Head to Dillard for back to school lessons in whitewater rafting, waterfalls, shopping

DILLARD, Ga. — Does your vision of back to school include white water rafting, fishing, waterfalls, horseback riding and time with your kids?

No?

Maybe it should. With school back in session, plan some time to not only study English and math, but to also study the great outdoors. Do exactly that on a trip to Dillard in the northeast Georgia mountains.

Have younger kids? Textbooks come to life on a waterfall hike. With three state parks and 148,000 acres of the National Forest, spend an afternoon trekking to a waterfall. A lesson in geology has never been this fun. Visitors can pick; everything from a four-tenths mile walk to Minnehaha Falls to the Tallulah Gorge trail that includes a suspension bridge and awesome views.

Once the hike is done, it’s time for zoology class. First, head over to Andy’s Trout Farm for fishing. Follow that up with a trip to the Dillard House Stables for a horseback ride, before wrapping up the day at Goats on the Roof in nearby Tiger. There you’ll find ice cream, candy, gem mining and goats on the roof.

“The goats roam,” Goats on the Roof owner April Phillips said. “They have free roam. They go from rooftop to rooftop as they please. You can feed them several different ways. You can see them close-up. Pet them. They love to be loved on.”

“The mountains of north Georgia are some of the prettiest mountains in the world,” Sonya Cousineau from Andy’s Trout Farm said. “There’s a lot of outdoor activities to do here. It’s just a good time to get with your family and unplug and get back to nature. We’ve got camping here, also.”

Have a hard-to-please teenager in your house? When the final Friday bell rings, and the weekend begins, jump in the car and take the short ride to Dillard.

On the agenda: whitewater rafting.

Southeastern Expeditions offers all kinds of whitewater outings. Venture down the Chattooga River and get a hands-on study of the hydrologic sciences. The trip will provide real-world examples of adrenaline, teamwork and what to do when you don’t get cellphone service.

“I’m here with my father,” visitor Carson Lester said. “We just decided to drive up for the weekend. We stayed at a cabin not too far, maybe like 20 minutes (from Southeastern Expeditions). We ended up here because we wanted to find some good rolling rivers to go down. I think we pretty much hit in on the spot.”

Distance, velocity, momentum, force and plenty of physics formulas are on display at Highlands Aerial Park. The park offers zip-lining, a mountain swing and a UTV tour that explores the beauty and history of the area.

“We exist to help families build multi-generational memories,” Kurt Damron from Highlands Aerial Park noted. “We regularly see grandparents bring their kids and then all the grandkids.”

For those who have kissed their kids goodbye for college or off into the world on their own, there’s plenty for you to enjoy too!

“There’s something to do for everyone,” Natalie Dillard from the Dillard House said. “We have wonderful distilleries, wineries, art galleries. The town of Clayton is amazing. People can go to Highlands, North Carolina. They can enjoy Bryson City. Ride a train through the mountains. But the most important thing is, it’s so affordable and families can really enjoy that. Really, there’s something to do for everyone.”

Spend the day uncovering hidden treasures at Dillard’s 40,000 square feet of antique shops. From there, do a little learning for yourself. Discover how a distillery works.

And end the day with a foray into the culinary arts with a meal and then a stay at the Dillard House.

There’s something for everyone, for anyone’s budget,” Dillard said. “We have anything from a standard room to suites. We have 25 houses. But the special thing is, all of our rooms have a mountain view.”

“It just gives families a chance to relax, unwind and really just disconnect from things,” Dillard said.

Back to school has never been this much fun!

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This story is sponsored by the City of Dillard.