Northeast Georgia Why You Should Add it to Your Travel List

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By Katie Fitts

March 3, 2021

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Northeast Georgia Why You Should Add it to Your Travel List

I am currently on assignment in a town called Gainesville, Georgia. No, no, not Gainesville, Florida, Gainesville, GEORGIA! Most people assume I am working in Florida when I tell them about Gainesville. No gators here in this Gainesville! I have to be honest; I had never heard of this town before this assignment. It turns out it’s a wonderful place for an assignment! Situated in an area deemed Northeast Georgia, adjacent to the Appalachian Mountains (the most beautiful mountains in the U.S. in my opinion) and right next to beautiful Lake Lanier, it’s a nature lover’s paradise and a relatively short drive to the city life of Atlanta and other lovely towns.

The Hospital

Northeast Georgia Hospital is based in Gainesville but has a few different smaller locations, including Braselton and Barrow, and plans for a Dahlonega facility. At 557 beds in Gainesville, it is quite large and is a level II trauma center, has labor and delivery services, cardiovascular services, and dialysis capabilities, as well as 23 operating rooms. Outside of Atlanta, it offers some of the most comprehensive services and state-of-the-art technology.

I have been quite impressed with NGHS. I would recommend this hospital based on my experience in the peri-operative area. They use EPIC for their EMR (electronic medical records), which is the best charting system I have seen.

What to See and Do in Northeast Georgia

Northeast Georgia
Hiking Blood Mountain in Georgia, with my faithful companion Benny

Hiking

If you are anything like me and love nature and WINE, 🍷 you are in for a treat!

Hiking abounds! The Appalachian Mountains provide an incredible backdrop for all kinds of amazing hikes dotted with incredible scenic mountain views, waterfalls, and lush forests. I found a super great site that lays out all the hikes around the Atlanta and Northeast Georgia area, atlantatrails.com. It is very detailed in the trail terrain, distance, difficulty to be expected, and directions.

Northeast Georgia
Ode to the hiking boots… A tree full of hiking boots hung near Blood Mountain on the AT.

The infamous Appalachian Trail (AT) starts in Northeast Georgia at Springer Mountain and ends at Mount Katahdin in Maine. I have now inadvertently been to the beginning and the end of the Appalachian Trail! Maybe a sign I need to do this hike one day?! In the summer of 2019, I had the good fortune to spend my time in beautiful Maine as a camp nurse, and that is another wonderful area to visit.

Northeast Georgia
The great Mount Katahdin! Here’s a sight you can expect if you get inspired to hike the AT all the way to Maine.

Whether it is the AT or other trails, Northeast Georgia provides for some spectacular hiking! Some of the trails I was able to explore and enjoyed included Amicalola FallsRaven Cliffs FallsBlood Mountain, and Preacher’s Rock. It would take months of consistent hiking, though, to really see all Northeast Georgia has to offer. Happy hiking!

Northeast Georgia Wine Country 🍷

Now to my close second favorite part (ok, probably my top favorite) about Northeast Georgia…. the wine! Did you know there were wineries in Northeast Georgia? Me neither! I was pleasantly surprised!

Despite being in the well-known hot and humid south of the U.S., the Georgia foothills provide moderately cooler temperatures and rich soil for grape growing and winemaking. From muscadine to sweet wines to more heavy-bodied wines, Northeast Georgia has it all!

Some of the wineries also have full-sized restaurants and also do superbly done brunch. Who doesn’t love brunch? There are also tasting rooms in the quaint little town of Dahlonega, GA, which is just 30 minutes outside of Gainesville and where I happen to reside for this assignment.

Some of the wineries near Dahlonega include Wolf MountainMontaluceThree Sisters, Kaya, Cavender Creek, and Frogtown Cellars. A little further out near Helen and Cleveland, Georgia, you can find one of Georgia’s oldest wineries Habersham Winery, Yonah Mountain, The Cottage Vineyard and Winery, and CeNita, to name a few.

Charming Towns in Northeast Georgia

Dahlonega

I live in Dahlonega, Georgia; pronounced Duh-lawn-egah for my non-Georgia resident friends. It took weeks of purposeful practiced pronunciation as I read it as dall-o-nega (akin to Talladega) as any typical part unabashed southern redneck may do. 😂 It is derived from a Cherokee Native American word meaning yellow, as it was found as a gold mining hub in the 1800s.

At any rate, Dahlonega is about 35 minutes outside of Gainesville and is a quaint town locally revered as a Hallmark movie inspiration with its picturesque small town square surrounded by the Smoky Mountains, particularly during Christmas. A local Dahlonega bar also debuted in a country music song by Ashley McBryde, A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega. Who knew?! The square has many cute little restaurants and shops, and wine tasting rooms. If you like Greek food, you MUST visit Capers on the Square. I probably ate there 5 to 6 times during my stay, don’t miss the goat cheese and fig flatbread… to die for. They also have delicious baba ganouj, gyros, and moussaka.

Charming Dahlonega at Christmastime

Helen

A Bavarian-inspired town nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, Helen is full of charm. You will think you have just teleported to the Bavarian region of Germany! The architecture is stunning, and downtown has plenty of shops and German-inspired restaurants. It was revamped in the 1960s and modeled after Germany’s Bavarian region to increase tourism and bring life back to the town after an economic downturn.

Other Charming Towns

More towns to see within a relatively short distance include Clayton, Blue Ridge, Ellijay, and Cave Spring, to name a few.

Additional Things To Do in Northeast Georgia

Gainesville is pretty neat in itself! It has a quaint square downtown area with shops and restaurants. Gainesville boasts lakeside views of Lake Lenier, popular for kayaking, paddle boarding, and boating. A special little treat for my garden lover friends, the Atlanta Botanical Gardens has a branch in Gainesville and is a lovely respite area! Moreover, they have special events like “Wine in the Woodlands” nights with food trucks and wine, so be sure to check their events page.

Northeast Georgia
Lake Lenier winter view
Northeast Georgia
Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Gainesville, GA
Northeast Georgia

In the mood for big city life? Atlanta and the metro area are only about 70 miles outside of Gainesville. Plenty to see and do there as well!

Pro Tips for Northeast Georgia

  • Ideal times to visit and or do an assignment – Spring to Fall (Winters are dreary and cold and gray and not a whole lot of snow to make it a great winter destination)
  • Travel Nurse Housing is surprisingly expensive in Gainesville! This is likely because it is a lakeside community as caters to people making mountain/lake getaways. I opted to live in Dahlonega for much more reasonable pricing, although a hike from the hospital.

I hope you enjoy Northeast Georgia as much as I did and put it on your list to visit! With wineries and nature, you can’t go wrong. Happy travels!

Gypsy love,

Katie

Northeast Georgia

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