Cooler temperatures spring to mind the seasonal offering of fall -- apple pie, apple cider, apple dumplings, apple fritters, etc. The annual fall apple harvest is something to be a part of and there is no better place that North Georgia. If apples are your thing head to Ellijay, the apple capital of the South. Spend an afternoon here picking apples, going on hayrides, tasting the local produce from local farmers. There are more than 20 varieties of apples harvested every year in Ellijay, and perfect for baking or making apple cider. There are over a dozen orchards in the Ellijay area, all that allow apple-picking. During the second and third weekends in Oct. (Oct. 9-10, 16-17) Ellijay brings its visitors the Georgia Apple Festival, www.georgiaapplefestival.org, featuring local produce and events at a variety of orchards. Ellijay's Apple Picking Jubilee takes place at Hillcrest Orchards (hillcrestorchards.net), every weekend in October and is an interactive family event of apple picking, pig races, nature trails, honey bee demonstrations and the John Deere Derby. There is lots for the family to do in this North Georgia town!
In recent years, vineyards and wineries have sprung up all over North Georgia, creating a little wine haven in the Peach State that is much easier for those of us in Bartow County to get to. In as little as a two-hour drive, you can be sipping a glass of Chardonnay or Pinot Noir from Georgia wineries -- much easier than a four-plus hour flight to the vineyards in California or New York state. The area just above Dahlonega is bursting with vineyards and wineries, and perfect for an afternoon or weekend getaway. Over twenty five vineyards can be found along Georgia's Wine Trail, www.georgiawinecountry.com, and if grapes are your thing, this is the ideal way to enjoy the fall weather. On weekends, all wineries have their tasting rooms open, with most featuring live music and light meals to accompany their wine offerings. Several wineries offer wine tours every weekend and provide lots of information to aid your knowledge in the production of wine. The Three Sisters Winery (www.threesistersvineyards.com) outside of Dahlonega offers live music and barbeque every weekend afternoon in October while you visit their tasting room. Blackstock Wineries (www.bsvw.com), also near Dahlonega, has a weekly Grill and Chill for wine lovers. Yonah Mountain Vineyards (yonahmountainvineyards.com) offers activities for the entire family every weekend, specifically the middle of the month with its "Taste of Sautee" (Oct. 16-17), featuring barrel tours, grape stomps, music and art festivals and, of course, wine.
If grapes are not your preference, you can easily popover to Oktoberfest in Helen for a Bavarian goodtime in this charming little Alpine town. For six weeks starting in mid-September through the entire month of October, the city nestled along the Chattahoochee comes to life with polka dancers, Bavarian tunes, bratwurst, schnitzel and lots of German beer. It's quite a crowd, and a bit noisy, but lots of fun. The Alpine setting takes you out of the North Georgia mountains and into another world, but only two hours from home.
Dahlonega is another town that springs to life in the autumn months, and well worth planning a visit. It is much more tame than the streets of Helen during October, but not everyone is into a boisterous crowd. The first two weekends of October, (2-3 and 9-10) Dahlonega plays host to the Appalachian Jam that features live music and local artists and artisans, plus seasonal produce offerings. The biggest event of October comes mid-month with the annual celebration of the Gold Rush of 1828 with Gold Rush Days, taking place Oct. 16-17. These events, along with the local artist market and farmers market on every weekend in October, make this little town quite the hubbub of activity and a wonderful place to spend a weekend taking in the sights, tastes and smells that come with the changing seasons.
If getting outdoors and back to nature is your preference of the fall months, Unicoi State Park offers a plethora of outdoor activities for Georgian's to enjoy. From hiking around the town of Helen, live music every weekend, as well as their Annual Visiting Artist series that takes place every Saturday and Sunday. There is so much to do inside the borders of this park every weekend in the fall!
And don't forget the trees! One of the most beautiful shows of color happens every autumn in North Georgia as the green leaves of summer turn to gold, auburn, crimson and burnt orange. The scenes of the mountain-scape of North Georgia make the perfect backdrop for a day or weekend away, and the crisp weather is ideal for getting out and enjoying all things Georgia. Pick a date, and plan a weekend for your family or loved ones to head north for a day or more and check out the sites North Georgia has to offer. And the best part? You will never be too far from home.