From pristine waterfalls to charming downtown shops, outdoor enthusiasts and culture seekers alike will cherish a visit to Ellijay, Georgia. This small town in the mountains of North Georgia has a surprisingly large selection of enchanting activities you won’t soon forget. Let’s explore Ellijay together!
About Ellijay, Georgia
Ellijay is located in Northern Georgia on the Zell Miller Mountain Parkway (Georgia 515) between Blue Ridge and Jasper. Known as the “Apple Capital of Georgia,” tourists flock here year-round to visit the town’s heritage orchards and to take part in its annual apple festival held every October.
The name Ellijay is derived from the Cherokee word Elatseyi. However, there is debate over the original meaning. Most people believe it means “new ground” or “land of many waters,” and both are accurate descriptors of the area’s landscape.
You’ll find plenty of new ground to cover in this city, from mountainous trails to downtown sidewalks. And if water sports are calling your name, the Ellijay, Cartecay, and Coosawattee Rivers will not disappoint.
Spending a Weekend in Ellijay, Georgia
Ellijay is the perfect weekend getaway. Dining, entertainment, shopping, and adventure are all part of the experience. Let’s see what an enchanting weekend could look like for you!
Build an Ark Animal Rescue
Address: 27 Eagle Mountain Dr, Ellijay, GA 30540
Reasons to Love It: There’s a reason Build an Ark Animal Rescue is Trip Advisor’s #1 Thing to Do in Ellijay. This animal sanctuary provides care and hospice to rescued animals of all kinds. If you’re an animal lover, you’ll treasure the opportunity to pet and feed donkeys, horses, pigs, ducks, sheep, goats, dogs, cats, and more.
Build an Ark charges a small donation fee of $7 per person to feed the animals, but it’s well worth it for the experience! Plus, the donation helps keep the rescue up and running.
Visit Amicalola Falls State Park
Address: 418 Amicalola Falls State Park Rd, Dawsonville, GA 30534
Reasons to Love It: There’s nothing more enchanting than a hike through the woods, especially if that hike ends at a 729-foot waterfall!
The trail to the park’s namesake, Amicalola Falls, is a 2.1-mile round trip hike to the top of the falls and back. Because of the way the trail is laid out with stairs and bridges, you’ll be able to take in one of Georgia’s Seven Natural Wonders from all angles.
A trek to the falls isn’t the only unique hiking experience in this park. If you’ve ever wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail, this is your “last” chance! Literally, the southern portion of this famous trail ends in the Amicalola Falls State Park on Springer Mountain.
Eat At Cantaberry Restaurant
Address: 5 S Side Square, Ellijay, GA 30540
Menu Options: Cantaberry is a local favorite in downtown Ellijay. You’ll be charmed by the warm, brick-walled interior and lured by the smells of simple, homemade food.
Stop by earlier in the day for their lunch menu, which has a delicious selection of soups, salads, sandwiches, and burgers. The chicken and wild rice soup is very popular and pairs nicely as a combo with a half club sandwich.
Cantaberry is also a great place to grab a craft beer and some traditional southern fare in the evenings. Their dinner menu offers country-fried steak, fried chicken, and a pulled pork sandwich, among other things. And be sure to save room for dessert! We hear the cakes and pies are out of this world!
Explore Downtown Ellijay
What to See: An enchanting visit to Ellijay would not be complete without a visit to its quaint downtown district. You’ll love supporting local artists at the Artful Ellijay store, catching a musical at the George Link, Jr. Gilmer Arts Playhouse, or tasting olive oils at Blue Ridge Olive Oil Company.
And if you need a little pick-me-up during your trip, Ellijay Coffeehouse has a wide selection of espresso drinks and iced coffees to choose from.
Reasons To Love It: Downtown Ellijay has over 30 shops and boutiques, offering everything from antiques to homemade soaps. Fill your shopping bags with souvenirs and gifts, or simply take in the historic buildings and art scene. There’s no shortage of things to do in this small town.
Tubing With Ellijay River Outfitters
Address: 88 Holt Bridge Rd, Ellijay, GA 30536
Reasons to Love It: Ellijay River Outfitters’ excursions are fun for the whole family. You can spend a lazy afternoon floating down one of North Georgia’s rivers on an inner tube. Or, take on a little more of a challenge and kayak these grand waters.
The company provides tubes, kayaks and paddles, life jackets, and a shuttle service to the rivers. They also have a designated fishing area. However, you do need a Georgia fishing license with a trout stamp to fish.
At Ellijay River Outfitters, you can choose your own adventure. Tubing is $11 for one mile or $21 for three miles. Kayaking is $26 for one mile or $36 for three miles. Rates are per person, and a signed release form is required.
Visit Cartecay Vineyards
Address: 5704 Clear Creek Rd, Ellijay, GA 30536
Reasons to Love It: Cartecay Vineyards is the place to go for a relaxing Sunday afternoon. Take in the beautiful scenery of the mountains and vineyard slopes. Sip from their selection of white, red, and blush wines at the Tasting Barn. And listen to live music from the Chimney Patio, where a fire built in a circa 1890s chimney will warm you on cold days.
The vineyard takes pride in its seven varieties of vines and the wines they produce. All wines are made with 100% Cartecay Vineyard grapes grown on their 14.1-acre farm in Ellijay.
Eat At Cornerstone Cafe
Address: 76 N Main St, Ellijay, GA 30540
Menu Options: At Cornerstone, you’ll get a quintessential small-town cafe experience. Craving a country breakfast? They have homemade biscuits and gravy, omelets made “your way,” and flapjacks stacked as high as you’d like them. Breakfast is available till noon every day.
Lunch at Cornerstone won’t disappoint either! The “Burger Gone Wild” served on a pretzel roll is a popular choice. Or, if you’re in the mood for a sandwich, the patty melt or Reuben may be the one for you. All sandwiches are served with fries and a pickle. The lunch menu is available from 10:30 am until the cafe closes at 2 pm.
Where to Stay in Ellijay, Georgia
Diamond Lure RV Campground and Resort
Address: 514 Diamond Lure Rd, Ellijay, GA 30536
About: Diamond Lure offers both primitive tent camping sites and RV sites with full hookups. 65 RV sites can accommodate rigs of all sizes, from small pop campers to large fifth wheels and Class As. Each site also includes a fire ring and picnic table.
Throughout the campground, there are numerous bathhouses for your convenience and a laundry facility located near the office.
Rates vary but average around $40 per night for s site.Reservations can be made by calling the campground office at 706-273-3075.
Reasons to Love It: Diamond Lure calls itself “The Best Kept Secret in North Georgia,” and we couldn’t agree more! This lovely, family-owned RV campground is set in a gorgeous wooded landscape on a private 15-acre lake in Ellijay.
Your whole family, including your dog. will enjoy their time spent at Diamond Lure. Besides being minutes away from Ellijay’s famous orchards and Amicalola Falls, you’ll find plenty of fun activities onsite as well.
Kids and adults can enjoy swimming, fishing, and kayaking in the lake. And your canine companions will bark at the chance to run and play in the campground’s dog park.
Discover Ellijay, Georgia
Many visitors come to Ellijay for their famous apples, but most leave having discovered so much more. Whether you want to blaze new trails, float lazy rivers, or eat and drink Georgia’s best, you’ll find it all here in enchanting Ellijay.