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The Delights of Historic Dahlonega, Georgia

Karen Hellier is a freelance writer and eBay entrepreneur. She lives happily in the mountains of North Georgia with her husband and her dog.

The Front Porch Restaurant (above) and various gift shops in Dahlonega, Georgia

The Front Porch Restaurant (above) and various gift shops in Dahlonega, Georgia

Visiting Dahlonega

Dahlonega, Georgia, is a quaint town nestled in the mountains of North Georgia. The site of the first gold rush in the United States, the town's name comes from the Cherokee word “ta-lo-ne-ga,” which means "gold."

Situated approximately 70 miles north of Atlanta, the town of Dahlonega is about as far away from city life as one can get while remaining a town. The historic public square is full of treats and treasures for travelers wishing to add a bit of history, shopping, and good food to their vacation experience. My husband and I stopped here on vacation from our home in Connecticut and were pleasantly surprised by this gem of a Georgia town.

A stop at the Visitor’s Center upon entering the town is highly recommended, as there are many brochures available for visitors. These include information about area wineries, stores, and restaurants. Many of the restaurants have paper menus available at the Visitor’s Center so future customers can see what type of food each establishment has to offer before arriving.

Two restaurants, The Back Porch Oyster Bar, and The Front Porch Restaurant have actual porches diners can sit on while they eat. This town begs visitors to do just that, as it’s a treat to sit outside in the warmer weather enjoying good food and watching the world go by.

A word of warning, though … the people who work behind the desk of the Visitor’s Center are so friendly and enthusiastic about their beloved Dahlonega that before you know it, they may be trying to sell you on all the virtues of this town to lure you into becoming a permanent resident!

The old courthouse, built in 1836.

The old courthouse, built in 1836.

Town Square and the Gold Museum

The square centers around the old courthouse, a building originally built in 1836 as part of the first gold rush. After a new courthouse was built nearby in 1965, the old courthouse was sold to the state of Georgia and now houses the Dahlonega Gold Museum. This museum has an entrance fee of $6 for adults, $5.50 for seniors. Children under three are free.

The tour of the gold museum starts off with a movie about the discovery of gold in the area in 1828. It includes information about the subsequent gold rush which brought a deluge of gold miners to the area. After the movie, one can browse through memorabilia from the period, and head to a few small rooms with gold mining tools, a safe used to house the gold, and a safe currently used to display gold in various sizes, from gold dust to much larger nuggets.

Shops along the square, Dahlonega, Georgia

Shops along the square, Dahlonega, Georgia

A Town Made for Walking

Surrounding the old courthouse building is a public parking lot, without parking meters, and around that, a public square filled with quaint 19th-century buildings whose front porches bloom with colorful flowers in the springtime. The flowers and tree-lined sidewalks add to the ambiance of this sweet town.

The buildings are connected by brick walkways and are filled with wonderful gift shops, restaurants, a general store, antique shops, and the Visitor’s Center. The town is clearly made for browsing, but there are plenty of benches for husbands who prefer to sit and watch the world go by while their wives peruse the gift shops.

Back Porch Oyster Bar, Dahlonega, GA.

Back Porch Oyster Bar, Dahlonega, GA.

The Back Porch Oyster Bar

On a recent visit to Dahlonega, my husband and I chose to eat lunch at the Back Porch Oyster Bar, and it was a good decision. From the moment we walked up to steps, we were treated with wonderful hospitality. Each server in the restaurant greeted us with smiles and hellos, and our waitress, Constance, could not do enough for us.

The food was delicious, and the view from the porch, which was actually in the front of the building, gave us a perfect perch from which to watch the comings and goings of visitors and residents alike in this wonderful town. Situated across from the courthouse, the view from our table gave us a bird's-eye view of the public square and the buildings surrounding it.

Antique Shopping Galore

Because I am an antique enthusiast, I did browse through an antique store in town. They had everything but the sun in that store and at good prices as well. I should state that the prices are good compared to antique stores I am used to up in New England. The store offered antique clothing, books, dishes, glassware, furniture, toys and even my favorite collectible, teddy bears.

Browsing through this store was like a trip down memory lane, with delights and new discoveries around every corner as this shop was set up in stalls for various antique dealers to display their wares. There are two more similar antique stores with individual stalls for dealers nearby. One could easily spend a few hours just browsing antiques in Dahlonega, and then going to lunch would make for an enjoyable day.

The Dahlonega General Store

One of my favorite stops during our visit was to the Dahlonega General Store. This store had many of the usual souvenirs, but also was chock full of interesting and quirky items. If you are interested in trying Moon Shine jelly, they have it there. Want to buy an old civil war sword? Head to the Dahlonega General Store, where you can purchase one at a great price. If you want your fortune told, there are old-fashioned carnival-type machines that will do just that. Or maybe you would prefer to listen to the music of an old-time player piano? They have one of those there as well.

One of my favorite experiences at the store was the honor system coffee they offered for 5 cents a cup. It was surrounded by a few water jugs full of change from people who had already enjoyed their almost free coffee! I had a cup just for the experience of it.

The most unusual item I saw there was canned sun-dried Georgia possum for $2.95! My husband considered buying a can to take home to Connecticut. Was it a joke or actual sun-dried possum? I can’t tell you that because I moved away from it a bit too quickly, but it was the most unusual item I have ever seen for sale in a gift shop!

