It's an ideal time of year to paddle the Chestatee River.
Start your day at Mountain Laurel Creek Bed & Breakfast with a plate of Dahlonega Gold--phyllo-wrapped sausage and egg.
Fall is the perfect time for a small-town getaway. Discover the charming town square, rumpled hills, and clear streams of this North Georgia village.Festive Friday
There really is gold in these hills, so start your exploration at the Dahlonega Gold Museum State Historic Site in the middle of the square ($3 admission). You'll hear the story behind America's first major gold rush. Afterward, pan for gold and grub for gems at the nearby Consolidated Gold Mine ($11 adults, $7 ages 4-14) or Crisson's Gold Mine ($3-$9.50).
For lodging, our choices are to stay at Mountain Laurel Creek Bed & Breakfast, just 5 miles out of town, or at the historic Smith House Inn, one block off Dahlonega's square.
At Mountain Laurel Creek, innkeeper Dennis Hoover welcomes you to his comfortable hideaway (706)867-8134 or www.mountain laurelcreek.com; rates $130-$140). There, Dennis's late-season gardens bring cheerful color to the rustic wooden home that offers three suites, each with a balcony and sumptuous bath.
If you opt for The Smith House Inn, you'll find a nostalgic atmosphere complete with old-timey tile baths (800)852-9577 or www.smithhouse.com; rates $79-$250).
Enjoy a night on the town with a memorable dinner at Corkscrew Café, followed by a show at the Holly Theatre. If you prefer a light dinner, order the duck salad, which features roasted duck breast over a fresh mound of mixed greens, topped with caramelized onions, mandarin oranges, and sugared pecans ($9.95). The traditionally prepared fresh trout ($17.95), rack of lamb ($24.95), and filet mignon ($22.95) please heartier appetites. Be sure to inform your server that you're heading to a show to get out on time. Then, walk next door to the Holly Theatre, where local thespians entertain. After the final curtain falls, slip back into Corkscrew for a nightcap, ginger-apple bread pudding ($4.95), or chocolate truffle cake ($5.95).