12 Cool Blue Ridge Summer Experiences

Here are a dozen ways to keep your summer cool.

1. Chill Out at the Cabin

Rent a cabin or a luxury mountain home beside a chilly rushing creek, the beautiful Toccoa River or high in the hills - or maybe a downtown cottage -- it's already cooler here than Atlanta, Birmingham or Florida! Have your first cup of coffee in the cool morning air and your last glass of wine on the deck at sunset. Whether waterfront, in the mountains or intown, find your dream cabin or cottage on our website. We're famous for our beautiful mountain homes in Blue Ridge and the Copper Basin.

2. Picnic & Play on the Toccoa River

Ron Henry Horseshoe Bend Park is the perfect place to picnic and play in the chilly water of the Toccoa River. Pickin' in Horseshoe Bend Park is also always a fun outdoor music experience every Thursday evening from 6 p.m. (all the way through September). Casual jam sessions for acoustic musicians are held under the trees and pavilions along the Toccoa River. Free admission to musicians of all levels and listeners who appreciate good music. Bring your picnic supper and enjoy the music! Find more summer concerts on our Events Page.

3. Cool Nightspots

TREO and The Cellar - 588 East Main Street. Live music most weekends in the courtyard.

Blue Ridge Brewery- 187 Depot Street. A local favorite with indoor and outdoor seating. Live music every Thursday and weekends.

Boat Dock Bar & Grill - 335 Marina Drive. Perfect place to hangout and enjoy the view of Lake Blue Ridge.

Burra Burra Co.- 100 Blue Ridge Dr., McCaysville. Have a beer, glass of wine and meal on the deck beside the Toccoa River.

Fightingtown Tavern - 511 East Main St., A rockin' eatery with porch on Main Street in Blue Ridge.

Misty Mtn. Hops - 3300 East First St., Local pub with vinyl or live music.

The Blue Coyote- 25 Roberts Way, Live bands and entertainment every weekend.

The Boro Inn Irish Pub - 150 West Main Street, A touch of Ireland in Blue Ridge!

4. Breezy Canopy Tours and Cool Air Adventures

Take the kids on a treetop adventure! There are some great zip lines and canopy tours in Blue Ridge.

Blue Ridge Adventure Park, 2087 East First St., Blue Ridge, 800-251-4800.

Zip Line Canopy Tours of Blue Ridge, 810 Old Cashes Valley Road, Blue Ridge, 800-251-4800, 706-800-4800.

Wildwater Limitedhas their Ocoee River Basin Canopy Tours, 1-866-319-8870.

5. Fourth of July Fireworks and Festivities

We have awesome Fourth of July Festivities in Georgia's Blue Ridge and the Copper Basin of McCaysville, Copperhill and Ducktown, Tenn.

Thursday July 4 Come on down to historic downtown Blue Ridge. The Annual Fourth of July Parade begins at 10:00 a.m. by the Blue Ridge City Park. This year once again featuring Feed & Seed Marching Abominable Band. This amazing band is very energetic and lots of fun, you don't want to miss this!

Friday, July 5th The Copper Basin Business Association continues a long standing Copper Basin tradition of celebrating our nation's independence with a fireworks display from the top of "Tater Hill" in McCaysville a half an hour past sunset (approximately 9:30 p.m.). The fireworks can be seen from almost all areas of town. For an extra special experience you can book the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway to the fireworks in McCaysville on July 5th (book super early, it sells out far in advance).

On Friday July 5 it's also time for the kick off of the annual two-day Miner's Homecoming Weekend in Ducktown, Tenn. Music and festivities begin at 4 p.m. at the Hoist House. On Saturday, join the patriotic walking parade on Main Street at 10:15 a.m. The day is filled with events, for a full schedule click here. Fireworks will begin at dark.

Saturday, July 6 Lake Blue Ridge Fireworks are on Saturday. Experience fireworks over the scenic mountain and lake setting of Lake Blue Ridge for a spectacular display of nature and Fourth of July Festivities! Held on Lake Blue Ridge near the dam, the fireworks begin at dusk, they can be viewed from Lake Blue Ridge Marina where there will be live music and food before the event, so come early. The fireworks may also be viewed from the Lake Blue Ridge Dam, Morganton Point Recreation Area, from a boat in Lake Blue Ridge and up on the hill of the Riverstone Medical Campus where you will find a Family Picnic FUNraiser & Fireworks event including live music, games for the kids and a crazy hat contest!

6. Misty Waterfalls

Our Waterfalls Self-Guided Tour (now with GPS!) is a great resource for area cascades: click here. Two of the best waterfalls in Georgia's Blue Ridge are Fall Branch Falls and Long Creek Falls.

