We needed an escape this summer. Somewhere within driving distance from Florida that we could get away and be outdoors away from it all. We settled on Blue Ridge, Georgia. We rented a cabin in the mountains for a week with plans to explore the area hiking, tubing, gem mining, kayaking and more. We fit a lot into our week-long stay in Georgia, and we can’t wait to go back again soon. Here were our favorite things to do in Blue Ridge, Georgia with kids plus our week’s itinerary to help you plan your family vacation.
If you are considering a trip to Blue Ridge, do it! The Blue Ridge area is filled with opportunities for outdoor adventures for the whole family.
Where To Stay In Blue Ridge With Kids
As a family of five, we’ve learned that standard hotels are not our friends. So we often find ourselves renting homes for our stay. (Like the German Schmear in Texas.) Our visit to Blue Ridge, Georgia with kids was highly influenced by friends who have a cabin in the mountains. Having seen photos of their visits, we knew THAT is what we wanted. After checking the rental site and learning it was available the week we wanted, it was a done deal. We rented their cabin for the week, and it was everything we wanted and more. Rustic with all the modern amenities, the cabin is nestled in the woods high in the mountains with a breathtaking view.
I highly recommend our friends’ cabin for your visit to Blue Ridge, Georgia with kids. There’s plenty of room for the whole family, even two families – plus a game room! You can find their cabin rental HERE. If you rent their cabin, be sure to let them know I sent you! If their cabin is booked, there are tons of other great-looking cabins on that site.
Blue Ridge, Georgia is a great place to disconnect and unwind because the reception in the mountains is fair at best. While the cabin had Wifi, it’s just not strong in the area.
Tubing In Blue Ridge Georgia With Kids
Although the cabin felt like it was in the middle of nowhere if you are looking for outdoor adventure, it is a prime location. One of our first adventures was to go tubing down the Toccoa River. There are a number of tube rental places up and down the river. Some rental places shuttle you up the river and let you float back, while others you float down and they drive you back.
We took our friend’s advice and picked Toccoa Wilderness Tubing, which is located just a couple of miles from the cabin. (At this tubing spot they drive you up the river, and you float back.) We loved tubing. If there weren’t so many other things we wanted to do, I think we would have tubed every day.
For those with little ones, kids need to be 4 and up to tube at Taccoa Wilderness Tubing. Kids can get a solid-bottom tube with a back, which was perfect for our tiny petite girl who would not have been big enough to stay in tube. Our eight-year-old also opted for the chair-like solid tube.
Hiking In Blue Ridge Georgia With Kids
While we’ve taken our older girls on many hikes, this was our first hiking adventure with our youngest and our new puppy. We tackled two hikes on this trip, which were both great hikes for families and dogs. Located just around the corner from the cabin we started with Falls Branch Falls. It was an easy one-mile hike to the waterfall and back to the car. With the trailhead located right off the road, it was quick and easy.
One of our favorite purchases for traveling is kid-size Camel Baks for the older kids. I carry a backpack filled with everything for everyone, so not carrying water for the two older ones is a lifesaver for my back! In addition to water, there is a small pocket on the outside that was just right for a snack to two, sunglasses and a lip balm. I also don’t have to stop and pass everyone their water bottle all of the time because the girls carry their own. I highly recommend them. Our girls have used these packs a TON, even since returning home.
I highly recommend water shoes because the falls are very accessible, and our kids couldn’t resist touching the falls. Of course, that meant wet toes. On the way back to the car, we also walked down the creek bed in a few areas.
The other hike we took was a bit more adventurous, but still a great hike for families and dogs. Located about 45 minutes from the cabin, we really enjoyed the Toccoa River Swinging Bridge trail. The trail is about two miles, round trip, but the adventure began even before we got out of the car. While some more experienced hikers choose to hike in from the main road, most people take the three-mile drive to the main trail. What we didn’t realize is that this is a narrow, windy, dirt road. Right about the time we almost got stuck I wondered if we were going to the right place. Eventually, we reach a clearing with about 10 cars and realized we were, and it was well worth it. If you go on this adventure, just know that crazy long winding road is correct.
We crossed the swinging bridge back and forth a few times and the girls enjoyed playing in the river below the bridge. We packed a picnic lunch and ate by the river. There are several trails that lead beyond the bridge, we explored a little but not much further beyond the bridge.
Both trails had lots of families with dogs. Just be sure to leash and clean up after your dog, and it’s a lot of fun.
More photos from our hikes and how we fuel up for adventure.
Horseback Riding At Sunburst Stables With Kids
While horseback riding was high on our list of adventures, finding stables that would take little ones on a trail ride was difficult (most have to be 7+). Located just outside of Helen, Georgia (about an hour from the cabin), I discovered Sunburst Stables. Little riders ages 3-6 can ride in a special seat sitting behind an adult, and I cannot say enough good things about our experience at Sunburst Stables. (FYI the harness I am wearing is a strap for my daughter to hold on to, she also has a lap belt.)
We chose the Family Adventure Trail Ride, and it exceeded all of our expectations. The two-hour trail ride included a stop at their little “camp” where we had a snack, fed the animals, went fishing, rode a zipline, threw axes, and helped a blacksmith turn old horseshoes into hooks, which each of the kids got to bring home all before hitting the trail to return to the stables. Everyone we met at the stables was as nice as they could be and made sure that we had a wonderful time. (It was a well-stocked pond, each of our three daughters caught a fish!)
