Ellijay GA is a wonderful small town in the mountains of North Georgia, and a town we've had on our short list to visit for a while now. We finally visited Ellijay recently and this travel blog tells you all about our recent Ellijay GA Weekend Getaway.
If you're looking for an amazing weekend getaway in the North Georgia mountains, make sure to give Ellijay a try. We promise you won't be disappointed!
Now join us, as we spend a weekend in the charming mountain town of Ellijay GA.
Disclosure: We were invited to Ellijay GA by the Gilmer County Chamber of Commerce and our visit was 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.
Ellijay GA Weekend Getaway
One of our goals over the past couple of years was to expand our reach in the Blue Ridge Mountains and begin spending more time exploring areas of the Blue Ridge that we don't live in, or nearby.
One of those areas was the North Georgia mountains.
Our first for 2023 was to Ellijay, where we spent a weekend an incredible rental cabin, exploring the historic and beautiful downtown, searching for Bigfoot, eating at the best Ellijay restaurants, hiking to waterfalls, tasting wines, and many more things to do!
In this travel blog, we'll cover all of the places we visited, things to do in town, and tips for planning your own Ellijay adventure. Plus, we'll share our favorite photos from the trip!
Driving from Waynesville NC to Ellijay GA
Ellijay GA is about 2.5 hours from our hometown of Waynesville NC. The drive is gorgeous, as you travel through the high elevations of the Balsams near the Blue Ridge Parkway, and along the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains as you travel by Cherokee and Bryson City NC.
We've done the drive many times before heading south for various trips to Atlanta and Florida. Our favorite part of the drive is through the Nantahala Gorge where you follow along the Nantahala River. Absolutely beautiful.
We soon arrived in Blue Ridge GA, and Ellijay is just a few minutes past Blue Ridge on Highway 76.
Our destination was the Welcome Center in downtown Ellijay.
Downtown Ellijay and the Welcome Center
We soon pulled into the town center of Ellijay GA, with its large roundabout surrounded by shops and restaurants in historic old buildings. The town was vibrant, with people walking along the streets, shopping, and munching away on snacks.
Ellijay has that classic old town center, called Ellijay Circle, where the town centers around the traffic circle, there is a landscaped area in the middle, with a historic old town hall. It's a charming small mountain town, that we began to like immediately
We parked behind the Welcome Center, which is an old home right on Ellijay Circle. We visited shortly before the 4th of July weekend, and the Welcome Center was beautifully decorated for July 4th. The building looked very festive.
We walked in, introduced ourselves, and grabbed our Welcome Basket, which was full of information on Ellijay and surrounding areas, from maps to downtown to restaurants, to nearby hiking trails and waterfalls, to information on local wineries. All of this information is available in the Welcome Center run by the Gilmer County Chamber, and we highly recommend you stop by.
Donna and Joe were working that day, and we really enjoyed talking with them. If you have an opportunity to meet and talk to Joe, do so. Especially if you love a little mystery and the unknown. Joe has been in Ellijay for a long time and spends a great deal of time out in the woods exploring. He definitely has some things to show and share with you.
Heading to Out of the Bleu Cabin
Our home away from home for the weekend was Out of the Bleu Cabin, an AirBnB located about 15 minutes outside of downtown Ellijay in the beautiful Coosawattee River Resort. The drive there was really nice, as we were surrounded by rolling hills and vineyards along the way.
When travelling, we far prefer AirBnBs and Bed & Breakfasts, just a personal preference for us. We have nothing against hotels, and there are some nice hotels in Ellijay as well, for those that prefer them.
Coosawattee River Resort is a gated community, with a guard during normal business hours. We stopped, gave our names and lot # and were allowed through. The community is beautiful, with paved roads.
It didn't take long for us to spot our first deer. This would be one of many we would see in the resort during our stay.
Out of the Bleu Cabin
Out of the Bleu Cabin is located towards the back side of the resort, but we found it soon enough, and it was gorgeous.
We didn't realize before we arrived that it was new construction, and I mean brand new, with construction wrapping up in late 2022.
We pulled into the driveway excited to see what the inside looked like. We had seen photos, but it's just never the same. We entered the code and opened the door.
The first thing that hit us was that new home smell. The interior was very open and full of natural wood trim. The vaulted ceiling was stunning, going all the way to the top of the cabin. The main living area and kitchen are connected, making one large open space.
The huge fireplace immediately drew our attention and is surrounded by large windows that provide a gorgeous long-distance view.
The house has 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, 2 decks with outdoor spaces, a hot tub, and a game room. The game room even has a selfie backdrop with a blue neon sign that says "Out of the Bleu", and the best thing ever? A Pac-Man machine.
