Thursday, June 21, 2012

12 Cool Blue Ridge Summer Experiences...

1. Arts in the Park - Spring Arts in the Park, Downtown Blue Ridge City Park, Saturday, May 26 &
Sunday, May 27 features over 200 juried art, craft and food booths. The best in mountain crafts and fine art, artists demonstrations, music and dance. Live music by Mike Watson Band and Bear Celtic Notes. Open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a $5 admission.

The event draws in excess of 15,000 attendees. With fine arts, crafts and food booths, there is something for everyone, and always activities for the children, along with special events for the big kids. Recognized as one of the Top 20 Events by the Southeastern Tourism Society. Call (706) 632-2144 for more information from Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association. Or find information on the web at http://blueridgearts.net/

2. Chill Concerts - The local music scene in Blue Ridge is a great way to add fun to your your summer vacation. Pickin' in Horseshoe Bend Park is always a fun outdoor music experience. Every Thursday evening from 6 p.m. (all the way through September) in the scenic riverside Ron Henry Horseshoe Bend Park in McCaysville. Casual jam sessions for acoustic musicians are held under the trees and pavilions along the Toccoa River. Free admission to musicians of all levels and listeners who appreciate good music. Bring your picnic supper and enjoy the music!

Here's a sampling of summer concerts in Blue Ridge:
June 9 – Jonathan Byrd, Blue Ridge Community Theater.
June 10 – Air National Guard Band of the South, downtown Blue Ridge City Park, 2 p.m.
June 15 – Blue Ridge Cabin Concert, C.J. Solar Band.
June 16 – Maxwell Taylor, The Art Center.
June 23 – Blue Ridge Cabin Concert, Phoenix Drive.
June 30 – Gabriel Russo, Blue Ridge Community Theater.
July 28 – Cowboy Envy at Blue Ridge Community Theater.
For more information, see www.blueridgemountains.com/events

Cool Nightspots: Check out the Whistlestop Grill, 500 East Main Street, Blue Ridge, for entertainment nightly and great live music. Call for schedules at 706-946-2466 or on the web at http://www.thewhistlestopgrill.com. Christie Lees Courtyard Grille, 588 East Main Street presents live music on weekends. Call 706-946-5100 for reservations http://christylees.com/. The Vine, 632 East Main Street presents live music on weekend nights. Call at 706-946-VINE (8463) http://www.thevineofblueridge.com/. Others featuring regular music include the Blue Orleans Bistro, 224 West Main Street, 706-258-2275, Blue Ridge Brewery, 187 Depot Street, 706-632-6611 and Cucina Rustica's Veranda, Forge Mill Crossing, 706-374-7474.

3. Breezy Canopy Tours and Cool Air Adventures - Take the kids on a treetop adventure! There are some great new zip lines and canopy tours in Blue Ridge. Firewire Zip Lines, on the web at http://www.firewireziplines.com/ or phone 706-946-1010. The Blue Ridge Canopy Adventure is also at 1408 Appalachian Highway, www.theblueridgecanopyadventure.com, 706-946-1010. Zip Line Canopy Tours of Blue Ridge, 810 Old Cashes Valley Road, Blue Ridge on the web at http://www.blueridgeziplinetours.com/, 800-251-4800, 706-800-4800. Wildwater, Ltd. has their Ocoee River Basin Canopy Tours, on the web at http://www.wildwaterrafting.com/aazct.php or call them at 1-866-319-8870.

Another new adventure is Blue Ridge Helicopter Tours! See our beautiful mountains and attractions from the best view in town, 500 feet above the ground, flying over Downtown Blue Ridge, Lake Blue Ridge, the Toccoa River, the Ocoee River (site of 1996 Olympic event), Burra Burra Mines and Amicalola Falls. For info call Blue Ridge Helicopters at 706-633-9311 or on the web at http://www.blueridgehelicopters.com/

4. Cool Fourth of July Fireworks and Festivities - We have awesome Fourth of July Festivities in Georgia's Blue Ridge! On Friday, June 29th it's the 37th annual Miner's Homecoming Weekend and Fireworks In Ducktown. Enjoy an old fashioned Fourth of July Celebration and walking parade. Two day event beginning with live music on the Ducktown City Stage from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday starts off with a pancake breakfast at The Hoist House at the Burra Burra Mine from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Walking parade on Main street begins at 10:15 a.m. Saturday evening enjoy live music beginning from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m at The Hoist House and 7:30 to 9:30 at the Ducktown City Stage. Fireworks will begin at dark. For more information, call 423-457-5960 or on the web at http://www.cityofducktown.com/.

