Visitors to Rabun County are often faced with a dilemma. Where to begin? With so many activities from which to choose, not to mention the vast array of dining options, it can be difficult to select a starting point. But fear not. You can’t go wrong no matter where you begin.
Rabun County, nestled in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, is Georgia’s northeastern most county. It claims the title of the state’s Farm-to-Table Capital and five Best Chef America award recipients. But with four wineries, two distilleries, resorts, golf courses, three state parks, rivers, lakes, trails and more than two dozen waterfalls, there is so much more to bring you here than just the amazing dining.
Let’s start with 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.
Are you an outdoor adventurer/weekend warrior? Then 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, rafting, kayaking, jet skiing, paddling, fishing or simply cruising around and soaking in the moment. You can fly through the tree tops 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.
Shoppers will discover antique shops, flea markets, eclectic galleries and specialty shops for those who revel in making unique acquisitions. There are the farmers’ markets, where “fresh” and “local” are the norm.
Discerning travelers will find that Kingwood, Sky Valley and Waterfall Country Clubs offer top-of-the-line golf, exquisite spas and luxurious accommodations, while there is a wealth of other options for budget conscious travelers. From primitive camping and campgrounds to historic B&Bs and quaint cabins or chalets, there is room for everyone.
Foodies can rejoice in Rabun County, which offers a wide assortment of dining choices from award winning barbeque 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 the action is happening. Each chef creates a unique menu inspired by what the day’s local harvest offers. The presentation is as fresh as the ingredients and will satisfy your soul as well as your palate. 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.
So what are you waiting for? Rabun County is rolling out the red carpet for visitors.