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24 Unique Things to Do in Dahlonega, GA, By a Local Expert

Lake Zwerner Trail Dahlonega GA

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In the last couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity to visit Dahlonega (pronounced duh·laa·nuh·guh), Georgia, for a yoga retreat, a literary festival, and then for pure leisure purposes. This town in the Blue Ridge Mountains is just over an hour from downtown Atlanta. No matter how many times I visit, I always find something unique to see and do.

You can easily visit for a full day trip or extend your visit for a weekend or week-long mountain vacation. There are plenty of hotels, bed and breakfast establishments, and Airbnb options in the town, but I’d like to focus on the reasons you’ll want to travel to Dahlonega in the first place.

What is Dahlonega, Georgia, Known For?

Dahlonega Gold Museum Sign
Dahlonega Gold Museum Sign — Photo by Crystal Jackson

I was surprised to learn that Dahlonega was home to the first major gold rush in the United States. It happened in 1829–20 years before California’s first gold rush. According to local lore, a hunter by the name of Benjamin Parks was hunting, tripped over a rock, and discovered that it was made of gold.

Within a year, 15,000 miners rushed to the area to try their luck. Today, you can purchase the Gold Fever Package and see many of the historic sites — and even pan for gold yourself! 

24 Best Things to Do in Dahlonega, Georgia, According to a Local Expert

In the past, my trips to Dahlonega have been about cozy cabin stays in the mountains and shopping downtown. This time, I decided to see more of what this small town has to offer. Keep in mind that if you want to do everything on this list, you’re going to need more than a day to do it.

You’ll want to pick and choose your favorites — and save the others for your next trip to town. Get ready — I’m going to regale you with fun stories of the day and even spill the tea on how a chain shop came to town with a plan to close local businesses. Sometimes, the truth really is stranger than fiction. 

1. Caffeinate at Jethro’s Coffee & Public House

Jethro’s Coffee & Public House — Photo by Crystal Jackson

Jethro’s Coffee & Public House was the first coffee shop I discovered on my first trip to Dahlonega. It’s got a quiet, friendly vibe that’s perfect for sipping coffee while you read, study, or work. While there’s not much parking beside it, it’s in easy walking distance from downtown.

The coffee is reasonably priced and delicious. While it’s not the only coffee shop in town, coffee lovers might want to stop here first, explore downtown, and end up at yet another coffee shop to refuel later. It’s a great way to support local business, and this shop is conveniently located next to a bookstore.

Jetro's interior
Photo by author

Address: 21 N. Grove Street

2. Take a Yoga Class or See a Comedy Show at Canopy + Roots Coffee

Canopy + Roots is another local coffee shop that I’d recommend you check out. Like Jethro’s, the coffee is delicious and affordable, but this shop is so much more than meets the eye. When you walk in, you’ll notice that there’s a yoga studio just on your left. Check their schedule to see if a class is being held during your visit. It can be a great way to stretch out after seeing so many sights.

The other fascinating and unique thing about Canopy + Roots is their downstairs comedy club. It’s the perfect place to see a live musical or comedy show, and it would be a shame for you to miss out on this whole vibe while you’re in Dahlonega. Plan your trip to include a show, and you can support Canopy + Roots with coffee, a yoga class, and some evening entertainment. 

Address: 53 W. Main Street

3. Visit the Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site

Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site
Photo by author

You can’t miss the Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site. It’s right in the center of the public square. If you purchase the Gold Fever Package, you’ll get to visit the museum, have an underground adventure tour at Consolidated Gold Mines (185 Consolidated Gold Mine Rd), and pan for gold yourself at Crisson Gold Mine (2736 Morrison Moore Pkwy East) — all for $32.95 per adult and $27.95 for children 12 and under. Otherwise, you can just visit the museum to see artifacts and watch a film on the history of the gold rush in Dahlonega. Either way, you’re sure to enjoy a unique adventure. 

Address: 1 Public Square N.

4. Delight Your Tastebuds at Alpine Olive Tree

Alpine Olive Tree, Daholnega
Photo by author

Have you ever been to an olive oil or balsamic vinegar tasting? I highly recommend that you do so on your visit to Dahlonega. While I’ve sampled oil and vinegar before at a favorite shop in Covington, Georgia, the experience in Dahlonega was a real treat. The shop attendant was knowledgeable, friendly, and happy to show us some of his favorite flavor combinations.

That’s how I ended up taking home a Persian Lime infused olive oil to pair with a Cascadian Wild Raspberry white balsamic vinegar to make my own tart yet sweet salad dressing. I won’t even mention how a few tastings later, I ended up requesting a bottle of Italian Lemon balsamic vinegar with plans to return for the espresso, maple, and dark chocolate varieties. 

