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Begin With Visiting The Dahlonega Gold Museum State Historic Site

A Guide to Dahlonega: What To Do When In Dahlonega, Georgia (2024)

A small town in North Georgia, Dahlonega is closely associated with Georgia’s gold history. The name Dahlonega itself is derived from the Cherokee word referring to the yellow tint of Gold. From 1828 to 1829, thousands of miners gathered here and gave the beginning of the popular Gold Rush. Though later, with time, this small city turned into a tourism wonderland offering plethora of engaging activities. This vibrant local community has evolved through the years and is at its best currently.

The town of Dahlonega is nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains. The region is popular for its mountain vistas, performing art community, and thriving wine country. Offering to one and all, it has everything from culture and history to cuisine, nature, and adventure. Gold panning is still a popular pass time here, but the options aren’t limited; they extend to truly many. Dahlonega also hosts major events and festivals, inviting individuals throughout the year. If you love going out and exploring mountain towns, never miss a chance to plan a weekend getaway to Dahlonega.

A Guide to Dahlonega: What To Do When In Dahlonega, Georgia

Here is A Guide to Dahlonega that includes everything you can indulge in and enjoy in this city. Have a look:

1. Begin With Visiting The Dahlonega Gold Museum State Historic Site

The Dahlonega Gold Museum is nestled inside the historic Lumpkin County Courthouse and is dedicated to presenting Georgia’s Gold Rush legacy. The courthouse building dates back to 1836 and is the oldest surviving county courthouse in Georgia. Inside the museum lies an impressive collection of antique gold panning equipment and machinery, gold coins, nuggets, and other exciting artifacts. The museum is also home to a large hydraulic cannon and nozzle that came in use for blasting soil from mountains. It also has a quaint theatre that plays a short film about the history of gold mining and its role in Lumpkin County. Besides exploring the museum, individuals can also observe the beautiful wooden chapel, jury deliberation room, and the judge’s chambers inside the historic courthouse.

2. Find Some Gold At The Dahlonega Consolidated Gold Mine

Every Guide to Dahlonega must include a gold mine tour, and the Dahlonega Consolidated Gold Mine makes up for it. Encompassing over 92 acres, the mine was under operation from 1875 to 1906. Later it became a popular tourist attraction of Dahlonega with many terrific and unique things to do and see. Individuals in Dahlonega can today enjoy the underground gold mine tours and learn about the history of mining. The tour will take you close to an operational pneumatic drill, original gold cart rails, and a view of the Glory Hole. Mine’s upper level still operates for panning for Gold, and visitors are most excited about the same. The facility even features a studio where visitors can turn their gold finds into wearable memorabilia/ jewelry.

3. Hike the Cane Creek Falls

The most beautiful natural feature in Dahlonega, the Cane Creek Falls, is a short drive away from the Downtown. However, for observing the 85-foot plunge waterfall, a short and easy hike is required. Either take a short walk or a bike ride right from the parking lot, and no more than 15 minutes will lead you to the waterfall. While there are two outlook points above the waterfalls, the views are available from above Cane Creek Cascades. To reach the Cascades, take a swinging bridge and a walking trail. The same viewpoint also offers a glimpse of the distant Rockhouse Falls. Cane Creek Falls, though, isn’t meant for swimming catching the astounding views around are more than enough. Plan the trek either after the monsoon or during the early spring since it is when the waterfall is at its best flow.

4. Drive Through the Lumpkin-Union Loop/ Dahlonega Loop

Dahlonega and entire Northern Georgia are quite popular for the scenic driving scenes. The town, though, offers two scenic loops, but the Lumpkin-Union Loop is the most exciting one (Brasstown Bald Loop is another). Cutting through the Appalachians and passing via several waterfalls, the Lumpkin-Union Loop stretches for a 63-mile-long drive. The loop begins at the main town of Dahlonega, passing through Highway 19N and then moving further. The scenic route unwinds through Cane Creek Falls, Lake Trahlyta, Dicks Creek Falls, Lake Winfield Scott, DeSoto Falls, Turners Corner, Helton Creek Falls, Dockery Lake, Yahoola Valley, and several other points of interest. Whether you are on a bike or car, the driving experience here is undoubtedly amazing.

NOTE: The 106 miles long Brasstown Bald Loop, too, is worth a try. Offering a spectacular mountain driving experience, it unwinds the most excellent views of Northern Georgia.

5. Hike the Lake Zwerner Trail

The Lake Zwerner Trail is a beautiful walking trail that runs around the perimeter of the Dahlonega Reservoir. Nearly 10 minutes outside the town, it begins in one of two parking lots and runs nearly 3.2 miles. The trail starts along the shoreline of the lake, and halfway it crosses a scenic creek. Later it continues its way across the lake, which undoubtedly is a picturesque loop. Along the way, hikers will come across breathtaking lakefront views, towering trees as well as jaw-dropping mountain backdrops. Besides walking, the trail is also popular for biking. When near Lake Zwerner, do consider accessing it for adventure opportunities, including paddleboarding, kayaking, and fishing.

