DILLARD, Ga. — Amazing scenery, peace and relaxation and family style dining; that's the picture many people have of Dillard, Georgia.
But there's a lot more to see and do in and around this small town in the North Georgia mountains.
"Southern hospitality is really what we're all about," Pam Thompson who runs Dillard House Stables told wsbtv.com's Nelson Hicks.
And that Southern hospitality starts in the heart of the city, with all of the mom and pop businesses. Visitors won't find any chains here. But what they will find are treasures from years gone by, items from their childhood and more. That's because Dillard is home to eight antique malls.
"You just never know what you might find," Elizabeth Hooper from Yesterday's Treasures said.
From Coca-Cola collectibles to discontinued china to other relics from the past, the town features more than 45,000 square feet of antique browsing from more than 100 dealers.
But these days, antique shops offer more than just a glimpse into the past. Shoppers will find furniture, birdhouses and art, too. Buy furniture made from reclaimed materials, or buy reclaimed materials and build your own creation. And the shopping doesn't end there. There's the Merry Christmas shop to celebrate all things Santa and unique definitely describes the eclectic mix of decorative pieces at Cindy's Dragonfly.
"You can spend one day shopping, one day outdoors, there's just something for everybody," Hopper said.
"A lot of people come for the weekend," Thompson said. "They hike for a day, ride horses for a day, they might do a whitewater rafting trip. There's zip-lining, golfing, you can rent boats on the lake."
There is plenty of fishing, too.
Saddle up for a horseback ride down the Little Tennessee River. It's one of the outings offered at the Dillard House Stables.
There's private instruction and experiences for both beginners and advanced riders. And each ride offers incredible views of the north Georgia mountains.
Once the day's activities have come and gone, visitors can enjoy some refreshment. Local shops offer wine tastings, there's several wineries nearby and right next to the Dillard House, guests will find Andy Sudderth at work. His passion: the R.M. Rose Company and the whisky and bourbon he creates.
"There's just lots to do here in Dillard," Sudderth said. "You can come and spend a day, eat at the Dillard House, come and tour the distillery (and) take you some free tastings. We can also mix you a drink."
The company offers free tastings, but don't sample too much, take home a bottle instead, because there's still more to see and do in the area. Four state parks are nearby, headlined by Tallulah Gorge State Park and it's famous suspension bridge.
"It's a strenuous hike, but it's fun and absolutely beautiful," Thompson said.
The 1,062 steps from the top to the bottom aren't bad. Along the way, climbers will spy magnificent falls, cross a suspension bridge and experience nature deep inside the gorge. The 1,062 steps from bottom to top, those can be a little tougher. But once the climb is done, every hiker will have a sense of accomplishment and some photos and videos to share on social media.
For a slightly different experience, visit the highest state park in Georgia. That honor belongs to Black Rock Mountain State Park. There, visitors can hike the park’s 11 miles of trails or enjoy 80 mile vistas that span four states.
″We want everybody to come and have a good time and enjoy themselves," Thompson said. “It’s just a good place to bring your family.”
Whether visitors choose to be mild or be wild, they can do it all in Dillard.
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