Don't Miss a Stop in Dahlonega!

There are many more sites and delights to discover and enjoy during a trip to this historic, wonder-filled Georgia town. They include a real gold mine where visitors can pan for gold, and a collection of wineries, but we didn't have time for these on our visit. I highly recommend a full-day visit if you are traveling in the area.

The mountains in North Georgia alone are worth the trip, but a stop in this quaint town will provide a special day of good food and adventure in the state of Georgia.

Dahlonega Poll

© 2013 Karen Hellier

Comments

MamaBear131 on August 27, 2020:

I live in Dahlonega and it is without a doubt the most beautiful and friendly little town I've ever seen. ❤

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on May 31, 2013:

ThelmaC,

Okay, thanks. I'll do just that.

Thelma Raker Coffone from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on May 31, 2013:

Karen,

You need to check out Blue Ridge before you decide where to move. I just sent you an email.

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on May 31, 2013:

ThelmaC,

I have heard of Blue Ridge and how beautiful it is there. Are there any places nearby that are like Big Canoe in terms of being a gated community with amenities and the community itself? I wish I could stay the whole summer but we are here for only a 1 week scouting mission trying to discover if Big Canoe is where we want to move to. Sounds like Blue Ridge is somewhere we definitely want to get to. I love mountains and if it is more mountainous than Big Canoe, I want to check it out.

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on May 31, 2013:

wetnosedogs,

Yes, I think panning for gold sounds like fun. Maybe I can do that on the next trip here, or if we move here. Thanks for dropping by!

wetnosedogs from Alabama on May 31, 2013:

This is the type of place I would love to see. Think I would try to pan for gold for the fun of it. Then sit on a bench and watch the world go by as I'm not a shopper.

Thelma Raker Coffone from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on May 30, 2013:

Karen,

Smith House is one block off the square. It has been an inn since the 1920s. The building sits on top of a rich vein of gold. You sit at a table with about 10 other people and eat wonderful country cooking. It is fun to eat with strangers and get to hear where they are from, etc. I highly recommend the Smith House and hope you visit there soon.

I live in Blue Ridge, Georgia which is on the Georgia/Tennessee/North Carolina borders (where all 3 states meet). It is more mountainous than Big Canoe area. Hope you get to stay for the whole summer and enjoy our area.

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on May 30, 2013:

ThelmaC,

I didn't see The Smith House but if we move here, I will definitely go. Thanks for the compliment. We are staying at Big Canoe to see if we want to move here. Do you live anywhere near there???

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on May 30, 2013:

Chris,

You're too funny! I have no idea if there's wifi near the outside benches, but good idea! Yeah, the sun dried possum was quite funny...I like your description of the ZZ Top guy. It is probably supposed to be roadkill and the canned thing is a joke.

chrisinhawaii on May 30, 2013:

"...but there are plenty of benches for husband’s who prefer to sit and watch the world go by while their wives peruse the gift shops."

If they got wifi around there, I'm all over that!

The moonshine jelly and honor system coffee made me smile =)

"Sun-dried possum"? That just sounds like roadkill to me. I can picture an old ZZ Top guy out on the highway with a shovel, scraping that "sun-dried possum" up to sell at the General Store. PASS!

Thelma Raker Coffone from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on May 30, 2013:

I have visited Dahlonega often and enjoy it every time. Love eating at the Smith House! We only live an hour away but don't get there as often as we would like. Reading your hub makes me want to visit again soon. Great job.

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on May 29, 2013:

You are welcome Faith. I do agree with you that I am blessed to travel so much. This trip is a bit different though. We are scouting the area for a possible move to Georgia from Connecticut.

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on May 29, 2013:

billybuc,

Well if you come to Georgia, you should definitely go to Dahlonega. It truly is an amazing place, especially for history buffs and people who like to browse through quaint shops.I hope you get to check it out someday.

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on May 29, 2013:

Rosetheplanner,

Yes, it does seem a bit like Mayberry, without the ugly gas pumps!

Karen Hellier (author) from Georgia on May 29, 2013:

hawaiianodysseus,

Ha ha...yes, writing hubs about my travels is how I spend my vacation! Can't help but write about what I see. I guess at this point it's an addiction...now that I have found HubPages!

Hawaiian Odysseus from Southeast Washington state on May 29, 2013:

So...this is how you spend your vacation time! Great idea! I learn a lot from reading your hubs, especially the presentation of your content. Very nicely packaged! Thanks for sharing, Karen! Good to hear you're doing well!

Aloha!

Joe

rose-the planner from Toronto, Ontario-Canada on May 29, 2013:

It looks so peaceful and quaint. It reminds me of Andy Griffith's Mayberry. It would definitely be interesting to visit. Thanks for sharing.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 29, 2013:

What a great looking town...out of another era. I would love to visit the deep south one day. Thanks for the tour, Karen!

Faith Reaper from southern USA on May 29, 2013:

Thanks for taking us along on your trip to Dahlonega, Georgia.

Excellent hub. I grew up in Georgia, and remember visiting Dahlonega a very long time ago, so it is not clear in my mind, as I was so young, but I would love to return.

Voted up ++++

You are blessed to be able to travel so much :)

Blessings, Faith Reaper