6. Watch Exotic Animals At The Chestatee Wildlife Preserve & Zoo

Tourism options in Dahlonega are truly many, and the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve & Zoo is one of them. This animal sanctuary is home to over 100 exotic and native animals. All the wildlife present here is rescued after being orphaned, abused, illegally purchased, or so. The range of animals you might find here includes African lions, white Siberian tigers, Elk, Emus, grizzly bears, Zebra, and more. The zoo offers a variety of tours and events for utmost visitor engagement. The facility also features a petting zoo that offers a private encounter with alligators, pythons, tortoises, bearded dragons, and cockatoos. Chestatee offers another excellent experience where individuals can have “breakfast with the big cats”. The facility is also popular for hosting birthday parties.

7. Drive Towards the Gibbs Gardens For a Day in Tranquility

Located in the North Georgia mountains, the Gibbs Gardens is a World-Class destination in Ball Ground. A 40-minute drive via Highway 53 will lead you to this astounding feast of nature. Encompassing over 300 acres, Gibbs features nearly 21 garden venues and five feature gardens. Every season of the year brings a new color, a different fragrance, and its charm to the place. Some of the popular settlement inside the facility includes 50 acres of Daffodil Garden with millions of flowers, Manor House Gardens, Japanese Gardens, Inspiration Gardens, All Season Gardens, and Monet Waterlily Gardens. Besides them, visitors can also check out a charming cafe, glimmering ponds, stunning sculptures, and a grand manor house. The Arbor Café Gibbs Gardens’ onsite eatery offers freshly baked cookies and sandwiches along with excellent tea and coffee.

8. Visit the Red Oak Lavender Farm

The family-owned and operated Red Oak Lavender Farm in Dahlonega is serene and awe-inspiring. Operating since 2014, it hosts several different varieties of lavender and more than 4000 lavender plants. Both locals and tourists make sure to take a stroll around the farm to soak in the calming scent of thousands of lavender plants. And with that, of course, the beauty of lavender grounds adds to the experience. The lavender landscapes at Red Oaks serve as a brilliant backdrop for photoshoots. The farm is in its full bloom during June, especially with Lavenders and Sunflowers. Other seasons bring opportunities to enjoy dahlias, wildflowers, roses, and baby’s-breath. Red Oak Lavender Farm also features an onsite shop that deals in lavender oils, soaps, home goods, bath and body essentials, and tons of other commodities.

Popular Tours to Join When in Dahlonega

  • Dahlonega Walking Tours: It includes several tours from the history of the town to winery and pub hopping, haunted trips, and many more. Some of the popular options include the Historic Ghost Tour, Grapes and Ghosts Wine Tours, Dahlonega History Tour, and Paranormal Investigation Tour.
  • Dahlonega Wine Walk: The town of Dahlonega is popularly known as the Wine Tasting Room Capital of Georgia. Wondering why? Well, because it is home to a plethora of wineries, vineyards, tasting rooms, and wine shops. And to visit them all, there’s nothing better than joining the Dahlonega Wine Walk. The tour involves visiting multiple vineyards and wineries and tasting endless samples. For individuals who are 21+, this is something exciting to join.
  • Chestatee River Adventures: Two miles from the city limits, the Chestatee River Adventures offer fun and exciting kayaking or tubing trips. From single sit-in kayaks and tandem two-person kayaks to sit-on-top single kayaks, options are truly many. Since the tours are led by expert and professionally trained guides, everyone can give it a try.

Popular Festivals To Attend When In Dahlonega

Old Fashioned Dahlonega Christmas: It begins from the day after Thanksgiving and goes all the way through Christmas. The event includes the annual lighting of the tree next to the Downtown. It is when every single landmark is covered in lights and Christmas décor. Weekends then are most popular, especially for horse-drawn carriage rides.

Other popular Christmas events in the town include the Dahlonega Christmas Market, the Dahlonega Christmas Parade, and the Festival of Trees in Hancock Park.

Gold Rush Days Fall Festival: Operating for over six decades, this event celebrates the discovery of Gold. Just as the Fall foliage begins showing its true colors, the festival attracts around 200,000 visitors to Dahlonega’s Town Square. The celebration includes a parade, gold panning contest, family-friendly games, face painting, live music, and more.

Bear On The Square Mountain Festival: It is one of the most popular events in entire North Georgia and has been a tradition for quite a long now. The event is full of delicious food, Appalachian arts and crafts, music, dance, and storytelling of traditional Appalachian culture.

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