Fall Branch Falls is a double waterfall with mountain laurel and rhododendron growing along the trail and creek bank. The hike to the falls is about 30 minutes round trip. In Blue Ridge, follow Aska Road south for eight miles. Turn right on Stanley Creek Rd. The trail head is about three miles on the right (.2 miles from where pavement ends). TIPS: never climb on a waterfall. It is very slippery and dangerous. There is a nice platform in front of the falls. GPS fix: N 34°47.017' W084°18.166'

Long Creek Falls is accessed via the Appalachian-Benton MacKaye Trails beginning at Three Forks, and follows Long Creek 1.0 miles upstream to a short blue blazed side trail that leads to the falls. The hike is an easy 2.2 miles round trip. From Blue Ridge, follow Aska Road to the end (13.5 miles). Turn right onto Newport Road, go 4.5 miles to end. Turn left onto Doublehead Gap Road, cross a concrete bridge and come to a dirt gravel road. Continue on this road .3 miles to the intersection with dirt-gravel FS Road 58, intersecting sharply from the right. Continue east into the forest and uphill 5.3 miles to Three Forks. Noontootla Creek is on the right as you ascend. The trail begins on the north side of the road (on your left) and starts as a gradual hike alongside Long Creek. There are three short ascents before reaching the blue blazed side trail to the falls at 1.1 miles. GPS fix: N 34°39.815' W084°11.053'

Loads of info and maps are also available on the USFS Chattahoochee National Forest web site at: http://www.fs.fed.us/.

7. Rushing Whitewater & Chilly Tubing

Our area is renowned for its mountain waters... rivers and streams that rush down the mountains in frothy, bubbling cascades into cool natural pools. Get into it with a wide variety of rafting, kayaking, tubing and paddling experiences. The Ocoee River was chosen for the 1996 Olympics for the whitewater events. Check out The Ocoee Whitewater Center. And whitewater adventure outfitters are the way to book your own half-day or full-day adventure on the Ocoee.

For a more calm float down a scenic river, our tubing outfitters are the ticket. You can float the Toccoa River on a tube for a cool dip. Kayaking and boarding adventures are a also a click away.

8. Breathtaking Scenery

The area around Georgia's Blue Ridge is some of the most scenic in the whole USA and we have a bunch of ways to get out into it. Whether you want a cool summer picnic spot, a drive through the rich, shady forests or a sampling of the best Appalachian scenery with mountains, rivers and rural farms, our Self-Guided Tours can take you there. Click these links to download free copies: Mountains & Countryside (shorter drive); Mountains, Forests & Valleys Driving Tour (longer drive); Cohutta Wilderness Mountain Forest Driving Tour (longer drive, unpaved roads); Hiking Access Points; Biking Routes; and Historic Discovery (drive through historic old settler areas).

9. Fresh Produce

The availability of fresh and healthy summer produce is getting into full swing, and you can find it all around the area. Shop for locally grown produce and baked goods at the Blue Ridge Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings in downtown Blue Ridge City Park.

Pick your own blueberries and apples at Mercier Orchards (or pick them up in their market). For the very latest fruit harvests and events check out their Facebook page or call (706) 632-3411.

Or pick up some fresh goods at Taste of Amish (they sell fresh produce from the Mennonite Farm in Benton...), 1412 Appalachian Hwy, Blue Ridge; locally grown produce and herbs at the Folk Apothic, 3586 East First Street; or fresh baked yummies with fresh fruits at The Sweet Shoppe, 576 East Main Street Suite D.

10. Movies at the Swan Drive-In

Get into a blast from the past... a drive-in movie under the summer stars! One of four drive-in theaters in Georgia still in operation, the Swan Drive-In has been entertaining patrons since 1955 and is open year round with first run movies. The history of the drive-in is interesting, and a slice of Blue Ridge. In 1955 Jack Jones and "H" Tilley built the Swan Drive-In Theatre. It was a real challenge in locating a piece of land large enough that was suitable for a drive-in theatre. The City Of Blue Ridge owned a large area of property known as the Willingham Circle and they were able to lease several acres from the City, on which, to build a drive-in theatre. The name ""Swan" had come about during World War II, when Mr. Tilley was stationed in England part of the time before being sent into The Omaha Beach Landing in the Normandy Invasion. While in England he admired the Swans swimming on the lakes and ponds. They were so beautiful and peaceful he chose the name "Swan" for the new drive-in. Jack Jones Sr. and W.H. Tilley, Jr. operated these theatres until 1959 when Mr. Tilley sold to Mr. Jones. 651 Summit St. (Old Highway 76) Blue Ridge. (706) 632-5235 For more info check out www.swan-drive-in.com/.

11. Chilly Swimming Holes

Natural water parks abound in Georgia's Blue Ridge. Lots of chilly swimming holes in our creeks, rivers and Lake Blue Ridge. Get our water Self-Guided Tours for detailed information on how to find them: The Wild Toccoa River & Lake Blue Ridge, The Toccoa & Ocoee Rivers and Area Waterfalls. Also, a favorite spot for families is the Ocoee Whitewater Center just over the Tennessee line. It’s a perfect place for wading and sliding over the rocks in crystal clear cold water. Pack a picnic and sit on the rocks by the river and watch the whitewater paddlers shoot by on the rapids for a great family adventure. The Ocoee Whitewater Center website is right here.

12. Tranquil Time Out

There are a lot more cool summer experiences in Blue Ridge just chilling out with a good book, watching the sun rise and fall, and the millions of stars in the sky. It’s fun just to browse the shops and galleries in downtown Blue Ridge and McCaysville, stopping for a leisurely lunch or dinner. Here are more cool ideas for a tranquil time out. Dinner at a local food spot; a massage with a local, shopping and stopping in local towns; a leisurely walk through historic downtown Blue Ridge. Come visit our special place, Get our 2012 Visitor Guide here: http://blueridgemountains.com/brochure.html.

Please do not exceed your level of experience and fitness when undertaking any activity, especially in wilderness areas. Also please respect our natural resources by packing in and packing out.

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