DISTANCE: 88 MILES, ONE-AND-A-HALF HOUR DRIVE
Less than 100 miles from Atlanta in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, outdoor adventure abounds in the quiet little town of Dillard, Georgia. The gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains, Dillard is home to 148,000 acres of National Forest and three state parks.
What Dillard lacks in humans (the census put citizenship at approximately 200) it more than makes up for in bodies of water: the Chattooga, Nantahala, Ocoee and Pigeon rivers all flow here, as well as lakes Burton, Rabun and Seed, and there are more than 1,300 miles of streams nearby (more about those later). Outdoor adventure abounds with white water rafting, horseback riding, zip lining, camping, hiking, fishing and more!
Start your day off with a true southern breakfast – slow, delicious and homemade. Breakfast is served all day at Annette’s Café, along with a great selection of sandwiches and home cookin’ like your momma used to make. Tucked away in the corner of some antique shops, Annette makes most everything on the menu from scratch herself, from the hand-battered fried chicken to the biscuits and gravy. Fast food this isn’t, so get comfortable and sit a spell. If you’re looking for good food without all the hype of a tourist trap this is the go-to place.
Head to the Dillard House Stables before it gets too hot for a morning horseback ride in the Little Tennessee River. The stables offer guided beginner through advanced rides along well maintained, scenic mountain trails through lush forests, and to overlooks and waterfalls.
Continue your delightfully lazy morning with a trip to the past. Inspired by a collection of writing about Southern Appalachia of the same name, The Foxfire Museum was created in 1974 to preserve Appalachian life as it was 150 years ago. The museum features 106-acres showcasing woodworking, food preservation, candlemaking and more.
After lunch, it’s time to hit the whitewater rapids! Rabun County is home to four rivers ranging from novice to Class II-V rapids (speaking of thrill-seekers, check out Nantahala Outdoor Center’s popular Chattooga Section IV trip, which ends with five Class IV rapids unfolding one after the other!). If you love the river but prefer standing in it rather than barreling down it, there are plenty of fly and lake fishing opportunities. For trout, check out the Dillard House Inn, which has a private stream with trophy-size trout. Speaking of….
End your day with a meal at the most famous place in town: the Dillard House. The town was founded in 1794 by Captain John Dillard, who was awarded the land after serving in the American Revolution. In 1917, John’s grandson and his wife opened a general store and boarding house, which later became the famed inn and restaurant. Still operated by the Dillard family, the Dillard House is the ultimate meat-and-three, and features award-winning Southern favorites such as fried chicken, country ham, mashed potatoes, collard greens, cobblers, cornbread and more.