Saturday, June 30th, come on down to historic downtown Blue Ridge. The Annual Fourth of July Parade begins at 10:00 a.m. by the Blue Ridge City Park. This year once again featuring Feed & Seed Marching Abominable Band. This amazing band is very energetic and lots of fun, you don't want to miss this! Lake Blue Ridge Fireworks are on Saturday, June 30th. Experience fireworks over the scenic mountain and lake setting of Lake Blue Ridge for a spectacular display of nature and Fourth of July Festivities! Held at Blue Ridge Lake Marina, the fireworks begin at dusk, but live music, BBQ and lots of fun precede the main event, so come early. Take Highway 515 east to Windy Ridge Road (Conoco station & Kentucky Fried Chicken) go to the flashing red light turn left, follow Old Hwy 76 to the Marina.

July 3rd the TriCities Business Association continues a long standing Copper Basin tradition of celebrating our nation's independence with a fireworks display from the top of "Tater Hill" in McCaysville a half an hour past sunset (approximately 9:30 p.m.). The fireworks can be seen from almost all areas of town. Stores & restaurants will be open late. Other activities during the Independence Day weekend include an old fashioned street parade on Main Street in Ducktown, a Pancake Breakfast in Epworth and Miner's Homecoming activities all weekend.

For an extra special experience you can book the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway to the fireworks in McCaysville on July 3rd (book super early, it sells out far in advance). Enjoy the fireworks and ride the Firecracker Special to McCaysville, no worries about where to park or sitting in traffic! Watch the fireworks from the comfort of your seat on the train or absorb the excitement around you by hanging out downtown. The fireworks are shot off from the top of Tater Hill outside out town, so can be viewed from anywhere in town. Train begins boarding at 7:00 p.m. and departs at 7:30 p.m. for a ride along the Toccoa River to McCaysville for the fireworks. Reservations are strongly suggested so you don't miss this awesome opportunity. 877-413-8724 or 706-632-8724 or on the web at http://brscenic.com/

5. Misty Waterfalls - Our Waterfalls Self-Guided Tour (now with GPS!) is a great resource for area cascades: click here. Two of the best waterfalls in Georgia's Blue Ridge are Fall Branch Falls and Long Creek Falls.

Fall Branch Falls is a double waterfall with mountain laurel and rhododendron growing along the trail and creek bank. The hike to the falls is about 30 minutes round trip. In Blue Ridge, follow Aska Road south for eight miles. Turn right on Stanley Creek Rd. The trail head is about three miles on the right (.2 miles from where pavement ends). TIPS: never climb on a waterfall. It is very slippery and dangerous. There is a nice platform in front of the falls. GPS fix: N 34°47.017' W084°18.166'

Long Creek Falls is accessed via the Appalachian-Benton MacKaye Trails beginning at Three Forks, and follows Long Creek 1.0 miles upstream to a short blue blazed side trail that leads to the falls. The hike is an easy 2.2 miles round trip. From Blue Ridge, follow Aska Road to the end (13.5 miles). Turn right onto Newport Road, go 4.5 miles to end. Turn left onto Doublehead Gap Road, cross a concrete bridge and come to a dirt gravel road. Continue on this road .3 miles to the intersection with dirt-gravel FS Road 58, intersecting sharply from the right. Continue east into the forest and uphill 5.3 miles to Three Forks. Noontootla Creek is on the right as you ascend. The trail begins on the north side of the road (on your left) and starts as a gradual hike alongside Long Creek. There are three short ascents before reaching the blue blazed side trail to the falls at 1.1 miles. GPS fix: N 34°39.815' W084°11.053'

Loads of info and maps are also available on the USFS Chattahoochee National Forest web site at: http://www.fs.fed.us/conf/welcome.htmI

6. Rushing Whitewater - Our area is renowned for its mountain waters... rivers and streams that rush down the mountains in frothy, bubbling cascades into cool natural pools. Get into it with a wide variety of rafting, kayaking, tubing and paddling experiences. The Ocoee River was chosen for the 1996 Olympics for the whitewater events. Check out The Ocoee Whitewater Center right here. And whitewater adventure outfitters are the way to book your own half-day or full-day adventure on the Ocoee. See our listing at: click here.

For a more calm float down a scenic river, our tubing outfitters are the ticket. You can float the Toccoa River on a tube for a cool dip. See our listing of outfitters: click here. Kayaking and boarding adventures are a click away at: kayak rentals or stand-up paddling.

7. Breathtaking Scenery - The area around Georgia's Blue Ridge is some of the most scenic in the whole USA and we have a bunch of ways to get out into it. Whether you want a cool summer picnic spot, a drive through the rich, shady forests or a sampling of the best Appalachian scenery with mountains, rivers and rural farms, our Self-Guided Tours can take you there. Click these links to download free copies: Mountains & Countryside (shorter drive); Mountains, Forests & Valleys Driving Tour (longer drive); Cohutta Wilderness Mountain Forest Driving Tour (longer drive, unpaved roads); Hiking Access Points; Biking Routes; and Historic Discovery (drive through historic old settler areas).

