Planning a family vacation in Blue Ridge, Georgia

If you’re searching for an outdoor-focused family vacation, full of nature and adventure, look no further than Blue Ridge, Georgia. From hiking and mountain biking to camping and rafting, Blue Ridge, Georgia has a plethora of activities for all ages.

Here, you’ll find a grab and go itinerary for planning a family vacation in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Call the rental agency, pick a few hikes, chose some activities, check out 10 house rental recipes, and plan for a couple nights of dining out. That’s it!

Where is Blue Ridge, Georgia?

Located just 8.5 hours from south Florida, on the northern edge of the Chattahoochee National Forest, Blue Ridge, Georgia, is a top-pick for an outdoor-focused family vacation. Blue Ridge, Georgia is also just south of where Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia borders meet. Making Blue Ridge accessible from all points in the US.

Where to stay

While there are a lot of VRBO and Airbnb options in Blue Ridge, we went with Willow Creek Cabin Rentals, based on a recommendation. We were thrilled with our experience and home. The vacation house was top-notch in design and its location in the Aska Adventure Wilderness Area. Willow Creek’s customer service team went above a beyond for our family. We primarily worked with Shea, who immediately was attentive to an arrival glitch and then continued to connect throughout our stay to ensure everything was smooth sailing. Prior to arrival, Willow Creek provided us helpful information and local tips making the “what to expect” portion of our stay more tangible.

Willow Creek Vacation Rentals Blue Ridge. Georgia
Schooling on the road in our Willow Creek vacation rental in Blue Ridge, Georgia

Where to eat

Blue Ridge, Georgia has no shortage of quality eating establishments. Each unique in menu, ambiance, and flavors. Whiles, our visit was during COVID and we mainly ate at home, when we did dine out (outdoor dining and take out), each of these restaurants made our visit more memorable. These establishments were on top of all precautions and delivered diverse menus + delicious food all around.

  • Harvest On Main: Eclectic menu of southern-inspired dishes including local fish and meat. The southern grits are authentic and perfectly prepared.
  • Sue’s Diner: Seriously the best hamburger I’ve ever had. We came back for takeout twice! Order in advance as they make everything fresh. Take your to-go straight to the picnic tables adjacent from the Blue Ridge Railroad or down by the lake for al fresco dining.
  • South of North: Offering a menu with chef-driven twists on Vietnamese fare, we found South of North to be a hidden gem of Blue Ridge dining.
  • La Dos Hustecas: Recommended to us ahead of our trip, La Dos Hustecas is a solid choice for Mexican fare in Blue Ridge. They offer both dine-in and take out and dishes everyone will enjoy.
  • Mountain Mystic Pizza: Sometimes you just need a pizza. Mountain Mystic’s hippie-inspired menu has you covered. Try the Grateful Bread for an appetizer. You’ll also get a 10% discount at the head shop next door.

For meals you’ll be cooking in at your vacation home, check out this post for easy recipes and ideas – all difficulty-free and low maintenance.

Family hiking

Blue Ridge surprised us in the sheer amount of hiking opportunities. The area offers access to several major trail systems, including the famously well-traveled Appalachian Trail and the Benton-MacKaye Trail. With the surplus of hiking options, we easily planned for 1 (sometimes 2) hikes a day.

1. Springer Mountain Loop

A favorite hike was the Springer Mountain Loop, albeit longer for kid legs, it included a pass by the Appalachian Trail Southern terminus (start or end) and probably the most elaborate trail shelter we’ve encountered!

Springer Mountain AT Shelter

On the Springer Mountain Loop, plan for 4.7 miles of moderate difficulty to reach two viewpoints, the shelter, Springer summit, Southern Terminus, and a pass by the Benton Mackay Memorial.

Three important details not clear on the map are:

  1. The trail is accessed after a 4.7-mile drive down FS Road 42, a dirt/gravel road off of Doublehead Gap Road.
  2. You will double back the way you came up the AT to the summit of Springer to catch the BTM to create the loop. Don’t continue on the AT.
  3. Keep a close eye for the double blaze split off the BTM to stay on the loop.
Appalachian Southern Terminus
Appalachian Trail Southern Terminus

2. Benton MacKaye Trail Crossings

Blue Ridge is home to the Benton-MacKaye Trail, a system of more than 300 miles of trails. Close to town, you can access the BMT from Falls Branch Road and hike to GA 515 through the Rich Mountain Wilderness for a roughly 8.6-mile, point-to-point hike that crosses over Rocky Mountain.

