Apples, wineries, hiking, and exploring the charming historic downtown are just a few of the best things to do in Ellijay GA. Ellijay is a wonderful small mountain town located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia that offers visitors a wide variety of restaurants, activities, attractions, and beautiful scenery to enjoy.
We recently spent a weekend in Ellijay GA, exploring all that this wonderful and historic town has to offer. We shopped in the historic downtown, ate at some of the best restaurants, hiked, visited waterfalls, searched for Bigfoot, tasted local wines, and so much more!
There is so much to do in Ellijay GA, and we'll explore it all in this article!
Disclosure: We were invited by the Gilmer County Chamber of Commerce and meals were complimentary; however, all opinions, information, and photos are our own and we were not asked in any way to influence our thoughts, comments, or the content of this article. All opinions are our own - We believe in putting our readers first.
About Ellijay GA
Ellijay is a charming small mountain town located in the north Georgia Mountains and surrounded by the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains. The mountains provide a stunning backdrop while you enjoy the city's many different attractions.
Ellijay is the county seat of Gilmer County and is situated approximately 80 miles north of Atlanta and just a short drive from Blue Ridge GA.
One of the main draws of Ellijay is its many apple orchards. Ellijay Georgia is known as the "Apple Capital of Georgia" and is home to several orchards that offer apple picking, apple cider, apple pies, and other apple-related products in the Fall.
In addition to the apple orchards, Ellijay is also home to several wineries, breweries, and distilleries that offer tastings and tours.
For those who love the outdoors, Ellijay has plenty to offer. The city is home to several parks and nature preserves, including the Chattahoochee National Forest, which offers hiking, camping, fishing, and other outdoor activities. Nearby Carters Lake is also a popular destination for hiking, boating, fishing, and swimming.
Ellijay is also rich in history and culture. The city has several museums and historic sites, including the Tabor House and Civil War Museum, which tells the story of the Civil War in north Georgia.
The city also hosts several festivals and events throughout the year, including the Georgia Apple Festival, which celebrates Ellijay's apple heritage.
Weather in Ellijay GA
When planning a trip to Ellijay, it is important to factor in Ellijay weather. The town has a humid subtropical climate, which means that summers are hot and humid, while winters are mild to cool.
The best time to visit Ellijay is during the fall months of September through November when the weather is mild and the leaves are changing colors, making for a beautiful setting. During the fall, temperatures range from the mid-50s to the mid-70s, and the humidity is much lower than in the summer months.
In the summer months of June through August, temperatures can reach the high 80s and low 90s, and the humidity can make it feel even hotter. When visiting Ellijay in the summer, it's important to stay hydrated and take breaks in the shade if needed.
During the winter months of December through February, temperatures can drop to the mid-30s, but it rarely snows in Ellijay. However, it is important to pack warm clothing and layers, especially if planning outdoor activities.
Overall, Ellijay has a pleasant climate year-round, but it is important to check the weather forecast before planning outdoor activities. We recommend checking the forecast a few days before your trip and packing accordingly.
Our Ellijay Georgia Video
Best Things to Do in Ellijay GA
Ellijay is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts seeking adventure in the great outdoors. However, Ellijay also offers a variety of other activities, from wine tasting at local vineyards to exploring the quaint downtown area filled with unique shops and restaurants.
Whether you're looking for a romantic getaway or a family-friendly vacation, Ellijay has plenty to offer.
We visited Ellijay and really enjoyed it. Here are our top picks for the best things to do in Ellijay GA based on our experience and visit there in the summer of 2023.
Visit one of the many Apple Orchards
Ellijay GA is known as the "Apple Capital of Georgia" for good reason. The town is surrounded by beautiful apple orchards that offer visitors a chance to pick their own apples, enjoy delicious apple treats, and experience the charm of small-town Georgia all at the same time!
One of the most popular orchards in Ellijay is B.J. Reece Orchards. This family-owned orchard offers a wide variety of apples, as well as pumpkins, strawberries, and blueberries. Visitors can pick their own fruit, take a tractor ride, and enjoy delicious apple cider donuts and fried apple pies. B.J. Reece Orchards is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Ellijay.
Another great option is Hillcrest Orchards, which has been in operation for over 70 years. This orchard offers a petting zoo, a playground, and a corn maze in addition to apple picking. Visitors can also enjoy live music, hayrides, and delicious apple cider.
For a more unique experience, Ott Farms and Vineyard offers not only apple picking but also wine tastings. This family-owned orchard has been in operation for over 100 years and offers a wide variety of apples, including some rare and unique varieties.
