Take a scenic mountain drive just 15 minutes southeast of Blue Ridge to Toccoa Riverside Restaurant in the Aska Road Adventure area, surrounded by forest. With a dock and steps up from the river, it’s possible to take a kayak and even a furry friend. Choose from 12 appetizers, a respectable beer and wine menu and plenty of entrees and desserts, but don’t pass up the specialty: North Georgia trout served eight ways, including smoked and crab-stuffed.
Under 20 minutes north of Blue Ridge are the charming twin border towns of McCaysville, Georgia, and Copperhill, Tennessee. It is really one town split by the Georgia-Tennessee state line, with its own selfie spot. Drive or take the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway on an hour (each way) excursion to waterside dining on a ride that winds alongside the Toccoa River. Visitors have a two-hour layover with time for lunch or a snack and to shop for unique crafts and antiques.
The Riverwalk Shops at McCaysville offer scenery, shopping and sipping while savoring a view on the deck overlooking the Toccoa River. At Burra Burra on the River dig into fresh seafood, including oysters, clams, crawfish, shrimp and more, or try street tacos or seven styles of burgers. Next door, Twisted Tomato Restaurant serves brick-oven pizza, salads, Italian sandwiches and pasta with a river view.
At Happy Bear Café indulge in breakfast, bakery goods, gourmet hot dogs and ice cream treats, such as banana splits and ice cream-topped brownies. For groups, The Very Berry Honey Bowl is a crowd-favorite with 20 scoops of ice cream, blueberries, raspberries, caramel, whipped cream–all topped with a cherry and a honey drizzle for $25. Beer, wine and specialty coffee drinks are also served. Be sure to plan to stay and enjoy live music at Tooneys.
Also along the banks of the Ocoee River on the north end of Copperhill, Tennessee is The Waterfront Bar. It’s a mashup of a honky-tonk roadhouse (12 TVs for sports), a Florida-style beach tavern, and a hipster craft cocktail joint, with a delicious blend of traditional Sicilian cuisine and unique Southern flair.