The Top 20 Blue Ridge Mountain Towns in GA & NC

The Top 20 Blue Ridge Mountain Towns in GA & NC

It’s not hard to imagine why so many people love to retreat into the Blue Ridge Mountains, which stretch 550 miles from North Georgia to southern Pennsylvania.

Between the breathtaking views and outdoor adventures that await around almost every turn, there’s something mesmerizing about exploring such majestic terrain.

The towns that are scattered throughout the Blue Ridge region add to the blissful experience with their history and rich Appalachian culture. Their picturesque streets bring locals and visitors alike together to shop, dine, and breathe in the crisp mountain air.

While some of these towns may be more well-known than others, they all exude the same cozy, small-town feeling and individual flair that make each of them unique.

So whether you’re looking for a relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life or a thrilling outdoor adventure, these Blue Ridge Mountain Towns in GA and NC are sure to bring a smile to your face and a warmth to your heart.

READ MORE: The Top 10 North Georgia State Parks 

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Top 10 Blue Ridge Mountain Towns in GA

  1. Blue Ridge, Georgia
  2. Blairsville, Georgia
  3. Dahlonega, Georgia
  4. Ellijay, Georgia
  5. Hiawassee, Georgia
  6. Dillard, Georgia
  7. Dawsonville, Georgia
  8. Suches, Georgia
  9. Sautee-Nacoochee, Georgia
  10. Helen, Georgia
Blue Ridge GA -Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

1. Blue Ridge, Georgia

Size: 2.4 square miles
Population: 1,400
https://www.blueridgemountains.com

Blue Ridge, GA was founded in 1886, with the arrival of the Marietta and North Georgia Railroad.

Over the last 10 years it has grown to be one of Georgia’s most popular mountain destinations, while staying true to its charming small-town origins.

Downtown Blue Ridge offers upscale dinning, shopping, local breweries and wineries, and a vibrant arts scene with galleries, a theatre, and live music on weekends.

Outdoor lovers will delight in the abundance of activities, including horseback riding through the Chattahoochee National Forest, white water rafting on the Ocoee River, kayaking at Lake Blue Ridge, and hiking to waterfalls and the Swinging Bridge on the Toccoa River.

To get an authentic experience, visitors can hop aboard the historic Blue Ridge Scenic Railway and take a journey through the Appalachian foothills of North Georgia along the Toccoa River, just as travelers did back in the late 19th century.

READ MORE: Review of Wood Haven Retreat, a Blue Ridge Cabin Rental

Lake Trahylta in Vogel State Park, North Georgia
Blairsville’s Vogel State Park, photo by Rachael Seeley

2. Blairsville, Georgia

Size: 1.1 square miles
Approximate Population: 600
https://www.visitblairsvillega.com

Tucked away in the heart of the Chattahoochee National Forest, this picturesque town is home to some of North Georgia’s most treasured landmarks.

Visitors can hike to Brasstown Bald, the tallest peak in Georgia, to get breathtaking overviews of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Or spend a day hiking in Vogel State Park, one of Georgia’s oldest and most cherished parks.

Beautiful bodies of water like Lake Nottley and Lake Trahlyta offer boating, fishing, swimming, and more. A short hike from the latter will lead you to the captivating cascades of Trahlyta Falls.

Blairsville is also home to Meeks Park, where you can kayak the Nottely River, explore Butternut Creek, or experience a variety of fun festivals that are held throughout the year.

READ MORE: Vogel State Park: Camping, Hiking & History in North Georgia

Public Square North, Dahlonega, GA
Public Square North, Dahlonega, GA by Gwringle CC BY-SA 3.0

3. Dahlonega, Georgia

Size: 6.4 square miles
Approximate Population: 7,000
http://dahlonega.org

Between the endless outdoor adventures, creative arts and music scene, and bustling downtown area, Dahlonega, GA is the perfect North GA mountain getaway.

The hub of the town has beautiful 19th century buildings and a myriad of arts, local shops, and dining. It also offers some of the most highly acclaimed wineries, vineyards, and tasting rooms in the state.

Adventure seekers can explore captivating mountain vistas and tumbling waterfalls in the Chattahoochee National Forest, or kayak/canoe in the Chestatee or Etowah Rivers.