Needless to say, the cabin was gorgeous, and we were so excited to stay there for the weekend. It far exceeded our expectations.
After exploring, we quickly unloaded our car, changed clothes, and had to run back to Ellijay for dinner.
Diner at Bev's Diner
Bev's is a relatively new addition to Ellijay and is a 50s-themed diner that specializes in burgers, shakes, and floats. Bev's isn't super fancy and not very big, but they focus on food, which is just fine with us. Don't misunderstand us, it's a nice little restaurant, and very clean, with excellent food.
Their burgers are made to order and are made from local all-natural beef from Bear Creek Cattle Company.
We were greeted by our friendly server Zeta. We took a few minutes to look over the pretty long list of different burgers and options. We ended up ordering two bacon cheeseburgers, one with fresh-cut fries, and one with onion rings. We also ordered the "Howdy Ya'll" burger which includes sweet BBQ sauce, onion rings, and cheddar cheese.
Our food quickly came out, hot and fresh and the owners, Abbey, and her brother came out and talked to us for a bit, both were super nice and excited about their new place.
The burgers were by far some of the best we've ever had, and the portions were huge. We couldn't eat it all. But we did save some room for dessert and ordered a Coke Float and Butterscotch milkshake. Let me tell you, that Butterscotch milkshake was incredible.
We really enjoyed our meal at Bev's and we highly recommend you try them when visiting Ellijay GA. We love a great burger, and Bev's serves them up, hot and fresh. The sides of fries and onion rings were very good as well, and not greasy at all - which is a huge plus.
Bev's is definitely a place we would eat time and time again.
We headed back to our vacation cabin, to get some rest, as it had been a long day. Tomorrow (Saturday) was full of activities and another full day.
Breakfast at Ellijay Coffeehouse
After a wonderful and quiet night's rest at Out of the Bleu, we woke up early and headed into Ellijay to catch some breakfast.
Ellijay Coffeehouse had been recommended to us by a number of people, so we decided to give them a try, and we're super glad we did.
Ellijay Coffeehouse is located right downtown and serves up fantastic coffee, breakfast sandwiches, and pastries. The staff was super friendly, incredibly professional, and courteous. The coffeehouse is like having breakfast at home, with lots of comfortable seating areas and a warm inviting atmosphere.
We ended up getting an Apple Pie Latte, a Cinnamon Roll Latte, and a hot chocolate, along with a lemon cake, chocolate donut, and some Panini breakfast sandwiches. The Paninis were the "Appalachian Sunrise", which includes bacon, egg, spinach, brie, and chipotle peach spread. All were absolutely fantastic. The peach spread really made the sandwich, and the coffees were great. Not overly sweet or flavored, just just right.
Definitely on our list of top favorite coffee houses. Highly recommended, and a local favorite as well.
Ellijay Farmer's Market
We had a little time to kill between coffee and our planned visit to Expedition Bigfoot at 10:00am and decided to visit the Farmer's Market, which occurs every weekend behind the Welcome Center and next to the large courthouse downtown.
We arrived shortly after it opened, and there were about 50 vendors or so setup. It was larger than we expected, and full of vendors selling fresh produce, homemade items like soap and jewelry, art, and much more.
The Farmer's Market is definitely a place you'll want to visit and explore when in Ellijay GA for the weekend. We really enjoyed it and purchased some soaps and jewelry items. We really wanted some of the fresh produce being sold, but it would have roasted in our car all day.
We'll be honest about Expedition Bigfoot, we weren't sure what to expect, and honestly expected some cheesy "museum" that had a bunch of fake-looking items and selling t-shirts.
We were so very wrong ...
Expedition Bigfoot is a nice and very serious museum that really surprised us. While not super huge, it is packed with artifacts, exhibits, and movies showcasing various Bigfoot items, significant Bigfoot locations, and real footage of Bigfoot sightings. There are even audio tours and audio recordings of bigfoot sounds.
The staff is professional and really knowledgeable as well as Bigfoot and the Legend. Special thanks to Amanda for getting our tour started, and putting up with all of our questions!
We did the full tour and watched some of the documentary movies and footage being shown. We also explored the shop, which again, I thought would be super cheesy, but honestly had some really cool stuff. We ended up purchasing some socks for our son, and I got a "Believe" T-shirt.
We arrived at the museum being very skeptical but left really wondering if Bigfoot really does exist. Do we believe? No, not 100%, but there is definitely something going on. There is just too much history and evidence to think otherwise. Expedition Bigfoot really got us thinking.
Hiking to Fall Branch Falls
After wrapping up our fun experience at Expedition Bigfoot, it was time to hit the trail and do some hiking.
