12 Can’t Miss Things to Do in Ellijay, GA

08/29/2023 | by BuildUp Bookings | Local Activity Guide

It’s time to take a bite out of the Apple Capital of Georgia with a visit to Ellijay. It’s a small mountain town ripe with adventures for exploring nature and a small town charm that instantly makes it your favorite cabin retreat destination.

Plan your getaway at our Ellijay vacation cabin rentals. Wake up to the smell of crisp mountain air to begin the day’s adventures exploring all this town offers. From U-Pick experiences at the local Apple Houses and spirited fun in the wineries to exploring the lush North Georgia Mountains, you’ll have a basketful of things to do in Ellijay to fill up your itinerary.


Explore Shops in Downtown Ellijay

Photo Credit: The Roof Ellijay

Downtown Ellijay is the heartbeat of this charming town. The historic district has tons of eclectic boutique shops owned by friendly locals and delicious local eats. Park your car and walk around to see what unique things you stumble across.

Nothing says “I’ve been to Ellijay” better than snapping selfies in front of the painted Coca-Cola mural on the side of Das Kaffee Haus. Browse fun knick-knacks lining the shelves of Main Street Antiques; crate dig through dusty vinyls at Unique Ellijay Record Store, check out the taxidermy head mounts inside Mountain Treasures, and pick up a few souvenirs at Ellijay Marketplace.

Hungry? Dine on the patio at Ellijay Wood Fired Pizza and watch cars navigating the central roundabout or get an aerial view from The Roof Ellijay restaurant. River Street Tavern is a go-to for craft brews. If you have room for dessert, get a few scoops from Abby’s Ice Cream and pick up some treats to bring back to your cabin rental from the Bavarian Chocolatier & Fudge & Candy shop.


U-Pick at Local Apple Houses

Photo Credit: encierro

What’s a visit to the ‘Apple Capital of Georgia’ without stopping by the many local apple houses? August to March is the best time to visit Ellijay. Experience prime apple harvest season when fresh apples blossom in the apple orchards. Visitors can pick their own apples, go on farm tours, and taste the delicious apple treats offered at each location.


B.J. Reece Orchards

B.J. Reece Orchards grows more than 30 different apples across its 200-acre orchard. All ages are welcome to their U-Pick experience during September and October. The bakery lets you see how their signature fried pies are made from scratch and venture across the street to Reece’s Cider Company to enjoy a flight of hard apple cider varieties.


Hillcrest Orchards

Families visiting Ellijay with kids will have a blast at Hillcrest Orchards. Not only can you enjoy apple picking between September to November, but it also has a petting farm, pig races, and wagon rides.


Red Apple Barn

Since its opening in 1972, Red Apple Barn has been a haven for autumn lovers. Pick your own apples outdoors or browse the baskets of Golden Delicious, Pink Lady, Fuji, and even Carmel Apples inside the rustic barn house. You’ll find tons of cool (and tasty) products like apple bread, jellies, fritters, and donuts. And grab a copy of their cookbook for recipes you can try back at your cabin rental.


R & A Orchards 

Can’t wait for apple harvest season? R & A Orchards is open year-round with a farm market, cafe, bakery, and more. It has fresh fruits for every season, including apples, peaches, nectarines, and vegetables.


Go Wine Tasting

Photo Credit: Africa Studio

Apples aren’t the only fruits growing in Gilmer County. The North Georgia Mountain region is also ripe with grapes. Within a half-hour drive in any direction, you’ll encounter award-winning wineries excited to welcome you in for wine-tasting fun!


Engelheim Vineyard

The stunning Engelheim Vineyards Estate features 15 acres set at the Appalachian Mountain foothills. The tasting room lets you try a sample of their extensive wine menu, including gold-medal-winning flavors like the 2013 Sweet Molly and 2016 Petit Manseng.


Grapes and Ladders

Grapes and Ladders is ranked one of the top 25 wineries in the region, with savory spirits and weekly live music performances creating a fun atmosphere to enjoy.


Cartecay Vineyards

You’ll likely spot the Cartecay Wine & Craft shop while exploring downtown. It operates the Cartecay Vineyards, just outside of town, where you can chat with expert sommeliers about their wine varieties all afternoon.


Jam at the Georgia Apple Festival

Photo Credit: Maria Studio

For many locals, the fall apple season doesn’t officially start until the Georgia Apple Festival kicks off! For more than 50 years, this festival has proven to all why Ellijay is the Apple capital. It’s one of Ellijay’s best things to do to celebrate its most popular fruit.

The Georgia Apple Festival spans two weekends in October, filled with many activities for the entire family. Line up on the crowded downtown sidewalks to watch the parade and stick around for the antique car show.

Hundreds of local vendors take over the Ellijay Lions Club Fairgrounds. Jam to live music playing all weekend while wandering the various vendor stations. You’ll find everything from tasty apples and apple products from popular local apple houses to handicrafts, clothing, and jewelry. There’s even a kids’ section with bouncy houses, a petting zoo, camel rides, and mini-train rides around the grounds.

Pets are also welcome if you consider staying at one of our pet-friendly cabin rentals.


