Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in northern Georgia, Dahlonega is a small city that packs a punch when it comes to things to see and do. From excellent wine farms and vineyards with award-winning wines, beautiful natural landscapes with roaring waterfalls, babbling brooks, and rugged mountains to a rich history dating back to the discovery of gold in the area in 1828, this quaint town has something for everyone. Whether you prefer strolling through art galleries and exploring museums, panning for gold knee-deep in the river, or tasting some of the region’s best wines, Dahlonega won’t disappoint.

1.Scenic Drives

Scenic Drives
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Dahlonega offers two beautiful scenic drives in the North Georgia Mountains that take in the magnificent landscapes throughout the year. The Lumpkin-Union Loop is a 63-mile drive that winds through the Appalachian Mountains and features several highlights such as Cane Creek Falls, Lake Trahlyta, Helton Creek Falls, Dockery Lake, and the Yahoola Valley. Other spectacular sights along the way include Dicks Creek Falls, Lake Winfield Scott, DeSoto Falls, Turners Corner, and the Suches Valley, with points of interest such as Trahlyta's Grave at Stone Pile Gap, Vogel State Park, and the Woody Gap. The Brasstown Bald Loop is a 106-mile drive that features deep valleys, winding mountain roads, excellent lookout points, and spectacular views. Highlights on this journey include Raven Cliff Falls, Dicks Creek Falls, Dockery Lake, Turners Corner, Unicoi Gap, the Byron Herbert Reece Farm & Heritage Center, and the Brasstown Bald, which is the highest point in Georgia.

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2.Lake Zwerner Trail

Lake Zwerner Trail
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The Lake Zwerner Trail is a 3.5-mile hiking and biking trail that runs around the perimeter of the Dahlonega Reservoir and is popular with outdoor enthusiasts, joggers, and cyclists. The well-established trail begins in one of two parking lots and starts along the shoreline of the lake before crossing a scenic creek about halfway and continuing its way around the lake. The route is an excellent simulation of the renowned Appalachian Trail for those training to hike the longer trail and offers a beautiful array of fauna and flora along the way. The path is suitable for all ages and levels of hiker and biker.

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3.Cane Creek Falls

Cane Creek Falls
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Located along Cane Creek in Fall Creek Falls State Park near Spencer, Cane Creek Falls is an 85-foot plunge waterfall created at the point where the Fall and Rockhouse Creeks meet and is the largest waterfall by volume in the park. The sheer force of the water has carved an impressive gorge through the woodland that is responsible for all the other falls and offers a breathtaking sight, which can be viewed from two outlook points above the waterfalls. The best views of the waterfall are from above Cane Creek Cascades, which is accessed by a swinging bridge and a walking trail that leads to Fall Creek Falls. Rockhouse Falls can also be seen from this viewpoint, which is right next to Cane Creek Falls. A short walk or bike ride from the park’s nature center will allow visitors to see all the waterfalls in the park.

Cane Creek Falls State Park, Dahlonega, GA 30533

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4.Chestatee Wildlife Preserve & Zoo

Chestatee Wildlife Preserve & Zoo
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The Chestatee Wildlife Preserve and Zoo is an animal sanctuary and petting zoo that is home to a wide variety of animals and birds, ranging from white Siberian tigers, African lions, and grizzly bears to zebra, elk, and emus. In addition to providing and a safe and natural habitat in which the animals can reside, the wildlife reserve also offers private animal encounters where visitors can interact with certain species such as alligators, pythons, tortoises, bearded dragons, and cockatoos. Don’t miss the opportunity to have “breakfast with the big cats,” which is one of the zoo’s unique and unforgettable encounters. The Chestatee Wildlife Preserve & Zoo offers customized group tours and field trips for all ages and hosts special occasions such as birthdays. Next read: Romantic Weekend Getaways from Atlanta

469 Old Dahlonega Hwy, Dahlonega, GA 30533, Phone: 678-859-6820

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5.Crisson Mine

Crisson Mine
© Crisson Mine

Crisson Mine is an open pit gold mine in Lumpkin County that allows visitors to explore the world of mining and learn more about how gold was found and mined in the area during the Georgia gold rush. Established in 1847, the mine was worked commercially until the early 1980s and is the oldest gold mining establishment in North Georgia that is open for the public to explore. The now tourist attraction features a 130-year-old rock crusher called a stamp mill, which is still used to crush quartz rock containing gold, and several antique gold mining machines such as rod mills and jaw crushers, which are also occasionally used. Visitors can pan for their gold with tractor scoops and trommels or search for gemstones in the large gemstone buckets. Friendly staff are on hand to answer questions and help with panning for gold or searching for gems.

