We’re Diggin’ Dahlonega; The Heart of North Georgia’s Wine Country & Bear on the Square

Dahlonega is a small town in North Georgia with around 8,000 people in less than nine square miles. It is located an hour southeast of Blue Ridge, or an hour and a half north of Atlanta.

The city takes its name from a derivative of the Cherokee word for yellow or gold, as they were the original inhabitants. 

Dahlonega is the county seat of Lumpkin County which was formed in 1832, and is known for its gold mining history and wineries. 

Just as the city of Dahlonega is known as the “Heart of North Georgia’s Wine Country,” Lumpkin County as a whole is known as the “Wine Tasting Room Capital of Georgia.” Impressive as that is, I am not really a wine fan, so check out this list of wineries and drink to your heart’s content.


Mining History
Dahlonega stakes its claim as the site of the country’s first major gold rush in 1829, and the town even had its own U.S. Mint that produced gold coins with its trademark “D” until the 1860s.

“There’s Gold in Them Thar Hills” is an often-misquoted phrase that came from Dahlonega. The assayer at the Dahlonega Branch Mint stood outside on the Courthouse balcony (in the photo below) trying to persuade miners to stay in Georgia instead of taking off for California.

What he actually said was  “Why go to California? In yonder hill lies more riches than anyone ever dreamed of. There’s millions in it!”

This phrase inspired Mark Twain to use it repeatedly in his book The Guilded Age. It was not until after that when the phrase became quoted as “thar’s gold in them thar hills.”


Dahlonega Gold Museum State Historic Site is located in the old 1836 Lumpkin County Courthouse, in downtown Dahlonega’s historic Public Square. This building served as the county courthouse until 1964 and is the oldest, unaltered courthouse in the state of Georgia.

The museum has varied exhibits and screens several different films about mining and minting in Dahlonega, various equipment used, and other historical local topics.

It also has a gift and souvenir shop.


Public Square
Surrounding the Dahlonega Gold Museum are the many shops, cafes, galleries, and pubs that make up Public Square. 

Georgia 9N goes all the way through the city north to south, and Main Street is the main downtown street. Just follow it until you see the museum, you can not miss it. 

Main Street has some great places get your bearings and learn more about this town like the Dahlonega Visitors Center and the Dahlonega General Store which is just like a museum.


Dahlonega Walking Tours is a great to explore on foot with a knowledgeable local. You can choose from a historical tour, foodie/pub crawls, and ghost tours. 


For coffee downtown, stop by Canopy + The Roots, Jethro’s Coffee, or Coffee Break. 


Coffee Break was our pick because of the whimsical garden atmosphere outside and the cozy seating inside. 



Canopy & The Roots will will be my first choice next time I am in town. This is a coffee house, yoga studio, and small music venue combined, and it is located right next to the historic Holly Theatre.


Dahlonega has dozens of restaurants to choose from including Zoe Ramen, 19 Degrees North Seafood, and Bourbon Street Grill.


Spirits Tavern and its adorable sign drew us in for lunch, and I still dream about this meal. 


A mix of gouda, parmesan, and cheddar is used to make macaroni and cheese. They roll it into balls and lightly fry it, and serve it with a spicy house special sauce called “Comeback Sauce.” 


My friend got the Dragon’s Breath burger with onion straws, bacon, swiss cheese, and horseradish mayo. 


I was really feeling the spirt of the cheese here so I went for the Gooey, which is basically a chicken sandwich version of the macaroni and cheese bites. Lord. 


Dahlonega Brewery, Dahlonega Bar, Shenanigans Irish Pub, and Gold City Growlers are just a few places in town where you can grab a drink and a casual meal.

Dahlonega is laid back town full of interesting characters, and finding a place with patio seating like Shenanigans is a treat. 


Stop by the Dahlonega Dessertery, Dahlonega Fudge Factory, or Connie’s Ice Cream Parlor to satisfy your sweet tooth. 


Dahlonega is a great town for hunting down antiques and vintage items.

Start with the Historic Dahlonega Shuttle & Trading Post, Gateway Antique Mall, Gold City Antique Gallery Antiques & Collectibles, and Number 3 Vintage. 


Other shops along Main Street include Brad Walker Pottery, Country Cottage Gift Shop, Dahlonega Market Place, Humble Candle, Vintage Musical Instruments, Crown & Bear Gift Shop, the Bear Book Market, and Crimson Moon Restaurant/Music venue.


Blue 42 Organics and the parent company, Anvil Hemp Company, was having a Grand Opening celebration anticipating the new storefront in downtown Dahlonega. 


We met the owners who are twin brothers, and some other really cool people. They live, work, operate their farms, and create their products in Dahlonega so this is a truly homegrown business. 


Before I had a chance to write this blog, I found out the city gave them a whole lot of grief to prevent them from operating here, and I will not go into all of the details, but you can still buy the products online. 


I fell in love with their beautifully engraved cobalt blue bottles as well as some of the knives that the owner makes himself.

He uses hemp seeds in the handle and has a patent for the tip shape that is specifically for cleaning bowls/ pipe basins. 


For another elevated experience of a different type, stop by the Jones-Leibel House. I learned that it is known to be one of the most haunted places in Dahlonega, and is a stop on the Dahlonega Ghost Tours.

It has hosted a number of different businesses over the decades but one thing has not changed- staff often reports hauntings, sightings of Spirits, strange activity, and a general feeling of uneasy energy upstairs. 


Historic Places to Stay
The Dahlonega Square Hotel and B&B from the 1800s with wine tasting and tours available. 


The Smith House is a restaurant and inn right off Public Square with its own country store.


The most interesting thing about this place is that it was home of an extremely rich baron during the Gold Rush era, and the basement is an old gold mine.


More Historical Sites
Both N. Parks Street and N. Meaders Street will take you to the 1875 Diving Bell, which was used to allow workers to stay below the surface longer during diving expeditions.


It is on display and has some informative plaques around it, but click here if you really want some in-depth history. 


Oher historic sites around Dahlonega include the oldest University of North Georgia campus, Lumpkin County Jail & Museum, Long Mountain Living History Center, and the Price Memorial Hall, which is one of three State buildings in Georgia with steeples that are made of Dahlonega gold. 

Consolidated Gold Mine was built at the tail end of the 1890s and became the largest gold mine operation east of the Missippii RIver. Crisson Gold Mine is another must-see place for mining history. 

Outdoor activities are endless here, but Desoto Falls, Cane Creek Falls, Lake Zwerner, Crown Mountain, Three Sisters Mountain, the Georgia Mountain Falconry, and Chestatee Wildlife Preserve & Zoo are at the top of the list. 


We went to Dahlonega on this particular weekend for the annual Bear on the Square Festival


Everywhere you looked, there were groups of musicians gathered around to play bluegrass, folk, and old country tunes. 


There were demonstrations and hands-on experiences for gold panning, live bands, beer tents, and vendors from around the region selling jewelry and art. 



Other events in Dahlonega include Gold Rush Days, Chocolate Crawl, Literary Festival, Arts & Wine Festival, and the 6Gap Bike Ride.


In the area for a while? Follow me to Blairsville, Ellijay, Blue Ridge, and McCaysville


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