Day Trips, Road Trips and Just Shopping Around. Four Destinations that Make for an Excellent Day in the north Georgia Mountains.
There’s nothing quite like a summer afternoon in the heart of Appalachia. As temperatures begin to rise, melodious birds chirp their appreciation, darting back and forth between newly-bloomed plants and trees. The sweet, smoky smell of barbecue fills the air on weekends, as friends and family join one another to celebrate good times and good health. Visitors young and old flock to nearby mountain towns, excited about their getaway vacations, while local business owners open their doors, anxious to share their one-of-a-kind wares with all who are interested.
Summertime in Appalachia means exploring the backroads and discovering new adventures; it means staying inside on a cloudy day, knitting a new family heirloom for a loved one as refreshing rainfall plops on a tin roof. It means spending a day in town with the girls, hopping from shop to shop on the hunt for the perfect warm weather outfit. Or maybe a road trip to explore local folk art galleries. All in all, summertime in Appalachia equates to good vibrations and a certain peace of mind not found anywhere else in America.
Pour yourself a tall glass of sweet tea, sit back, and keep reading to discover a few places that have become synonymous with North Georgia. From the region’s best kept folk art secret, to a wonderfully secluded gem in Blairsville selling handmade treasures, or an Ellijay institution helping to build long-lasting memories, to a trendy clothing and accessory store in the heart of Jasper – this is Appalachian Country Living at its finest.
Folk Art Wonderland: Around Back at Rocky’s Place
Where can you find folk pottery by the leading pottery families in the South? Where can you find art pieces from the grandfathers of folk art? Where can you find work by Smithsonian honored artists? Where can you find locally created art pieces? Where can you find awesome creations from new, emerging artists? Where can you find the work of over 300 artists in one festive place? And…..where can you find the absolute largest collection of work by John “Cornbread” Anderson in the universe?
If you answered Around Back at Rocky’s Place to all of the above questions, you are 100% correct, and you have probably visited the gallery. If unsure of the answers, then a journey to Dawsonville, Georgia is a must see as Dan Prince, author of Passing in Outsider Lane: Art From the Heart of Twenty-One Self Taught Artists, has pinned the gallery “a folk art wonderland.” This destination is the perfect day trip, or for out-of-towners, a weekend getaway. Around Back at Rocky’s Place honors the hours of Saturdays, 11 am. – 5 pm. and Sundays, 1 – 5 pm., but is open to making appointments on other days and times.
What should you expect when you arrive at Around Back at Rocky’s Place? A big, warm greeting from the gallery’s owners, and then, the freedom to wander through the maze of art, piece after piece, floor to ceiling, and everywhere in-between, including the bathroom and all of the outdoors!!!! How many times have you seen paintings hanging inside from walls made of chain-link fencing…Hum??? The gallery has it. Don’t be surprised at anything you see!! Around Back at Rocky’s Place is just a fun, festive place to be; the pottery, paintings, wood carvings, metal sculptures, fiber pieces, assemblages, etc. can entertain one for hours. And talk about a place to score a unique gift for yourself or someone special…got it covered!!!! Or maybe you want to continue, or start, that nice folk art collection that you will some day pass down to your children and/or loved ones! It’s here, located in and around the two gallery spaces and the outside garden.
Don’t delay your visit to the South’s leading folk art gallery, Around Back at Rocky’s Place.
Directions: From Blue Ridge, go south on Zell Miller Parkway for 16 miles to East Ellijay and turn left on Greenfield Road. In .3 miles, turn left on GA 52 East. Go 18 miles, stay to the right at the fork onto 136 West. Take a slight right on to Shoal Creek Road. Go 3 miles to the courthouse square. Go 3/4 around courthouse staying straight. At the 3-way stop, yield to the right onto GA 53 East. Go 3 miles and turn left on Etowah River Road. The gallery is the 1st drive on the right.
