Discovering Dahlonega: Small town earns place on Travel + Leisure best list

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Nestled in the breathtaking North Georgia mountains, Dahlonega is a hidden gem that recently earned its place on Travel + Leisure's coveted list of America's Best Small Towns. Specifically, the town was honored as America's Best Small Wine, Beer + Spirits Town. But what sets this picturesque town apart is not just its stunning natural beauty; it's the unique blend of history, libations, and Southern charm that beckons travelers from near and far.

Sipping Your Way Through Dahlonega's Wine, Beer, and Spirits Scene

Dahlonega is more than just a pretty face; it's also a haven for wine enthusiasts and craft beverage aficionados. With eight wineries, twelve tasting rooms, and a handful of craft breweries and distilleries, it's no wonder the town was honored as America's Best Small Wine, Beer + Spirits Town.

The wineries in Dahlonega offer a diverse range of flavors and experiences. From the exquisite Wolf Mountain Vineyards to the rustic charm of Cavender Creek Vineyards, each vineyard tells a unique story through its wines. Don't miss the chance to sample award-winning vintages at Montaluce Winery & Restaurant, or explore the scenic beauty of Kaya Vineyard & Winery. Other wineries include Accent Cellars and Three Sisters Vineyards & Winery.

A Glimpse into the Golden Past

Step back in time as you wander through Historic Downtown Dahlonega, where a picturesque square beckons with its quaint shops and inviting restaurants. At its heart, the Dahlonega Gold Museum resides within the beautifully restored 1836 Lumpkin County Courthouse.

Dahlonega's history is deeply intertwined with the allure of gold. In 1828, this charming town sparked the nation's first major gold rush, a full two decades before California's historic rush. The Gold Museum vividly recounts these tales, from the dreams of fortune seekers to the painstaking process of extracting the precious metal.

Shop 'Til You Drop

Dahlonega's downtown offers a delightful shopping experience. From traditional Appalachian art to trendy clothing shops and home decor boutiques, you'll find a diverse array of souvenirs. For a step back in time, visit the Dahlonega General Store, an old-fashioned country store that stocks everything from homemade jams and candies to marbles and nostalgic metal signs.

A Culinary Journey Awaits

Dahlonega's culinary scene caters to all tastes. Whether you crave Southern comfort food, barbecue, Chinese, German, Italian, Mediterranean, Mexican, or vegan delights, Dahlonega has a restaurant to satisfy your palate. For a unique twist on Cajun cuisine, don't miss Bourbon Street Grill, housed in the Historic Hall House building.

19 Degrees North Seafood & Grill offers fresh seafood, steaks and more at great prices, including a $9.99 lunch menu between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Friday.

Shenanigans Restaurant & Irish Pub features a family-friendly dining room upstairs and an authentic Irish pub atmosphere downstairs. It also has a covered patio and is pet-friendly.

Satisfying Your Sweet Tooth

Chocoholics and ice cream lovers rejoice! Dahlonega boasts a sweet selection of chocolate shops, including Paul Thomas Chocolates, Dahlonega Fudge Factory, and Kilwins Chocolates. If you plan your visit right, you might even catch the annual Dahlonega Chocolate Crawl, a week-long celebration of all things cocoa.

Festivals Galore

Dahlonega knows how to throw a party. The Bear on the Square Mountain Festival in April immerses visitors in old-time and bluegrass music, traditional mountain art, and mountain cuisine. In May, the Dahlonega Arts & Wine Festival offers a blend of fine wines, arts and crafts, and live jazz performances.

Come October, Gold Rush Days rekindles memories of the town's golden past with over 300 art and craft exhibitors, mouthwatering food vendors, and live music. And when the holiday season approaches, Dahlonega's Old-Fashioned Christmas, complete with thousands of twinkling lights, Santa Claus, and a festive parade, is nothing short of magical.

Beyond Downtown Dahlonega

But Dahlonega's charm extends beyond its downtown area. Nearby attractions like the Dahlonega Butterfly Farm, Chestatee Wildlife Preserve & Zoo, Consolidated Gold Mines, Inc., Amicalola Falls, the North Georgia Astronomical Observatory, Red Oak Lavender Farm and Shop, and the Lumpkin-Union Loop offer endless opportunities for adventure and exploration.

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Amicalola Falls

In Dahlonega, history, culture, and nature converge in a harmonious blend that will leave you enchanted and eager to return to this gem of North Georgia. So, what are you waiting for? Discover the allure of Dahlonega for yourself, and you'll find it's a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be unearthed.

How to get there

Dahlonega is located about 60 miles from Atlanta via U.S. 19 North. It's about an hour and 15 minutes.