Dawsonville, Georgia: Weekend Getaway in the North Georgia Mountains

Shopping, motorsports, mountain pursuits and soul-soothing wilderness near Atlanta

Dawsonville, Georgia | I-75 Exit Guide
Dawsonville, Georgia | I-75 Exit Guide

Want a weekend getaway that’s not far away? Dawsonville, in the foothills of the North Georgia mountains, is only about an hour north of Atlanta and two hours south of Chattanooga and is filled with things to do and places to totally relax. This getaway destination satisfies serious shoppers, wilderness adventurers and everyone in between. From power shopping at North Georgia Premium Outlets to power racing at Atlanta Motorsports Park, from heart-pounding whitewater and hiking to soul-soothing fly fishing and waterfalls, Dawsonville offers plenty of exploration.

Where to Stay

First, pick a place to stay that sets the mood. Northeast of Dawsonville, families and romantics prefer to be surrounded by spectacular mountain terrain at Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge, where almost every room has a view and other accommodations include cabins, campsites and four completely furnished Safari Tents for glamping. A nature lover’s wonderland, it’s only eight miles from the Appalachian Trail and within the Chattahoochee National Forest. Some never leave the property, as there’s on site dining, zip lining, archery, hatchet-throwing and guided hikes to Amicalola Falls – a magnificent 729-foot waterfall that’s the third-highest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River and one of Georgia’s Seven Natural Wonders (418 Amicalola Falls State Park Rd, Dawsonville, Georgia 30534; 706-265-4703)

Georgia’s only backcountry lodge, the Len Foote Hike Inn, is accessible to day and overnight guests only by a trail etched in the Chattahoochee National Forest. Starting from the top of the falls at Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge, the five-mile hike has its rewards: mountain high country, forested ridges and valleys and on a clear day, a view of the Atlanta skyline from one of the lookout points. The Hike Inn is an eco-beacon of rugged comfort and sustainable practices where bunkhouse beds, rustic baths, delicious communal meals, Appalachian Trail memorabilia and camaraderie await. (accessed via 280 Amicalola Falls State Park Rd, Dawsonville, Georgia 30534)    

More lodging options: National Forest Service camping, campgrounds, family- and group-sized vacation rental homes, even a luxury treehouse with bath. Brand-name, convenient accommodations are also located near major highways and the Georgia 400 shopping corridor. https://www.destinationdawsonville.com/where-to-stay/

Art and Shopping

Dawsonville’s shopping treasures require more than a day trip. North Georgia Premium Outlets (800 Hwy 400 South, Dawsonville, Georgia 30534; (706) 216-3609) features more than 90 discount designer goods and luxury brand stores alone, but that’s just the beginning of the antiques, boutiques and local merchants treasure hunt. Around Back at Rocky’s Place Folk Art Gallery is a garden and gallery of one-of-a-kind pieces from hundreds of sought-after Southern artists, including face jugs not found in museums and the largest-anywhere collection of art by John “Cornbread” Anderson. Spark your own creativity with pottery and canvas painting projects at The Pearce Creative, and visit the Bowen Center for the Arts, where you’ll find three galleries that display 12 art shows each year, fun classes, tea parties and concerts in a former rock school developed during the 1930s as part of FDR’s Public and Civil Works Administrations. (334 Highway 9 North, Dawsonville, Georgia 30534; 706-216-2787)

For flower and garden aficionados, family farm outings and other outdoor spring through fall activities, go to Dawsonville: Pumpkin Patches, Haunting Tales, Family Farms in the North Georgia Mountains – Travel Media Press Room. Waterfall lovers will find their bliss here.

