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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Big Canoe, Georgia...A Great Vacation Spot

Are you looking for a great mountain vacation spot?  My parents found one and included us in the great vacation: Big Canoe, Georgia.

Big Canoe is in the foothills of North Georgia Appalachians. Big Canoe is just one hour north of Atlanta. It is a gated community with over 8,000 acres. 1/3 of this land has been set aside for wildlife.  It is beautiful.

There is so much to do in Big Canoe.

Do you golf?  The Joe Lee designed 27-hole course at Big Canoe weaves through around Lake Sconti and through woods, meadows, covered bridges and amazing mountain-top scenery. One of the top rated courses in Georgia, the course is open year round to residents and guests of Big Canoe.

Is tennis your game?  Big Canoe has ten courts available for play. Eight are outdoor courts and two courts are indoor.

Do you enjoy hiking the great outdoors? Big Canoe has over 20 miles of hiking trails weaving throughout it's 8,000 acres. The Nature Valley trails (7 total miles but easily broken into smaller hikes) provide great family hiking past two beautiful waterfalls, Lake Disharoon, and an old log cabin left from long before the area became known as Big Canoe. Alongside the length of the Nature Valley trails runs the Jeep Trail, a dirt road open to 4-wheel drives and a very popular attraction at Big Canoe.The Nancy Womack trail is an extension of the Nature Valley trail and is slightly more difficult with moderate climbing involved. The Indian Rock Park trail (.8 miles) weaves through ancient mounds of rocks left some 4,000 to 6,000 years ago by early Indians living in the area. It is not known exactly what purpose the "big piles of rocks" served but guesses have included wedding ceremonies, initiations and burial rituals. This trail turns into the Lake Petit trail and runs down to the edge of Lake Petit, Big Canoe's largest lake. The Wildcat (2.8 miles) and McDaniel Meadows (2.5 miles)trails are both easy walks through wildflowers and beautiful wooded scenery. The Wildcat trail is paved and is very popular among the "daily exercise and dog-walking" crowds. There are trails appropriate for all hikers.

Are you a fisherperson? Lake Petit, the largest of the three lakes, is regularly stocked with trout and is a very popular fishing spot.

Do you like casual boating? You can rent either a canoe, jonboat or pontoon boat. On our Big Canoe visit, we rented a pontoon boat. We even saw a deer swimming in the lake.

If you look very closely, you can see the deer swimming through the water.

GraciAnn at the wheel.

It's Mariella's turn to drive now.

If your family is like ours, you love to swim! The Big Canoe Swim Club offers both lake swimming on the sandy beach of Lake Disharoon as well as in both an outdoor free-form pool overlooking the lake and in an Olympic sized indoor pool next door in the fitness center. Lake swimming comes complete with beach volleyball, paddle boats,picnic tables, a snack bar and the always popular rock slide, which runs 153 feet before dumping into the lake. There's also another pool on the other side of Big Canoe. It's a large pool with a kiddie play pool next to it.

Do you want to keep your exercise schedule while on vacation? The 16,000 sq. ft. fitness center is located in the heart of Big Canoe, directly adjacent to Lake Disharoon and just across the street from Wolfscratch Village. In addition to the center's Olympic swimming pool, it provides a complete work-out facility as well as aerobics rooms, indoor tennis and racquetball courts, private massage rooms and locker room facilities. Aerobics, Pilates, Yoga, Water Aerobics and Tai Chi are among the weekly classes offered by certifiied instructors. The center also offers a complete day spa with a wide range of services from massage to facials to waxing.

Do you need good old playgrounds for your kids?  Big Canoe offers two.  One is large and shaded.  There are plenty of benches for parents to relax, while kids play.  The other is a small play area, near the kiddie pool.  It has great swings!

Have you ever heard of bocce ball?  There is a court at Big Canoe!

Do you want a huge grassy area to play soccer, baseball, kickball, or just to run around?  Big Canoe has a wonderful playfield for doing just that!

There is so much to do in the community; but, there's plenty to do beyond the gates as well!

Amicalola Falls State Park-Beautiful state park just 15 minutes from the gates of Big Canoe offers numerous hiking trails of varying lengths and a mountaintop lodge and restaurant. Amicalola is the tallest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River and one of Georgia's most popular state parks.

Horseback Riding - Within a few minutes drive of Big Canoe are two options; The Bent Tree Riding Stables and the Swan Center Monestary both provide horseback riding instruction and trail rides.