Aside from the stunning views, Dahlonega is best known for being the site of the first major U.S. Gold Rush. It’s also home to the Bear On the Square Mountain Festival, an annual celebration of Appalachian culture (especially bluegrass music) that’s held every April.

Visitors can also explore an underground gold mine and try their luck at panning for gold, or visit the Dahlonega Gold Museum to learn about the town’s rich history.

Apple Picking in the North Georgia Mountains
Mary Gabbett Apple Picking in Ellijay

4. Ellijay, Georgia

Size: 3.6 square miles
Approximate population: 1,700
https://www.ellijay-ga.gov

Located just an hour drive north of Atlanta, Ellijay, GA is an enchanting town that welcomes visitors to the foothills of the state’s Blue Ridge region.

Widely known as the “Apple Capital of Georgia,” Ellijay is famous for their heirloom apple orchards and fun festivals like the Taste of Ellijay, Georgia Apple Festival, and Georgia Apple Blossom Festival.

The town has no shortage of unique activities to offer, including the pig races at Hillcrest Orchard and the South’s first apple tree maze.

The quaint downtown area is full of antique shops, wineries, and delicious dining that is juxtaposed by adventure-filled hiking and bike trails that venture into the Chattahoochee National Forest.

READ MORE: Barnsley Gardens Resort Ruins: A Tale of Tragedy in North Georgia

Rhododendrons in Spring
Rhododendrons in Spring, by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

5. Hiawassee, Georgia

Size: 2.2 square miles
Approximate Population: 900
https://hiawasseega.gov

Home to more than 100 miles of Lake Chatuge shoreline, Hiawassee, GA is full of vibrant outdoor scenery right on the North Carolina border.

Travelers can enjoy the journey and the destination with hikes to Bell Mountain and the stunning High Shoals Falls, a collection of five waterfalls with a combined vertical drop of 300 feet.

Nature lovers should be sure to visit the expansive Hamilton Gardens, a botanical garden that is home to more than 3,000 plants and the largest collection of rhododendrons in the state.

Other fun Hiawassee attractions include visiting the historic Pioneer Village at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds and casting a line in the Hiawassee River, which is known as the “hidden jewel of trout fishing.”

READ MORE: Top 10 Living History Museums in America

Dillard House Stables, photo by Kurtis Miller
Horseback Riding with Dillard House Stables, photo by Kurtis Miller

6. Dillard, Georgia

Size: 1.5 square miles
Approximate Population: 370
www.dillardgeorgia.com

Surrounded by the magnificent North Georgia Mountains and home to three state parks and 17 waterfalls, Dillard, GA is the perfect place to get lost in the wonder of nature.

Whether it’s white water rafting, horseback riding, or zip lining, thrill seekers will have plenty to do in Dillard. Those who prefer a more relaxing day can explore the quaint downtown area.

Within a two-block area, the town has over 40,000 square feet of antiques to rummage through, plus dining locations such as the acclaimed Dillard House Restaurant.

After a long day of exploration, the town’s appeal continues with an impressive array of lodging options that includes cabins, campsites, and historic inns dating back as far as 1846.

Amicalola Falls, photo courtesy Dawson County Office of Tourism Development

7. Dawsonville, Georgia

Size: 8.21 square miles
Approximate Population: 3,100
https://www.dawson.org

From paddling the Etowah River and exploring Amicalola Falls State Park’s 729-foot waterfall to tasting 150-year-old recipes at the Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery, Dawsonville, GA has a little bit of something for everyone.

Visitors can frolic through 13 acres of cheerful sunflowers at the family-owned Fausett Farms Sunflowers & Horse Trails. Or take a trip to Around Back at Rocky’s Place, a folk-art gallery that features the works of self-taught local artists.

The town is close to the Georgia Hall of Fame, and Bill Elliot fans will have a blast dining at the NASCAR-themed restaurant, Gordon Pirkle’s Dawsonville Pool Room.

For a trip during the fall, be sure to check out Burt’s Farm and Uncle Shucks Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch to go on hayrides, roast marshmallows, and find the perfect pumpkin!

Trout
Trout by Barbara Jackson via Pixabay

8. Suches, Georgia

Size: Unspecified
Approximate Population: 1,000

Reaching an elevation of 2,792 feet, it’s no wonder why this unincorporated Union County community is often called “The Valley Above the Clouds.”

