Above: There are many events and activities in the north Georgia mountains and North Carolina mountains this summer. Paddling is one way to stay fit and have fun at the same time. Courtesy of Georgia State Parks.
Whether you’re looking for music, arts & crafts, or some old-fashioned carnival rides, the mountains of North Georgia and North Carolina have plenty to keep you busy this summer.
Highlands Village Square Art & Craft Show
It wouldn’t be summer in Highlands without the annual Village Square Arts and Craft Show, which takes place on Aug. 24-25. Now in their 14th year, they are well known for regionally-made fine art, crafts and rustic furniture. It is sponsored by Rotary of Highlands Mountaintop, and proceeds go to their many important charitable causes, such as the Emergency Council in Highlands and efforts to eradicate polio around the world. The show is held in Kelsey-Hutchinson “Founders” Park at Pine and N. 5th Streets in downtown Highlands. Visit facebook.com/villagesquareshow for more information.
Groovin’ On The Green
Groovin’ On The Green concerts are scheduled for most Friday nights on the Village Commons in Cashiers, NC during the summer months. This series of free concerts showcases music from around western North Carolina. The events start between 5:30 and 6:30PM. To see this year’s line- up visit villagegreencashiersnc.com.
Christmas in July
Christmas is coming early to the Bavarian village of Helen, Ga. on July 19 and 20, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Helen Arts and Heritage Center. Visitors are invited to be the early bird and get started on their Christmas shopping. This family friendly event includes artists and fine craftsmen from across Northeast Georgia along with mountain music, face painting, baked goods and more. Visit helenga.org for more details.
Georgia Mountain Fair
Head to Towns County for the 69th annual Georgia Mountain Fair July 19-27. Thousands of visitors from across the region flock to the fair, which this year will feature musical performances by Pam Tillis, Neal McCoy, Ricky Skaggs, The Spinners, BJ Thomas and many more. There’s also arts & crafts, fun carnival rides, unique attractions and a glimpse into North Georgia’s rich history and culture. Visit georgiamountainfairgrounds.com for more information.
Stay fit with kayaking, trail biking and rock sliding
If you’re planning to visit north Georgia and wondering how you’ll stay fit without your local gym, the state parks have some interesting and unusual ways to get your regular exercise. With only a $5 parking fee, you can visit multiple parks on the same day and stay fit year-round.
Hike with your dog
Georgia State Parks just launched the new Tails on Trails Club, geared toward dog owners and their pups. While all of Georgia State Parks’ trails are dog-friendly, the Tails on Trails Club encourages dog owners to complete seven designated hiking trails for a reward. Upon completion of all seven trails, dog owners will receive a T-shirt and dogs get a bandana. Participating parks include Fort Mountain, F.D. Roosevelt, Don Carter, Sweetwater Creek, High Falls, Fort McAllister and Red Top Mountain. Find out more at GaStateParks.org/TailsonTrails.
Paddle lakes and rivers
Don Carter State Park is the only state park on the northern edge of 38,000-acre Lake Lanier, making it the perfect paddling spot for stand- up paddleboards or paddling. For a challenging workout, take a three-mile trip to Flat Creek Island, the northernmost island of Lake Lanier. Don’t own a boat? Canoes and/or kayaks may be rented seasonally at more than 20 state parks. Join the Park Paddlers Club and paddle 22 miles of scenic waterways to earn a T-shirt reward. More information: GaStateParks.org/Paddling.
Cycle the trails
If biking is your thing, get on the trails at Fort Mountain State Park near Chatsworth, Smithgall Woods State Park and Unicoi State Park near Helen, Don Carter State Park in Gainesville and Tallulah Gorge State Park. Find out more at GaStateParks.org/Biking.
Splash in state parks
Those looking for a more daring dip into nature can make a splash at Tallulah Gorge State Park and Watson Mill Bridge State Park, both of which provide summer swimmers with a unique opportunity to experience a natural waterslide made of “sliding rocks.” Get more information at GaStateParks.org/Swimming.
Find out more about where to get fit at GaStateParks.org.