You might not think you want to take shots of olive oil or vinegar, but it’s honestly a lot of fun. You might even find a new favorite flavor to spice up recipes at home. Plus, it’s conveniently located directly beside The Spice and Tea Exchange of Dahlonega, which carries an impressive variety of tea, honey, spices, and baking mixes. 

Photo by author

Address: 19 East Main Street

5. Treat Yourself at Paul Thomas Chocolate and Gifts

Shops on Dahlonega Square 
Photo by author

I promised to spill the tea, and it’s time. Rumor has it that when chain store Kilwin’s moved to town, they made it very clear that they were out to steal business from and close down the family-owned and operated competitor shops in Dahlonega, which includes Paul Thomas Chocolate & Gifts, The Fudge Factory, Connie’s Ice Cream Parlor.

From actively discouraging customers from choosing other businesses to the on-camera theft of a local store’s holiday tree, the truth really is so much stranger (and meaner) than fiction. It might even surprise you to know that the rumors of sabotage that I heard on my visit didn’t come from a single Kilwin’s competitor but other local shopkeepers who witnessed the shenanigans. 

That’s the tea. Now you can visit Dahlonega and show support to the local businesses still thriving despite the chain’s miserly attempts. Paul Thomas Chocolate & Gifts is also located beside a toy store, making it a fun stop along the way if you’re traveling with children (or shopping for them). 

Address: 102 Public Square North

6. Get Tea and a Spirit Reading at My Vintage Gypsy Tea/Tea Rabbit

Tea Rabbit Dahlonega
Photo by author

They’re serving up a different type of tea at My Vintage Gypsy Tea — soon to be rebranded as Tea Rabbit in January 2024. This truly magickal shop is in the heart of Dahlonega. You’ll find an incredible array of crystals, tarot cards, teas, candles, books on spirituality, and more inside these charming walls.

Before you leave the shop, you’ll want to make sure that you order a hot chocolate or iced hot chocolate — their local specialty. You can also choose between a variety of teas or select a spiced cider to warm you as you walk around town. You can also schedule a spiritual reading in this whimsical shop. 

Tea Rabbit, interior
Photo by author

Address: 10 South Chestatee Street Unit A

7. Enjoy a Wine Tasting Along the Dahlonega Wine Trail

Montaluce Winery
Photo by author

The Dahlonega Wine Trail includes many local vineyards. Although I wasn’t able to stop at them all, you can plan to do so on your visit and spend a full day sipping and enjoying the sights. Just don’t forget to bring your designated driver if sipping turns into glasses of wine. Here’s a little about each winery along the way.

Wolf Mountain Vineyards — 180 Wolf Mountain Trail

Wolf Mountain Vineyards offers wine tastings, a winery tour, gourmet dining, and more. Best of all, leashed dogs are allowed in the lower level tasting room patio area. The winery even serves up a Sunday brunch.

Cavender Creek Vineyards — 3610 Cavender Creek Road

Enjoy a wine tasting or order a wine slushie to pair with the seasonal food offered here. Stay in Cavender Creek’s charming lodging. Visit the donkeys and alpacas, and let your children play on the playground. This particular winery came highly recommended by area locals. 

Frogtown Cellars — 700 Ridge Point Drive

At Frogtown Cellars, you’ll find award-winning wine, a tasting room, an Italian bistro with pizza, pasta, and desserts made on site. Meat served in the restaurant are smoked and cured on site as well. Frogtown Cellars is the perfect winery to visit for lunch or a wine tasting. 

Three Sisters Vineyard & Winery — 439 Vineyard Way

Three Sisters isn’t just another vineyard. It features wine tastings surrounded by southern folk art and local pottery. Listen to live music seasonally on their Crush Pad Deck while viewing the 184 acres of mountains and vineyards that helped this winery become the Best Winery in the South (a designation made by TurnerSouth). 

Montaluce Winery & Restaurant — 501 Hightower Church Road

Montaluce Winery and Restaurant purple sign
Photo by author

Montaluce Winery and Restaurant offers vineyard tours, wine tastings, a full-service restaurant, and even forest hiking. You’ll also find villa rentals on the property, fly fishing tours, a chef’s table experience, and more. This upscale winery is a perfect special occasion destination, and you’ll want to make sure it’s on your list if you get the chance to take a local winery tour. 

Kaya Vineyard & Winery — 5400 Town Creek Road

Kaya Vineyard and Winery offers luxury cottage stays, a wine tasting room, a wine club, a restaurant for lunch, and gourmet picnic baskets that can be ordered in advance. Picnic baskets start at $85 for 2 people and are up to $150 for 4 people. The Lover’s Basket is $195 and includes wine, lunch, and dessert. You can also reserve an off-road 4×4 tour, a Bordeaux blending experience, a walking tour, and more. 

