Girlfriend’s Getaway in the Heart of Georgia’s Wine Country
The heart of Georgia’s wine country beckons girlfriends who love to gather, celebrate their sisterhood and sample the grape. Dahlonega, site of the first gold rush in U.S. history in 1828, has scads of shops and boutiques, spas and eateries, arts and crafts and history—all situated against a backdrop of mountains, forests and vineyards.
Day 1 These Are a Few of Girlfriends’ Favorite Things
Begin at the Historic Public Square for one-of-a-kind shopping: Studio Jewelers, A Child’s Garden, Quigley’s Rare Books & Antiquities, The Glass Blowing Shop—Dahlonega is a shopper’s paradise. Off the square is Magical Threads, the largest quilting supply store in Georgia, and the New Age trove of spirited goodies at Mystic Gifts and Treasures. See what local and regional artists are creating at Bleu Art Gallery, Hummingbird Lane Art Gallery and the recently re-opened Buisson Arts Center, which presents gallery showings in a beloved downtown landmark. Sample the homemade, melt-in-your-mouth confections at The Fudge Factory, a second-generation family-owned candy business.
Get the flavor of the community’s gold heritage with a tour of the Gold Museum in the old Courthouse, sitting in the center of the Square. Then enjoy roasted hummus or a wrap at Twinkle’s Retro Café and Boutique or a burger and malted at Connie’s Ice Cream & Sandwich Shop, a blast from the past with frozen treats, counter stools and handwritten specials. After lunch, it’s time for some personal pampering: Head to Littlefield Cottage Healing Arts & Day Spa, an oasis of relaxation and renewal for the body, mind and spirit, for one of its signature customized facials or other skin therapy. After a busy day of shopping, stop in at the wine tasting rooms that dot the historic square.
This evening, treat yourself to the casual, bistro-style Corkscrew Café and then journey from one café to another, as you cross the Square to the Café at the Crimson Moon for musical entertainment. This intimate music venue with a gallery vibe hosts regionally and nationally touring acoustic artists as savory delectables and boutique wines are served in the restaurant.
Day 2 Mines and Martinis
Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy a morning spent adventuring: canoeing, kayaking or tubing during season; hiking year-round in the Chattahoochee National Forest (moderate to advanced trails) and to numerous waterfalls, including the cascades at Amicalola Falls State Park, home to the highest waterfall in the Eastern United States, Amicalola Falls. (The CVB can provide a list of waterfalls and directions.) Visit Kangaroo Conservation Center, a wildlife educational experience that brings visitors up-close to the largest kangaroo population outside Australia: 300 bouncing ‘roos in nine species. You’ll also meet other Australasian animals and plant life and a variety of birds, including the boisterous kookaburras; or the popular Chestatee Wildlife Preserve home to exotic and domestic animals.
Follow the gold! After a relaxing lunch at the Oar House, a down-home delicious eatery with gourmet zing perched right on the Chestatee River, tour the gold mines: Consolidated Gold Mines, the largest gold mining operation east of the Mississippi, and Crisson Gold Mine, Georgia’s only working 124-year-old stamp mill. Learn to pan for gold and grub for gems and then have your gemstone finds set into original jewelry on the spot.
For dinner and an evening of entertainment, relax over a fine meal at Dante’s on the Square or enjoy a pizza and the folksy hand-painted interior at Caruso's Italian Restaurant before taking in a performance at the award-winning Holly Theatre, just a few steps off the Square. Broadway-style musicals, concerts and special events are held year-round at this former movie palace, listed on the National Register of Historic Places and recognized as the home of one of Georgia’s best performing companies. Afterwards, it’s martinis and a mellow ambience at Dominique’s Bartini.
