One of the positive things about Ms. Rona’s existence is that it makes us travel lovers creative if we want to continue to travel during her reign, especially safely. This vacation was a runner-up to our original planned birthday trip to Aruba for my husband’s birthday. Therefore, we didn’t necessarily have high expectations. Man, were we wrong. Our two night vacation was not nearly enough time to enjoy our Blue Ridge Mountain Vacation with our kids- twin two-year-old boys. I see why it was ranked by Southern Living Magazine as one of the 2020 South’s Best Mountain Towns
Blue Ridge: The Perfect Location
This area is such a gem, perfectly nestled on the Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee border. It’s about a ninety minute drive from Atlanta, two and a half hours from Charlotte, and three hours from Knoxville. We live in New Orleans and have family in Atlanta so we drove six hours to Atlanta, spent the night with family, and drove the remaining two hours to the Blue Ridge area the following day.
This location is home to some of nature’s most beautiful features in the Southern United States, including the Chattahoochee National Forest, hiking trails, water activities, vineyards, orchards, and more. Blue Ridge is the perfect location for a mountain vacation With kids.
Our Blue Ridge Mountain House Rental
There are SO MANY lodging options near and in the Blue Ridge area- from cabins, to tiny homes, to RV rentals and more. Unfortunately, I waited until the week before our trip to book our lodging in Blue Ridge, so our options were scarce- especially since this mountain vacation rental will house our young and active kids. We landed a house in Elijah, GA, less than 20 minutes from Blue Ridge, GA, via Airbnb. This home had an amazing view of the mountains. It was something special to wake up with the mountains as your backdrop.
The home itself was just okay. I say this because when I think about staying in the mountains, I think of welcoming furniture that invites you to cuddle and nestle in the living room. That was not the case with this home. The living room furniture was a wicker love seat along with three individual chairs. In addition, the house wasn’t necessarily the cleanest. I found hair in the bathroom sink and tub, along with food remnants in the kitchen sink. On the contrary, one cool feature that helped keep us entertained during a rainy patch was the game room. They had table tennis and foosball. The hubs and I would play while the boys fetched our balls. Fun was had by all!
KIDDO PRO TIP: Many of the activities in the area are outdoors; thus, subject to good weather and/or they close early in the evening. Therefore, make sure you bring activities for the kiddos to do inside. Luckily, I had animal window stickers in their travel bag. One rainy night, we spent time identifying animals and putting the stickers on the glass balcony doors.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that we saw a bear- a real life, breathing, moving cub! He was on top of the subdivision’s trash dumpsters searching for his next meal. When I first saw him I was amused; that is until he noticed us noticing him. My husband quickly shifted car gears and we made our way up the mountain. I was not ready for an entanglement with a bear.
So Many Things To Do Around Blue Ridge
I’m not exactly sure why I didn’t have the highest expectations for our Blue Ridge mountain vacation with our kids. Maybe it is because I thought that the only thing we could do was hike? Or that any of the available activities wouldn’t be accessible with two-year-olds? Either way, I was wrong.
Now of course, if it’s an adults-only trip or your kiddos are older, there are endless options. In fact, my husband and I visited this area while we were dating. We went whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River which runs throughout this area. It was amazing! Unfortunately, my boys are too young for this adventure.
Therefore, we looked for toddler-friendly activities close to Blue Ridge for our mountain vacation.
Checkout this post to get insight on the resources I use to find activities while on vacation.
FREE Tips and Tutorials On Catching Flight Deals
included in your FREE travel planning toolkit when subscribing
Brasstown Bald- The Highest Point In Georgia
Brasstown Bald is about an hour from Blue Ridge, nestled within the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest. I mean, if you’re going to Blue Ridge for a Mountain Vacation-even with kids- you have to go to the highest point in Georgia, right? Therefore, on our drive from Atlanta to the Blue Ridge area, we made a detour to Brasstown Bald. Let’s just say it was worth the detour.
Upon arriving, you have to pay a $5 entry fee per car. Parking was readily available right in front of the entrance of the trail. The website does mention that they only allow sixty cars at a time but there were probably only twenty cars or so when we were there on a Sunday afternoon.
Let me warn you now, the incline of the trail is not for the faint of heart, especially if you’re pushing an almost 40lb toddler in a stroller. We naively only took the short distance of a half a mile in consideration when mentally preparing for this hike. Our thought was “It’s a short trail and it’s paved, easy peasy.” Welp, we were wrong. I was literally sweating bullets within the first minutes of hiking with the stroller. Luckily, we were not the only ones with strollers on the trails. It gave us comfort that other parents are just as crazy as we are. Before you pass over Brasstown Bald because it’s not the easiest hike and/or you have kids in tow, let me just say IT IS WORTH IT.
KIDDO PRO TIP: If your kids are decent walkers, let them try to walk the trail on their own, at least on the way up. We had to go up some stairs; therefore, we took the boys out the stroller so they could walk up the stairs and they just took off and walked the remainder of the way up. Whew, this made a world of a difference; the difficulty decreased about 5 levels. We did not let them walk down the trail as again, it is a steep decline. I couldn’t shake the vision of one or both of my babies tumbling down the trail. Most likely I was being extreme, but I didn’t want to take the chance.
On the same note, going down wasn’t necessarily difficult in the sense of strenuous but using a stroller going down a steep decline equals fast moving wheels. Therefore, both my husband and I were hanging on to our respective stroller with our dear lives. Phew. It made for a good workout though.
When we finally arrived at the top of the observation deck, I could not believe that I was in Georgia. It was absolutely beautiful! The 360° view of the lush greenery that expands throughout four states- Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina- was beyond my expectations. It was absolutely perfect!
