Historic hotel flanked with art galleries on town square. Photo by GW Tibbetts

Historic hotel flanked with art galleries on town square. Photo by GW Tibbetts

Such a silly notion – a small-city town square feeling like a resort. I surprised myself drawing such a conclusion on that street in a town named Dahlonega, north of Atlanta, Georga, on a three-night vacation.

Here’s who should read further:

Big city dwellers who can’t fathom little town life offering anything intriguing.

  • Rural residents whose jokes about driving round and round the square resonate with authentic voices, often disdainful.

Eyes open – new discoveries

All in the same glance, I found luxurious rooms for sleeping, steeped with history, more chef-driven cuisine than I could try, art galleries and many of the artists creating or chatting, live music and a two-story museum with state park rangers knowing all about gold.

Gotta lay your head somewhere, preferably charming, so start with the Hall House on the square. Climbing stairs for second or third floor accommodations in this 1881 building is the only way up.

Third floor Hall House bedroom overlooks town square. Photo by GW Tibbetts

Third floor Hall House bedroom overlooks town square. Photo by GW Tibbetts

That narrow doorway to the historic stairs anchors the array of activities as much as the Gold Museum anchors all four streets of this public square.

Public square outlines adventures

The second floor also features the Bourbon Street Grille, Cajun-inspired cuisine in the Appalachian Mountains. Really. Quite an intersection for your taste buds. Cozy dark paneled dining room with a full bar, plus a long and narrow balcony overlooking the Gold Museum and scores of treetops.

Should lunch be your arrival event, you might not notice the art galleries bookending the doorway which heads up to those stairs with well worn treads. I didn’t.

What a treat that the New Orleans-style paintings in the restaurant only launch the seeing of art forms below.

Bleu is the name of the gallery on the right, my first indication that people who choose to live in Dahlonega are multi-talented, left and right brained. I find that translates to interesting experiences for visitors.

Art and wine on the square

Mike Miller is likely to be in Bleu, probably painting. He’s the proprietor of the Hall House too, and a believer in the intersection of art, wines and good times. That’s why wine tastings happen all the time in Bleu Gallery.

Awakening Fine Art on the left thrives on creative energy and artist/owner Lindsey Grantham Jones says “The music scene here triggers the visual arts and together they awaken creative energies all over town.”

She features 25 artists, in her words “genuinely local.” By that she means they live no more than 30 minutes from the square. Three maintain studios so watching creativity up close and personal is always possible.

I certainly appreciate artistic results even more when I’ve seen the tools of the trade, and the talent in motion.

Through this door and up, or turn left and right, defines intriguing experiences. Photo by GW Tibbetts

Through this door and up, or turn left and right, for intriguing experiences. Photo by GW Tibbetts

Live music happens in the Grille and on its balcony, on the deck behind Awakening, inside Bleu Gallery. Walk about 50 steps to Crimson Moon Café for an extensive calendar live acoustic music every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Thursdays means Writers in the Round because this is a literature kind of town too.

Musicians from national scene

The Crimson Moon building is on the National Register of Historic Places; the musicians are a recognized part of the New York, New Orleans, Nashville entertainment circuit.

Expect bluegrass, Celtic, contemporary folk, blues, pop, folk-rock, country, rockabilly and acoustic-alternative. Expect to eat too because this is a restaurant.

Potter Brad Walker creates colorful bowls and clay vessels in his studio between Hall House and its galleries and Crimson Moon Café. He’s shaping art most every day that I can use most every day.

Should you turn left instead of right facing this door that anchors the block, you’d salivate.

Chocolate is the reason. Paul Thomas has been making chocolate for 39 of his 73 years – 80 kinds. You’ll find him here in the mornings, and his wife Lori too. Fun to talk to, but best of all is breathing deeply.

Toys from Giggle Monkey filled my backseat for three compelling reasons: good advice from a knowledgeable proprietor and new and different toys that will be fun to give to grandchildren. Plus, feels good to meet the owner. Personal shopping everywhere in Dahlonega.

Wine Spectator accolades

Dinner at the Back Porch Oyster Bar required crossing the street, but so did Crimson Moon Café.

Ahi tuna a spectacular dinner at Back Porch Oyster Bar. Photo by GW Tibbetts

Ahi tuna a spectacular dinner at Back Porch Oyster Bar. Photo by GW Tibbetts

Wine Spectator says the selections are excellent and I say the North Carolina-inspired dishes, including fresh oysters, are superb. Friendly place where the blended family members delight in chatting, cooking and creating a relaxed ambience.

Circling the square opens many other delightful doors too; walking two blocks presents the Smith House, 18 rooms, multiple parlors, a Historic Hotel of America boutique property.

Read more here about Dahlonega, Georgia and later in another story.