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We love traveling and exploring our amazing home state of Georgia, but right now we are restricted to trips that are only about 2 hours from our home (which is just North of Atlanta). Last year I was trying to find us a new place to explore that was within our 2 hour drive limit and decided on Dahlonega.
Dahlonega is the site of the first major U.S. Gold Rush and the Heart of Georgia Wine Country. This amazing little mountain city offers something for everyone. Some of the things you can enjoy include outstanding arts and gold medal wineries, original architecture and gold history attractions, outdoor adventure and a Golden Bear signature golf course and the University of North Georgia with its signature gold steeple.
If you are looking to spend a day in Dahlonega and spend a very small amount of money I have the perfect itinerary for you!
1) Dahlonega Gold Museum - This museum takes about 1-1 1/2 hrs to get through. Admission is $7 for adults, $4.50 for children ages 6 and older and $2 for children 6 and under.
The museum is housed inside the 1836 Lumpkin County Courthouse, the oldest courthouse Georgia. So not only can you learn about the gold history of Dahlonega you can also explore the courthouse features like the beautiful wooden chapel seats from 1889 and the judge's chambers. You can even see the flecks of gold in the bricks! The museum is two stories and only the first floor is wheelchair accessible. One the first floor of the museum you will learn all about the gold rush, see a complete set of rare coins (safely secured inside a giant vault), a nugget weighing more than five ounces, a fantastic rock, gem and mineral collection and more. On the second floor there is a great 23 minute that film describes the mining techniques and lifestyles of the prospectors through interviews with members of long time mining families of the area. There is also a large hydraulic cannon and nozzle on display that was used to blast soil from mountainsides as well as numerous artifacts. On your way out be sure to visit the gift shop to take home some gold of your own! If you are a homeschool family or teacher be sure to download the Georgia historic sites tour curriculum.
2) Mount Hope Cemetery - This stop takes about 1 hr. Admission is FREE. Please be respectful of those resting here.
Our family loves cemeteries because they are very educational. Be sure to check out my Lessons From The Grave post which will explain more about why we visit cemeteries.
This cemetery is really special for several reasons. The first is that it is an old pre-Civil War cemetery. And the second is that it is one of the few cemeteries that still has several "Slot and Tab" grave markers which are found only in this part of the country. The cemetery has 1,000-2,000 grave sites and has an interesting mix of old and new grave markers. It is the resting place for Confederate officer William Pierce Price (State Legislator and US Congressman), member of the Philips Legion Infantry - Co E - The Blue Ridge Rifles Jesse Marion “J. M.” McDonald and three Revolutionary War veterans.
3) University of North Georgia - You don't even have to get out of the car for this one. As you drive to the next stop make sure yo pass the University of North Georgia to check out the stunning gold steeple! Admission is FREE. You can also get a good view of the gold steeple from the cemetery.
4) Yahoola United Cherokee Museum and Cultural Education Center - This stop takes about 1 hr. Admission is $5.00 for adults and $2.50 for children ages 4 and older.
We really stumbled upon this museum by accident and I am so glad we did. My daughter is fascinated with the Native American culture so we are always looking for ways to learn more. This museum is a work in progress and not too big...but what they have on display and what they are trying to accomplish is amazing.
The Yahoola United Cherokee Museum and Cultural Education Center is a 501(c) (3) Non Profit Corporation. Their mission is to build a Museum and Education Center that will not only tell the Cherokee side of Dahlonega history and surrounding areas, but also take you on a journey back through time. Dahlonega was and is a central player in an often over looked and ignored side of Cherokee history....remember the trail of tears? It was because of the gold discovery in the Taquohee district of the Cherokee Nation (several miles east of present day Dahlonega) that the Native Americans were driven from their homes. The temporary museum in downtown Dahlonega (phase 1) currently features interactive displays and living history displays. The fact that they were interactive and that children where encouraged to touch was a HUGE plus in our book. There were numerous artifacts and authentic reproductions of tools, weaponry and other articles. Even the gift shop was amazing and everything that is for sale is handmade by Native Americans around the USA.
The museum needs help though to expand and make their ultimate dream a reality...which is to build a museum on a 5 acre spot non Highway 115. The museum building with replicate the traditional seven-sided Cherokee Council House. It will share Cherokee culture that is oriented toward children. Phase 2 has broken ground and a demonstration area has been built to show stomp ground, medicinal plants and trees and demonstrate weapons and hunting implements.
5) Cane Creek Falls - This stop takes about 1 - 1/2 hours. Admission is FREE. This is private property and belongs to Glisson Camp and Retreat Center, however they do allow public visitors to view the falls (when no retreats are in session). Just park at the visitors center, check in, then take a nice stroll down to the falls (you can also drive down).
The falls are absolutely beautiful and there is a top of the falls viewing deck and a nice wooded path above and below the falls where you can enjoy nature. If you walk to the falls from the visitor center it is about 1 mile round trip. you can also opt to drive down to the base of the falls.
6) Trahlyta's Grave - This stop takes about 15 minutes. Admission is FREE. Use extreme caution when getting out of your car if you decide to visit the actual grave to place a stone...it is a very busy intersection. We parked on the shoulder of the road.
Legend has it that this mysterious pile of stones marks the grave of a Cherokee princess, Trahlyta. According to the legend her tribe, living on Cedar Mountain north of the site, knew the secret of the magic springs of eternal youth from the Witch of Cedar Mountain. Trahlyta was kidnapped by a rejected suitor, Wahsega, and was taken far away and lost her beauty. As she was dying, Wahsega promised to bury her here near her home and the magic springs. Custom arose among the Indians and later the Whites to drop stones, one for each passerby, on her grave for good fortune. The magic springs, now known as Porter Springs, lie 1/4 mile northeast of the site.
As much as I love legends we were told by a couple Native Americans that the legend is false and that the pile of stones is just that a pile of stones. However we still dropped a couple stones on the site. For the address visit the Dahlonega website.
7) Babyland General Hospital (Cabbage Patch) - This stop takes about 1 - 1 1/2 hrs. Admission is FREE. This place is located in Cleveland, GA a neighboring city just 15 miles east of Dahlonega.
This fun little place is situated on 650 acres in the North Georgia Mountains. The Southern Style home is filled with thousands of Cabbage Patch Kids just waiting to be adopted. Mother Cabbage is always on display beneath the branches of the Magic Crystal Tree and the magical Cabbage Patch is tended by the Licensed Patch Doctors and Nurses. This is the only place in the world where you can witness the birth of hand-sculpted Cabbage Patch Kids. If you want you can even take the Oath of Adoption and take home your perfect Cabbage Patch Kid match.
In between all your stops be sure to grab a few geocaches too!
And there you have it, how to spend a day in Daholnega and experience history, culture, science and more without breaking the bank. For a family of 4 this trip itinerary will cost just under $40 (not including gas or food).
For more staycation ideas check out the awesome blogs below:
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