelters, and a gorgeous lake. 

READ MORE: The 20 Best Things to Do in Ellijay GA & Gilmer County

Alpine-style buildings in Downtown Helen GA
Downtown Helen GA, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

7. Helen GA

Size: 2.09 square miles • Population: 545 • Official Website

Much like Little Switzerland NC, Helen is a colorful little town where you can experience the Alpine influence of Bavarian Germany in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia. 

Helen GA is best known for its Oktoberfest, one of the best Fall festivals in Georgia and the largest Oktoberfest celebration outside of Germany. The tiny mountain town is also packed with traditional German restaurants.

Nature lovers will enjoy exploring Unicoi State Park, which offers myriad hiking trails, a lake for fishing and kayaking, access to Anna Ruby Falls, and one of our favorite places for ziplining in North Georgia

Kids will enjoy riding the Georgia Mountain Coaster, splashing around at the Helen Water Park, and tubing on the Chattahoochee River. 

We love visiting in December for Christmas in Helen, which was rated the “Top Christmas Town in America” by and one of Southern Living‘s Best Christmas Towns in Georgia and the USA. 

READ MORE: The 25 Best Things to Do in Helen GA

Bell Mountain Overlook of Lake Chatuge in Hiawassee GA
Bell Mountain Overlook of Lake Chatuge in Hiawasee 

8. Hiawassee GA

Size: 2.077 square miles • Population: 1,029 • Official Website

Located on the beautiful Lake Chatuge near the North Carolina border, Hiawassee GA is a wonderful jumping-off spot for stellar outdoor adventures. 

This picturesque North Georgia mountain town offers more than 100 miles of shoreline, fishing and kayaking on the Hiawassee River, and numerous beautiful waterfalls to explore.

Brasstown Bald is just 20 minutes from Downtown Hiawassee, while Hamilton Gardens is a haven for anyone who loves native Georgia wildflowers

At 3,424 feet, the 18-acre Bell Mountain Park & Historic Site is one of the tallest mountains in North Georgia for hiking, offering spectacular overviews of the lake and town.

Don’t miss the historic Pioneer Village at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, which is especially gorgeous when it’s all lit up with colorful lights for Christmas!

READ MORE: The 15 Best Things to Do in Hiawassee GA & Young Harris GA

Chattanooga viewed from the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway at the Summit
Lookout Mountain Incline Railway Summit View

9. Lookout Mountain GA

Size: 2.66 square miles • Population: 1,653 • Official Website

Located 5 miles south of the city of Chattanooga TN, Lookout Mountain sits at an elevation 2,388 feet on the border between North Georgia and Tennessee

There are tons of fun things to do in Lookout Mountain on both sides of the border, from hiking the Lula Lake Land Trust and Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park to visiting Raccoon Mountain Caverns.

Our favorite Lookout Mountain attraction is Rock City Gardens, which is home to ancient rock formations, stunning views, Fairyland Caverns, 400+ species of native plants, and a fantastic annual Christmas light display.

Another popular attraction, Ruby Falls, offers visitors a chance to take an elevator 260 feet underground to see dramatic geological formations and the tallest underground waterfall in the USA!

We also love the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway, a 125-year-old funicular that ferries passengers up and down the mountain, with jaw-dropping views of the Chattanooga Valley along the way.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Things to Do in Lookout Mountain GA/TN

Sautee Nacoochee Mound in Helen GA
The Sautee Nacoochee Mound

10. Sautee Nacoochee GA

Size: 3.62 square miles • Population: 451Official Website

Widely regarded as one of the best places to live in the Georgia mountains, the mountain town of Sautee Nacoochee offers some of the best shopping, food, and wines in North Georgia.

The area is best-known for the Sautee Nacoochee Mound, one of the most often-photographed Indian mounds in Georgia, which is part of the Hardman Farm Historic Site.

Behind the mound you’ll see a great view of Yonah Mountain, which offers one of the most popular hiking trails in Georgia. The hike to the summit is 2.25 miles, but you’ll be challenged by 1,466 feet of elevation gain along the way!

If you love the arts and crafts of Appalachia, visit the Sautee Nacoochee Center and its Folk Pottery Museum of Northeast Georgia. Their galleries and gift shop spotlight the impressive work of local potters, woodturners, and crafters. 

Other things to do in Sautee Nacoochee GA include tastings at Habersham Winery, seeing the Stovall Mill Covered Bridge, shopping at the Old Sautee Store, and horseback riding with Chattahoochee Stables. -by Emma Gallagher; all photos by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett


Leave No Trace logo

We encourage anyone who loves the Blue Ridge region to learn about the Leave No Trace principles of responsible environmental stewardship. 

Stay on marked trails, take only pictures, pack out your trash, and be considerate of others who share the trails and parks you explore. 

Remember that waterfalls and rocky summits can be dangerous. Never try to climb waterfalls or get close to a ledge to get a selfie.

When you're exploring the wilderness, it's better to be safe than to be a statistic!

Born in Britain, writer/photographer Emma Gallagher lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of NC on a permaculture homestead with her husband, Jonathon. While traveling the world for 13 years, she fell in love with the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge region when she lived at an artist retreat in Burnsville NC before moving to Brevard. Today Emma lives near Stone Mountain State Park and Doughton Park volunteers at the Surry County Fiddlers Convention, and cares for the gardens at the Reeves Downtown School of Music in Elkin. She's also a volunteer for the Elkin Valley Trails Association, which maintains segment 6 of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.