The town’s tranquil atmosphere lends itself to uninterrupted exploration of the beautiful North Georgia wilderness. Especially on hiking trails that lead to hidden gems like Preacher’s Rock, Sosebee Cove, and Sea Creek Falls.

The Lake Winfield Scott Recreation Area is a prime location for people looking for an authentic mountain camping experience. It boasts 31 campsites and plenty of opportunities for swimming, fishing, and boating.

Another great fishing opportunity can be found at the Valley at Suches, which is known for catch-and-release fly fishing and offers guided fishing tours.

READ MORE: 60+ Cool Camping Gear Reviews

Photo courtesy of Sautee-Nacoochee Cultural Center

9. Sautee-Nacoochee, Georgia

Size: Unknown
Approximate Population: 3,700
https://www.exploregeorgia.org/city/sautee-nacoochee

Located in the foothills of the North Georgia mountains, Sautee, GA captivates travelers with its rich cultural history and striking natural beauty.

One of the area’s most recognizable sights is the white gazebo that sits atop the Sautee-Nacoochee Indian Mound at The Hardman Farm.

Believed to have been a burial ground for Georgia’s original Cherokee inhabitants, it now stands as a symbol of their connection to the land.

The Sautee-Nacoochee Center offers the most comprehensive look at the town’s history. There you’ll find a local museum, African-American heritage site, native plants and butterfly garden, and the Folk Pottery Museum of Northeast Georgia, among other attractions.

Helen, Georgia
Helen, Georgia

10. Helen, Georgia

Size: 2.1 square miles
Approximate Population: 550
https://www.helenga.org

Combining the magic of Bavaria with the beautiful landscape and endless outdoor recreation opportunities of the Blue Ridge region, Helen, GA is truly a one-of-a-kind town.

The cobblestone walkways and German-inspired architecture set the scene for authentic Alpine dining, where you can enjoy everything from schnitzel and wurst to craft beers.

When you’re not exploring the enchanting (but often crowded) town, you can escape into the beauty of nature. Nearby hiking trails lead to gorgeous waterfalls like Anna Ruby Falls and Dukes Creek Falls, or you can get a view from above with ziplining tours.

Other popular activities in Helen include tubing down the Chattahoochee River and panning for gold, rubies, sapphires and more in the Dukes Creek Mines.

But perhaps the most famous attraction in Helen is the annual Oktoberfest celebration, which is held from September to the end of October. Visitors can enjoy an abundance of activities, traditional food and dance, and an all-around festival of fun.

Top Blue Ridge Mountain Towns in NC

  1. Asheville, North Carolina
  2. Boone, North Carolina
  3. Hendersonville, North Carolina
  4. Blowing Rock, North Carolina
  5. Black Mountain, North Carolina
  6. Highlands, North Carolina
  7. Cashiers, North Carolina
  8. Brevard, North Carolina
  9. Hot Springs, North Carolina
  10. Bryson City, North Carolina
Busking Musicians in Asheville, NC
Busking Musicians in Asheville, NC by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

11. Asheville, North Carolina

Size: 45.2 square miles
Approximate Population: 91,900
https://www.exploreasheville.com

With its charming atmosphere, breathtaking views, fantastic foodie scene, and fun outdoor activities, Asheville, North Carolina has everything you’d want from a bustling mountain town.

Downtown Asheville, NC has something around every corner. There are stylish shops, delicious dining options, rooftop bars, street performers, art galleries, breweries, and loads of live music venues.

Just outside of town you’ll find hiking trails for all skill levels in Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Linville Gorge, and more. If you get a chance, check out the 6,684-foot summit of Mount Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi River.

Also, be sure to check out the famous Biltmore Estate, the largest home in America, which has 250 rooms, 8,000 acres of gardens and trails, and the nation’s most-visited winery.

READ MORE: The Best Restaurants in Downtown Asheville

Appalachian Ski Mountain, photo courtesy of Explore Boone

12. Boone, North Carolina

Size: 6.07 square miles
Approximate Population: 19,560
https://www.exploreboone.com

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway or an action-packed adventure, Boone, NC has you covered.

Visitors can drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway, ride a steam locomotive through the mountains, visit Grandfather Mountain State Park, or have a fun-filled day at Tweetsie Railroad, a wild west theme park.