Learn History in the Tabor House & Civil War Museum

Photo Credit: Joy Castello via Flickr CC2.0

The North Georgia Mountains hold a lot of the region’s civic history. You can uncover some of it at the Tabor House & Civil War Museum

Built in the 1870s, this Victorian-style house is the first family home established in the downtown area. Friendly volunteers lead tours, recounting their own historical stories while detailing the numerous artifacts exhibited in the house.

The free entry Tabor House features late 19th-century furniture, civil war weaponry, documents, relics left behind during the early 1800s displacement of the Cherokee Native Americans, military veteran flight suits, and other objects donated by local families. You might even catch actors bringing the museum’s historical tales to life.


Discover Local Artists at the Gilmer Arts Center

It’s hard not to be inspired by the region’s surreal verdant landscapes. The surrounding natural beauty has inspired many artists from the past and present. The Gilmer Arts Center best captures the essence through visual and performing arts.

Stop by the center to check out paintings, textiles, jewelry, and sculptures from local artists. Pick up tickets for shows at the Gilmer Playhouse Theater. It hosts locally-run theatrical plays, dance recitals, comedy shows, concerts, and more.

If the views from your cabin inspire you, the center also hosts painting classes to create your own souvenir for your visit.


Hit the Trails

Photo Credit: TaylorMorgan97

Our cabin rentals immerse you in nature, bringing out the outdoor lover in everyone! Ellijay is full of exciting places for outdoor activities to create stories you’ll enjoy telling around the dinner table—or fire pit.

Listen up for the roar of tumbling water in the Amicalola Falls State Park. The two-mile East Ridge Loop Trail extends through the Chattahoochee National Forest. It’s part of the Appalachian Trail and leads directly to the 729-foot Amicalola Falls, the tallest waterfall in Georgia.

There are more than 10 miles of hiking trails through Fort Mountain State Park. Make the trek on foot, horseback, or mountain bike. Your long journey is rewarded with views overlooking the sprawling mountainous terrain.

Did you know that Ellijay is also the mountain bike capital of Georgia? The famous Mulberry Gap Road is a nearly one-mile-long dirt road track through the North Georgia Mountains for true biking enthusiasts.


Tour the Sasquatch Museum

Photo Credit: Paul Juser

According to local legend, adventurers on similar outdoor excursions have encountered one of the region’s most elusive creatures. And while you might not spot Bigfoot yourself during your trip, the nearby Sasquatch Museum provides plenty of evidence that he’s out there lurking somewhere!

Located 10 miles north of Ellijay, Expedition Bigfoot! is a quirky museum designed to make you question everything you thought you knew about this urban legend. This interesting collection of exhibits reveals a gigantic skull, cast footprints left behind by the big guy, read chilling stories of local sightings, and see plenty of life-sized statues that will give even the bravest of your group the creeps.


Kayak Down the Cartecay River Experience

Photo Credit: ZippyPA via Flickr CC2.0

Float your way into some fun at the Cartecay River Experience. This recreational river will give the entire family a couple hours of fun through the scenic Chattahoochee National Forest. So, strap on your life jacket and get ready for a wet and wild ride.

The Cartecay River stretches 19 miles, passing directly through Ellijay. The Cartecay River Experience is the premier company onsite, offering kayak and tubing rentals. Join their tours on the lazy river for a leisure cruise, or add a bit of adrenaline to your day with a whitewater rafting excursion on the adventure river trip.

The experience provides all the necessary equipment for fun and safety and offers a shuttle service to their site.


Cool Off With Water Fun in Carters Lake

Photo Credit: Nicolas Henderson via Flickr CC2.0

Follow the Cartecay River long enough, and it will soon join the Ellijay River to form the Coosawattee River. Carters Dam, the largest east of the Mississippi River, was built and spills  into what is now Carters Lake. On hot days, this artificial lake is a must-visit while in Ellijay for a splashing good time in the water.

Carters Lake is popular for boat rentals, swimming, fishing, and more. It’s the deepest lake in the Blue Ridge Mountains and has over 60 miles of shoreline. Sit around the lakeshore, enjoy a picnic, or explore the natural scenery with hiking trails and bird watching.


Mountain Valley Farm and Store

Our cabins feature full kitchens that are great for preparing meals at home during your stay. Get ready for a feast you’ll never forget by visiting the Mountain Valley Farm for a more local way to shop. Not only do you get to buy the best local grass-fed meats, but there are farm experiences that the kids will love.

Established in 1840, the farm is known for its grass-fed animals. Walk the grounds to get up close and personal with various animals like goats, pigs, bunnies, chickens, and calves. The farm store is also great for picking up unique items like goat milk soap, cheese, lotions, and more.


Hit a Hole-in-One at Whitepath Golf Club

Photo Credit: Steve Young

Four! Just north of Ellijay, GA, you’ll find the Whitepath Golf Club. It’s one of the local hidden gems when you’re looking for a leisure getaway. Take in mountain views of the surrounding Blue Ridge mountains and forested Cohutta Wilderness while playing the 18-hole course.

The golf course is open to the public; however, keep an eye out for the local residents—wild turkeys—that may be crossing the greens before you tee off.


Plan Your Getaway to Ellijay

Mountain Vibe Vacations offers the perfect cabin rentals near Ellijay for your next getaway trip. Browse our available rentals for reservations during one of the best times to visit the region and enjoy these things to do in Ellijay and more.