Visit the site of America’s first gold rush just 90 minutes from Atlanta
About an hour and a half north of Atlanta, just past the strip malls and new housing developments in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains is the lively town of Dahlonega, Ga. Dahlonega is the site of the country’s first gold rush and there is still gold in them there hills, although it’s more of the tourist variety now than the shiny yellow metal.
Dahlonega was the site of the first gold rush in the United States. Gold has a deep history here and you can learn all about it on a Gold Tour. The Dahlonega Gold Museum is an excellent place to start and gives an overview of the gold rush and the different types of mining in the area (placer, hydraulic, and hard rock), as well as information about the history of Dahlonega. There are two available mine tours, Consolidated and Crisson. Crisson has old equipment displayed (plus a genuine moonshine still). Consolidated offers an underground mine tour that does a great job telling how gold was hard rock mined and what it was like to be a miner. Both mines offer gold panning and gem mining.
Downtown Dahlonega is has a quaint, walkable square with interesting shops and restaurants. On Saturday afternoons from 2 -5pm in late April – early Oct., locals gather with their banjos and violins at the Gold Museum for the Appalachian Jam.
The General Store is a great place to find everything from panning equipment to toys to homemade jam and Connie’s is the perfect place to stop for ice cream.
3. Hike to Waterfalls
Dahlonega is also a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. The start of the Appalachian trail is right outside of town and there are eight waterfalls within Lumpkin County and the surrounding areas. If you’re only hitting a few of the waterfalls, go with the big ones like Amicalola Falls State Park and Anna Ruby Falls. We tried to find Dick’s Creek Falls and has some difficulty, plus although pretty, it wasn’t as spectacular as the other two.
4. Go to a Festival
There are lots of things to do in Dahlonega on any given day, but during certain times of the year, the town hosts some well known, award winning festivals like Gold Rush Days, in October. This festival was voted a top 20 event in the southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society. The Mountain Top Rodeo in June includes rodeo fun plus a Midway with games (including a mechanical bull) and fair food.
5. Rent a Cabin and Enjoy the View
There are a variety of accommodations in Dahlonega, but we stayed in a Vacation by Owner cabin called Carson’s Run. The four-bedroom home with its wide deck, fire pit and hot tub invited us to spend an evening under the stars grilling out and enjoying each other’s company. The surrounding woods provided privacy from other vacationers and ample sticks for roasting marshmallows. It was a nice end to a busy day of mining.
Although we were provided a complimentary room and admissions for the purpose of reviewing (as is common in the travel industry), we only recommend places we would stay and products we would use.