Written by David Rice
Bundle up and hit the road. These local winter wonderlands are full of adventure—and are less than a tank of gas away.
Why Go? Dahlonega's Old Fashioned Christmas is a month-long celebration with plenty of festive holiday events such as caroling, entertainment, wine sampling and live theater events to name a few. “The town is lit up beautifully,” said Oscar Evans, a volunteer for the Dahlonega Visitors Center. “We have parades, trolley rides, an 'illuminary' where we put candles all around the square, live music.”
Insider tip: Other events include a parade, and a sleigh tour of inns and bed and breakfasts. A live nativity scene with animals will be on display at the Park Place Hotel on the Square, and kids can visit with Santa every Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
Must Do: Ride an old-fashioned trolley and take a horse-drawn carriage ride through town.
The Fine Print: The event will run until Dec. 22. Fees range from $3-$15 per event.
Hale Ridge Rd.
Clayton, GA 30525
Why go? The trail is named after William Bartram, an American naturalist who explored several southern states in the 18th century. Hikers today can experience parts of Bartram's journey along the 37-mile portion of the Bartram Trail in the Tallulah Ranger District of the Chattahoochee National Forest.
Insider tip: Before you visit, check the website for trail updates.
Must do: Make your way to Martin Creek Falls at Falling Creek. (See above photograph in slideshow.)
Consolidated Gold Mines
185 Consolidated Gold Mine Rd.
Dahlonega, GA 30533
Why go? It's the largest hardrock gold mine east of the Mississippi River. Stop by for guided tours, gold panning, and gemstone mining.
Insider tip: You will descend 200 feet underground into the mine, where it is a comfortable 60 degrees year-round. Wear comfortable shoes with a good grip for the walking tour.
Must do: Make sure you try "Gemstone Grubbin"—a great family activity. Water-powered flume boxes quickly wash away material, revealing beautiful gemstones.
The fine print: Open seven days a week; adult admission $15, $9 for kids 4 and older, kids 3 and under free. Arrive one hour before closing.