8. Have a Wildlife Encounter at Chestatee Wildlife Preserve & Zoo

Photo by author

Chestatee Wildlife Preserve and Zoo has made a home for rescued animals. I learned that if you say “Pspspsps” to a tiger, it will roll over just like any housecat. You can also visit with a three-toed sloth, lemurs, zebras, camels, bears, grey wolves, emus, horses, donkeys, exotic birds, and more!

Tip: For an extra $5, you can feed the hooved animals like the horses and donkeys. Wear comfortable shoes and prepare for some walking down trails to see each of the enclosures. Keep in mind that these animals are rescues who cannot otherwise live in the wild and are being protected at this location. 

Address: 469 Old Dahlonega Highway 

9. See a Show at the Historic Holly Theatre

Historic Holly Theatre
Photo by author

The Historic Holly Theatre has been around since 1915 when it was home to Hollywood Motion Pictures by Fox Film Company. While many silent films were shot in Dahlonega, it later became home to a theatre where locals could enjoy the films.

Over the years, the theatre has had its setbacks. It experienced fire, business closures, and even was used briefly as a house of worship. In the 1990s, the community rallied to save the theater with much-needed renovations. These days, it operates as a home for live, local theatrical productions, films, and concerts. 

Address: 69 West Main Street 

10. Have a Picnic at the Lake Zwerner Trail

Lake Zwerner Trail trees with autumn foliage, a wooden table and lake on the background
Photo by author

Lake Zwerner Trail is a 3.2-mile loop that can take just over an hour to complete. The Yahoola Creek Reservoir that forms Lake Zwerner has boat ramps, a dock, fishing access, and picnic areas.

You can easily plan a picnic and walk the beautiful trail around the lake. Grab your picnic lunch from Picnic Cafe and Dessertery on the public square in Dahlonega.

Address: 1929 Morrison Moore Parkway East 

11. Shop the Dahlonega General Store

Dahlonega General Store
Photo by author

The Dahlonega General Store is truly a blast from the past. You’ll find plenty of old-fashioned shop items here, but you’ll also find a fairly impressive collection of crystals inside.

You can even get your fortune told by an Old Timey machine on the property. Find perfect Dahlonega-themed souvenirs in this must-see downtown shop. 

Address: 24 Public Square South

12. Visit the Red Oak Lavender Farm & Shop

While I visited out of season, the Red Oak Lavender Farm & Shop is one of the main attractions to agritourism in Dahlonega. You’ll find over 100 lavender products in the shop, which can be ordered online as well as in person.

If you visit in the month of June, there’s a $5 fee per car for up to 4 people, and you can enjoy U-pick lavender. From July to October, many different flowers are in bloom at the farm, and the shop is open from Valentine’s Day until the second week of December. 

Address: 2882 Red Oak Flats Road

13. Hike and Play at Yahoola Creek Park

Yahoola Creek Park
Photo by author

Yahoola Creek Park offers a modest 0.7-mile trail loop. It’s the perfect beginner trail and would be ideal for travelers with younger children. You can even stop at Outlaw Jerky & Trail Grub in downtown Dahlonega to grab snacks for the trip.

The park also has playgrounds and a seasonal splash pad. It’s a great place to have a family picnic or allow young children to run off some energy between sightseeing. 

Address: 1166 Captain McDonald Road

14. Marvel at The Dahlonega Butterfly Farm

Although I visited off-season, I would still recommend a trip to the Dahlonega Butterfly Farm. This family-owned and operated nature preserve is both kid and pet-friendly. Tours focus on conservation, sustainability, and education.

The 760-square foot conservatory is where the butterflies are born, and you can even see the caterpillar habitat outside. Learn about the native plants and pollinators that contribute to the lives of the butterflies. 

Practical information: Keep in mind that this place is open from Thursday to Sunday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Address: 427 Castleberry Bridge Road

15. Be Wowed at the Dahlonega Magic Theater

You’ll find the Dahlonega Magic Theater in the North Realty Suite in teh Crown Mountain Office Park. This 35-seat theater features weekly magic shows by Jeffini, an illusionist, ventriloquist, escapist, comedian, mentalist, and more.

Tickets are for most Saturdays at 7:30pm and start at $15 per person. This could be a great stop if you’re traveling with children. 

