Families rule in Blairsville
Blairsville’s lakes beckon families, from the crystal clear 18-acre Lake Winfield Scott in Suches to the 4,180-acre Lake Nottely. Each offers boating, swimming, fishing, picnicking, hiking and camping – and Lake Nottely has 106 miles of shoreline, two marinas and public boat ramps. Vogel State Park – one of Georgia’s oldest and most popular state parks – has a 20-acre lake and a swimming beach, plus picnic shelters, children’s playground and miles of hiking trails. Families can trek the 300-yard trail to Helton Creek Falls to see twin cascades set in a deep hardwood forest and head to nearby Brasstown Bald Mountain, Georgia’s highest elevation and one that offers a view of four states. On land, family-friendly attractions include the Misty Mountain Railroad – America’s largest 0-gauge train display, Mountain Life Museum, Sleepy Hollow with its fairytale dwellings, and a miniature collection of castles and palaces at the Old Courthouse Museum. There are lots of mountain cabins (including some equipped with game rooms) and family-friendly eateries, like The Sawmill Place and the Aviator Café. Information: Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce, 1-877-745-5789, http://www.visitblairsvillega.com; or contact our Tourism Director.
Blairsville history told through yesteryear structures
The vestiges of this pre-Civil War community may still be seen in two of Blairsville’s historic structures: its old trading posts and general stores. Union County, created in 1832 from a parcel of acreage in the Georgia Land Lottery, and settled primarily by the Scots-Irish mountain people of the Appalachians, was rugged and inaccessible. The trading posts and general stores were not only a place to buy and barter goods – furniture and other household goods and items, foodstuffs, gifts and souvenirs – but to meet neighbors and swap news. Recalling these early days are Pappy’s Trading Post and Sunrise Grocery. The former lives up to its self-billing as “the post with the most” in its delightful hodgepodge of rustic furniture, antler chandeliers, locally made gifts and a selection of local jams, jellies, honey and sorghum – even animal mounts. The latter is a produce stand/gift shop combo that was established in the 1920s and stocks fresh fruits and veggies, locally made pottery and irresistible gift items in charming tumbledown digs. Just like in the old days, owner Jason Clemmons will swap the news of the day with you while weighing your oranges or beans and bagging your detergent and dishes. Information: Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce, 1-877-745-5789, http://www.visitblairsvillega.com; or contact our Tourism Director.
Best-kept secret a true gem
The Enchanted Palace, the antebellum home, “Velmamere,” and a replica of American financier Jay Gould’s manse, along with assorted other mansions and castles are the hidden gems at Blairsville’s Old Courthouse Museum. Part of the internationally renowned Margarita Morgan Miniature Collection, the intricate structures patterned after magnificent buildings and furnished with exquisite pieces by master craftsmen are a breathtaking discovery. Information: Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce, 1-877-745-5789, http://www.visitblairsvillega.com; or contact our Tourism Director.
Along the Artisan Corridor
Designer jewelry, original oil and Giclée paintings, magical dwellings in miniature, skeins of alpaca yarn – these treasures and more may be found along the newly designated 22-mile “Artisan Corridor” in Blairsville, home to a thriving arts community that encompasses art galleries, working artist studios and boutiques and quirky general stores showcasing local crafts. Along the corridor: Sundance Gallery, Robynne's Nest Gifts, Mountain Top Furniture, Big Bear Antiques, Rountree's Pine Furniture, 515 Main Street Shops, Logan Turnpike Mill (stone-ground grits and porridge), Pappy’s Trading Post, Sunrise Grocery, a produce stand/gift shop combo with locally made pottery and Lasso the Moon, an alpaca farm with glass and fiber studio/shop stocked with hand-blown glass and fiber alpaca jewelry and gift items made from alpaca fiber. There are also several spas and lots of charming restaurants, including Cobb's Mill Bakery with coffee bar. And don’t miss Owltown Market for a perfect Blairsville souvenir, packaged candies sold by the pound, along with hometown favorite, Green Bean chips. Information: Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce, 1-877-745-5789, http://www.visitblairsvillega.com; or contact our Tourism Director.
Bikers love Blairsville’s challenging “roads less traveled”
With rolling terrain through picturesque countryside, four distinct seasons coloring the landscape, a welcoming and family-friendly persona, roads not crowded with traffic, and lots of trails for beginner-, intermediate- and advanced-level road and mountain bikers – including Six Gap Route, Aska Trails and the newly constructed Jackrabbit Mountain Bike Trails, Blairsville-Union County is road rapture for riders of every stripe. Here, secondary roads made famous by pros including Lance Armstrong during the Tour de Georgia provide an option of climbs both challenging and legendary – and a place where pro teams and recreational riders come regularly to train and ride. Information: Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce, 1-877-745-5789, http://visitblairsvillega.com; or contact our Tourism Director.