A few weeks ago, while the hubs was away on a work trip, I decided we were in need of a weekend getaway. With the heat of summer still lingering in the midst of early fall, my head and heart were yearning for the mountains. While we love Asheville, and Gatlinburg is a huge destination this time of year, I was looking for something a bit different where we could just get away from "it all". A quick Google search of "mountain getaways" brought me to a town I'd never heard of, but was immediately intrigued by. Nestled in the mountains of Northern Georgia, Ellijay is a small Appalachian town that is certainly tucked away, but boasts more character and charm than we could have ever imagined.
Cabin life was the name of the game for us, and I was able to find the most adorable spot 10 minutes from town through Dragonfly Dreams Cabin Rentals. The Two Brook Lodge was rustic but extremely clean, and afforded us all of the amenities we wanted for the weekend, including a full kitchen, hot tub, screened-in porch, and even a fire pit down by the creek! We brought a cooler with some groceries for breakfasts and a charcuterie board (hello!) and snagged a couple steaks for dinner one night, as we wanted to feel like we were at home away from home. The cabin was just tucked away enough for us to get that feeling of seclusion, while being just up the road from all that Downtown Ellijay had to offer.
Upon arrival Thursday evening, we decided to go into town and grab dinner. We were immediately taken aback by how CUTE the downtown area was. (It reminded me of a slightly more modern Stars Hollow, for my Gilmore Girls fans!) Wall murals, historic buildings, and local shops & restaurants galore! We already felt at home. We chose to dine at River Street Tavern, as it had amazing reviews online. It was so packed we were seated at the bar, but let me tell you, I would sit on the floor to have another go at their delicious food! We ordered a couple brews and started with some fried green tomatoes that were to die for. I am not a huge burger person, but after taking a look at the selection their menu boasted, I was sold. Andrew opted for the Tavern Bear Creek Burger (made with local Bear Creek beef) and I, the Wilbur-ger (obviously I upgraded to the local beef as well!) and well, like I said, I'd sit on the floor. We actually returned for drinks and apps later in the weekend while we deliberated our tricky travel arrangements...funny story about that below!
The next day, we enjoyed coffee down by the creek and decided we'd grab lunch in town before heading to one of the local vineyards. For such a small town, Ellijay has some knockout restaurants. (Many of which we did not visit on this trip, but check out the list of options at the end!) Cantaberry, a family-owned cafe, offered a wide variety of fresh soups, salads, and sandwiches. The service was incredible, and I had the best reuben of my life. Andrew had a delicious sandwich as well, but I can't remember the name because I was too busy engulfing my pastrami and sauerkraut. Oh yeah, there was an awesome salad, too...but the REUBEN! Our sweet server helped us choose which vineyard we would visit, so off to the vino we went.
No more than 15 minutes outside of downtown Ellijay, you're met with rolling pastures, plentiful apple orchards--they're home to the Georgia Apple Festival!--, and a sprawling vineyard by the name of Cartecay. Nestled in-between the rows of grapevines was a small tasting room where we sampled several delicious wines. They say that Southern Appalachia is the ideal climate for wine grapes, and it shows. My very favorite was the Vidal Blanc, and Andrew's, the Cab. We enjoyed those while we perused the vineyard and enjoyed the perfect weather from their upstairs porch. On the way back to our cabin, we stopped by a huge roadside antique shop that held everything from furs to dolls, and I even scored an original Sound of Music record. Needless to say, if my day hadn't already been made, that did it for me. Our evening then held champagne and charcuterie at our adorable cabin.
On Saturday, we decided to venture back into town to wander through the shops and enjoy our lack of a schedule. Because we started our day with mimosas and knew we'd enjoy some wine tasting downtown, we checked our Uber app to see if there were any drivers nearby. Remember that funny story? Here we go. We spotted a driver heading our way from the south, so we booked her up and within minutes, she arrived. We hopped in and quickly realized that she certainly was not a local...in fact, she was just passing through from Atlanta. "Surely we'll find one once we get downtown...it's Saturday.", we thought. After all, even though Hartsville has no regular Uber, Ellijay is a tourist destination, so SURELY...(to be continued)
We shopped around a bit at the incredibly unique stores, including the Blue Ridge Olive Oil Co. (home to every kind of gourmet olive oil you'd ever want), Artful Ellijay (think more eclectic, less expensive Restoration Hardware), and Mountain Treasures (a little bit of everything! We'll circle back to them.) It was time for a little bit of grub and a cocktail, and normally we'd be a bit more adventurous in testing out new places, but River Street Tavern was calling our names again, so we grabbed a seat--same seats, to be exact--at the bar and found ourselves feeling like locals. The ahi tuna poke appetizer did not disappoint, and as we sucked down a few moscow mules, we decided it would be best to check on that Uber, as our afternoon was winding down. Keep in mind, this weekend was all about relaxation, so our goal was to do a whole 'lotta nothing!
We asked Steve, the bar manager, what the sitch with Uber was in town, and his look gave it all away. We had gotten extra lucky with our earlier ride. In typical Southern small town fashion, Steve assured us that were we not to get so lucky again, he would be happy to give us a ride back to our cabin...I told you this place felt like home! We decided to wander back to Mountain Treasures for their free wine tastings while we prayed to the Uber gods for another passerby.
Back at Mountain Treasures, we were greeted by Sherryl, the owner, who I'm sure I've met somewhere in another life, because she felt like family. Although she was clad in UGA gear (I suppose we were in enemy territory...Go Cocks!) everything else about her simply bubbled over, and she promptly began pouring us wine samples as we told her about our ride debacle, to which her response was identical to Steve's--a quick chuckle paired with a puzzled look, followed by an offer to drive us safely home. We tasted some delicious wines, one of which brought tears to my eyes, as it reminded me of afternoons at Gree's (my late great-grandmother), enveloped in that sickeningly sweet aroma of muscadine and scuppernong grapes. That one came home with us.
As we lost track of time chatting with Sherryl and moving on to the delicious wine slushies they offered, we were shocked to see a blip of a car on our Uber app, which of course, we scooped up. We bid our new friend adieu and hopped in our car, to find that our driver was simply making his way back to Atlanta. We arrived back at the cabin safe and sound, but the moral of the story is, don't bank on Uber to get you where you need to go around Ellijay. *For vineyard tours, check out The Grape Escape, a local shuttle service that takes you on an all-day wine adventure! It's on our list for the next visit!*
Before departing Sunday morning, we dropped by Ellijay Coffehouse--another spot whose coziness warmed my soul right up, and the coffee was delicious, too! With a relaxed mind and a bit of a heavy heart, we said "until next time" to Ellijay, but not without stopping back by that roadside antique shop for some boiled peanuts!
There's so much of Ellijay we didn't get to experience, namely because our weekend was meant for a lot of R&R. The experiences we did have, however, filled our cups until the next time we get to return. It was a most special weekend enjoying one another's company and making memories in a truly charming town. It's rare that you find spots like this that just restore your soul, and we're so thankful Ellijay happened upon our radar. I hope you'll make plans for a weekend in our new favorite mountain town. I promise you won't be disappointed.
P.S. Check out the list below for places we'll stop on our next visit!
Until next time,
Stay stylish and enjoy the hunt!
xo - H