R & A Orchards is another popular destination in Ellijay. This orchard offers not only apple picking, but also a farm store where visitors can purchase fresh produce, baked goods, and other local products.
Search for Sasquatch at Expedition Bigfoot
If you enjoy mystery, folklore, and history, be sure to visit Expedition Bigfoot, a Bigfoot Museum located just a few minutes outside of Ellijay in Cherry Log GA.
This unique and interesting museum explores the legend of Sasquatch and offers a fascinating look at the history of the area.
Do you believe? If not, you may by the time you leave here.
To be honest, we visited thinking it would be some cheesy tourist trap and not very interesting. Were we ever wrong! Expedition Bigfoot is a very nice museum, full of interesting exhibits, Bigfoot history, and some videos that will make you go "hmm".
While the museum isn't huge, it's definitely packed full of Bigfoot sighting information, artifacts, prints, and more. Different exhibits highlight how "Bigfoot" like creatures have been seen all around the world. The same type of creature, just different names, like Yeti.
They also have a really nice store full of Bigfoot memorabilia, souvenirs, shirts, mugs, stuffed animals, and more. They feature art and books by local Ellijay and Blue Ridge artists as well. We left with some shirts, socks, a book by a local author, and some Bigfoot chocolate.
While you may not believe in Bigfoot when you leave, you'll definitely be wondering if it's true and talking about it. We're not sure if Bigfoot exists or not, but something sure is going on.
Expedition Bigfoot was one of our favorite best things to do in Ellijay GA.
Go back in time at the Georgia Pinball Museum
If you're looking for a unique and entertaining experience in Ellijay, GA, look no further than the Georgia Pinball Museum. This museum is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves classic pinball machines.
Located just a short drive from Ellijay GA and right next door to Expedition Bigfoot, the Georgia Pinball Museum is a one-of-a-kind attraction that features vintage pinball machines from the 1950s to the 1990s. Visitors can play all of the machines, which are restored and maintained to ensure that they play just like they did when they were first released.
They have a number of classic machines pinball fans will love, including our favorite Kiss, Twilight Zone, wide-body machines, and the Black Knight!
The Georgia Pinball Museum is open seven days a week from 11am - 6pm, and admission is affordable, making it a great choice for families, couples, or groups of friends.
So grab some quarters and head on over for a blast from the past!
Explore Historic Downtown Ellijay
Of course, no visit to Ellijay would be complete without exploring the historic downtown. Downtown Ellijay even has a town center with a roundabout and fountain in the middle. The old town hall is there as well, and it very much resembles Hill Valley from the classic movie Back to the Future!
The charming downtown area is home to a variety of shops, boutiques, restaurants, galleries, and specialty stores. It's the perfect place to spend an afternoon or evening.
Many of the shops are located in buildings that date back to the 20th century, and you'll even find the classic old advertisement paintings on the side walls of buildings, which we enjoyed taking photos of.
There really is something for everyone in downtown Ellijay. We really enjoyed walking around downtown and exploring all of the shops and stores. We found antiques (more on that later), candy shops, soap shops, a dog store, and a home decor shop just to name a few.
You should definitely plan to spend some time here. To make your visit easier, be sure to stop by the Welcome Center and grab a map that has all of the stores marked. This really helped us get around and made sure we saw everything.
Hiking Trails Near Ellijay GA
Ellijay has a number of really great hiking trails that are just a short drive from downtown Ellijay. Popular Trails include:
Bear Creek Trail in Chattahoochee National Forest - Located in Bear Creek Recreation Area, about 30 minutes from down Ellijay, this trail will take you to the famous Gennett Poplar, the second largest tree in the state of Georgia. Roundtrip to the tree and back is about 3-miles, and a moderate hike.
The Stone Tower Loop at Fort Mountain State Park - This 1-mile loop trail is popular for families and takes you to the old stone Fire Tower and natural rock gardens. The trail is moderate in difficulty.
The Lake Loop Trail at Fort Mountain State Park - This 1.2-mile loop trail is open to both hikers and mountain bikers. The trail goes around Fort Mountain’s lake. We found it best to hike this trail clockwise to avoid the steep grade. This is a really nice, relaxing, and beautiful hike.
Waterfalls near Ellijay GA
While not well known for waterfalls, there are a few waterfalls worth venturing out to and not far from downtown Ellijay.
Fall Branch Falls off the Benton MacKaye Trail - Located off a long and scenic service road, this is a short and moderate hike out to 75' tall Fall Branch Falls. The falls have two large cascades. This is a popular trail, so expect lots of company as you hike out.