Turns out, there is a waterfall called Fall Branch Falls about 20 minutes from Expedition Bigfoot. The drive there is on a remote gravel road, through some gorgeous forest and farmland.
We really enjoyed the drive.
Fall Branch Falls is located along the Benton McKaye Trail. The hike out to the base of the falls is short, only about 1/2 mile, but there is a pretty steady incline for the majority of distance. Not too difficult, but moderate.
This is a pretty busy hiking trail and the parking area was nearly full when we arrived late morning. Fall Branch Falls was really nice, with two main cascades flowing down into the creek. The best time for photos would be early AM or late PM.
While there, something pretty scary happened. A lady was up on the top area (where the couple is in the photo above, but closer to the edge. She slide all the way down the waterfall. She said she wasn't hurt, but we suspect she probably was. It was a long slide with a hard landing on the rocks below. She did walk out though.
Just a stark reminder to always stay off the waterfalls, the rocks are slick and a fall can be deadly. Be safe out there.
Fall Branch Falls is definitely worth a visit, especially given the short hike. The only downside was that a local glamping venue has built a facility alongside the creek and next to the waterfall. While these looked really nice, it did take away from the natural and remote feeling of the waterfall.
Lunch at the Pink Pig
After a busy morning searching for Bigfoot and hiking to Fall Branch Falls, we were hungry.
We had heard that The Pink Pig in nearby Cherry Log had some of the best BBQ in the area, so we headed that way. The Pink Pig is not far at all from Expedition Bigfoot.
The Pink Pig is a rustic-looking restaurant located just off Cherry Log Street. The restaurant is rustic, as it was built in the 1950s as a store and grist mill. The building became The Pink Pig in 1967 and has been serving up fantastic BBQ and its famous garlic salad ever since.
We were seated in the back area and began looking over the large and delicious-sounding menu.
To start, we ordered an appetizer sampler of fried green tomatoes, the Oink Onion (their version of the well known blooming onion), and fried pickles. We also tried the famous garlic salad.
The fried items were delicious, and lightly fried, which was nice. The salad ... well the salad is just simply amazing. So much so, that we brought some of their in-house garlic dressing home with us. It's available for purchase in their store on the way out.
For dinner, we ordered the pulled pork plate and pulled pork sandwich, some ribs, and brisket. Our sides were fries, coleslaw, and fried okra. All absolutely delicious. The ribs were so tender, they were literally falling off the bone. We love to try coleslaw at various restaurants, and theirs was excellent, which is rare in our experience.
For dessert, we sampled their peanut butter pie, blackberry cobbler, and banana pudding. All delicious, but that banana pudding ... well, it was incredible. The peanut butter pie was good, but a hit heavy and very rich.
We left very full ... too much so actually, and honestly, needed another hike to burn off all of the food!
Tim, our server, and the entire staff at The Pink Pig were so good to us, incredibly helpful, friendly. We really appreciate Tim taking the time to explain all of the food, telling us about the restaurants history, and for just being a great guy. Thanks Tim!
Out of our entire visit, The Pink Pig was our favorite place to eat and we highly recommend you pay them. You will thank us later.
Exploring Downtown Ellijay and Antique Stores
Since we first arrived in Ellijay, we had been really looking forward to spending some time exploring the historic downtown area. We found a parking place, grabbed a town map from the Welcome Center, and began exploring all of the cool shops and antique stores.
Ellijay GA is of course well known for Apples, but it's also very well known for its large number of nice antique stores. In fact, so much so, that they have an Antiques Trail you can follow. Stop by the visitor's center and grab a pamphlet.
When you visit a certain number of stores and make a purchase, you get a check. If you get enough checks, you win a prize! There is also a Sips Trail and Sweets Trail as well!
All of these friendly folks were super accommodating of us, and we appreciate it!
When visiting, plan to spend a few hours downtown. There is lots to see, and many different restaurants and places to grab coffee, snacks and sweets. The historic downtown is wonderful.
Grapes and Ladders Winery
The wine property is gorgeous, with rolling green hills covered in vineyards. The main tasting building sits just off Highway 382, surrounded by a gravel parking area. The vineyard is very casual and laid back, and we really enjoyed it. Some wineries can be a bit stuffy, but Grapes and Ladders is not.
We stood at the main bar area and sampled their selection of wines, all made right there at the Winery.
Jenn prefers whites, and I prefer Reds. She tasted the Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Seven Bridges Rose, and Cherokee Rose. I tasted the Some Like It Red (a red blend), Whole Lotta Red (Syrah and Cabernet Blend), Cabernet Sauvignon RESERVE, and the Southern Treasure Port.