During the warmer months, rafting, tubing, kayaking, fishing, and hiking are just a few of the outdoor activities Boone visitors love. But winter is when this North Carolina mountain town really comes alive.

With a reputation for having some of the best snow skiing in the southeast, Boone has fantastic ski lodges such as the Beech Mountain Resort and the Sugar Mountain Resort (the largest ski and snowboard area in North Carolina).

Downtown Hendersonville, NC
Downtown Hendersonville, NC by Pollinator via CC BY-SA 3.0

13. Hendersonville, North Carolina

Size: 6.9 square miles
Approximate Population: 13,950
https://www.visithendersonvillenc.org

To take in as much of this intriguing town as you can, start by strolling along the lovely shops, art galleries, antique shows, and restaurants in historic downtown Hendersonville.

You’ll quickly see why some folks are predicting that this will be western North Carolina’s next Asheville-style boom town.

The appeal of Hendersonville continues with cool attractions such as the Appalachian Pinball Museum, Mineral Lapidary Museum, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., and the popular Pisgah Forest Gem Mine.

If you’re looking for some fun in the great outdoors, Hendersonville is home to Pisgah National Forest, Holmes Educational State Forest, and DuPont Recreational Forest, which is full of waterfalls and over 80 miles of roads and hiking trails.

For a breathtaking, panoramic view of the Blue Ridge peaks, check out Jump Off Rock, which is located just five miles from downtown Hendersonville.

READ MORE: Exploring the Sierra Nevada Brewery in Asheville, NC

Blowing Rock, NC photo By Todd Bush
Blowing Rock, photo By Todd Bush

14. Blowing Rock, North Carolina

Size: 3.05 square miles
Approximate Population: 1,300
https://blowingrock.com

Often called the “Crown of the Blue Ridge” for its spectacular, expansive views across the Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock, NC is a captivating town filled with natural beauty.

Visitors can stare out in amazement from the iconic Blowing Rock– a cliff standing 4,000 feet above sea level– overlooking the John’s River Gorge. The formation has almost constant winds, and is known as a place where snow occasionally blows upside down.

Hiking trails can be found in Moses Cone Memorial Park and throughout the Blue Ridge Parkway, guiding you through gorgeous terrain, streams, and vistas.

The town also has the Blowing Rock Art & History Museum, which showcases the Blue Ridge region’s rich history through rotating exhibits and galleries.

READ MORE: Visiting Doughton Park (Blue Ridge Parkway Mile Marker 238.5 – 244.7)

Black Mountain, North Carolina
Black Mountain, North Carolina

15. Black Mountain, North Carolina

Size: 6.71 square miles
Approximate Population: 8,150
https://www.exploreblackmountain.com

Visiting Black Mountain, NC? Take time to sit back, relax, and take in the wonderful views in one of the oversized rocking chairs that are scattered throughout “the little town that rocks.”

Black Mountain has a charming town square with various antique stores, gift shops, old fashioned general stores, and dining options that are guaranteed to please.

Countless events are held at the White Horse Black Mountain music and arts venue, which features toe tapping mountain music, poetry, theater, and other community events.

Lake Tomahawk Park is close to downtown, offering a playground, tennis court, fishing pier, and a .55-mile walking trail around the lake.

For a more intense hike, try the nearby Lookout Trail, which leads you to dazzling views of the Seven Sisters mountain range.

Fall in Highlands, photo by Greg Newington

16. Highlands, North Carolina

Size: 6.17 square miles
Approximate Population: 969
https://www.highlandschamber.org

Long a popular weekend getaway with Atlanta residents, Highlands, NC draws in visitors with their elegant dining, shopping, and thriving cultural arts scene. But the tiny town also offers its fair share of rustic adventures in the great outdoors.

Surrounded by the Nantahala National Forest, the views around Highlands seem endless and hiking trails abound throughout the alluring terrain.

Many trails take you to beautiful cascading waterfalls, such as Dry Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Whitewater Falls.

The latter is the tallest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains, and is accessible via the Whitewater Falls Trail.

Anglers can go fly fishing with local guides in one of the area’s many rivers, including the Chattooga, Nantahala, and Tuckasegee. You can also make your way back into town to the Highlands Heritage Trail, a wonderful walking tour of the downtown area.