Base of Falls Trail - Amicalola Falls State Park - Amicalola Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls in the Georgia Blue Ridge. It's also the tallest waterfall in Georgia at 729 feet. The hike is short, but strenuous due to the nearly 200 stairs required to reach the base of the falls. The total hike length is 1 mile.
Tumbling Waters Nature Trail at Carters Lake - While technically not a waterfall, it is a series of very pretty cascades. The hike is 1-mile roundtrip, and very moderate. You'll also cross a 30' tall wooden bridge, offering beautiful lake and creek views.
Taste Local Wine at Grapes and Ladders Winery
Grapes and Ladders is a beautiful winery located just a short drive from downtown Ellijay GA. The vineyard offers a variety of wines for adults, wine slushes (which are amazing), and even grape slushies for teens and kids. Yes, Grapes and Ladders is a family-friendly vineyard!
They offer a number of wines from sweet to dry, including both whites and reds and even a really nice port. We're huge Cabernet Sauvignon fans, and theirs is one of the best we've ever had!
They offer wine tastings, wine by the glass, and bottles of wine. You can enjoy your wine in the indoor seating area, which is full of comfy chairs, or sit outside on the beautiful deck overlooking the vineyard and mountain views!
Grapes and Ladders is a casual and relaxing small vineyard, with super friendly staff and engaged owners. The vineyard is beautiful, the wines fantastic, and the vineyard building is a great place to just grab a glass of wine and relax. They even have live music on the weekends.
We really enjoyed our visit, and think you will too! We even purchased a bottle of wine and port to bring back to our vacation cabin, where we staying for the weekend and literally just down the road from Grapes and Ladders.
Go Shopping in Ellijay
When it comes to shopping in Ellijay, we have a variety of options to choose from. Whether you're looking for unique gifts, antiques, or local produce, you'll find it.
One of our favorite places to shop is in downtown Ellijay. The historic downtown area is home to numerous shops and boutiques that offer a wide range of products. From handmade crafts to clothing and jewelry, you're sure to find something that catches your eye.
The charming and friendly atmosphere of the downtown area makes for a fun shopping experience as well!
Many of the local merchants have downtown maps available for free that provide a list of all of the stores. You can also pick up one at the visitors center right there downtown.
Experience the Ellijay Farmers & Artisans Market
If you would like to experience local culture and support local artists, businesses and craft makers, don't miss the Ellijay Farmers & Artisans Market.
The market is each Saturday from 8:30am - 12:30pm in the parking lot behind the downtown Ellijay Welcome Center. When we recently visited, there were 6 rows of vendors with a wide array of goods from custom-made jewelry, home decor items, soaps, body and bath products, and of course fresh produce.
For those who want to experience the local culture, we recommend checking out the farmers' markets. Ellijay is known for its fresh produce, and the farmers' market is a fantastic way to sample some of the best fruits and vegetables in the area. You can also see locally-made crafts and baked goods as well.
We really enjoyed visiting each of the local vendors, browsing their goods, and talking with them. Everyone made us feel so welcome. Of course, we had to take home a few items, including a necklace for our daughter and some homemade soap.
Discover Bygones at Antique Shops
If you're a fan of antiques, you will love Ellijay GA. Ellijay is almost as well known for it's wide variety of antique stores as it is its Apples!
There are a number of very nice antique shops located throughout the city, each with its own unique collection of items. Many stores are located in the historic downtown area, like Antiques on North Main, Linda's Outback Antiques, and Main Street Antiques & Collectibles.
There are also a number of Antique shops outside of the main town area as well.
In all of these antique shops, you can find everything from vintage furniture to rare collectibles. You can literally spend an entire finding and browsing the wonderful antique shops in Ellijay.
Follow the Trails for Prizes
Beginning July 14th, 2023, when you visit Ellijay GA be sure to follow the trails and visit businesses along the trail to receive exclusive rewards!
Ellijay will have the following trails available for you to venture along:
- Treats Trail - This Sweets Trail is to enjoy a little dessert and earn some cool prizes! All you have to do is visit participating businesses, get stamps, and receive a Treats trail prize!
- Antiques Trail - This trail allows you to explore son wonderful Ellijay GA antique shops, find that hidden treasure you've been looking and earn a one-of-a-kind Antiques Trail prize.
- Sips Trail - This one is our favorite! Yes, believe it, you can taste some of the amazing Ellijay Winery wines and earn a one-of-a-kind Sips Trail prize! No, we're not lying, you can drink wine and earn prizes ... unreal right?
For each of these, all you have to do is:
- Pick up your passport at the Ellijay Visitor Center or a participating vendor.
