Lynn Coulter 2017-12-27 12:42:59
Land of Plenty Georgia’s agriculture tourism offerings are as diverse as they are delicious. With more than four million acres of cropland, Georgia’s agriculture industry is big business—and it’s also big fun. Much of our land not only produces amazing foods and products, but also offers tourism destinations and sites for visitors to explore and enjoy their bounty. So hit the road, and wine and dine your way around our amazingly diverse state, from vineyards in the North Georgia Mountains to the fresh seafood eateries along the coast. In between, you’ll find dairies churning creamery butter, orchards bursting with peaches and apples, small town cafes dishing up family recipes, as well as roadside markets, honey farms, and from-scratch bakeries. You’ll make great memories, and you won’t go home hungry. 1 Day one Mercier Orchards, Blue Ridge Pick your own apples, warm from the sun, when you book a tractor tour at Mercier Orchards, or buy them already harvested. More than fifty varieties grow on this family-owned farm, which celebrates its seventy-fifth anniversary this year. Depending on the season, you’ll also find blueberries, strawberries, peaches, and other produce. Mercier presses, ferments, and bottles its own hard ciders and wines. Enjoy a picnic or box lunch in the pavilion, or order from the market deli. Group tours are offered on Fridays. mercier-orchards.com Engelheim Vineyards, Ellijay See Georgia wines go from grape to glass at Engelheim, where the Bavarian-style architecture reflects the owners’ German heritage. Tours include the winery and vineyards, which are planted with eleven different varietals, and tastings are available for a small charge. Bring a picnic or purchase small plates of grapes, cheese, and other snacks. On weekends, come for live music on the patio. Inquire about group discounts. engelheim.com R&A Orchards, Ellijay R&A Orchards grows Galas, Red Delicious, and some forty-eight other apple varieties, along with sweet potatoes, nectarines, peaches, and other crops. Make an appointment for a tour in a tractor-pulled wagon. Groups may also tour the apple house and hear the history of this family-owned business, which dates to 1947. Sample sliced apples and cider in the market, buy fruit pies and other from-scratch goodies, and eat lunch in the cafe or picnic area. Apple-picking weekends run the month of September. randaorchards.com OVERNIGHT IN DAHLONEGA 2 Day Two Jaemor Farms, Alto Hayride tours at Jaemor Farms are offered in April and May, and September and October. Additional dates are sometimes added, weather permitting. You can pick peaches, pumpkins, strawberries, or apples only on select days, so call ahead. Explore the corn maze in the fall or shop for seasonal produce, local honey, fresh baked goods, boiled peanuts, and Mountain Fresh Creamery milk in the market. Ask about scheduling a hot dog or s’mores roast for your group around the fire pit. jaemorfarms.com Dickey Farms, Musella Step back in time at Georgia’s oldest, continuously operating peach packinghouse, where you can rock on the porch while you enjoy award-winning peach ice cream. Take a bus or van tour into the peach orchard from mid-May to mid-August and watch as the fruits are packed. Strawberries start ripening in April, and pumpkins mature in the fall. Shop in the farm store for everything from peach jams and breads to peach-flavored jellybeans. Spring and fall festivals feature Georgia vendors, music, food, and fun. gapeaches.com OVERNIGHT IN MACON 3 Day Three Mi-Lady Bakery, Tifton Stop in for a red velvet cupcake or sweet potato pie made from scratch at Mi-Lady. The most popular items at this old-fashioned bakery are the chocolate, glazed, caramel, and filled doughnuts, but it also serves breakfast and lunch. The fresh, local produce comes from South Georgia’s own Lewis Taylor Farms and Southern Valley. miladybakery.com Raisin’ Cane, Valdosta Wear walking shoes to tour this working farm, which opens to the public from late September to early November. Its 150 acres produce satsuma (a version of tangerine) and rotating crops of eggplants, squash, and bell peppers. Shop the market for Georgia-made pepper jellies, pickles, and Oliver Farm artisan oils. Take a sack lunch to the picnic area, or indulge in fried chicken, butterbeans, and other Southern favorites from the indoor buffet. Explore the corn maze in the fall (guides available upon request). raisincanevaldosta.com Steel Magnolias, Valdosta Chef and owner Keira Moritz creates this restaurant’s recipes and trains her chefs to make them from scratch. Enjoy customer favorites like fried green tomatoes, pulled pork and pimento cheese wontons, and shrimp and grits with andouille sausage gravy, pepper and onion roux, and Georgia- grown Gayla’s Grits. Other fresh Georgia products served here include Sweetgrass Dairy cheeses, Sparkman’s Cream Valley butter, and Georgia Olive Farms oils. A private dining room seats fifty, and the rooftop accommodates fifty more. steelmagnoliasvaldosta.com DON’TMISSDINING Jonah’s Fish and Grits, Thomasville Jonah’s Fish and Grits puts a Southern spin on seasonal seafood, chicken, and steaks. From-scratch hush puppies come with house-made honey bu er, while shrimp and grits is made with stoneground cheese grits. Call ahead for group dining and ask about pricing options. Indoor and outdoor areas can seat about 100, weather permitting.jonahsfish.com MUSTSTOPSHOPPING Downtown Blue Ridge Surrounded by the beautiful North Georgia Mountains, downtown Blue Ridge offers something for every shopper, from gourmet cooks, to antique collectors, to outdoor enthusiasts. Score unique jewelry at River Gypsy, browse High Country Art & Antique or find native flies at Blue Ridge Fly Fishing, among other unique stores. blueridgemountains.com/shopping.html
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