3. Toccoa River Swinging Bridge on the BTM

A more manageable, kid-friendly length of the BMT’s hike, travels from Highway 60 to the Toccoa River Swinging Bridge, the longest suspension bridge East of the Mississippi, for a 3.6-mile hike.

Toccoa River Swinging Bridge
Toccoa River Swinging Bridge

4. Preachers Rock

Preacher’s Rock is a stunning hike on the Appalachian Trail located just outside of town. Everyone loved this hike of approximately 2 miles. While the hike was not overly difficult, do plan for a series of steep switchbacks before reaching the top. For both the switchbacks and the summit we took the opportunity to talk with the kids about the importance of safety on the trail, including steering clear of trail edges and holding hands on top. We had no issues on this hike and everyone was all smiles!

Preachers Rock Blue Ridge Georgia
Preachers Rock, Blue Ridge, Georgia

Waterfall hikes

Blue Ridge, Georgia comes with an overabundance of waterfall hiking trails. This was a spectacular part of our experience! We highly recommend taking on a few of these, if not all, during your visit.

1. Long Creek Falls

Long Creek Falls was a family favorite. The trail meanders along the creek and among lush foliage for approximately 1.1 miles until you reach the roaring 50-foot waterfall. The base area is wide and expansive, lending towards time to relax and play. Our kids played hide and go seek for almost an hour here.

You’ll access the trailhead after a 4-mile drive down the dirt road of FS Road 42. The trailhead is well marked across from the parking area.

Long Creek Falls, Blue Ridge
Long Creek Falls

2. Fall Branch Falls

Fall Branch Falls is a great hike for the family. While it’s a short hike, the falls are a must-see series of cascades leading to a single drop of some 30 feet. At the base, the water plunges into a deep pool surrounded by rock.

We chose to do this hike in the late morning and planned for a picnic and a waterfall-side schoolwork session at the base. This made the adventure a little longer and is a bonus to homeschooling or virtual learning.

Base of Fall Branch Falls
Fall Branch Falls

Additional waterfall hikes

Explore Georgia created a nice waterfall hike round-up here. Sea Creek Falls and Amicalola Falls are excellent family hikes. For both Long Creek and Amicalola, I recommend weekday mornings to avoid crowded trails.

Amicalola Waterfalls

More outdoor things to do in Blue Ridge, Georgia

Beyond hiking, planning an outdoor family vacation in Blue Ridge, Georgia is an easy task. Below you’ll find details and links to a few of these activities for the days you’re ready to get out of the woods.

Mountain biking

If you’re into mountain biking, Blue Ridge has you covered. There are a few choices in the area, although our favorite was the Aska Trail system, a popular 17-mile mountain biking, and hiking trail system featuring hikes that intersect and loop ranging from 1 to 5.5 miles. Be sure to download the map as cell signal can be spotty and planning your path in advance will be key. The trails range from beginner to advanced in difficulty.

Tubing on the river

During the summer months up until Labor Day, you can pick from a couple of locations to try lazy river tubing down the Toccoa River. Bring a swimsuit, water shoes, and plan for a lot of laughter on this off the beaten path activity.

Apple picking

Home to a number of apple orchards, Blue Ridge and the surrounding area orchards are a welcome addition to an autumn family vacation. Most of the orchards we found offered U-Pick, outdoor music and activities, cider donuts (a necessity), and hayrides. Our favorite orchard was Red Barn Apple Orchard in Elijay, due to the layout, additional flower picking and rock painting, and crowd size.

Lake Blue Ridge

The waters of Lake Blue Ridge are crystal clear and have a rich color of aquamarine, making it one of Georgia’s most picturesque mountain lakes. By the 3,290-acre lake, you’ll find swimming areas, boat rentals, a recreational trail, and several picnic areas. After you visit the lake, go check out the Blue Ridge Dam on the Toccoa River. The dam is opened on a regular schedule. The kids will go wild over the alarms that sound, coupled with the rising waters!

Downtown Blue Ridge

Downtown Blue Ridge, Georgia is an adorable destination centered around the Historic Blue Ridge Railroad. You’ll find plenty of shops to pop in and out of, each offering both traditional and unique mountain finds. Downtown is also home to a lot of restaurants. We found they all offered to-go and we had no trouble finding picnic tables throughout the downtown to enjoy or meals outdoors.

Downtown Blue Ridge Georgia
Downtown Blue Ridge, Georgia