Around Back at Rocky’s Place
3631 Highway 53 East, Dawsonville, GA 30534
Hours: Sat: 11am – 5pm, Sun 1pm – 5pm or by appointment
Known as “The First Mountain City,” Jasper, Georgia is about an hour outside of Atlanta and is one of the most popular summer destinations in North Georgia; especially for folks looking to enjoy an authentic mountain experience with a small-town atmosphere, whether it’s for a short day trip or an extended vacation.
Also known as The Marble Capital of Georgia, Jasper is home to a slew of restaurants, landmarks and other attractions that can only be found in this quaint part of the world.
One such shop that is a must-see stop for lovers of fashion and design is Daisy Boutique, owned and operated by entrepreneur Peggy Rabin for more than 10 years.
Peggy’s concentration into all things couture began at an early age as a teenager and continued into her adult years as a fashion representative at the Atlanta Apparel Mart. It was during a trip to Jasper with her husband in 1997 that she fell in love with the mountain city, eventually buying a home in the area before opening Daisy Boutique’s predecessor, Daisy Shoes in 2003. After seeing the demand for other types of clothing, Peggy re-branded her idea into the well-rounded store that it is today.
Specializing in fashion-forward women’s clothing that has been described as “practical with an edge,” there’s a good chance that you’ll find clothing and designs at Daisy Boutique that you haven’t seen anywhere else. Clothing sizes vary, though many items can be special ordered if they’re not in stock when you visit.
Though Daisy Boutique caters to women of a certain age, there’s something for everyone at this fabulous shop – from trendy outfits for twenty-somethings to tasteful designs for women in their 30’s and beyond.
With brands like Spanxs, Tribal Int., Level 99, Silver Jeans, Jag Jeans, Ar’eve, Toad & Co, White Sierra, Storm Creek and many others, there’s no shortage of clothing options to choose from. In addition to name brand clothes, you can also find a number of different accessories like bracelets and handbags to go with your new favorite outfit.
Not sure what’s right for you? Ask Peggy for her advice – she makes shopping fun and will help you find what fits you best!
In fact, if you’re looking for a great summertime shirt, skirt, shorts or pair of sandals, Daisy Boutique has a great selection of lightweight clothing options that feel great on your body and look even better when you’re wearing them around town.
If you and your friends are looking for a high-end boutique in a stress-free setting central to all of the exciting things to see and do in North Georgia, you’ve found the right place.
35 South Main Street
706. 253. 6996
Hours: Monday – Saturday 10am -6pm
Knit One, Pearl Two: Strings & Stitches Yarn Shoppe
Few things in life evoke the warm, nostalgic feeling that a handcrafted keepsake from a friend or family member will. To this day, the blanket that my grandmother made for her children, which was later passed down to me, is one of the most cherished items that I have in my home.
That’s why, in a time when wireless internet connections seem to be more important than human ones, travelling to Ellijay, Georgia to visit Strings & Stitches Yarn Shoppe is such a breath of fresh air. As soon as you take a step through the front door, you’re welcomed inside like family.
Strings & Stitches Yarn Shoppe is a great place to stop by this summer, especially if you’re enjoying a ladies day out and about in Downtown Ellijay. It’s also a great place to pick up some tips and tricks if you’re new to the art of knitting or crocheting, or just need a helping hand with an heirloom that you may have started but need help finishing. Pull up a chair and feel free to talk about life!
For more than 10 years, sisters Janice and Karen Moss have owned and operated Strings & Stitches Yarn Shoppe. Often said to have a unique connection with new and return shoppers alike, they provide a one-of-a-kind experience and an impressive selection of specialty yarns, needles, notions and more to help you start your Christmas crochet or knitting project.
And yes! Now is the time to start on those Christmas gift projects, at Strings and Stitches, Karen and Janice have everything you need. Get started on those sought after holiday gift accessories with patterns, knitting guides and more. Some of their patterns are originals that you won’t find anywhere else. They have everything from fashion forward shawls and ponchos to always-popular afghans, scarves, hats, socks and holiday stockings.
