Ahhh, the North Georgia Mountains have a certain intrigue that will draw you in and keep you coming back for more. Whether you are planning a girlfriends’ getaway, a romantic wooded retreat, a family gathering, or a solo adventure, there are three places perfect for a long weekend getaway in the Georgia Mountains. I’ve visited them all, some more than once, and think this is one of the most special places in the south. I’ve also included one resort further south (not in the mountains, but on a lake) that deserves a mention, as well.
I was hosted by Coral Hospitality for the sake of reviewing these properties. As always, opinions are 100 percent mine and unbiased.
1. Unicoi State Park & Lodge
Unicoi State Park & Lodge is a rustic retreat in Helen, Georgia. Known as the Bavarian capital of America, Helen is part strolling through picturesque Germany and part theme park. It is a special place with many family-fun experiences like tubing down the Chattahoochee River, riding the alpine Georgia Mountain Coaster, kayaking, canoeing, and exploring Chattahoochee National Forest via foot, bike, or horseback.
The special focuses at Unicoi State Park & Lodge are zip lining, 3-D archery, and fly fishing. Need lessons? No problem, you can get them right here in the park. In the summer months, paddle boarding is an extraordinary thing to do on Smith Creek, a place of jaw-dropping beauty and excellent trout fishing. Then there is Unicoi Beach, with a place to swim, sunbathe, build sandcastles, and enjoy the summer months.
Unicoi is also a romantic lodge with breathtaking views, incredible food at two onsite restaurants, and choices of accommodations, including pet-friendly one, two, or three-bedroom cabins. A guest shuttle runs from the lodge to the downtown area of Helen on weekends, saving you the hassle of paying and looking for a parking place.
The most desirable reason for staying at Unicoi, in my opinion, is the proximity to Anna Ruby Falls. Anna Ruby Falls is a tandem waterfall with two viewing platforms that allow you to get extremely close to the cascading water. It is accessible via a half-mile boardwalk with plenty of places to rest along the inclines.
Fun Fact: Unicoi State Park has barrel cabins, quirky accommodations that look like a giant bourbon barrel. They come in one to two-bedroom availability.
2. Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa
Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa in Young Harris, GA, is the ultimate luxury retreat. It is a notable golf resort and indulgent spa retreat, plus it has one of the most amazing horse stables. Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa has picture-perfect accommodations with a lobby that is warm and welcoming. My husband and I wanted to hang out there working puzzles and people-watching while enjoying the massive fire and enjoying the rustic, upscale interiors.
Brasstown Valley Resort has an exceptional indoor and outdoor pool with a hot tub. You cannot beat the view of the mountains as you relax in your lounge chairs or the deck lined with rocking chairs outside the lobby. Then there is the spa experience, located a few minutes from the main property, which a shuttle can take you to. Equani Spa is a haven where you can throw your cares to the wind (or, in this case, the hands of a trained massage therapist or spa aesthetician) and come out feeling brand new. My husband and I had the couple’s deep-tissue massage a few weeks ago and are still talking about how wonderful it was.
Something unique to Brasstown Valley Resort that you can’t do just anywhere is ride horses via guided trail ride or take lessons. A dozen or more beautiful horses are at the Brasstown Stables, just waiting for you to pet, ride, and spoil them. The facility is impressive, and the staff is patient, knowledgeable, and friendly. Guests can also take part in ax throwing and archery at the stables.
You’ll have two great restaurants to choose from at Brasstown Valley Resort. The Dining Room is where you can get breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or you can go downstairs to Brassies Grill for a casual eatery with elevated pub food, a pool table, a jukebox, and TVs. In the Dining Room, cross your fingers that it has the breakfast buffet (yum!), and for lunch, the Pecan Chicken Salad Sandwich and Chicken Alfredo with Broccoli are both delicious choices.
While visiting Young Harris, I recommend stopping by Crane Creek Vineyards for a delicious wine tasting. Crane Creek’s Hellbender and the Traminette are both tasty options. Besides this, you never need to leave the property during your Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa stay.