Guys getaways

Besides golf (two courses) and convenient access to Lake Lanier, Dawsonville is a down-to-earth guy getaway destination for hunting and fishing, whitewater rafting and lazy paddles. Etowah Valley Game Preserve is open for Quail, Chukka and Pheasant hunting October 1st through March 31st. (120 Leon Jones Road, Dawsonville, Georgia 30534; 678-410-0983), while Etowah Valley Sporting Clays is a year-round immersion in clays courses, trap, skeet and stand shooting, along with gun rentals and ammunition, lessons and a unique Amish-style clubhouse. (619 Sporting Hill Drive Dawsonville, Georgia 30534; 706-265-1611)

Dawsonville is best known for its moonshine-to-motorsports history. Moonshine running during Prohibition nearly 100 years ago grew into today’s NASCAR racing, and the story is authentically told at The Georgia Racing Hall of Fame and Museum, a sprawling and well-designed tribute to the early greats through Bill Elliott, better known as “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville,” and his son Chase Elliott. (415 Highway 53 East, Dawsonville, Georgia, 30534; 706-216-7223) It’s a dazzling audio-visual immersion with vintage videos, impressive stock and moonshine cars and tons of trophies and artifacts. To complete the experience, head to the town square’s unofficial auto racing headquarters, the Dawsonville Pool Room for breakfast, lunch or dinner and more eye-opening memorabilia, where Elliott stock car racing wins are celebrated with a screaming “si-reen.” (9 Bill Elliott Street, Dawsonville, Georgia 30534; 706-265-2792). Watch the races or put your own pedal to the medal at Atlanta Motorsports Park, a world class, Formula 1 style venue for high performance cars, motorcycles and karts. (20 Duck Thurmond Road, Dawsonville, Georgia 30534; 678-381-8527)


Dawsonville has dining covered, from juicy steaks to succulent BBQ ribs, sushi to down-home Southern cooking, pizza to Mexican.  Big D’s BBQ for, of course, Barbecue but also much more, and Papa’s Place for down home Southern. Try Blue Bicycle for inventive French cuisine with Southern touches. Centered around the Georgia 400 shopping corridor are plenty of tried-and-true restaurant chains and fast-food restaurants, from The Varsity Jr. to coffee stops.

Annual Events

October 27-29, 2023
8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
56th Annual Mountain Moonshine Festival and Car Show
Georgia Racing Hall of Fame and Dawsonville City Hall’s Main Street Park
415 Highway 53 East Dawsonville, Georgia 30534
Kare for Kids-706-216-5273
https://www.kareforkids.org/mountain-moonshine-festival One of the longest running festivals in the U.S., the Mountain Moonshine Festival celebrates the history of Prohibition-era moonshining, the birthplace of stock car racing and the formation of NASCAR racing. The three-day event includes a Moonshine Run, kids’ activities, a parade including vintage stock cars and more, live music, food trucks, arts, crafts and vendor booths. One of the highlights is a huge car show, featuring show cars, race cars and the largest gathering of moonshine hauling cars in the United States. The Festival is KARE’s largest fundraiser; all proceeds go toward the purchase of clothes, school supplies, medical needs and Christmas gifts for children in need in Dawson County. Visit the Website for each day’s full schedule, and the Facebook page for additional details: https://www.facebook.com/MountainMoonshineFestivalDawsonville

Nov. 18, 2023 2-8 p.m.
Christmas in Dawsonville 
Dawsonville City Hall and Georgia Racing Hall of Fame
415 Hwy 53 East Dawsonville, Georgia 30534
https://www.destinationdawsonville.com/events/downtown-dawsonville-christmas-parade-and-tree-lighting/ Race over to Dawsonville, Georgia, the birthplace of stockcar racing, to slow things down for the holidays. Located just an hour north of Atlanta, Dawsonville kicks off the season with the 11th Annual Christmas Parade, Jingle Market and Tree Lighting in Downtown Dawsonville on Saturday, November 18. Find a perfect streetside spot to experience a true small-town parade as Santa makes his way through the town at 4 p.m. sharp. Sip warm cocoa at the Jingle Market and find perfect Christmas gifts (2-8 p.m.). As the sun begins to set, gather with family and friends around the Christmas Tree and join in the countdown. Enjoy food trucks and live performances (4-8 p.m.), photos with Santa and more. The parade begins Downtown at the Dawsonville cemetery and runs through the historic downtown area and finishes around the Dawsonville City Hall. All other festivities take place at Dawsonville City Hall and the Farmers Market Pavilion For more information, visit DestinationDawsonville.com or call the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce at 706-265-6278.

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