8. Fresh Produce - The availability of fresh and healthy summer produce is getting into full swing, and you can find it all around the area. Shop for locally grown produce and baked goods at the Blue Ridge Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings in downtown Blue Ridge City Park, http://www.blueridgefarmersmarket.blogspot.com/ or http://www.facebook.com/pages/Blue-Ridge-Farmers-Market/110101665644. Pick your own cherries, blueberries, peaches and apples at Mercier Orchards (or pick them up in their market). For the very latest fruit harvests and events check out their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mercier-Orchards/108441886766 or call (706) 632-3411 or www.mercier-orchards.com on the web. Enjoy local farm to table specialties in local restaurants like Harvest on Main (576 East Main Street Blue Ridge, 706-946-6164 on the web here.) and The Cook’s Farm, inspired by local chef Danny Mellman click here. Or pick up some fresh goods at one of our local outlets like the Taste of Amish (they sell fresh produce from the Mennonite Farm in Benton...2460 E. 1st Street, Blue Ridge 706-632-8989), or fresh baked yummies with fresh fruits at The Sweet Shoppe 576 East Main Street Suite D, 706-632-6886 or on the web at http://www.sweetshoppeblueridge.com/.

9. Movies at the Swan Drive-In - Get into a blast from the past... a drive-in movie under the summer stars! One of four drive-in theaters in Georgia still in operation, the Swan Drive-In has been entertaining patrons since 1955 and is open year round with first run movies. The history of the drive-in is interesting, and a slice of Blue Ridge. In 1955 Jack Jones and "H" Tilley built the Swan Drive-In Theatre. It was a real challenge in locating a piece of land large enough that was suitable for a drive-in theatre. The City Of Blue Ridge owned a large area of property known as the Willingham Circle and they were able to lease several acres from the City, on which, to build a drive-in theatre. The name ""Swan" had come about during World War II, when Mr. Tilley was stationed in England part of the time before being sent into The Omaha Beach Landing in the Normandy Invasion. While in England he admired the Swans swimming on the lakes and ponds. They were so beautiful and peaceful he chose the name "Swan" for the new drive-in. Jack Jones Sr. and W.H. Tilley, Jr. operated these theatres until 1959 when Mr. Tilley sold to Mr. Jones. 651 Summit St. (Old Highway 76) Blue Ridge. (706) 632-5235 For more info check out http://www.swan-drive-in.com/

10. “Greater Tuna” at Blue Ridge Community Theater - A hilarious play that is back by popular demand! Local stars Bradley Benboom and B.T. Bean are amazing. For a special night out combine a great dinner in town and a show at the Blue Ridge Community Theater. There are lots of great restaurants in Blue Ridge, get our Restaurant Guide click here. Blue Ridge Community Theater, a community theater group located in downtown Blue Ridge, enriches the cultural life of residents and visitors through performances, productions and education of all aspects of contemporary and classic theater. Located at 2591 East 1st Street across from The Swan Drive-In. Call them at (706) 632-9223, or on the web at www.blueridgecommunitytheater.com/

11. Chilly Swimming Holes - Natural water parks abound in Georgia's Blue Ridge. Lots of chilly swimming holes in our creeks, rivers and Lake Blue Ridge. Get our water Self-Guided Tours for detailed information on how to find them: The Wild Toccoa River & Lake Blue Ridge, The Toccoa & Ocoee Rivers and Area Waterfalls. Also, a favorite spot for families is the Ocoee Whitewater Center just over the Tennessee line. It’s a perfect place for wading and sliding over the rocks in crystal clear cold water. Pack a picnic and sit on the rocks by the river and watch the whitewater paddlers shoot by on the rapids for a great family adventure. The Ocoee Whitewater Center website is right here.

12. Tranquil Time Out - There are a lot more cool summer experiences in Blue Ridge just chilling out with a good book, watching the sun rise and fall, and the millions of stars in the sky. It’s fun just to browse the shops and galleries in downtown Blue Ridge and McCaysville, stopping for a leisurely lunch or dinner. Here are more cool ideas for a tranquil time out. Dinner at a local food spot; a massage with a local, shopping and stopping in local towns; a leisurely walk through historic downtown Blue Ridge. Come visit our special place, Get our 2012 Visitor Guide here: http://blueridgemountains.com/brochure.html.


Please do not exceed your level of experience and fitness when
undertaking any activity, especially in wilderness areas.

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