Hidden in Northern Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, travelers will find gold in the quaint town of Dahlonega. Located only sixty-five miles north of bustling downtown Atlanta, Dahlonega’s historic streets invite you to step back in time.
As I drove in Dahlonega, I was instantly taken aback by it’s it’s small-town charm. “Wow, what an adorable town, I feel like I’m in a Hallmark movie…” I thought as I found a parking spot on the city square.
The historic downtown, lined with historic nineteenth century architecture and green spaces, will instantly capture your heart. The City Square is anchored by Gold Rush Museum, located in the historic Lumpkin County Courthouse, which pays homage to the city’s legacy as one of the first major gold rushes in the southeast.
The name Dahlonega is derived from a Cherokee word meaning yellow color or gold.
While you can still try your hand at gold panning in the many local streams, today Dahlonega’s treasure is tourism. Visitors from Atlanta to Hollywood have found refuge in this mountain community. Home to the University of North Georgia, Dahlonega is a cultural hotspot – with ready access live music and theatre venues.
The bucolic city square is home to a vibrant mix of unique shops and restaurants. Whether you are looking for country charm at the General Store or trendy clothing – downtown Dahlonega offers something for everyone.
During my Dahlonega adventure, I enjoyed a delicious Pumpkin Pie Coffee and gluten free chocolate chip cookie at The Picnic Cafe & Dessertery- a local favorite. The bakery and cafe offers a house made menu of English inspired sweets like breakfast scones and sandwiches. This is a must stop for coffee and treat lovers while you are in the area.
Next door, I enjoyed shopping for Christmas decor and North Georgia souvenirs at The General Store.
Speaking of Christmas…Dahlonega has been featured in nearly twenty holiday Hallmark movies. Dahlonega is nicknamed ‘Christmas Town’ and The General Store sells ‘My favorite Christmas movies were filmed in Dahlonega’
And although the plots may be a bit contrived- I’ll be the first to admit I’m addicted to Christmas movies and Dahlonega ignited a bit of good cheer as we approach the holiday season
Gold Rush History: There’s gold in those hills..
No trip to Dahlonega would be complete without a stop at the Gold Rush Museum in the heart of downtown. Housed in the historic Lumpkin County Courthouse (built in 1836), visitors can step back in time to 1829, when Dahlonega became the site of one of the first major Gold Rush’s in the United States
- I noted ‘one of the first’ NC is actually the first gold rush when gold was found in Cabarrus County in 1799. Learn more here
- Dahlonega’s gold rush was the first ‘major’ gold rush – as hundreds of miners flooded the area in search of riches.
- In 1849, Dr. Matthew Fleming Stephenson – the assayer at the Dahlonega Branch Mint, stood on the steps of the courthouse imploring miners to stay in Dahlonega instead of heading west to chance ‘new gold’ in California.
- “Why go to California? In yonder hill lies more riches than anyone every dreamed of. There’s millions in it…”
- Fun fact: Mark Twain heard Stephenson’s phrase ‘there’s millions in it’ and frequently used it in his book ‘The Gilded Age.’ reference
Wine and Waterfalls…
North Georgia’s lush land and climate is ideal for winemaking, making Dahlonega Georgia’s Napa of the South. Wine lovers can explore twelve area wineries, each offering a unique flavor and bouquet from merlots to whites – you can toast a glass while enjoying the Blue Ridge vistas in the background.
- Plan your Dahlonega wine adventure here…
If outdoor adventure is your golden ticket – you struck the jackpot. Dahlonega is surrounded by the Chattahoochee National Forest and a stone’s throw from dozens of waterfalls and several state parks.
If you regularly follow this blog then you know I am a waterfall wanderer. If there is a scenic hike to a waterfall, I’m ready to hit the trail…
I explored the nearby backcountry – hiking to DeSoto Falls, a popular hike in the Chattahoochee National Forest.
Where to stay?
Ready to check in to Dahlonega? Book a room at one of the many hotels and bed and breakfasts in the area. Click here for area tourism information.