Pro Tip: While these destinations are great all year long, going during the prime leaf-peeping season is truly special.
3. Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge
Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge is an 829-acre adventure park and lodge with an arsenal of outdoor activities and hiking trails. Located in Dawsonville, it is also the closest lodging choice for Amicalola Falls, one of the most photographed waterfalls in Georgia. Amicalola Falls State Park itself has a well-appointed Visitor Center, where several trails start from.
There is also a long list of activities, such as tomahawk throwing, zip lining, and 3-D archery. Animal meet-and-greets take place on weekends, a one-of-a-kind experience, but honestly, the star of Amicalola Falls State Park is the 729-foot-tall waterfall, the highest in Georgia. You can view the magnificent falls from one of the two viewing platforms or by walking the 600 steps from top to bottom, or vice versa. It is stunning and something in North Georgia that you definitely won’t want to miss.
The lodge at Amicalola is multi-level with an onsite restaurant and a top-notch gift shop. Rooms are spacious and comfortable, but the best part of the stay is the views. I was amazed at the exceptional mountain views and sunset right from the comfort of my room. I could even sit in my bed and enjoy the scenery without leaving my room, which I gladly Face-Timed my dad to share the epic views with him. There is also a deck off the lobby where visitors and guests gather at sunset for impeccable photo-ops.
Fun Fact: Amicalola Falls Lodge is 8 miles from the Appalachian Trail.
4. Lake Blackshear Resort & Golf Club
Two and a half hours south of Atlanta is Lake Blackshear Resort & Golf Club at the Georgia Veterans State Park in Cordele. This state park has a memorial to U.S. Veterans, a Veterans Museum, and a remarkable collection of military equipment, such as tanks, a helicopter, and a B-29A Superfortress. The park offers 1308-acres of outdoor space with an 18-hole championship golf course (disc golf, too), nature trails, an outdoor fitness center, plus both a campground and gorgeous lodge.
Then there is spectacular Lake Blackshear, perfect for boating, fishing (the lake is well-stocked!), waterskiing, and jet skiing. My husband and I were so excited to take a pontoon boat ride for the afternoon. The attendant was helpful and answered all our questions, easing our minds about taking out a valuable piece of equipment that we were not experts to drive. You can rent boats, fishing equipment, and more at the marina. What fun it was zooming around the lake — especially at sunset.
There are two restaurants on the property: Cypress Grill (close to the water) and Cordelia’s, at the resort. Cypress Grill often has live music, plus I had one of the best burgers of my life there, the Beast Burger. Cordelia’s has exceptional food and was my favorite of all the properties mentioned. For breakfast, even a toasted sandwich with egg, sausage, and cheese is off-the-hook delicious. At dinner, try the Fried Green Tomato Caprese appetizer and then crab cakes for dinner. Perfection! Lake Blackshear also has complimentary bikes to use around the property and an exceptional outdoor pool and hot tub.
Something that sets Lake Blackshear apart from the others is the historic S.A.M. Shoreline Railroad, from the 1880s (SAM stands for Savannah, Americus & Montgomery Railroad Co.). Today, it offers scenic train rides from the park to Plains, Georgia, with many train ride options, including car and seating choices. You can also choose to ride the train up and directly back or take the more extended excursion that allows for time to shop and explore the town. There are seasonal rides, too, plus others like the Murder Mystery dinner train, wine & cheese, and Day Out with Thomas (the Tank Engine). If you have young grandkids, they would love the latter.
Fun Fact: The resort at Lake Blackshear is super nice, as in you wouldn’t expect a state park to be this upscale. Unicoi, Amicalola, and Brasstown are, too. Georgia Parks have really set the bar high for lodging; the rooms are modern and well-appointed, with all the amenities you know and love. Plus there are so many things to do that you won’t ever get bored. The first time I visited one, I had to double-check to see that it was truly a state property because I was in disbelief.
Here are some other things to do in the North Georgia Mountains: