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Venture outside Atlanta for a weekend getaway in the charming city of Woodstock, Georgia. You’ll find a walkable town with great eats, culture and the arts, boutique shopping, a community-involved brewery, plus outdoor activities like hiking, bicycling, and kayaking. You may even want to take a side trip to visit some of the areas nearby where movies and television shows including Ozark are filmed.

Woodstock ranks as one of Georgia's best outdoor destinations with Lake Allatoona, the Greenprints trail system, and paddling and fly fishing on Little River. Woodstock’s mountain bike trail, Dwelling Loop -- which is also great for hiking -- is ranked fifth in the state by Singletracks.

After attending a travel writing conference in DeKalb County, Georgia, I was invited to spend a weekend exploring Woodstock. Here are some of the best things to do there.

A paddle boarder on Little River Marina.
Jill Dutton

Kayak To The Falls On The Little River

If kayaking or paddle boarding are your ideas of enjoyable getaway activities, plan an adventure from Olde Rope Mill Park. You can paddle the 1.5 miles (about 30 minutes) to the waterfalls, spend some time relaxing at the falls, then head back to Olde Rope Mill Park.

For a longer float, after you see the waterfalls, continue down toward the Little River Marina in Canton, Georgia -- another 4.5 miles, or two to four hours.

Whichever journey you choose, don’t let not having a boat or board deter you from getting out on the water. Murphs Surf, a stand up paddle board and kayak rental company and guide service, can deliver paddle boards and kayaks and pick them up when you finish -- or provide a guide if you’d rather not go alone.

Michael Murphy, the owner of Murphs Surf is a frequent guide. He’ll give tips if needed or is content to stay back and let you set the pace.

If you venture out with Murphs Surf equipment, someone will meet you at the Little River Marina to gather their kayaks or paddle boards while you walk across the street for lunch. J.D.’s on the Lake is a great option. After you’ve had a chance to eat, drink, and enjoy the scenery, Murphs Surf will have a shuttle waiting to take you back to your car at the park.

Hike One Of Several Trails

The City of Woodstock, which encompasses approximately 7,170 acres adjacent to Lake Allatoona, contains a regional county park and four city parks. The Greenprints Project is an initiative to create a green infrastructure network to provide connectivity of community and outdoor recreation for the area’s visitors and residents, meaning excellent day hiking opportunities are in store during your Woodstock weekend getaway.

If you’re up for a longer hike, commit to the Noonday Creek Trail past the river for a 9.1 mile hike both ways. The trail connects with the Towne Lake Pass if you’d like to extend your hike.

At Olde Rope Mill Park, enjoy one of the multi-use trails. The Rope Mill produced cotton ropes in the 1800s and the park has historical markers highlighting the history of the area.

The Dwelling Loop trail is a 4.8 mile loop through a forest setting. It’s accessible year-round and is a favorite for nature trips and birding.

A trail in Olde Rope Mill Park, Woodstock.

Bicycle The Area’s Best Trail Systems

If bicycling is your passion, there’s something for folks of every skill level in Woodstock and its surrounding areas.

Olde Rope Mill Park has 10 bike trails ranked beginner to intermediate. The trail map outlines distance, difficulty, and the direction of cycle traffic. Note that direction changes based on the day of the week, and hikers go the opposite direction of bicycles. Bikers have the right of way at all times.

The Blankets Creek Mountain Bike Trail System, also in the area, is one of the most beloved mountain bike trails in the U.S..

If you’re a dedicated bicyclist, you may want to try one of Mountain Goat Adventures excursions. The founder, Lisa Randall, is a competitive racer herself, having competed in hundreds of events from mountain bike races and trail runs to triathlons and adventure races. She knows what makes a great course and strives to create courses for folks of every skill level.

Part of Randall’s mission is to give back by donating to organizations that maintain some of Woodstock’s beautiful trails. This is a business you can feel good about supporting; Mountain Goat Adventures has logged hundreds of hours of trail maintenance in conjunction with their events and raised thousands of dollars to donate to trail groups. Mountain Goat Adventures partners with Sixes Pit to facilitate bicycle rentals.

Catch A Live Theater Production At Elm Street Arts

At the Elm Street Cultural Arts Village, you can enjoy top-notch musical acts as well as community theater. The 500-seat theater presents plays, musicals, improv, and classes. Their Lantern Series showcases world-class performances that introduce new music, ideas, and cultural concepts and are designed to invoke deeper and authentic moments with audience involvement.

Upcoming plays include Little Shop of Horrors, Willy Wonka Jr., and A Christmas Carol.

The Blue Cat Lodge in Woodstock.

Visit The Blue Cat Lodge Where Ozark Is Filmed

If you’ve watched the Netflix series Ozark, starring Jason Bateman and Laura Linney, you’re familiar with the Blue Cat Lodge. The series is filmed using Lake Allatoona as the setting. While the original Blue Cat Lodge is located in Missouri, you can visit the recreated Blue Cat Lodge that was created for filming the series. Visit nearby Canton to check out the Blue Cat Lodge then walk across the street to the Little River Marina and see the dock where the Langmore men work in the Netflix show.

Georgia is known as the Hollywood of the South since so many movies and television shows are filmed here. According to a 2017 study by FilmL.A., 15 of 2017's top 100 movies were shot in Georgia. It’s a combination of beautiful backdrops and tax incentives offered to film companies that brings them to the state. Shows like Stranger Things and The Walking Dead, and films like The Hunger Games and Spider Man were all shot nearby. With so many production sites nearby, film buffs will want to plan a visit to some of these locations when visiting Woodstock.

Enjoy Dinner And A Show At MadLife Stage And Studios

Experience dinner and live music at MadLife Stage and Studios. The chef at MadLife creates dinner specials to complement the guest artist and their style of music. Enjoy a tribute band, an undiscovered artist showcase, a battle of the bands, or a comedy show. Or stop by for an all-ages show at Patio Music Sundays for brunch, lunch, and supper.

You’ll find three different dining experiences at MadLife Stage and Studios. The MadLife Grill serves a full menu including pulled pork sandwiches, steaks, fresh seafood, salads and seasonal vegetables, plus breads and desserts made in house daily. There’s a casual patio for outdoor music events and the MadLife Stage, the concert venue that seats up to 230 patrons for live performances by artists of various genres. There’s even a professional recording studio on site with two large tracking rooms and a post-production mixing room.

A race car at Dixie Speedway.
Jill Dutton

Go To The Races At Dixie Speedway

Watch the races at the Dixie Speedway dirt track. Laid out over 150 acres, the oval, red-clay speedway seats 5,000 race fans. Grab a corndog and enjoy the outdoor seating or rent a VIP lounge for a quieter, air-conditioned experience.

Grab A Cocktail At A Rooftop Bar

With a friendly, historic town to gaze upon, it’s no wonder why there seems to be a rooftop bar on every corner in Woodstock. Part of the appeal is the town’s open container law in the entertainment district, which lends itself to an innovative cocktail and music scene with frequent live music events on rooftop bars all over town.

Vintner’s Rooftop, located above the Rootstock and Vine restaurant, is primarily a wine and bourbon bar. Pure Taqueria has a small rooftop bar overlooking the train tracks and a park setting, too.

Create a custom shirt at Little River Clothing.
Jill Dutton

Eating In Woodstock

Woodstock is home to a vibrant foodie scene. From authentic Italian dishes at Vingenzo’s and Tuscany Italian Restaurant to farm fresh options at Rootstock and Vine, Freight Kitchen and Tap, Century House Tavern, and Salt Factory Pub, you’ll find creative dining experiences throughout the city.

Shopping In Woodstock

Walking around downtown Woodstock you’ll find boutique shops, breweries, a thriving bookstore, spas, and unique arts and crafts for sale. At the FoxTale Book Shoppe you’ll find a bookstore owned by writers who will take you back to a time when books were cherished.

It’s not often you find a custom shop with male tastes in mind, but at Little River Clothing and Outdoors, gentlemen get the royal treatment with a free beer or refreshment while they’re shopping for custom, off-the-rack, and specialty clothing items. Step into Spirited Boutiques for bohemian clothing and a jewelry bar at the center of the store where you can create your own unique accessories using pendants and beads designed by store owners and artists, Spirit and Ed Bush.

Finally, if you’re looking for designer products at a discounted price, check out The Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta, located a five-minute drive from downtown Woodstock.

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