All were excellent, with our favorites being: the Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon RESERVE, and the Port. The Port was exceptionally excellent and unique being made from Chambourcin and Zinfandel grapes, with some brandy added.
They also have Wine slushies (and grape slushies for kids). We've never had a wine slushie before, but they were way better than we expected. Definitely, a great way to cool off on a warm summer day.
Grapes and Ladders has a really nice outdoor patio that overlooks the Vineyards and is excellent for just hanging out, drinking some great wine, and relaxing. On weekends, they even have live bands.
We really enjoyed our visit, and the owner and staff were excellent and great to work with. Our visit really had us wishing we had some nice wineries in the Waynesville NC area of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Dinner at The Roof
After our wonderful wine tasting, we headed back into downtown Ellijay for dinner reservations at The Roof.
We had heard a lot about this restaurant, mainly due to the nice view it has from the top of a building in downtown Ellijay.
We parked nearby and took the elevator up to the top. We learned later there are stairs as well. The elevator took us up to the top, where the hostess station is located and the main restaurant and bar.
There is a mix of indoor and outdoor seating at The Roof. In the center is glass-enclosed indoor seating with a full bar area. Around the perimeter are outdoor tables, and bar stools with table areas facing out into the town so you can have a drink and enjoy the view.
The distant mountains and nice overall view of downtown Ellijay was nice.
Now, it does get pretty warm up on that rooftop, but The Roof has a number of large fans blowing and some fine cool mist blowing all around the perimeter. It does really help.
We were seated at one of the shaded outdoor seats and began to look over the menu. It all looked really good.
We started off with some drinks for the specialty drink menu and ordered the fried green tomatoes and Old Bay Peel and Eat Shrimp.
For dinner, we ordered Apple Butter Meatloaf, which our daughter loved, the Fresh Appalachian Trout which was very good, and Grilled Salmon. The Trout wasn't the best we've had in our Blue Ridge Mountains adventures but was still very good and grown locally so it was fresh. Being fresh makes a huge difference.
Overall the food and drinks were good, and the views outstanding. We did run into some service issues, but nothing major, and they were pretty busy.
We enjoyed dining as we watched the sunset behind the mountains, then headed back to our rental cabin. It had been a long day, and we needed to just relax and unwind for the remainder of the evening.
We opened some wine, opened the hot tub, and just relaxed for the evening.
Back to Waynesville NC
Our adventures in Ellijay GA were about done, for this trip at least. We are planning a trip back during the fall for apple season, and we look forward to exploring the many apple orchards ... and eating some apple goodies of course!
We packed up our car and very regrettably said goodbye to Out of the Bleu Cabin, which we literally fell in love with. We joked about putting it on top of our car and bringing it home with us.
On the way out, our plan was to stop at The Chili Dog, one of the oldest restaurants in Ellijay for their breakfast, which we heard was fantastic. We also heard they have these huge cinnamon buns ... but they are closed on Sunday. The Chili Dog is on the top of our list for our next trip!
Instead, we stopped at the Cornerstone Kitchen, where we fortunately grabbed the last table before a wait began.
They were busy and for good reason. The food was really good with they have some unique breakfast items on the menu, including the stuffed pancake, which was basically a pancake omelet - a large pancake with eggs, cheese, and bacon inside.
Our the drive home, in the Nantahala Gorge, we saw Steam Engine 1702, the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad steam engine sitting at the Nantahala Outdoor Center (or NOC as locals call it).
Turns out it was delayed but was going to be moving again soon. We quickly turned around and headed back up to a good viewing spot to capture some photos and video. We soon heard the whistle and that familiar chug chug sound, and knew it was coming.
1702 steamed by shortly after, and we got some great photos and video and waved to the crew and all the passengers.
Wrapping up our Weekend Getaway in Ellijay GA
When you visit a small town for the first time, in an area you aren't super familiar with, you never really know what to expect. We had heard good things about Ellijay, which was why it was on our shortlist of Blue Ridge Mountain towns to visit, but hearing about something and reality of it can sometimes be a bit different.
To say that we really loved Ellijay Georgia, would be an understatement.
The town and its people are absolutely charming. They were all so kind and helpful, it was almost surreal.
The Gilmer County Chamber went above and beyond to make sure our stay was excellent, and that we got to experience the true essence of the town and it's people. We definitely cannot wait to go back. Thanks Caitlin!
The same can be said for Amy, the host of Out of the Bleu Cabin - She was very responsive, helpful, and went out of her way to make us feel at home in their cabin. We cannot say thank you enough, and the cabin is well .. phenomenal.
Ellijay GA is a special place, and one that will take you back in a time a little. We highly recommend you "Pick" Ellijay GA, one of our new favorite Blue Ridge Mountain towns.