Day trip from Athens: Discover another treasure in Dahlonega, a town long known for gold

There are two types of gold in Dahlonega: the mineral and wine.

Or at least that’s how Tully, who was manning the desk at the town’s visitors center in early February, put it.

It’s easy to enjoy both in a few hours in the Northeast Georgia town. The 60-mile trip is perfect for a quick and fun day away from Athens.

Start at the Dahlonega Gold Museum, right in the center of the downtown area in the county’s former courthouse. The $7 admission buys a short film on the town’s gold rush and a look at the building’s jury rooms and judges’ chambers.

Then turn your attention to the town’s newest draw: wine. The visitor’s center offers the chance to sample drinks from local wineries. Five dollars buys a glass for the wine walk, a self-guided crawl through five of downtown Dahlonega’s tasting rooms, and all of them feature selections from different wineries. The glass allows two small tastings for $2.75 at participating tasting rooms.

I started at the Naturally Georgia Tasting Room on Public Square North, at a quiet wooden bar nestled between work areas for local artists. I tried the Tiger Mountain Vineyards Burton Blanc and Hightower Creeks Dueling Banjos Peach. A bottle of the peach-tinged wine came home with me.

The Crane Creek Dahlonega Tasting Room is a few steps away and features selections from Stonewall Creek Vineyards. I gave Crane Creek Vineyards Mountain Harvest White and Sweet Sally a try.

In between, a quick walk gets you to Dahlonega Tasting Room on North Park Street, which features choices from Habersham Vineyards. I tried the Scarlett and Cheorkee Rose while standing at the metal-topped bar before browsing the shop’s batch of pillows and wine glasses.

Canvas and Cork on North Meaders Street and Georgia Winery of Dahlonega Tasting Room are also included on the walk. Both are a manageable stroll from the gold museum and visitors center.

After the tasting, spend an hour or so browsing the shops, including the town’s thrift and gift shops, before grabbing a late lunch. I pulled up a seat at the bar at Spirits Tavern at the recommendation from Vicki, the owner of Naturally Georgia Tasting Room. The burgers were recommended, so I tried the Augusta burger, topped with white cheddar pimento cheese and green tomato chow chow. I grabbed a slab of milk chocolate fudge from the nearby Fudge Factory for dessert before starting the 90-minute trip back to Athens.

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