Dahlonega is a relatively small town in Georgia, but it’s chock-full of great food, scenic hikes, and top-notch wineries. The name comes from the word Dalonige, which means “yellow” or “gold,” making it an appropriate name, since it’s actually the origin of the Georgia Gold Rush. This is a perfect spot for a weekend trip, as it’s a quick flight from most of Middle and Eastern states. There are several hotels within the town square are pretty affordable. We stayed in the Dahlonega Square Hotel, a quaint little spot several blocks outside of the square.
If you love food as much as I do, you’ll be very pleased with what this town has to offer. A few restaurants we frequented during the weekend were: Picnic Cafe and Dessertery for breakfast, Shenanigan’s for dinner and drinks, and the Crimson Moon Cafe for brunch on our last morning.
Dahlonegonians (that’s a word, right?) really like their wine. So do I, so I knew we would get along just fine. We made it through two wineries during our weekend, and both were amazing for different reasons.
Montaluce Winery & Estates
Monaluce Winery is a huge, Tuscan-inspired facility that sits on a huge estate (400 acres). They offer tours where they show off the property, which leads you through the forested area that butts up to the Dahlonega river, the vineyards, which takes up 35 acres of the total land, and the restaurant.
The hike portion of the tour is under two miles through the woods, so it’s not very strenuous. Originally, the owners of the property planned to build a community where families would live within the Winery, but the crash of the housing market ruined that idea. So there are fields with cul-de-sac roads and no houses, which makes the property seem a bit like a ghost town.
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When walking the hike, keep an eye out for oddly bent trees. The Native Americans of the time would tie the trees at certain checkpoints so they grew and pointed to the nearest source of water. It turns what would be a normal hike into more of a scavenger hunt, trying to find the crooked, water-pointing trees.
The tour includes tasting five wines from either a list of all reds, all whites, or a mix of the two. The restaurant, where they have the tasting, is incredible. It resembles an Italian villa, and the balconies offer stunning views of the vineyards. When you make it to this vineyard, be sure to try their mead. They don’t sell it on the website at the moment, so it’s a nice reward for visiting the vineyard.
Yonah Mountain Vineyards
The second winery we visited was Yonah Mountain Vineyards. It was definitely more commercial than Montaluce, but the buildings themselves were stunning. My main qualm with this winery is they advertised and sold us on a “Cave Tour and Tasting.” I know what you’re thinking: stalactites, guano, cave zombies. Not the case. It was just a room in one of their buildings that’s below ground-level. I would have been thoroughly disappointed if we weren’t in a happy place by that point (we did two wine tours in one day). The tour guide (the owner’s son) was incredibly charismatic, and he had our group in stitches for most of the tour.
Both wineries were enjoyable for different reasons. If you’re into a full experience, take the Montaluce tour and get your hike on. If grandiosity and extravagant showmanship are more your speed, venture out to Yonah Mountain Vineyards. Or do both, like we did! It certainly makes for a great Saturday (and an early night).
Cane Creek Falls
There are several waterfalls and hikes in the Dahlonega area. Cane Creek Falls is a natural waterfall located in the Camp Glisson grounds. The park itself doesn’t have an entrance fee, and the falls are right next to parking area. The signage tells you not to swim in the falls, but there’s a climbable area off to the right side of the falls, which makes for some great views.
Amicalola Falls is part of Amicalola Falls State Park about 20 minutes outside of Dahlonega. The park itself is massive. It’s 829 acres, has 25 campsites, and hosts the Mountain View Restaurant, among other things. There are 12 miles of trails and it’s actually one of the access points to the Appalachian Trail.
Amicalola Falls itself is 729 feet tall, which makes it the tallest cascading waterfall in the Southeast! There are 604 stairs from the bottom of the falls to the viewing bridge, so be sure to do some stairmaster training before visiting Amicalola. This national park is one of the more popular ones, so be prepared for a large amount of tourists making the hike.
Between the waterfalls, the wineries, and the food, Dahlonega makes for an awesome weekend trip that you should make a point to visit in the near future. Do you have any weekend travel suggestions? Any questions about visiting Dahlonega? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.