Nestled in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, Rabun County, Georgia’s northeastern most county, claims the title to the state’s Farm-to-Table Capital and five Best Chef America award recipients. But with three state parks, rivers, lakes, trails and more than two dozen waterfalls, resorts, golf courses, four wineries and two distilleries, there is so much more to bring you here than just the amazing dining.
If you’re and outdoor adventurer/weekend warrior, you belong in Rabun County! Three state parks, Tallulah Gorge, Black Rock Mountain, and Moccasin Creek, provide countless hiking and biking trails that end in awe-inspiring views of vast mountain horizons, rocky cliffs and chasms or stunning waterfalls. With rivers and lakes galore, you can spend your day on waters white or calm. Try Southeastern Expeditions for rafting and kayaking. Or hit the lake, for jet skiing, paddling, fishing or simply cruising around and enjoying the moment. You can fly through the tree tops, zip lining over 250 feet off the ground at the Highlands Aerial Park or you can saddle up for a casual horseback ride through the woods and across cool streams at the Dillard House Stables.
If shopping is your thing, you’ll be well satisfied even without the malls. There are antique shops and flea markets for the scavenger hunters, eclectic galleries and specialty shops for those who revel in making unique acquisitions. And of course, there are the farmers’ markets, where “fresh” and “local” become yours to take home.
Discerning travelers will find Kingwood, Sky Valley and Waterfall Country Clubs offer top-of-the-line golf, spas and accommodations that are as close to heaven as they appear to be. For the more “down-to-earth” traveler, there is a wealth of other options for an overnight stay. From primitive camping and campgrounds to historic B&Bs and quaint cabins or chalets, there is room for everyone.
Then there are the wineries! Tiger Mountain, 12 Spies, Stonewall Creek and Terra Incognita all create award winning varieties from their own vines, including Malbec, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Manseng. The soil is ideal at this elevation and as a result, the vineyards not only boast about their fabulous wines, but also of their spectacular views. Tours and tastings are available where anyone can enjoy both at the same time.
For those who prefer their libations a bit stronger, R.M. Rose and Moonrise Distilleries offer an interesting selection of finely crafted, small batch artisan spirits along with a relaxed and inviting atmosphere in which to share them with your friends, old and new.
After all that excitement, let’s not forget about the food. Rabun County offers a wide assortment of dining choices from award winning bar-be-que to traditional Southern home cookin’ and everything in-between. But Farm-to-Table is why they’re on the map. Beechwood Inn (chef David Darugh), Lake Rabun Hotel (chef Travis Cintron), Julep Farms (chef Shaen Ferren), Rabun Manor (chef James Weaver), The Red Barn Café at Tiger Mountain Vineyards (chef Leon Lemoine), The Chophouse at LaPrades (chef James Reaux), The Farmhouse at Waterfall (chef Vince Scafiti) and Fortify Kitchen (chef Jamie Allred), are where that action is happening. Each chef creates a unique menu inspired by the day’s local harvest and the presentation is as fresh as the ingredients. Meals are paired with wines that come straight from the vineyard either in the backyard or just around the corner. All in all, this quiet little county can boast a dining experience that rivals the likes of Tuscany or Provence, and it’s only just over the hill from downtown Atlanta.
Need we say more? Except, “what are your waiting for?”