2736 Morrison Moore Pkwy E, Dahlonega, GA 30533, Phone: 706-864-6363

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6.Dahlonega Consolidated Gold Mine

Dahlonega Consolidated Gold Mine
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Located in Lumpkin County just east of Dahlonega, the Dahlonega Consolidated Mine, also known as the Consolidated Mine, was a working gold mine during the Georgia gold rush in the late 1800s. The mine produced gold for about 30 years until the mine's lower levels became flooded with water and were abandoned for several decades. Today, the shaft is a popular tourist attraction, where visitors can learn about the gold mining industry, how gold is found and mined from the ground or panned from rivers, and where it goes after that. The mine still contains gold, and a part of the upper level of the mine remains open for tourists, who can try their hand at panning for gold, along with exploring portions of the Glory Hole, which was renowned for once being the wealthiest acre of land in the world. Tours of the mine are available and are guided by friendly and knowledgeable guides who share the history of gold mining in the Dahlonega area and what was once the largest gold mining operation east of the Mississippi River.

185 Consolidated Gold Mine Rd, Dahlonega, GA 30533, Phone: 706-864-8473

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7.Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site

Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site
© Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site

The Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site is a museum that is dedicated to showcasing the mining history of Lumpkin County and honoring America's first gold rush. Located in the heart of Dahlonega overlooking Public Square, the Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site is housed in the historic Old Lumpkin County Courthouse, which dates back to 1836 and is the oldest surviving county courthouse in the state. Set in the center of the town square, the museum houses an impressive collection of artifacts and objects from the gold rush of 1836, including gold coins and nuggets, antique gold panning equipment and machinery, and more as well as a gift shop. Visitors can enjoy a short film about the history of gold mining and the role it played in Lumpkin County.

1 Public Square N, Dahlonega, GA 30533, Phone: 706-864-2257

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8.Dahlonega Walking Tours

Dahlonega Walking Tours
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Dahlonega Walking Tours offer a variety of walking tours that range from exploring the history of the town to discovering its many wineries and pubs to learning more about its haunted past. Tours include Grapes and Ghosts Wine Tours, which visit five different locations in Dahlonega’s square with samplings of wine and haunted tales, and the Historic Ghost Tour, which includes stops at the historic courthouse, the square’s most haunted restaurant, the Crimson Moon, and landmark residences around the square. Other tours include a Boos and Brews Pub Crawl, a Dahlonega History Tour, and a Paranormal Investigation Tour, all of which are led by friendly expert guides who share their passion and knowledge for the city, its history and haunted past, and its fantastic food and wine with visitors along the way.

19 E Main St, Dahlonega, GA 30533, Phone: 706-482-8795

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9.Dahlonega Wine Walk

Dahlonega Wine Walk
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Experience Dahlonega with your taste buds on a relaxing and informative Dahlonega Wine Walk. Hailed as the “Wine Tasting Room Capital of Georgia,” Dahlonega has a plethora of wineries, vineyards, tasting rooms, and wine shops that produce and sell award-winning and lesser-known wines. The Dahlonega Wine Walk is an excellent way to discover some of these liquid gems and involves purchasing a wine glass at the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Visitors Center and visiting a variety of participating tasting rooms and wine shops in town to sample and taste their tipple. Wineries and shops included in the fun are the Crane Creek Dahlonega Tasting Room, Canvas & Cork, Georgia Winery of Dahlonega Tasting Room, Taste Wine & Gourmet Foods, Naturally Georgia, the Dahlonega Tasting Room, and the Ole’ Mountain Collectors & Wine Cellars.

Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Chamber & Visitors Bureau | 13 South Park Street | Dahlonega, GA 30533 Phone: 706-864-3711 or 800-231-5543

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10.Georgia's Dragon - The Suches Loop

Georgia's Dragon - The Suches Loop
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Georgia's Dragon - The Suches Loop is a magnificent scenic drive in the midst of the Blue Ridge Mountains that winds its way around the base of Georgia's Blood Mountain. Surrounded by the Chattahoochee National Forest, this lovely area features several mountain passes en route, including Hester Gap, Neel’s Gap, and Stonepile Gap, and the breathtaking vistas can be taken in from observation points along the way and from the nearby Brasstown Bald. The beauty of the area is transformed throughout the year in different seasons and is particularly awe-inspiring during the fall, when the foliage from the Chattahoochee National Forest turns into a picturesque tapestry of green, gold, and red. There are several roadside amenities on the route, including a fantastic bike restaurant and motorcycle hostel that serves all-American cuisine, a casual coffee shop, and spectacular Vogel State Park.

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11.Historic Smith House Inn

Historic Smith House Inn
© Historic Smith House Inn

Established in 1899, the historic Smith House Inn is a homely, welcoming bed and breakfast-style inn that is set around a recovered gold mine shaft and carriage house and offers comfortable accommodations, homemade cuisine, private dinners and other events, and an array of spa services. Located a short walk from the University of North Georgia campus and the Dahlonega Gold Museum, the inn features guest rooms in the main house and an adjacent carriage house with private bathrooms and modern amenities and boasts a family-friendly Southern-style restaurant and a country store selling homemade jams and local arts and crafts. Guided tours and viewing of the recovered gold mine shaft can be arranged.