Morganton Point Beach
Who would have thought- a beachfront on Lake Blue Ridge with mountains as a backdrop. It made the perfect backdrop to our mountain vacation with our kids.
When arriving at the beach, you have to pay a $5 fee to park in the parking lot. Make sure to bring the $5 in cash as payment is by the honor system- putting the cash into an envelope and dropping the envelope in a secured box.
You will quickly learn that both the sand and water are pretty rocky, so be sure to bring your water shoes to protect your feet. The rockiness did not stop our boys. In fact, the rocks were a highlight. We spent at least half of our time throwing rocks into the water- seeing who can find the biggest rock, throw the farthest, and make the biggest splash.
Similarly, the water is rather shallow, allowing the boys to go further in the water than usual. They thought this was pretty cool. In fact, they played “hide and seek” with their monster truck in the water. One boy would throw the monster truck in the water and the other had to find and recover it. This kept them entertained for almost an hour. SCORE!
There is a shop at the beach where you can rent beach chairs, kayaks, and large inflatables to bring some additional fun to the water. Similarly, they sell swim shoes and snacks in case you forgot to bring your own. The ladies working the shop were extremely friendly and welcoming.
While there, I noticed families boating, having picnics, and also taking advantage of the hiking trails. All of the activities available to do in a single location was pretty impressive. If you’re in the area, make sure you spend some time there. It was the perfect “socially distant” beach experience.
My husband was dead set on going to an orchard to get some Georgia peaches. Therefore, before we could leave the area, we had to stop at Mercier Orchard. I was pleasantly surprised; it was such an amazing experience.
Not only did they sell freshly picked peaches and apples, along with other fruits and vegetables, but they had a bakery that made fresh deliciousness daily. Upon opening the door to the orchard, the smell of freshly baked goodies fills your body with comfort. I was immediately sold. I rushed directly to the bakery to uncover what goodies I could find. And oh boy, they did not disappoint. They had fried pies filled with apples and other fruit, caramel apples, and the most amazing apple cinnamon donuts. When I tell you these donuts were perfect, oh my! They were soft, full of flavor, and not overly sweet. The donuts alone were worth the visit.
The Tasting Room
How cool is it that an orchard has a tasting room?!?! They have so many varieties of hard cider and wines. Not only can you buy bottles to take home, but they let you sample the options so you’re confident in your selection (insert dancing emoji!) For those who prefer non-alcoholic options, they have regular apple cider, muscadine cider, and sparkling cider. So many options!!
This orchard has fresh fruits and vegetables, a bakery, and a tasting room. What else could they possibly have? Well, a full shopping experience. There was a home section, an entire room with great finds for the kiddos- like books, stuffed animals, and cars- along with several pantry and kitchen options. I found so many goodies!
U Pick and Picnics
We were so bummed that they were not offering U Pick- the opportunity to pick a variety of fruit from apples, strawberries, peaches, blueberries and blackberries. They plan to offer this option beginning fall 2020. I just might be tempted to go back when it’s available.
This orchard has over 300+ acres of beautifully manicured land. There were families enjoying the beauty while having picnics. What a great idea! I only wished that I would’ve known this was an option in advance because I most definitely would’ve planned to picnic there. Such a beautiful and peaceful scenery.
Things We Wished We Had Time To Do:
To my pleasant surprise, there are so many kid-friendly activities to do near Blue Ridge. Below are a few of the activities the piqued our interest but we did not have the opportunity to experience:
Blue Ridge Hiking Trails
Firstly, can you believe that we ran out of time to do any hiking trails in Blue Ridge? I mean, how is that possible? This is the first activity we will do on our next visit. We did some initial research and there appears to be some easy trails that we can do with our kiddos in tow. We cannot wait to explore!
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
How cool would it be to take a train ride through the Appalachian Foothills? Unfortunately, we were not able to try it out as it only runs Thursday through Saturday- days we were not there. The main tour that they offer is a four hour, twenty-six mile adventure through small towns settled in the mountains along the Toccoa River. The actual train ride is an hour each way. Included in the four hours is a two hour stop at two sister towns located on the borders of Georgia and Tennessee. This layover gives you the time to explore each town and uncover some treasures- including restaurants and boutiques.
There are also shorter trip options, but they are only available around the holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas.
As cool as this experience sounds, I honestly don’t know if I want to do this experience while Ms. Rona is still around. I may be willing to try it out on a Thursday, when the likelihood of a smaller occupancy is possible. I most definitely would do my research on COVID precautions before booking.
Throughout our travels in and around Blue Ridge, we passed so many vineyards! Unfortunately, we didn’t have the opportunity to really enjoy a tasting. I did however stop inside of one (and happen to buy a bottle) on our search for muscadine grapes- don’t ask- another one of my husband’s quests. Most vineyards had seating both inside and out. I’m pretty sure we could’ve enjoyed a wine tasting outside while the boys ran around. This is most definitely on the list for when we return.
We Cannot Wait To Return To Blue Ridge
I hear that fall is the best time to go- the leaves start to change colors and the weather is not as hot. Honestly, if Ms. Rona is still around early fall and I’m itching for a mountain vacation with our kids, we may just return Blue Ridge, GA. Upon our return, I’ll be sure to do the things mentioned above- especially hiking the trails in Blue Ridge, doing a U-Pick at Mercier Orchards, and going to a vineyard. I will also book my lodging in advance- in hopes to find a tiny house, RV, or a house with a hot tub or pool and outdoor space for the boys to run around outside.
Either way, Blue Ridge, GA is most definitely on my “to return” list.