Know a knitter? Strings and Stitches offers an array of handmade Kits for sale including scarves, hats, socks and shawls that are always great gift ideas for your special loved ones during the holidays. Or if you’ve got a knitter on your list, you can always pick up a gift certificate and let them choose their project.
Truly dedicated to their craft, Janice and Karen are also coordinating the Georgia Mountain Needle Arts Festival and Retreat, set to take place the fourth week in April of 2018. The festival, held at the 5,000-square-foot Ellijay Civic Center, will be the go-to event for knitters, crocheters, beaders, quilters, craft guild members and anyone else interested in a fun-filled craft weekend in North Georgia. Make sure to check their Facebook page for updates on the festival, and don’t forget to book your lodging arrangements early so you don’t miss out.
Whether you’re new to Ellijay, Georgia and are looking for a family-friendly store to explore, or you’re a local in need of wools for felting, sock yarn or natural fibers such as silks and bamboo, Strings & Stitches Yarn Shoppe is for you. Make sure to inquire about their beginner to advanced classes and don’t forget you can always just stop on by to visit and knit.
Strings & Stitches Yarn Shoppe
449 Industrial Blvd. Suite 165 in the Spring Plaza Shopping Center, Ellijay, GA 30540
Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday 10am -5pm
Thursday 10am -7pm, & Sat 10am – 4pm
706. 698. KNIT 
Worth the Road Trip: Sundance Gallery Gifts
One of life’s little pleasures is getting the family together on a warm summer morning, packing up the car and hitting the open road for a day trip to the North Georgia Mountains. There’s so much to see and discover in this wonderful part of the world: from hiking trails that meander through untouched wilderness to independently owned eateries nestled in quaint towns.
Of course, one of the most popular summertime activities to enjoy in North Georgia is finding those one-of-a-kind shops that embody small-town Americana – the kind that lie off of the beaten path, and pride themselves on selling quality, handcrafted goods at reasonable prices.
Enter Sundance Gallery Gifts, located just across the street from Alexander’s Store on Town Creek School Road in historic Blairsville, Georgia. Celebrating its 10th year in business, Sundance Gallery Gifts is owned and operated by Julie and Gary Willer. While not technically a native to Blairsville, Julie (who acts as the shop’s proprietor) has her roots strongly embedded in the city, with her ancestors having moved to the area in the 1800’s.
Sundance Gallery Gifts is one of those places that steals your attention as soon as you see it – dotted with an array of flowers and plant life, and complete with an eclectic storefront decorated with rustic folk art and charming wind chimes that seem to beckon you inside, it becomes clear from the moment you pull in that this shop is a special one.
Upon entering, you’re greeted by the soothing smell of handcrafted soaps and a warm welcome from Julie herself. If you’re in luck, you may also get the chance to say hello to Gordy, the Willer’s Black Labrador, who acts as Julie’s loyal assistant!
Exploring Sundance Gallery Gifts is such a pleasure – you can find everything from handcrafted pottery and jewelry to glass art and candles, the majority of which is made in the USA, often times by local artists and craftsmen.
“Quality, taste and uniqueness is our priority. You won’t find the typical inexpensive, mass produced, touristy shop souvenirs at Sundance Gallery,” said Julie as she described the stock that she carries.
While Sundance Gallery Gifts sells a wide variety of items, their selection of pottery is their most popular attraction.“Pottery is our biggest seller, with over 20 American potters featured. Our pottery selection is functional and fabulous – not only is it gorgeous to display, but it is microwave, dishwasher and oven safe. It feels good to use and entertain with pretty pieces of pottery instead of plastic or mass-produced, identical looking imports,” said Julie.
Sundance also sells handmade jewelry which is made locally and great as an addition to your summer outfit. Like their pottery, no two pieces of jewelry are alike.
Whether you come to find a unique treasure or want to relax in its charming ambiance, make sure you put Sundance Gallery Gifts on your list of shops to visit this summer.
Sundance Gallery Gifts
4397 Town Creek School Road
Blairsville, GA 30512
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 10am-5pm