Best Leaf Season Day Trip: A Pumpkin Parade Through Paradise

Best Leaf Season Day Trip:  A Pumpkin Parade Through Paradise

We’re famous, here in the North Georgia mountains, for our leaf season.  When the hayfields are given their final shave, the bales are rolled, roped, and racked up in barn lofts for winter, and the gardens have been stripped down, their soil left to sleep for winter, our mountains light up with blazing red and orange leaves.That’s what we’re famous for, but that’s not all we do here in the fall.  As the air turns cool, our back-field pumpkins finish plumping up in preparation for pies, jack-o-lanterns, and porch displays.  
With most traditional festivals and parades being cancelled, a pumpkin parade day trip to Blairsville-Union County just may be the perfect substitute to satisfy your angst for adventure, your hankering for heavenly food, and your want of a little fall festivity.  We love stopping in at 7M Farms for pie-pumpkins and a basket of late summer seasonal, organic, hydroponic and row-grown veggies fresher than anything you lay hands on in a big box store.  A best kept secret about 7M is that you can also enjoy their farm-to-fork lunches and dinners.  Surprisingly affordable, the menu changes daily, and you are lucky if you get the chance to sample dishes such as mushroom tofu tacos, ancho sweet onion chicken salad, beet sliders, bouillabaisse fish stew, and more.  Follow them on facebook to see their daily offerings and plan your visit around mealtime.  Trust us--this swanky fair in a casual country setting is worth the stop.  If you pop in this weekend, you can join their Fall Family Festival complete with over 25 local vendors, hayrides, live music, and yes, sample their delicious cuisine.
Sunrise Grocery, a short stretch from Helton Creek Falls and Vogel State Park’s Trahlyta Falls, offers the trendy white pumpkins in addition to show-stopping massive pumpkins for mailbox and front porch displays.  While there, you should grab one of Jason’s wife Jes’ hand-poured soaps as sensational to smell as they are to suds up with and nosh on a bag of Jason’s famous boiled peanuts while you enjoy his photography-art gallery in the back of the store. If you have a few more minutes, you’ll want to  ask whoever’s working the counter to tell you the story of Sunrise.  It’s as romantic

as it is inspiring. There will be plenty of roadside stops with locals plopping their garden-picked pumpkins on tipsy tables heaving under the mounds of orange balls.  You’ll find every shape and size available for purchase assuring you fill your trunk with pumpkins for lanterns and pies.
Here’s something else you should know.  When Blairsville heads toward Halloween, she dresses up herself as Scarecrow-ville.  Things get insanely creative as businesses, non-profits, churches, and locals all join in this Scarecrow showdown.  Scarecrows become tinmen, cafeteria workers, old grannies, red hat ladies, fishermen, and more.  The town practically doubles in size, and half of the population is stuffed with straw!   You will have the best time parking in the Merchant’s Walk and touring the town.   Coffee is always brewing at Cabin Coffee, G & G Cafe, and Abide--just pick your vibe or try all three. A day strolling from shop to shop and scarecrow to scarecrow in the crisp autumn air is about as exhilarating as it is fun for the entire family.
Blairsville’s downtown has grown tremendously in the last few years, but what is uniquely refreshing, is that it still remains an unassuming small town that refuses to relinquish its culture, it’s sense of carefree fun, and it’s welcoming ways.  The shops like Sunflowers, Rebecca’s off the Square, Sugar Magnolia, From Me 2 U, Mountain Life Mercantile, Keen Creations & Co., and Logan Turnpike Mill are full of local artisans and crafters as well as on trend options for clothing, home decor, furnishings, and gift-giving.  The restaurants offer up everything from Michaelee’s fine dining chocolate shrimp and lobster ravioli, The Historic Hole in the Wall’s diner dishes including blueberry bread pudding with buttermilk glaze, Cook’s Country Kitchen’s quintessentially southern mashed taters and fried okra, Sicily’s strombolis and baked spaghetti, and Lucky’s Taqueria & Cantina walk-up taco window offering jicama, orange and cucumber slaw with yellowfin tuna ceviche. Tin Roof Creamery for a final nod to summer, grab some ice cream from the Tin Roof Creamery.
If you didn’t stuff yourself to the gills in town, it’s not a bad idea to finish the day off with  some of PawPaw’s famous BBQ to go.  He’s just ten minutes out of town, PaPaw’s slow-smoked, dry-
rubbed pork melts like butter on your tongue.  Turn left out of PaPaw’s and drive just a couple minutes until you come to my husband and I’s favorite spot to view the sunset over Lake Nottely.  There’s a picnic table waiting for you. (Don’t worry, you can’t miss it.)  As the sun sinks into the emerald water of lake Nottely, soak in summer’s fading song, then head home with a trunk full of pumpkins ready to herald the arrival of Autumn. We may not have our traditional Sorghum Parade this year, but we’ve got a Scarecrow Pumpkin Parade that will go down as one of your best day trips yet. And if you just can’t bear the thought of leaving our mountain haven, book an overnight at Creekside Cottages, the newly renovated accomodations by the Farmer’s Market for a luxury-casual stay where you’ll fall asleep to the song of Butternut Creek.  When you discover Blairsville-Union County, you discover the secret sanctuary at the end of the highway where life has a way of quieting the chaos and reigniting everything right and beautiful.

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