The Underrated, Southeastern Mountain City Is A Relaxing Retreat From The City

Waterfalls, epic hikes, and serene nature are proven medicines for the soul. And while the USA might constantly boast of bustling cities like New York, beachside escapes like Santa Monica, or the hottest tourist attractions in Miami, the country is full of natural reserves hidden not too far from some of the most prominent city skyscrapers. If you find yourself in the southeast or are simply looking for your next quiet, natural retreat, there's one small town in Georgia with a population of less than 1,000 people, and that might just be what the doctor ordered.

Blairsville, Georgia, is located approximately 116 miles outside of Atlanta. At only 10 miles south of the Tennessee border, Blairsville provides that sweet, laidback country life that makes for a perfect city escape. Don't let its small size fool you; in Blairsville, there's still plenty to do, especially if you're a fan of the great outdoors. Here's what to expect here.

What to do in Blairsville

With the outdoors being the focus of Blairsville, Vogel State Park is easily the town's most sought-after attraction. Located within Chattahoochee National Forest, Vogel is one of Georgia's oldest and arguably most beautiful state parks. There are plenty of hiking trails at Vogel State Parks, from the 4-mile Bear Hair Gap Loop to the 13-mile Coosa Backcountry Trail. Note that the park has a $5 entry fee.

Being in the Georgian woods doesn't mean being entirely alone. Such is certainly the case at Lasso the Moon Alpaca Farm, where visitors can hang out with alpacas and opossums. While they are year-round, a reservation is required for all visitors. The most beautiful waterfalls around the world where you can swim in peace are tempting, but you should see Helton Creek Falls before you go globetrotting. It is an easy family- and dog-friendly hike. The hike roundtrip is less than a mile, and you'll be treated to views of two waterfalls.

When you need to grab a nosh or perhaps a libation, you're in good luck in Blairsville. Head to Granddaddy Mimm's Distilling Co. for some authentic southern moonshine. Georgia might not strike you as a wine state, but Odom Springs Vineyards might have you questioning that logic. For fuel after or before a long day of hiking, head to Michaelee's Italian Life Caffe for a bowl of fusilli Bolognese. 

How to get there (and when to visit)

Sometimes, a downfall of visiting off-the-beaten-path destinations or small towns, in general, is finding transportation to and from, which can be a challenge. Blairsville, Georgia, isn't too tricky of a haul, but you have a few options to consider. If you cannot drive right in, your best bet is to fly into Atlanta Hartsfield–Jackson International Airport (ATL) and rent a car from there. The drive is around two hours.

You could also fly into McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville, Tennessee (TYS), and, like the Atlanta approach, rent a car. The drive is similarly around two hours. For a third airport option, try Asheville Regional Airport in North Carolina (AVL) and drive to Blairsville upon landing, which is also around two hours. If you don't want to fly and prefer train travel, there's an Amtrak station in nearby Gainesville, Georgia. From there, Blairsville is about an hour away via driving. When you book your train, just make sure you book to Gainesville, Georgia, and not Gainesville, Florida.

While you can technically enjoy Blairsville year-round, you'll want to avoid the winter if you hope to get the most out of the city. Despite being in the south, Blairsville sees low temperatures in the 30s and 40s (degrees Fahrenheit), with November to February being the coldest months. Late April and early May usually mean temperatures in the low 70s (degrees Fahrenheit), and visiting in the fall means higher chances of fall foliage viewings.