If we had more time on our trip, we would have taken advantage of their offer for 20% off additional tours. In addition to horseback riding, there is also a zipline tour (for ages 2+), a boat tour and a 4-wheelers tour. Although we didn’t try any of those, if they were half as good as our ride they would be well worth it. Next time we visit Blue Ridge, we will defiantly try one of these adventures.
Kayaking Lake Blue Ridge With Kids
Our original plan was to rent a pontoon boat to explore Lake Blue Ridge, and if we visit again we will have to try that. But when we called about renting one from Lake Blue Ridge Marina (here), they were already booked more than a week out. So if this is on your list, plan ahead.
Since we really wanted to be out on the water, we decided to rent kayaks instead. Our family is fairly experienced at kayaking, and the lake made for an easy trip (with no river currents to push against us). We brought along a picnic and pulled the kayaks up along an island to eat on the crystal clear water. The kids even got out to swim for a little in some shallower water. Although no dogs are allowed on the pontoon boats, they are allowed kayaking, so that was a fun benefit for our pup.
We planned to visit Morganton Point Recreation Area to hit the beach area after kayaking, but no dogs are allowed on at the beach. We wandered a few trails in the area, but the big draw at Morganton is the beach. We could see it through the trees, and I will note that it looked like a popular spot as it was quite crowded.
Downtown Blue Ridge
One afternoon we walked around the cute little downtown Blue Ridge area. It is filled with cute shops, I wanted to visit every single one of them. It is definitely worth a visit to downtown Blue Ridge to poke around the little shops. We picked up a few fun souvenirs from our visit, stopped for ice cream and had a nice visit.
Don’t miss the Blue Ridge mural for a fun picture-taking spot! The Blue Ridge mural is located on the corner of Mountain and East First Street.
There were also tons of cute restaurants in the area, but we were tired and decided that pizza and a movie at the cabin was more our speed that night.
Georgia Mountain Coaster
The best thing to do in Helen, Georgia is the Georgia Mountain Coaster. It was AWESOME. Everyone loved it, including our youngest! It is a must if you are in the area. I’ve never done anything like it, and it was a blast of pure fun.
Mom tip – the second ride is half off! So plan to do it twice.
Note, you must be three years old and 38 inches to ride (with an adult), our tiny tot barely made the cutoff, but we are all glad she did.
A little note about Helen, GA. Sadly, I was completely underwhelmed with the town of Helen. I had such high expectations of this quaint German-inspired town. But it turned out to be full of way too many people and kitschy shops. It was about a 45-minute drive from the house, and I would have been very unhappy if this had been our only destination. However, this was the day we visited Sunburst Stables, the Mountain Coaster and Babyland General. So it turned out to be a great day. Just know that Helen itself is a very short visit.
Babyland General Hosptial
For children of the ’90s who loved their Cabbage Patch Kids, this is the place to visit. Although it isn’t at all what I remember from 30 years ago when I visited as a kid, I enjoyed visiting Babyland General Hospital with my kids. My husband could have done without this quick stop, but since it is located about 15 minutes from Helen he couldn’t really argue.
It’s a short visit, and it is essentially a very fancy Cabbage Patch Dolls store, but it made me smile. The biggest thing to do (besides shop) is to watch the birth of a Cabbage Patch baby. Births happen at various times throughout the day, but we managed to see two while we were there (and we weren’t there all that long). While it is free to visit, if you go with kids be prepared to come home with a Cabbage Patch Doll, it’s pretty hard not to bring one home.
Gem Mining In Blue Ridge Georgia With Kids
There are many gem mining spots around Blue Ridge, we picked the place that was closest to our home base — Aska Gem Mining. It is located right across the street from Toccoa Wilderness Tubing. We hiked Falls Branch Falls in the morning and then gem mined after lunch.
Gem mining is always fun, and Aska Gem Mining has a great setup. You can mine for traditional gems or fossils depending on what you feel like. Our girls chose gems, but I think fossils would have been fun.
Where To Eat In Blue Ridge Georgia With Kids
Our visit to Blue Ridge, Georgia with kids was during summer 2020, so although every restaurant we saw in the area was open, I was not keen on eating out. Another benefit to renting a cabin, we were able to make most of our meals at home. However, we did venture out one night.
My husband really wanted to try Toccoa Riverside Restaurant, which was just down the road from our cabin. We heard it was pet-friendly so we took our dog with us. Because we had our dog, we dinned on the pup porch. It was a screened-in porch with only a few tables. Given everything, this suited us just fine. There was one other couple there with a dog when we arrived who left shortly thereafter. Dinner was delicious, and I definitely recommend the restaurant. If it wasn’t 2020, I would have preferred to dine with a view of the river, next time…
Our Blue Ridge Georgia With Kids Itinerary
For anyone who wants to recreate our adventures, here’s our itinerary in order of each adventure.
- Wednesday – Arrival
- Thursday – Falls Branch Falls hike and Aska Gem Mining
- Friday – Toccoa Tubing and downtown Blue Ridge
- Saturday – Lake Blue Ridge
- Sunday – Babyland General, Helen, Sunburst Stables, Mountain Coaster
- Monday – Toccoa Swinging Bridge
- Tuesday – Head home
One thing that didn’t quite make it on our itinerary was Mercier Orchards. Everyone told us the apple cider doughnuts were not to be missed, but we just ran out of days. Plus the only fruit for picking in July is blackberries and frankly, they are the only fruit I don’t like. So, I guess this is another reason we will have to visit again.