The mountain areas of North Georgia are filled with family fun if you know where to find it. Known as the apple capitol of Georgia, Ellijay is one city that’s got plenty for the kids to enjoy. Within one day, families can have an outdoor adventure, snack through the region and skip around to quirky roadside attractions. Pack in a full day of exploring or just find a spot to soak up the mountain views, either way you can’t go wrong with these fun things to do in Ellijay GA with kids.
Ellijay, Georgia is located in Gilmer County and it’s only 1.5 hours – 2 hours away from the Atlanta area. It is an easy drive from the city and tourists are always floored when they see how quickly the landscape changes. Suddenly, you’re staring at the Blue Ridge Mountains, as you drive north, which are the base of the Appalachian Mountains.
North Georgia is sprawling with guests during the fall time, as people love to capture the perfect family orchard photo or nosh on a homemade apple pie. I can vouch for the fall experiences being top-notch, but Ellijay has something to offer families ALL year long! Local attractions are open all year round and there’s still plenty of seasonal fun to enjoy in the spring, summer or winter months.
10 Things To Do In Ellijay, Georgia That Kids Will Love
When you’re packing up the family to explore the North Georgia Mountain region, I’d pack an extra change of clothes for the kids and dress in layers. There’s so much to explore outdoors and the temperature is typically about 10-degrees cooler than Atlanta. With historic sidewalk areas and grassy spots, be sure to bring an outdoor-friendly stroller for younger kids (we use our jogging stroller for the suspension).
Outdoor Exploration: Hiking & Water Sports
Located in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and offering the perfect scenery, Carters Lake is the epicenter of outdoor fun for Ellijay. Boating, fishing, camping, bird-watching and kayaking are just a few of the activities that people love doing at Carters Lake.
Carters Lake has 3,200 surface acres and several hidden waterfalls to discover. Our family loves the easy hike on the Tumbling Waters Nature Trail.
Tumbling Waters Nature Trail is slightly over one mile (out and back), with many scenic stops along the way. It includes a 150-foot long bridge that crosses 30 feet over Tails Creek and ends at the cascade’s peak, with a view of waterfall. It is not stroller-friendly, so I recommend this hike for grade school ages or older. The glorious Instagram-worthy photo opportunities are worth the hike.
Shop In Downtown Ellijay
I’m not sure I’ve ever met a kid who doesn’t want a souvenir and you’ll find one-of-a-kind items to commemorate your trip when you shop downtown. Like many Georgia historic downtown areas, everything is within walking distance. There’s antique shops, outdoor outfitters and local artisan shops.
The two must-visit shops that kids will love are the Bavarian Chocolatier and The Gumdrop Fun Shop. Pick from decadent truffles, or creamy fudge at the Chocolatier, and then shop for unique toys at the Gumdrop Fun Shop. Another fun thing to do is mining for gems at Gumdrop – which is located behind the shop.
Visit An Apple Orchard
Apple houses are scattered all throughout the area, but none are more worthy of your family’s attention than R and A Orchard. Family owned, their apple orchard is the biggest draw. Apple picking season starts in June and goes through early November. They also have a strawberry picking season and wildflowers as well, so I highly suggest checking their website for the current produce available.
Additionally, R and A Orchard has a roadside market that’s open daily. They have fresh pies, homemade baked treats, canned goods and a small cafe. It’s an awesome stop for families because they have highchairs and clean restrooms with a changing table. Everyone leaves happy after a stop at R and A Orchard.
Expedition: Bigfoot! Museum
A little bit quirky, and a whole lot of fun, the Expedition: Bigfoot! Museum is a must-do for families. Backed with educational findings and history, kids will love speculating whether or not Bigfoot actually exists at this little roadside museum.
It’s actually the country’s largest permanent display of genuine Bigfoot artifacts. They’ve got life sized exhibits, photos, sketches, large up to date sighting maps, and the World’s only Bigfoot Research and Tech Vehicle on display. It can be a tad bit scary for younger children, but older kids will love it.
Eat World-Famous BBQ & Southern Classics
Family-friendly dining options are easy to find in Ellijay. Kick your day off with a fluffy biscuit and get your fingers sticky with some BBQ. The regional foods of North Georgia are a nod to the deep southern roots. The city has the big name chain restaurants, but you don’t want to miss out on the local hot spots.
As soon as you walk into The Pink Pig BBQ restaurant, the folks leaving the restaurant rave to you about the meal they just enjoyed. That’s the first sign that you’re in for a treat. They’re known for pit-cooked BBQ, Bud’s Original sauce, and homemade Brunswick Stew.
If a homemade breakfast is more your speed, then look no further than Mr. P’s Takeout Food. They actually offer more than breakfast, but you can’t beat the fluffy and buttery biscuits. Pick your meat, eggs or cheese and create a biscuit sandwich to take on your North Georgia adventures.
Visit A Family-Friendly Winery
Surprisingly, there are several family-friendly wineries in the Ellijay area where kids are welcome. Walk in for a tasting and enjoy the breathtaking views at Ott Farms and Vineyard. They serve hot chocolate, apple cider and lemonade for the kids and they’re welcome to play outside. Inside, there’s live music and a gift shop area where you can purchase a bottle to take home. Ott is home to the best views in Ellijay and the wine is pretty tasty too.
Go To The Apple Festival
I’m a big fan of visiting Ellijay any time of the year, but there’s a reason they’re known for the North Georgia Apple Festival. Venders set up for two weekends of food, crafts, art and entertainment. There’s plenty of little carnival activities for the kids, shopping to enjoy and tasty treats all over. It’s just a fun, laid back celebration, of fall that’s perfect for families.
Fort Mountain State Park
Set off on an outdoor adventure to see a rock wall, stone tower and overlook at Fort Mountain State Park. It’s home to The Old Fort Trail which is only 1.6 miles long. Kids love the tower and the scenic overlooks make for great photo ops for the family. It’s also a great spot for a family picnic.
Ellijay Mountain Biking
Did you know that Ellijay is the mountain biking capitol of Georgia? Just like apples, it’s another claim to fame. The area is packed with beautiful backcountry trails. If your teens love mountain biking, check out some of the local North Georgia Mountain Biking trails. Hickey Knob (5-miles long) and Long Branch (2-miles long) are two beginner trails to explore. Always check the conditions prior to your trip. Rain, even if it’s been several days, can close a trail until conditions are right again.
There are so many great things to do in Ellijay, GA for families to enjoy. Ellijay has the small town feeling that I love with adventures to keep you coming back for more. Every season in Ellijay offers something unique and the city should definitely be on your family travel bucket list.