418 Amicalola Falls State Park Road
Dawsonville, GA 30534
What’s new: An arrangement between the lodge and a local outfitter will make it easier for meeting groups to plan outdoor adventures such as trout fishing, canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding or hiking.
Location: The lodge is about 90 miles north of Atlanta and 98 miles southeast of Chattanooga, Tenn., in the Blue Ridge Mountains, not far from the southern end of the Appalachian Trail. Recommended routes from Atlanta are Georgia State Highway 515 or Georgia State Highway 400.
Rooms: The lodge has 56 guest rooms, including three junior suites and one executive suite. There are also 14 one- to three-bedroom cottages. Len Foote Hike Inn, a five-mile hike from the lodge, is a rustic bunkhouse style accommodation, favored by outdoor groups and small retreats.
Meeting space: About 5,000 square feet of meeting space in five meeting areas. The largest, the 2,250-square-foot Oak Hall, accommodates as many as 240 for a reception. A terrace, adjacent to the meeting space and partially covered, is popular for outdoor meals and casual gatherings around fire pits.
Amenities: Amicalola’s most popular features are the ones nature put in place — from Amicalola Falls, which tumbles down the mountain upon which the lodge sits, to more than 12 miles of trails. Two rangers help organize team building on the park’s ropes course; they also plan guided hikes, campfires and nature programs. Stays at the lodge include a complimentary full buffet breakfast for two people per room. The dining room also serves a buffet lunch and dinner each day. Three public golf courses are nearby; the gold-mine town of Dahlonega is a short drive away.
Two takes on Southern tastes
Groups that tire of the buffet at Amicalola Falls State Park and Lodge can try two nearby dining experiences — one down-home, one upscale.
In Dahlonega, a former gold-mine town 30 minutes from the park, a gem of Southern dining sits one block off the town square. Smith House serves stout meals family style. Bonds are formed by passing platters of fried chicken and baked ham; bowls heaped with dumplings, beef stew, fried okra, creamed corn, collard greens and other sides and baskets full of homemade yeast rolls. Even better, banquets are a big part of business there, with four private dining areas suited for groups of 40 to 144.
Six miles west of town, a different Southern dining experience awaits at Montaluce Winery’s Le Vigne Ristorante. Like Amicalola Falls, the restaurant and winery sit on a mountaintop, so the views through large and abundant windows are all trees and mountains. A seat on the covered terrace overlooking the vineyard, a glass of Montaluce Risata in hand, is a treat.
Southern foods there are not what your grandma made, unless your grandma was Italian. Ravioli, tortellini, risotto and other staples of Italian dining make frequent appearances.
Collard greens grown in the winery’s organic garden show up with a smoked apple alongside a pork chop, cooked in a wood-fired oven; another popular green, Swiss chard, teams with local polenta and pearl onions to enhance an appetizer of beef short ribs.
Other local products are employed as often as possible. Georgia’s most famous fruit, the peach, is an essential ingredient in a peach and bacon salad dressing.
In addition to the open dining room, the restaurant has private dining in the wine cellar as well as cooking demonstrations in an open kitchen.