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Quirky Tourists Stops: ATL to Highlands, NC

A fun weekend trip from Atlanta to Highlands, NC offers families and couples a quick getaway via 985, 246 and 441.


Western North Carolina includes the popular towns of Cashiers, Murphy along with Franklin and Highlands.  Franklin and Highlands are great locations for those in Atlanta and it’s suburbs to get away to for a long weekend or even a week’s vacation.   A road trip wouldn’t be a true road trip unless there were great quirky and interesting places to stop along the way!  Follow our stops along the way to Highlands, NC…..




One of the best tourist locations along the route is Rabun County, Georgia.  Tallulah Gorge, Railroad Museum, Wineries and so much more are located in Rabun County, Georgia.



The drive from Gwinnett, Fulton or Forsyth Counties goes from City to Country fairly quickly. Once you leave 985, you suddenly run into traffic lights (without much warning) and sparse stores and restaurants. If you are super hungry, eat up before leaving 985. Otherwise, take your time and wait until you get to the towns of Demorest and Clayton in North East Georgia.

In Clayton, we recommend Universal Joint for great American Cafe food (burgers, salads, sandwiches, steak, etc). Another alternative is the Wicked Pig BBQ. The food is really tasty but plan on inadequate service and staying there a long time because of the poor service.

Instead of stopping as soon as we got on the road, we decided to drive for an hour and then start looking for quirky tourist stops. Our thoughts were that we could easily visit a place within an hour of home so we “saved” our stops for Rabun County.

Our first tourist Stop was at Tallulah Gorge Overlook where Wallenda walked along a high wire line. The Gorge is over 900 ft deep and once you look down, it is a bit scary for those with fear of heights! The Gorge is a great spot for a selfie but other than that you could shop for trinkets and BBQ. We stopped to take a selfie and got back on the road.




Just a couple of miles away from the Tallulah Gorge is Georgia’s Tallulah Gorge State Park.





At this point, you are entering Rabun County, Georgia considered Georgia’s Outdoor Adventure Area.

SR 246 and US 441 are well paved and easy to drive. There are little towns dotted along the way. During the Summer months, there are tons of pop up farmer’s markets, produce stands and flea markets. You could easily spend a very enjoyable day drive driving and stopping at these markets.

By the time we got to US 441, we were starving so we made a pit stop at Osage’s Produce Stand. This is a fairly large operation that has awesome fresh produce at fair prices. When we visited, it was pumpkin season and they had a cute tiny pumpkin patch for kids. Osage is NOT pet friendly. You can not bring your dog inside the produce stand!!!! They do have a doggie relief area along side of the road.

Immediately next door and sharing the same parking lot with Osage is Tomlin’s BBQ. It’s a little BBQ shack (or she’d, depending on where you hail). I do not believe their BBQ is smoked. It was good but we are lovers of smoked meats and BBQ. They have an extensive menu, fabulous unique sides (cornbread salad!!!) and crazy tasty BBQ sauces. NOTE: You sauce your own meat. Their Apple Bourbon BBQ was so tasty and sweet.



Many have stated they Tomlin’s are dog friendly which I suppose they are since you ordered at a window. There are picnic tables to sit and eat your meal and there were not any signs stating “No Pets.” There is a port-a-john for human pit stops .  Keep in mind that the adjoining Osage Farms is NOT pet friendly and will not let you enter with your pet, including their outside pumpkin patch.



Some Fun Stops Along The Way…..

The route definitely still has a lot of the quirky, interesting and fun attractions that I remember from my youth. Some of the more popular attractions include: Goats on the Roof, Schoolbus Graveyard (10 miles South of Cornelia) and the Tallulah Gorge State Park. In the State Park, you can hike all the way down the Gorge (limited amount of free passes per day) but guess what…. you have to hike all the way back up. That is not for the faint of heart and we recommend only the physically fit attempt it.




More Quick Stops on SR 246


  • Jaemor Farms – Apples, Corn Maze, Treats and more!
  • Toccoa Currahee Military Museum & Currahee Winery
  • Panther creek picnic area and trail parking


Last Stop Before Highlands….


Once you arrive in the town of Clayton, this is a great place to stock up on anything that you did not pack.  Clayton has the closest Pharmacy, Grocery Stores, Fast Food, Restaurants, etc to Highlands.  Once you start the drive on Dillard Road to Highlands, there is only a Family Dollar in the middle of nowhere.  Just before the North Carolina State Line, there is a great Mexican restaurant, a Fred’s general store (think small Walmart) and a Piggly Wiggly.  The Piggley Wiggly is the closest grocery store to the Georgia/North Carolina State Line.


Make sure to stop at the Piggly Wiggly to pick up supplies before Highlands.


Date of Visit: October 1st to 8th, 2017


Read about our adventures to the Western North Carolina Mountains:

Otto Depot – a place to go hunting for treasure like the American Pickers do!

Pickens Nose – a great short easy hike for great photo opportunities

Cozy Cabin AirBnB – a very affordable cabin in the treetops (coming soon)



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