This alpine village is full of restaurants and shops.

This alpine village in Dahlonega is full of restaurants and shops.

 

If you’re planning to buy a second or retirement home in the North Georgia Mountains, you’ll obviously be looking for peace and quiet. But you’ll also want to be near shopping, restaurants and activities when you need a break from rustic living. Here are a few suggestions.

Helen
Okay, so the faux-Bavarian is a tourist trap, but Helen also has its charms. Oktoberfest offers kitschy fun, while the annual Balloon Race in June is a must-see. Unicoi State Park is just north of town, offering swimming, fishing, canoeing, kayaking and playgrounds.

Adopt your own Cabbage Patch Kid at Babyland General Hospital in Cleveland

Adopt your own Cabbage Patch Kid at Babyland General Hospital in Cleveland

Cleveland
The town bills itself as the “gateway to the mountains” and has plenty to offer in way of shopping and dining. The historic courthouse square area has eclectic shops, restaurants and even a soda fountain. The old courthouse has been turned into an interesting museum, but Cleveland was really put on the map as the home of the Cabbage Patch Kids. Be sure to visit Babyland General Hospital to see how the kids are born and maybe adopt a new bundle of joy.

Dahlonega
The town was made famous as the site of the first major gold rush in the U.S., but is now known for its vineyards and wineries. After you’ve had a tipple, head to the town square to visit the shops, restaurants and art galleries. The annual Gold Rush Festival in October attracts thousands to the city.

Hiawassee
Located along the Appalachian Trail, Hiawassee is home to Lake Chatuge, a TVA reservoir popular for swimming, boating, jet skiing, paddling, sport fishing and other water sports. The Georgia Mountain Fair is held at the fairgrounds each summer and the Fred Hamilton Rhododendron Garden is in bloom April to late May with more than 3,000 azaleas and rhododendrons.

Rabun Gap
The town is home to The Hambidge Center, a nationally known retreat for writers and artists, and Southern victuals mecca The Dillard House is nearby. The Sylvan Falls Bed & Breakfast Inn offers a quiet and relaxing retreat in the shadow of Wolf Valley, which has become a favorite spot for photographers to capture images of the waterfalls. The Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School offers events and theater productions year round.

Clayton
This mountain town has a multitude of antique and craft shops, restaurants and two vineyards to explore. For the adventurous, go white-water rafting on the Chattooga River or wander through the Chattahoochee National Forest, which offers camping, trails for horse enthusiasts, waterfalls and overlooks.

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