84 South Chestatee Street, Dahlonega, GA 30533, Phone: 706-725-8148

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12.North Georgia Astronomical Observatory

North Georgia Astronomical Observatory
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The North Georgia Astronomical Observatory is an astronomical observatory in Dahlonega that is owned and operated by the University of North Georgia. The Observatory is home to a NASA All-Sky Fireball Network Camera, which is designed to detect, track and study bright meteors, also known as fireballs. The North Georgia Astronomical Observatory is open to students of the university on any clear night Monday through Friday while classes are in session to come and observe the sky as part of their studies, and is open to the general public and students on Friday nights for astronomical viewing. The North Georgia Astronomical Observatory also runs free OPEN Program planetarium shows throughout the week.

3000 Dawsonville Hwy, Dahlonega, GA 30533, Phone: 706-864-8642

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13.Picnic Café and Dessertery

Picnic Café and Dessertery
© Picnic Café and Dessertery

The Picnic Café and Dessertery is a charming, old-fashioned bakery and café set on Public Square in the heart of Dahlonega and serves a variety of freshly baked homemade cakes, pastries, bread, and sweets in a laidback, relaxed atmosphere. Boasting a friendly, small-town vibe, the neighborhood café has been warming the hearts and bellies of locals and visitors for more than 18 years and offers a menu of delicious and mouthwatering treats such as warm scones with jam and cream, freshly baked muffins, gourmet sandwiches, fresh salads and soups, a variety of hot and cold drinks, and specialty teas. The Picnic Café and Dessertery is open for breakfast and lunch, 7 days a week.

30 Public Square N, Dahlonega, GA 30533, Phone: 706-864-1095

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14.Price Memorial Hall

Price Memorial Hall
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The Price Memorial Hall is an iconic building with a gold-covered steeple located on the campus of the University of North Georgia. Also known as the Price Memorial Building, the Price Memorial Hall, built to represent the University of North Georgia and showcase the history of gold mining in the area, is an iconic symbol of the city. The building rests on the foundation of what was once the U.S. Branch Mint, built in 1837 and later seized by the Confederate Army in 1861. Named in honor of the founder of the North Georgia College, William Pierce Price, the Price Memorial Hall features a modern visitors center that provides information and exhibits on the history of the hall and the significant role it has played as part of Dahlonega’s heritage.

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15.Yahoola Creek Park

Yahoola Creek Park
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Situated in a valley bisected by Yahoola Creek, Yahoola Creek Park is a beautiful family-friendly green space that features a community garden, a children’s playground, butterfly and frog habitats, picnic tables, and an array of sports courts and fields such as soccer, basketball, baseball, softball, and tennis. The park also features several hiking trails for all levels of hiker as well as a kiosk next to the wildflower gardens that loans beautifully carved walking sticks. Yahoola Creek Park also boasts two pavilions, four outdoor classrooms, and a study pond for educational purposes. Popular with families, this spectacular outdoor space attracts visitors year round to enjoy the great outdoors.

1166 Captain McDonald Road, Dahlonega, GA 30533

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16.Z Brown Distillery

Z Brown Distillery
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Tucked into the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Z. Brown Distillery seamlessly blends culture, history, and tradition to create American-made whiskey. Named in honor of Grammy award-winning Zac Brown of the Zac Brown Band and located in the singer's hometown, the Stillhouse Creek Distillery, now known as Z. Brown Distillery, was established in honor of the age-old, pre-prohibition traditions of producing spirits in the Appalachian region and in North Georgia.

2148 Town Creek Church Rd, Dahlonega, GA 30533, Phone: 706-348-2019

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17.Chestatee River Adventures

Chestatee River Adventures
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Experience the Chestatee River on fun and exciting kayaking or tubing trips with Chestatee River Adventures. The adventure company offers guided tours down the river in kayaks or tubes, which range from sit-in single kayaks and tandem two-person kayaks to sit-on-top single kayaks and rubber tubes. Visitors can also use their equipment, and the company offers a shuttle service to and from the base camp, which is just 2 miles from the Dahlonega City limits. All apparatus is provided, including life jackets, and there is no age limit for guests who want to join one of the tours, which are led by expert and professionally trained guides.

2718 South Chestatee Street/Highway 60 North, Dahlonega, GA 30533, Phone: 770-540-9950

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© Bratzeit

Bratzeit is a family-owned and operated German and Swiss restaurant that serves traditional German/Swiss cuisine such as fondue, bratwurst, raclette, and schnitzel, along with weekly special and a variety of desserts. The authentic cuisine is accompanied by a wide range of German beer, such as Koenig Ludwig Hefeweizen, Warsteiner Pilsner, and Warsteiner Dunkel on tap. The restaurant exudes a warm and welcoming ambiance, with indoor and outdoor seating and a pet-friendly covered deck, and hosts a variety of events throughout the year. Bratzeit is open for lunch and dinner, Wednesday through Sunday, year round.

77A Memorial Drive, Dahlonega, GA 30533, Phone: 706-867-7741

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18 Best Things to Do in Dahlonega, GA