Address: 81 Crown Mountain Place Unit A400

16. Shop Downtown Dahlonega

the humble candle shop entrance
Photo by author

Downtown Dahlonega is the perfect place to stroll and shop. You’ll find candle shops, a mercantile, a British snack and gift shop, and even a shop that will make your inner hippie heart soar in glee! There are stores for toys, stores for pet treats, and art galleries galore. You don’t want to miss all the shops that the downtown area has to offer. 

the Jean Moore Building
Photo by author

Address: Dahlonega Public Square 

17. Go Antiquing Downtown

beautiful old red bicycle in antique shop
Photo by author

While you’re shopping downtown, don’t overlook the many antique shops along the way. You’ll find them all over downtown Dahlonega. From the genuinely vintage to the charming reproduction, antique enthusiasts will love just how much there is to see in the area.

Whether you’re shopping for something specific or just browsing until something catches your eye, you’ll find antique shop after antique shop all within walking distance to each other. 

18. Check Out the 1875 Chestatee River Diving Bell

Stop by Hawkins Street to see the 1875 Chestatee River Diving Bell. On October 18, 1876, the first manned gold mining submersible known as the Diving Bell sank along with its boat. It was owned by the Loud Mining Company and would later disappear under mysterious circumstances.

Local newspapers at the time reported that the diving bell or boat might have sustained damage during strong currents and heavy flooding, but that’s not why it sank. Instead, it sank on a completely clear day — for no discernible reason.

Was it foul play? Sabotage? An attempt for the company to escape their overwhelming debt? An accident? Your guess is as good as any other. The diving bell wasn’t pulled from the river until 1981 and is now on display in Hancock Park. 

Address: 55 Hawkins Street 

19. Indulge Your Sweet Tooth at Dahlonega Fudge Factory

Fudge Factory
Photo by author

You’ll smell the Fudge Factory long before you walk in its doors. The aroma of chocolate won’t pull you off the street and make you come inside — or will it? Once inside the doors of this establishment, you’ll have plenty of sweets to choose from. This can be a great place to stop for dessert or even to pick up souvenirs to take to friends or family back home. 

Address: 8 North Park Street

20. Take a Ghost Tour with Dahlonega Walking Tours

the Public Square sign
Photo by author

While you’re in Dahlonega, you can take a tour with a knowledgeable guide with Dahlonega Walking Tours. They offer ghost tours, food tours, wine tours, a bar crawl, and even an escape room. Sip wine at the Grapes and Ghosts Tasting Room or take a historic ghost tour through the downtown area. There’s even a Boos and Brews Pub Crawl by special request only. 

Address: 19 East Main Street Unit F

21. Wander the Stacks at Bear Book Market

The bear book market
Photo by author

I will always recommend independent book shops when possible. The Bear Book Market is just such a place. It’s within walking distance to the Public Square and is just around the corner from Jethro’s Coffee Shop. Although small, you don’t want to miss browsing the stacks for a vacation-worthy read. 

Address: 85 East Main Street

22. Test Your Skills at the Paranormal Escape Room

The Paranormal Escape Room is an extension of the Dahlonega Walking Tours. Tickets are $20 each, but you’ll get a 40% discount if you book your escape room pass with a walking tour ticket. Enjoy a paranomal-themed mystery that will take you deep into Prohibition-era Georgia. Will you solve the mystery in time? 

Address: 19 East Main Street, Unit F

23. Get a Scoop from Connie’s, a Hometown Favorite

Conni'es ice cream parlor
Photo by author

The ice cream parlor vibe in Connie’s will transport you back in time. It definitely has that 1950s soda shop vibe — without the accompanying racism. Although a certain chain business might try to lure you to their establishment, you’ll want to check out the sandwiches, drinks, desserts, and ice cream over at Connie’s. 

Address: 18 North Park Street

24. Pamper Your Pooch at Local Pup

Local pup - interior
Photo by author

As a dog lover, I was immediately charmed by Local Pup’s simple but adorable vibe. There’s a whole room where visiting pups can go to chill after a busy day exploring the town. You can even purchase dog treats for your best fur friend. It’s located beside Paul Thomas Chocolate and Gifts and is a great place to stop (and play) with your pooch pal. 

Address: 98 Public Square North

Your Visit to Dahlonega

I’ve already decided on a different itinerary for my next visit. I would love to take a wine bus tour — there are several offered in the area — and book a class at the lavender farm. I’m hoping to include a stop to Tea Rabbit to soak in the spiritual vibes before heading off on a walking tour — and maybe even a paranormal escape adventure.

I didn’t have time to see it all in a day, but that just gives me another excuse to return to town. I can refill my olive oil and vinegar bottles at a discounted rate and see something I didn’t get a chance to truly appreciate on my last visit. It sounds like a winning plan to me. 

What would you see first, and how will you shape your itinerary? Take a day — or better yet, extend it to a week or long weekend to see all that Dahlonega has to offer. 

Featured Image by Crystal Jackson

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