Your guide to everything to do in Ellijay this fall- from apple picking, where to find the best apple cider doughnuts, my favorite stores in town, and the best sunflower field- everything you need to know about visiting Ellijay, the apple capital of Georgia!
Planning Our Visit
As we near the end of September, there has been one thing on my mind-
apple cider doughnuts apple picking! I shared my Georgia Ultimate Fall 2020 Guide last week and writing it made me crave fall and a trip to Ellijay so much, haha!
Last weekend, Ryan and I went on our new fall tradition- an annual trip to Ellijay at the end of September to pick apples & see the sunflowers as Fausett Farm sunflowers. We went last year for Oktoberfest and absolutely loved the small town charm of Ellijay and knew we had to return every year. We actually stumbled upon the sunflower field on our way home to Atlanta- I spotted the field off the road and literally yelled at Ryan to turn the car around so we could go, haha!
This year, we decided to forgo Oktoberfest in Helen as we were just in Dahlonega a few weeks ago and wanted to squeeze the trip into just one day. We drove up Sunday morning at 11 AM and were back in Atlanta by 7 PM! It is a pretty far drive- Ellijay is about an hour and a half away from the city, but the drive is an easy one and gets very pretty once you get off the highway.
Apple Picking in Ellijay
We started our day with apple picking at B.J. Reece Orchards, which is located right next to Mack Aaron’s Apple House and across the street from Hillcrest Orchards, where we picked apples last year.
I chose B.J. Reece because I wanted to try a new place (Ellijay has so many- read my full list of places that are open in 2020 here !) and their prices were a good deal- the $15 admission included a half-peck of apples, which other places nearby don’t do. They also had a petting farm and games for children included. The petting farm was very popular, and a lot of children were having fun with that!
The orchards themselves were very large and spread out, which I liked a lot- it’s a real working farm, and we had our choice of apples among hundreds of trees. The views are also spectacular- Ellijay is nestled in the mountains, although B.J. Reece Orchards was very hilly, especially if you want to do the wagon ride across the street- it’s a climb. Overall, it’s a great pick price-wise, but I was disappointed by two things- their wagon ride looked more like a truck-converted-wagon (I was expecting a hayride), and I couldn’t find a warm apple cider doughnut in the crowded market- it was so crowded that we left.
Finding the Best Apple Cider Doughnuts in Ellijay
It turned out to be a great thing that we left before attempting the market, because we discovered Mack Aaron’s apple house next door. They don’t have apple cider donuts, but they do have eleven types of fried pies, fresh apple cider, and fun local gifts. It was a great spot to find- we got some cider and fried apple pies that were made fresh that morning. We ended up chatting with one of the workers there (in hindsight it might’ve been the owner), who let us in on an Ellijay secret- Hillcrest Orchards is the only orchard that has its own doughnut press, making it the only “true” place in Ellijay to get a warm, fresh apple cider doughnut.
We heard that news and of course we drove right over after, haha (luckily all three places are within a mile of each other)! Hillcrest Orchards has a market as well, but Ryan and I discovered last year that if you want a warm doughnut you have to go to the ice cream parlor, which is through the door on the left of the market (you don’t need to pay for admission to go in to the parlor or the market!). Most people don’t realize that it’s there, and stand in the long market line for doughnuts that are already packaged, rather than warm ones that were just made…silly them!
So, if you want the best, freshest, warm apple cider doughnut in Ellijay, the ice cream parlour at Hillcrest Orchards is your spot! There, you can get six warm apple cider doughnuts for just $3…they are so good that I’m not ashamed to say that Ryan and I each ate three..followed by their apple cider slushies… Yum! They also have apple fritters, apple pie, icecream, funnel cakes, and lunch items at the ice cream parlor.
After we had our sugar fix, Ry and I headed to downtown Ellijay to explore the town and grab a (very) late lunch. The town was adorable- so many cute shops and restaurants tucked away by the Ellijay river and mountains. I swear, every time I think to myself “okay, now this is the cutest little town in Georgia!”, we discover a new favorite! The square had a lot of antique and home decor stores- my favorite was Artful Ellijay. I could decorate my whole apartment with that store! They also have a great clothing boutique, Lavish Ellijay, where I bought a few dresses. I loved one so much that I wore it out of the store and to the sunflower fields, haha!
We ate lunch at Canterbury, which is a restaurant right on the town square. The food was reasonably priced and tasted like a homemade lunch (I had a BLT). The service was excellent- the servers were so friendly. Sometimes I just love going to restaurants out of the city because I think small-town restaurants just have that casual, warm atmosphere- the Canterbury was no exception!
Fausett Farm Sunflowers in Dawsonville
After lunch, we headed back home to Atlanta and Fausett Farm Sunflowers, which is a sunflower field on a family owned farm that has been in the same family since 1858. We stumbled upon it last year and I just knew I had to come back!
The field is in Dawsonville, which is right on the way out of town from Ellijay. If you have extra time, the fields are a five minute drive to Amicalola Falls, which is the largest waterfall in Georgia. You can read about my visit to Amicalola Falls here.
The cost is $5 admission per person (they do take cards), and $35 for professional photographers. They’re open 8am-7pm every day, and they have horse trails for $10 if you have a horse and want to ride through (if anyone has a horse I can borrow, email me…haha!)- here’s the link to their website and facebook page with more info.
The fields are just beautiful- we took some photos and then just walked through them to soak them in. The size is impossible to capture in photos- there are just so many. They really just take your breath away. If you’re really into taking photos, I think timing it on your way home is best, as the lighting is a little less harsh and we ended up at the field around 5 PM. Around that time, the very left part of the field becomes a bit shaded while the rest has a nice glow from behind the flowers, which gives you a lot of options for lighting. I’m no expert photographer though, haha!