- Make purchases at some of the participating trail businesses and get stamped at check out. The number of required purchases and list of participating businesses is on the passport.
- Return to the visitor center with your stamped passport, and get your prize (one per customer)
Fun and easy! It doesn't get any better than that.
Enjoy the Great Restaurants
We're foodies, and one of the highlights of our visits to cities and towns in the Blue Ridge Mountains is checking out the local restaurant scene. Fortunately, Ellijay GA has plenty of great restaurant options to choose from. From quick bites to fine dining, you'll find great restaurants and food that not only satisfy your tastebuds but your budget too!
Here are just a few of our picks for the best restaurants in Ellijay GA:
Bev's Diner serves up some of the best burgers and fries we've had anywhere, all with a 50s-style diner atmosphere. The menu is full of different types of burgers. All of them are made from local Ellijay beef, made to order, and the fries are hand-cut.
The staff was super friendly and helpful, and the shakes and floats are divine. Be sure to try the butterscotch shake. You'll thank us later.
The Pink Pig
Located in Cherry Log, just outside of Ellijay GA, you'll be hard-pressed to find better BBQ and fixins than at the Pink Pig. The folks here smoke the ribs, pulled pork, and even brisket to perfection.
Go early and don't forget your appetite. The Pink Pig is open seven days a week, so be sure to stop by for the best BBQ around! We will definitely be back.
For a unique dining experience, head up to the top of the tallest building in downtown Ellijay GA to The Roof. The restaurant and bar are literally on the top of a building providing exceptional views of downtown Ellijay and the surrounding mountains.
The food and service were good, and they even serve local fresh Trout. You'll definitely want to have a drink or meal here while enjoying the great views.
We love a cozy and warm coffee house that serves great coffee, and Ellijay Coffeehouse is the bomb. If you're looking for a cozy spot to grab a cup of coffee or tea, this is the place to go.
They have a great selection of drinks, pastries, and breakfast sandwiches all served up in a comfortable atmosphere that is perfect for waking up and relaxing. The service was top-notch, with super friendly and professional staff. Try the lemon loaf and the breakfast Pannini!
Express your artistic side at BEAU-tiful Creations
Located in downtown Ellijay, BEAU-tiful Creations is a walk-in art studio where artistic ability is required! They provide everything you need, including canvases, door hangers, birdhouses, magnets, paper, jewelry, and more.
You can let your creative side go wild. They even have stencils to help you get started AND the owners are there to guide and help you.
This is fun for the whole family and a great way to have some quality and fun one on one time with the kids. They also have adult-only events. Definitely check out this unique and fun place.
We really enjoyed our visit and meeting Beau the owner!
Go boating at Carter Lake
Not far from Ellijay is Carter Lake, which provides a number of outdoor activities including boating.
Boating at Carter Lake near Ellijay, GA is a popular activity for both locals and tourists. Carter Lake is the deepest lake in Georgia, with depths reaching up to 450 feet, and its sparkling waters and rugged shoreline provide beautiful surroundings for a variety of recreational opportunities.
For those looking to rent a boat, Carters Lake Marina & Resort is the place to go. They offer pontoon boat rentals for a day on the lake, and if you plan to stay overnight, they also offer pontoon/cabin packages.
Carter Lake has five boat ramps, making it easy to access the lake from any point. Boaters can explore the 6-mile impoundment and take in the scenery of the beautiful foothills in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Northwest Georgia.
It's important to note that Carter Lake is a national forest, and there are only three campgrounds and five boat ramps as the only shoreline developments on the lake. Visitors should take care to respect the natural environment and follow all rules and regulations to ensure the lake remains a beautiful and sustainable destination for years to come.
Events in Ellijay
We love Ellijay for its vibrant events scene. There's always something happening in the charming town of Ellijay GA, from live music performances to food festivals to outdoor activities and many other events and activities.
One of the most popular events in Ellijay is the annual Georgia Apple Festival. Held every fall, this festival celebrates the town's rich apple-growing heritage. Visitors can enjoy live music, arts and crafts vendors, and of course, plenty of delicious apple treats. If you're in town during the festival, be sure to check it out.
Ellijay also hosts a variety of other events throughout the year, including the Georgia Apple Blossom Festival in the spring and the Taste of Ellijay food festival in the summer.
You can find more information on Ellijay GA events on the Gilmer County Chamber Events page.
When visiting Ellijay, we highly recommend taking some time to explore the many nearby destinations. Luckily, there are plenty of options within driving distance that offer a change of scenery and unique experiences.
One popular destination is Blue Ridge Georgia which is just a short drive away. Blue Ridge offers a nice downtown, a scenic railroad (the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway), mountain views, outdoor activities, and restaurants.
