may be only an hour north of Atlanta, Ga., but once you enter the gated resort community, you'll feel as if you are a world away.
Situated in the foothills of the North Georgia mountains, Big Canoe
was established in 1972 and encompasses over 8,000-acres. However, that doesn’t mean it’s all development. What you'll notice about it and perhaps the one that thing that makes it special is that not only does it blend in with nature, but also the community has set aside around 2,000-acres as accessible green space.
Offering a mix of residential and rental
properties, Mike Rhodes, director of sales, calls Big Canoe a year-round destination. With its natural surroundings and proximity to various mountain towns, he adds the community appeals to all ages.
And when you get down to it, Big Canoe appeals to all interests as well. The best thing is when you are
here, you can be as active as you want or just sit back and relax on your screen porch with a cup of coffee and a good book. It's all up to you. There's no agenda or schedule unless you want one.
For those who can't stand to be idle, options are varied. For instance, there is the Joe Lee-designed 27-hole course
that's not only scenic but challenging as well. For tennis lovers, use this time to practice your backhand on one of 10 courts
If that's too much involved for a getaway, why not take a hike to explore your surroundings. Big Canoe has over 20 miles of hiking trails
, with most of them ranked easy or moderate.
Home to three lakes, it's easy for anyone to get out on or in the water. Lake Petit
, Big Canoe's largest lake, is perfect for both boating and fishing. Rent a boat through the Marina and get ready to hook "the big one." If you want a more laid-back experience, consider dropping a line in Lake Sconti. Lake Disharoon
offers a beach as well as free-form pool overlooking the lake. Be sure not to miss the rock slide.
And then there is dining
, which everyone knows is an important part of any visit. Options include the Mountains Grill and the Black Bear Pub, both located in the Clubhouse, overlooking Lake Sconti. There's also Wild Onion Grille at the Village.
Don't forget there is plenty to do and see beyond the gates of Big Canoe. Nevertheless, don't feel bad if you don't get around to it because you find the community so relaxing and peaceful, and it's hard to think beyond the next 30-minutes. Here are some options to keep in the back of your mind:
Amicalola Falls State Park
: Around 15 minutes away, the state park
is the site of the tallest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River. Take a hike along one of the various trails.
: A little over 40 miles away, downtown Blue Ridge
offers great shopping and restaurant opportunities. Depending on the length of your stay in this area, consider taking a train ride with Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. A must-visit when in Blue Ridge is Mercier Orchards. Be sure to try their fried apple pie (or any fried pie.)
: Explore Dahlonega's historic square filled with shops, galleries and restaurants, about a 25-mile drive from Big Canoe. Grab lunch at The Crimson Moon Cafe
, followed by a chocolate type dessert at Paul Thomas Chocolates
. Be sure to tour the Dahlonega Gold Museum
to learn the history behind the area's gold rush. If time permits, head out to either Consolidated Gold Mines
or Crisson Gold Mines
to pan for gold.
: Around 50 miles away is Babyland General
, the "starting point" for the Cabbage Patch Kids. Visit the "hospital" and possible be there when one (or two or more) are born.
: Located around 60 miles from the gates is the re-created Bavarian Alpine village of Helen
. Spend the afternoon exploring the many specialty shops or take a carriage ride. Visit Anna Ruby Falls
. Pick up a treat or two from Hofer's Bakery and Cafe
, or some peanuts from Fred's Famous Peanuts
. Consider enjoying a meal at such places like Troll Tavern
or Hofbrauhaus Restaurant
. Stop by Nacoochee Village
, followed with a short drive to the Village of Sautee-Nacoochee
While you may be at Big Canoe for only a weekend, it is one of those destinations that'll always stay
with you. Don't be surprised that when you come home, you aren't checking your calendar and planning a return visit.
photos: personal collection