Silver Run Falls, photo by Robert Stephens
Silver Run Falls, photo by Robert Stephens

17. Cashiers, North Carolina

Size: 1.1 square miles
Approximate Population: 157
www.cashiersnorthcarolina.org

The perfect place to escape your everyday routine, charming Cashiers, North Carolina is a favorite destination for those looking to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature.

Located on the highest plateau in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Cashiers boasts magnificent views along with many lakes, hiking trails, camping locations, and waterfalls scattered throughout the area’s forests.

The town is also known for having some of the best mountain golfing around, with beloved courses such as the Headwaters Golf Club and Mountaintop Golf & Lake Club.

Other notable spots in Cashiers include the Cashiers Farmers Market (which sells everything from fresh produce to yummy bakery items) and the Village Green, a 12.5-acre park that’s open all year-round.

Moore Cove Falls in Brevard, NC
Moore Cove Falls in Brevard, NC by Will Thomas CC BY-SA 3.0

18. Brevard, North Carolina

Size: 4.82 square miles
Approximate Population: 7,900
https://www.brevardnc.org

Known as the “Land of the Waterfalls,” Brevard, North Carolina is home to over 200 waterfalls, including Moore Cove Falls, Wintergreen Falls, Hooker Falls, and Upper Bearwallow Falls, just to name a few.

It’s also home to Brevard College, which is widely regarded as one of the best liberal arts colleges in the USA and gives the town a more youthful feel than others on this list.

The town is surrounded by the Dupont State Forest and the Pisgah National Forest, so there’s ample opportunities for mountain biking, hiking, camping, fly fishing, rock climbing, and plenty of other outdoor activities.

The beautiful mountains and forest provide a postcard-worthy backdrop for downtown Brevard. There, live music can be heard, delicious meals can be devoured, and fun street festivals can be enjoyed throughout the year.

Photo Courtesy of Hot Springs Tourism Association

19. Hot Springs, North Carolina

Size: 3.5 square miles
Approximate Population: 653
https://www.hotspringsnc.org

Best known for the relaxing attraction for which it is named, Hot Springs offers an authentic small-town atmosphere.

Interestingly, this is also the only North Carolina mountain town that the Appalachian Trail (which runs all the way from Georgia to Maine) passes through directly.

If you’re looking for a place to soak in healing, geothermal mineral waters, the Hot Springs Resort & Spa and Broadwing Farms both have private tubs available to guests.

Surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains and Pisgah National Forest, Hot Springs has tons of opportunities for hiking, camping, and kayaking along the French Broad River.

The town is also known for having fun festivals throughout the year, including the Bluff Mountain Festival, Hot Springs Motorcycle Weekend, and the lively French Broad River Festival.

Deep Creek Bridge

20. Bryson City, North Carolina

Size: 2.23 square miles
Approximate Population: 1,455
https://www.brysoncitync.gov

Home to a laid-back downtown filled with arts and crafts galleries, bookstores, restaurants, and more, Bryson City, North Carolina boasts undeniable small-town charm.

The Tuckasegee River runs right through town and is great for kayaking, paddle boarding, or fishing. Those who prefer to stay on dry land can explore various hiking trails that lead to beautiful overlooks, waterfalls, and streams.

A popular outdoor adventure destination, Deep Creek Recreation Area is located just 5 minutes from downtown and is a great place for tubing or just splashing around in the stream.

The recreation area also has its fair share of hiking trails, including the Deep Creek Area loop hike, which shows off three spectacular waterfalls.

Bryson City is also close to the Cataloochee Valley section of Great Smoky Mountains National Park (the most popular US National Park), which is home to an impressive Elk herd that goes into rut every autumn.  –by Christina Maggitas

READ MORE: The Cataloochee Valley Elk in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Growing up in rural south Georgia, Christina Maggitas developed a love for nature at a young age and spent the majority of her formative years outdoors. Since first visiting the Great Smokey Mountains with her family as a child, she has always admired the beauty of the Blue Ridge region and spends as much time as she can hiking north Georgia. She has a passion for writing and storytelling with the hopes of inspiring others to enjoy the great outdoors. Currently, Christina is a senior at Kennesaw State University where she is studying Journalism and Emerging Media.