Enjoy shopping, dining, and exploring antique stores in the quaint downtown area.
Dahlonega is a historic town located around 35 miles southwest of Ellijay. Dahlonega GA is widely known for its gold mining history, charming downtown area, and picturesque surroundings.
The town's gold rush heritage is celebrated in the Dahlonega Gold Museum, which is housed in the former Lumpkin County Courthouse. Visitors can explore exhibits that highlight the area's gold mining history and even try their hand at panning for gold.
Dahlonega's downtown square is a hub of activity, lined with shops, restaurants, and art galleries. The square has a vibrant atmosphere and is a popular spot for festivals and events throughout the year. You can browse unique shops, sample local wines, and enjoy a meal at one of the many eateries.
Wine enthusiasts will find plenty to enjoy in Dahlonega. The area is dotted with wineries and vineyards, offering wine tastings, tours, and picturesque views of the vine-covered hills. It's a great opportunity to sample regional wines and learn about the local winemaking process.
For outdoor adventure, the town is located near the Chattahoochee National Forest, which offers opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and camping. The nearby Amicalola Falls State Park, with its stunning waterfall and hiking trails, is also worth a visit.
For those looking for a city experience, Atlanta is just over an hour's drive from Ellijay. Explore the city's rich history at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site or the Atlanta History Center.
Visit the Georgia Aquarium, one of the largest aquariums in the world, or catch a game at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. And of course, no trip to Atlanta is complete without trying some of the city's famous Southern cuisine.
Finally, Blairsville GA is a nearby small town nestled in the Appalachian Mountains of North Georgia. It offers a tranquil and scenic setting, making it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.
One of the main attractions in Blairsville is Vogel State Park. It is one of Georgia's oldest and most beloved state parks, offering a range of recreational activities. Visitors can enjoy camping, fishing, boating, swimming, and hiking in the park's beautiful surroundings.
Another notable destination near Blairsville is Brasstown Bald. As the highest point in Georgia, it provides stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. A visit to Brasstown Bald is a must if you're in the area.
In downtown Blairsville, you'll find quaint shops, local restaurants, and historic landmarks. The town square is a focal point, hosting various events throughout the year, including the Blairsville Scottish Festival and Highland Games.
Blairsville is also known for its abundance of outdoor activities. There are numerous hiking trails in the area, including the famous Appalachian Trail, which passes close by. Outdoor enthusiasts can go hiking, biking, fishing, horseback riding, or simply enjoy the beauty of the surrounding nature.
FAQ - Ellijay GA
Here are some frequently asked questions about Ellijay GA along with answers based on our experience visiting Ellijay Georgia.
What is Ellijay GA known for?
Ellijay, GA is a scenic small mountain town destination known for its scenic beauty. Earning the title of "Apple Capital of Georgia," Ellijay is best known for its numerous apple orchards where visitors can pick their own apples and indulge in apple-themed delights.
Is Ellijay worth a visit?
Yes, Ellijay GA is absolutely worth visiting! Ellijay GA is full of hidden gems that make it worth a visit. From the beautiful scenic views of the North Georgia Mountains to its charming downtown area, you’ll find something special in this small mountain town. With its abundance of apple orchards and outdoor activities, Ellijay has plenty to offer visitors seeking a peaceful retreat from the hustle
What mountain range is Ellijay GA in?
Ellijay is situated in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, located in the northern part of Georgia. The town features stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountain range and offers visitors plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding mountains. Visitors can hike or bike through lush forests, pick their own apples, and relax by beautiful Carter Lake during a visit to Ellijay
What river runs through Ellijay GA?
The Ellijay River runs through the town of Ellijay and provides a great opportunity for fishing, canoeing, and kayaking. The river also offers visitors a beautiful view of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains
Final Thoughts on Things to Do in Ellijay GA
Our recent visit to Ellijay GA proved it to be a real hidden gem here in the Blue Ridge Mountains that offers a blend of natural beauty, outdoor adventures, and exceptional small-town charm. We hope you enjoyed our picks for the best things to do in Ellijay GA, and that you get a chance to do some of them on your own visit.
Ellijay really delivers beautiful scenery, plenty to see and do, and a friendly and vibrant community. Ellijay is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life and the more busy towns found in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
If you are looking for a taste of small-town charm and relaxation, and still enjoy some outdoor mountain adventure, you'll find Ellijay is truly a destination worth exploring.
We really enjoyed our visit and all of the best things to do in Ellijay GA. We look forward to returning again very soon! Stay tuned!