September 30, 2020
2020 has been a record year… one we want to escape from yet also embrace at the same time. We’ve enjoyed the extra family time as well as the ability to focus on spending more time in the great outdoors. Our drive to explore, get lost, and travel with no plans is still very alive. As the end of September drew near, we found ourselves itching to get out of the house and travel. We loaded up the car and headed out for a weekend in the North Georgia mountains. The drive isn’t too bad from the Florida Panhandle – an easy 6-7 hour road trip.
North Georgia is where I was born and raised. If you are anything like me, traveling back home is bittersweet. I’m beyond thankful I moved so many years ago and started a new adventure, but nothing will ever replace the feeling of home. The changing colors of leaves along the mountaintop; the great Southern home-style cooking; the mom-and-pop vibe of the small, country cities. Playing tourist in your hometown gives you a fun, new perspective. You should try it one day!
Our first day was a washout, but no fear! We didn’t let that get us down. Through our adventures, we have learned that when it rains, the waterfalls are bigger and better than ever. We set our sites on Chattanooga, Tennessee, where we visited Ruby Falls. After we descended 260 feet into the mountain, we explored the cavern and various formations that resembled bacon, angel’s wings, and steak and eggs. Then, there she was in her glorious, natural wonder – the tallest and deepest underground waterfall open to the public in the United States. It’s a mesmerizing view, and the photos we left with are living-room-wall worthy. #travelhack: take a panoramic photo of the falls from top to bottom!
Ruby Falls is perfect for kids of all ages, and the best part is that there is so much more to do close by! It was too rainy and foggy to see much of anything from Lookout Mountain, but we heard on a clear day, you can see 7 states from the top! They also have a zip line course and are close to Rock City as well as the Incline Railway.
Once our 1.5 hour guided tour ended, we hopped over to the Tennessee Aquarium near the stunning Tennessee River. We didn’t have time to do more exploring but enjoyed the scenery. It was getting late, so we ventured on back to our Georgia lodging, ate a quick dinner, and headed off to bed.
Getting a good night’s rest is key when travelling. We always have better vacations when we have a clear mind and plenty of energy! We stopped by Mom’s house to pick her up and bring her along with us for an epic day! Our first stop was in Cherry Log, Georgia, near Elijay, at the Expedition: Bigfoot! The Sasquatch Museum. The experience was much like one would imagine – adventurous, filled with curiosity, and memorable. The self-guided, indoor tour took about 45-60 minutes as we checked all the exhibits and caught a couple films to learn more about the elusive sasquatch. We learned what Bigfoot sounds like in the wild and grabbed a quick photo with a life-size replica. We came skeptical and left as believers.
Feeling exhilarated, we wanted to continue our adventure into the unknown. Just a short distance away was Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge, Georgia. This family-owned orchard dates back to 1943 and offers u-pick experiences, a fresh grab-n-go bakery, and tastings. We spent nearly an hour in the bakery store – everything looked so good and smelled so fresh! We wound up with apples we had never heard of, an apple and cherry pie, dried apples, apple cider, and homemade wing sauce. They have so much to offer – you must go by! Make sure to check out their website for special COVID precautions and changes to normal offerings.
The day was barely over, and we knew we needed to experience more. About an hour drive later, we found ourselves hiking a short distance up a steep incline to Brasstown Bald – the highest point in Georgia, resting at 4,784 feet above sea level. (Sometimes there is a shuttle that runs to the top, but it was not operating today.) There was a cute 8,000 sq ft museum at the top which shared interactive cultural and natural history exhibits as well as a fun kid’s search around the museum. The observation deck offers stunning 360-degree views of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, and, on a clear day, you can see 4 states!
After reviewing local recommendations, our last stop along the journey was Helen, Georgia. This area is full of adventure including vineyards, Bavarian-style architecture, 2 waterfalls, Chattahoochee National Forest trails, a tubing waterpark and so much more. We shopped around, grabbed coffee at Yonah Coffee, and ended our afternoon with a ride along the Georgia Mountain Coaster – an experience we’ll never forget! It’s a thrilling coaster ride where we used no brakes as we headed downhill. The track was filled with lots of twists and turns (and screams of course!) With the sun setting, it was time to head home – a long and winding road down the mountain.
Exhausted from an adventurous two days, we spent a few days chilling with family. Low-key backyard evenings, college football, and cuddle time were enjoyed by all. I feel so lucky and blessed to have the opportunity to travel – to see, learn, and experience the world around me. For those of you who have the chance but claim you don’t have time, do something good for your soul, and take time for yourself. Live a life worth remembering. Let the good times fill your heart, and remember, there is no place like home!
Check out our recent blog where we discuss our favorite days of the year – our girl’s spa days in Destin, Florida!
#letsmakeplans #traveloften #vacationmode #northgeorgiamountains
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