Day 3 Vittles and Vineyards
Brunch at the Smith House is not to be missed: Its fried chicken will have you forgetting your manners in favor of licking your fingers. Served family-style at roomy tables, the restaurant’s famous feast includes baked ham and roast beef is accompanied by a smorgasbord of your favorite sides, including candied yams, turnip greens, fried okra, dumplings and more, plus soft, warm yeast roles. Afterward, visit the restaurant’s excavated gold mine and mini-museum of artifacts, including medicine bottles and dental implements; then browse the gift shop for homemade jams and jellies and hand-crafted gift items.
Work off the calories with a tour of Dahlonega’s award-winning wineries, each offering a unique taste on the grape landscape: Frogtown Cellars and its timber-framed informality; cozy Blackstock Vineyards and Winery with its rustic lodge sensibility; Three Sisters Vineyards and Winery, sitting in the shadow of the peaks for which it is named and welcoming visitors with a breezy, drop-by-anytime attitude; and Wolf Mountain Vineyards and Winery with its European-style tasting rooms and sweeping mountain views. Be sure to stock up on your favorites to take home as a remembrance of Dahlonega, the heart of Georgia’s wine country.
CONTACT: Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Chamber of Commerce, Convention & Visitors Bureau, 800.231.5543, 706.864.3711, www.dahlonega.org
Girlfriend Getaway Stays
Dahlonega’s many lodging options range from darling B&Bs with scenic views and spa, wellness or outdoor packages; elegant amenity-laden mountain cabins; and historic in-town accommodations that put you within easy strolling of shopping, dining, theatre and music venues.
For information on spas, mountain biking and other activities in Dahlonega, visit www.Dahlonega.org
B&Bs & Lodges
Lily Creek Lodge (www.lilycreeklodge.com). Theme rooms, including the Antarctica Room with framed photography taken by innkeepers Sharon and Don Bacek, are tucked onto three levels of this European-style B&B overlooking a private swimming pool with waterfall and a tree house for quiet reading.
Long Mountain Lodge (www.longmountainlodge.com) is surrounded by the Chattahoochee National Forrest and each of its six luxury guestrooms is named for a mountain in the distance. Innkeeper Diane Quigley, a former restaurateur and baker, makes a light-as-air waffle that nearly floats off the plate.
Mountain Laurel Creek Inn and Oasis Spa (www.mountainlaurelcreek.com). The revel is in the detail: sumptuous rooms given instant ambience with remote controlled gas fireplaces, roomy whirlpools and makeup vanities and with local folk art, plump linens and bathrobes. Innkeepers Dennis Hoover and David Mulcahy invite guests to create their own spa package from their menu of massage, facial and body treatments.
Mountain Top Lodge at Dahlonega (www.mountaintoplodge.net). This elegantly rustic lodge includes both country house and romantic cottage, each an amenity-laden retreat for the discerning traveler.
Pura Veda USA Wellness and Yoga Retreat (www.puravidausa.com) is where mind, body and spirit connect in the simplicity of a farmhouse-style resort with spa treatments, nature trails and outdoor whirlpool.
Cavender Creek Cabins (www.cavendercreek.com) is a complex of spacious, fully equipped cabins with fireplaces, perched right in the palm of Mother Nature.
Forrest Hills Mountain Resort (www.foresths.com) is a 140-acre wooded enclave with a variety of accommodations, including charming gingerbread-trimmed cottages, and an onsite Day Spa with a full menu of massages and facials.
The circa 1884 Smith House (www.smithhouse.com) is a country inn in the city with homey guestrooms and home-style cooking.
Top of the Square (www.topofthesquare.com) has gracious appointments like claw-foot antique bathtub and separate sitting room and an unsurpassed bird’s eye view of Dahlonega’s Historic Public Square.
The 1845 Historic Worley Homestead (www.bbonline.com/ga/worley) is an antique-laden Victorian with seven guestrooms and a Southern-style country breakfast.
For additional lodging options, visit www.dahlonega.org; or call the Dahlonega Visitors Center at 1-800-231-5543; local 1-706-864-3711.