Burt's Pumpkin Farm is a very popular destination in the autumn and only minutes from the gates of Big Canoe. The farm is a sea of orange from late September on into November and offers hay rides and field trips throughout the fall season. With pumpkins of all sizes as well as Indian corn and a wide assortment of gourds, Burt's Farm is a must-visit when visiting Big Canoe in October.

Dahlonega is the site of the very first gold rush in America, the quaint town of Dahlonega is just 25 minutes drive from Big Canoe through the beautiful mountains of North Georgia. With a great variety of gift and antique shops in it's well preserved downtown, Dahlonega is a great destination for the whole family. Visit the Gold Museum, do some shopping, visit a winery, or take in one of the town's many festivals throughout the year.

Lake Lanier Islands is just 30 minutes from Big Canoe is Georgia's largest man-made lake and one of it's most visited destinations. With many options for boating, swimming, fishing, skiing and sailing, Lake Lanier has something for everyone.

North Georgia Premium Outlets is located in Dawsonville and just 25 minutes from Big Canoe is the ultimate outlet shopping experien -ce. Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn, Polo Ralph Lauren, Banana Republic, Liz Claiborne, Off Saks, Bose Factory Outlet, Harry and David, Kenneth Cole, and Westpoint Stevens are just a few of the stores offered.

White Water Rafting If the calm waters of Big Canoe leave you wanting a little more adventure, travel north along Highway 515 through the gorgeous North Georgia mountains into Tennessee to raft the Ocoee River. An easy drive from Big Canoe, it's a family experience you won't soon forget.

Cleveland, Georgia is the home of the Cabbage Patch Kids. Cleveland is located about 50 miles from Big Canoe.  Babyland General is the "hospital" where Cabbage Patch Kids are born, restored, put on display, adopted, and accessorized.  It's a really fun trip for young and old alike!

Helen, Georgia is about 60 miles from Big Canoe. Helen, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains on the Chattahoochee River, is a re-creation of an alpine village complete with cobblestone alleys and old-world towers. Helen boasts a wide array of attractions. The area has more than 200 specialty and import shops offer everything from candle making to cuckoo clocks. Restaurant options range from a German meal of schnitzel, sauerbraten, rouladen or wurst with an imported beer or wine to a traditional southern country meal of grits, country ham, home made biscuits and gravy. Outdoor lovers can enjoy river tubing, horseback riding, golf, canoeing, fishing, mountain biking, hiking and more. Helen hosts the longest Oktoberfest in the South. Visitors can hike the many trails to waterfalls in the area, or sit beside a cozy fire and enjoy the winter weather in the mountains. (This information is from Helen's website).
Gainesville, GA is about 45 miles from Big Canoe.  They have a wonderful Children's play center called INK: Interactive Neighborhood for Kids.  It's children's museum where children can role play and learn in a hands on environment.

As I said before, Big Canoe is about an hour drive from Atlanta.  Atlanta boasts a great zoo, aquarium, The World of Coke, and many other great activities.

Big Canoe is a great place to set up camp for many day trips as well as great adventures in the community!

This is the Star Gazer Lodge in Big Canoe, GA.  We stayed here for a couple of weeks this past May and June. It was a lovely home to stay in and there's so much to do in the area!

Here's another view of the outside of the house. There are wonderful mountain views from all areas of the house.  It's also pretty secluded.  There are neighbors, but none are very close and the trees make it hard to see them and for them to see you.

There are 3 King sized beds in 3 separate suites.  The two upstairs rooms have their own bathroom but share a tub/shower combination. Anyway, it makes for a great floor plan for a multi family vacation!

There are two living areas.  One on the main floor.

The other living room is upstairs.

Another bonus is an unfinished basement set up as a game room. It's complete with a pool table, a ping pong table, and a fooseball table. We brought our girls' bikes and they biked the basement!

There's also a hot tub on the front, very private porch!

The house was very nice as is the Big Canoe Resort. I contacted the owner of the home: Mark and asked if there was anything special he could offer our blog followers.  Mark has a great offer!  $100 off a two night stay, $200 off a three night stay, or $300 off a 4 night stay in any of his cabins.  He has three!  We stayed in the Stargazer Lodge. Visit his website to see all three. http://www.canoeclassic.com/ Mark said to mention our blog for the discount. 

We sure hope that some of you take him up on this wonderful offer and let us know about your experience! Please let me know if you have any questions or need any suggestions.  I'm full of them!

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