Things 2 Do

Head to North Georgia for holiday magic, stay for winter fun

RABUN COUNTY, Ga. — How much holiday fun awaits you this season? Will it involve snow tubing, cutting your own Christmas tree, a memorable dining experience, snow hikes, tasty treats, or a unique getaway? It could!

Embark on a North Georgia adventure this holiday season and explore all that places like Clayton, Dillard, Tiger, Sky Valley, and Mountain City have to offer.

“There’s nothing that says Christmas more than the mountains,” Tony Penrose from the Forward Rabun Chamber of Commerce said.

Looking for a White Christmas? Highlands Outpost offers plenty of snow. What Mother Nature doesn’t provide, machines do. Enjoy snow tubing, ice skating, and ample snow for snowball fights. If the tubing runs don’t satisfy your need for speed, hop aboard the Scaly Mountain Screamer and experience the gravity-powered thrills of a 3800-foot track coaster.

During your visit, create new memories by cutting your own Christmas tree or choosing a fresh pre-cut one from a mountain field. Visit Osage Farm or Billingsley’s Garden Center in North Georgia or venture into North Carolina to explore Moss Tree Farm, Tom Sawyer’s Christmas Tree Farm Elf Village, or others. Find that perfect tree and take it home with you.

If all the fun and adventure have stirred your appetite, indulge in holiday treats at White Birch Provisions in downtown Clayton. Savor gingerbread bars, pumpkin cookies, and red velvet brownies.

“Our most popular are our scones — they are really, really popular and delicious. People come for that. But we have lots of really good bars, like we have fudge oatmeal bars, and big cookies and all sorts of delicious stuff, all made here,” Ivy Millions from White Birch Provisions said.


-Tallulah Falls Tree Lighting Dec. 1 at 7pm

-Clayton Christmas Parade and Candle Lighting Dec. 8 at 6pm

-Holiday Jamboree at Black Rock Mountain State Park Dec. 9 at 3pm

-Foxfire Christmas on Dec. 16

-Christmas Eve on Dec. 24 and Christmas Day on Dec. 25 at the Dillard House

-Winterfest Jan. 13-14 and Feb 17-18 (Enjoy a Scavenger Hunt of Snowmen, snow machine, kids activities and community-wide snowball fight

Need something more after dining on a dessert? Head to the Dillard House. The historic North Georgia restaurant always offers a unique family meal, and this time of year, the hotel is draped in decorations to celebrate the holidays.

“If you’re here for the holiday season, you’ll see many, many lights and displays seen outside, around the building and around the yards,” Louise Dillard said. “Each year, I personally go to a nearby tree farm and handpick eight Christmas trees that are fully decorated and dispersed throughout the buildings on the property.”

Wrap up and take a ride on a visit with the Dillard House Stables.

The Dillard House will host a massive New Year’s Eve celebration, too, so plan ahead.

Regarding the calendar, if you have an opening on December 16, pencil in a trip to the Foxfire Museum in Mountain City. That’s when they celebrate Christmas at Foxfire. Snack on Christmas treats from the wood stove, meet Santa Claus, and admire the decorations adorning the museum.

“There will be Cherokee exhibits, there will be story-telling. We’ll have treats that are cooked on the woodfire. We’ll have fires going. There will be music,” Suzie Nixon-Flaherty from the Foxfire Museum said.

Still have a few names on that Christmas list to shop for? You’ll find gifts in the North Georgia mountains you won’t find anywhere else. Dillard offers antiques galore and downtown Clayton features mom-and-pop shops with one-of-a-kind items. Timpson Creek Gallery showcases fine art, handmade jewelry, and unique furniture. And to top it off, there’s even the Merry Christmas Shop.

Need a place to spend the night? The accommodations are as unique as the shopping. The Dillard House offers an inn, cabins, and cottages. The recently renovated Beechwood Inn offers a stylish ambiance in a rustic mountain setting. The 100-year-old building is a bed-and-breakfast. Experience the true sights, sounds, and flavors of the North Georgia Mountains at the Historic Lake Rabun Hotel. Or opt to spend the night in a fully restored 1929 caboose.

“I’ve always been a train buff, I suppose, and had toyed with the idea of buying a railroad car to put next to my store, strictly as an attention-getter, for about 15 years,” Reaves told’s Nelson Hicks. “I did searches online lots of times, but most were hundreds, even thousands of miles away, and transportation would have run into thousands of dollars just to get one here.”

But that all changed in 2016. The Whistle Shop in nearby Franklin, North Carolina, closed down. The shop had four cabooses and Reaves purchased his favorite, a 1929 C&O center-cupola all-wood caboose.

Reaves designed the interior space and worked with a contractor who just happened to be a retired Norfolk and Southern railroad worker. They spent a year on the project before it was finally completed in 2017.

If you can’t make it for the holidays this year, don’t worry. Visit the area in 2024 to enjoy snow-covered mountaintops, snow hiking, and more.

“The winter months are a beautiful time of year to come up here,” Bill Bennett from Outdoor 76 said. “Getting outdoors, the winter views are just awesome. It’s probably my most favorite time to hike through the mountains because the views, you can just see so much more through the woods, all the foliage has died down as you get into the higher elevations and do some of the hikes here, where you’re climbing some of the mountains. The views through the woods and of the mountains are just fantastic. It’s just a really beautiful time of the year to get out and explore the mountains of north Georgia.”

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The story is sponsored by Explore Rabun.

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