Celebrate summer with great food, live music, fishing, adventure

DILLARD, Ga. — Looking to land a big fish, or perhaps your first fish, while enjoying a great hike, beautiful waterfalls, an adult beverage, along with some history and a great meal from one of north Georgia’s most famous families? If so, then add a trip to Dillard and the north Georgia mountains to your summer to-do list.

The Dillard family recently gathered on the property’s lawn to share a meal and to show off some of the great things visitors to the city that borders North Carolina will find. The table featured antique china and glassware from Yesterday’s Treasures, one of a handful of locally owned antique shops in Dillard. There was wine from the nearby 12 Spies Vineyard, and the R.M. Rose Company dropped off some whiskey that the company produces. Visitors can tour both facilities and sample some of their creations on a visit.

The Dillards talked history, too.

“Our great grandmother actually started the business,” Natalie Dillard said. “She was a visionary, and through the generations, we have kept to her vision because we want our customers to still enjoy that authentic experience.”

The Dillard House opened over 100 years ago. It’s now in the hands of the fourth generation of the family. And even though a lot has changed in that time, many of the traditions started 100 years ago are carried on today, including the family-style meals featuring plenty of locally grown vegetables.

Famous guests have included Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone and Walt Disney over the years. But you don’t have to be famous to enjoy a stay or meal at the Dillard House. The meals are offered for guests in the restaurant, special events, family reunions or corporate groups.

While a home-cooked meal and southern hospitality is reason enough for a visit, a trip to the area can include plenty of adventure, too.

On the Dillard House property, there’s horseback riding to enjoy. Beginners and advanced riders alike will enjoy a breathtaking journey atop horseback through the north Georgia mountains at the Dillard House Stables. Offerings include scenic farm rides, river rides, private rides, parent-led children’s rides and more.

Looking for more adventure? Grab some hiking companions and head out for a day of hiking and exploring. With lakes, three state parks and 148,000 acres of national forest, hiking opportunities abound in the area.

And these million-dollar views don’t cost a dime!

Looking for another free adventure for the family? Head out for a day of fun exploring a waterfall. Kick back, relax and listen to the water wind its way over cascading rocks. There sure is something about the sight and sound of a waterfall.

For another adventure, give catching a try. Not fishing, but catching. That’s what visitors to Andy’s Trout Farm will do.

“Right now we have a lot of third and fourth generations coming, grandparents bringing back the grandchildren. They brought their kids when they were little. And they just come out and catch fish.” Sonya Cousineau of Andy’s Trout Farm noted.

Andy’s Trout Farm opened in 1965 and features cabins, gem mining and other fun activities for the day. But it’s the kids landing their first-ever fish that provides a memory that will last a lifetime.

“Just listening to them scream is so fun,” Cousineau said. “It’s so funny because sometimes, kids love it, and sometimes, kids are scared to death of it. Little kids like the worms, so they spend more time playing with the worms.”

Once you’ve tackled the fishing basics, up the ante. Blackhawk Fly Fishing in nearby Clarkesville provides everything you need to get started fly-fishing.

“We offer a unique experience of fly-fishing on two miles of private water on the Sequoee River,” Abby Jackson from Blackhawk said.

The small winding river that runs down from the Blue Ridge mountains, Jackson notes, is perhaps one of the best-kept secrets in the angling world today. If tangling with trout appeals to you, you’ll love the action at Blackhawk. They offer half-day, full-day and multi-day fishing experiences. Guides can teach beginners or even an experienced fisherman how to read the water, set the hook, which flies to use and more.

“I think (people) need to escape from all the rush-rush world in Atlanta and everywhere,” Jackson said. “That’s what we experienced during COVID, we saw everybody run to the mountains and we want them to keep running up here. I think they found a lot of unique and new experiences, from hiking to fishing (and) boating. We’ve just been so blessed by meeting all these people, but also, it’s given people an out to go out and do different things that maybe they didn’t do before.”

Dillard has always made escaping the ordinary extraordinary, be it with great food, great fun, great adventure and great views.

The story is sponsored by the City of Dillard.