A Georgia vacation town through a college student’s eyes


I’ve noticed that when someone describes a great vacation, it’s often to a quintessential destination: Paris, London, or some other slice of Europe; the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, or another adventure classic; Disney, Universal Studios, or another doorway into fantasy. Well, I’m putting a word in for Blue Ridge, Georgia. Blue Ridge is a small town situated near the border of Georgia and Tennessee, named for the Blue Ridge Mountains that surround it. My family rented a secluded cabin just outside town.

Some days we lazed around the cabin, playing pool or relaxing in the hot tub. On others we hiked famous trails to secluded waterfalls. Still other days saw us headed for more adventurous pursuits. Ziplining pulled us from our lounging first. We shot through the forest canopy, suspended by only wire and harness, and jostled across bridges connecting treetop to treetop. Only afterward did I realize that I’d just shared an outdoor adventure suited to all ages: my twelve-year-old brother, my middle-aged parents, and my seventy-four-year-old grandfather—who laughed gruffly all the way.

The climax of the trip was whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River, location of the 1996 Summer Olympic whitewater events. Our guide, a wild-man Texas Christian University grad named Will, steered the raft and leaped like a gymnast from the fast-moving raft onto boulders and back. After Will asked mischievously if I wanted to “ride the bull,” I found myself perched on the very front of the raft, half-drowning (in the most positive way) in icy, rushing water. Downriver, we pulled up to a large rock, scrambled out, and tied the raft up. We were shocked when Will flipped the raft over and suggested that we jump from the rock, belly-bounce off the raft, and plunge into the crystal water! Nobody volunteered at first, but after one jump, we were sold! The entire day resounded with shouts and laughs.

Blue Ridge is a quiet little mountain town—most of the time. Sure, you’ll find quaint small-town restaurants, friendly people, and a historic train trip. But go down into the hamlet at the right time, and you’ll find small groups playing raucously on banjo, accordion, and the like! People gather weekly to play and sing together and to take part in a not-to-be-missed, helter-skelter dance. Blue Ridge offers a healthy vacation mix of relaxed, small-town charm and a little high adventure, all within an hour’s drive.

Learn more about vacationing in Blue Ridge at http://www.blueridgemountains.com.

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