Happy to be in Highlands,
Nestled amid the stunning beauty of some of the highest mountains in the east, Highlands' cool-breeze elevation of 4,000 feet and its proximity to Atlanta has made it a favorite destination for vacations and weekend escapes from the city.
These visitors come to enjoy hiking and golf surrounded by the splendor of the mountains, and to explore the fine shops and restaurants that line the attractive main streets of Highlands. With so many vacation homes in the area, it's no surprise that many of these shops specialize in high-end home decor and gifts. One of the liveliest and most fun of these is Dutchman Designs, whose two floors are packed with brilliantly colored furniture, ceramics, big bunches of dry flowers, and country-rustic objects d'home. If your tastes are more refined, you'll find a wealth of upscale decor at the ultra-elegant Shops at the Old Edward Inn. The Old Edward Inn is the award winning and very chic inn and spa that takes up almost a whole block facing Main Street.
There are so many shops along this three or four block stretch of Main Street that both casual browsers and dedicated shoppers will have no problem spending several hours enjoying them. When you're ready for a break, stop into the warm and inviting Bucks Coffee Cafe, an artisan coffee shop with a full menu of espresso drinks, pastries and lots of comfortable seating. Another quiet oasis along Main Street is the tiny but thriving Cyrano's Book Shop which specializes in books by local authors and good reading for mind, body and spirit.
If you are looking for shopping that is a little out of the ordinary, your best bet is the fun and often whimsical Tin Roof Studio, which lies about a mile out of town on Dillon Road. Also on Dillon Road, just out of town, is one of the region's most exciting new restaurants, the vibrant Cypress.
If you want to have dinner downtown, you have lots of good choices. One of our favorites is very comfortable and dependable Ristorante Paoletti, which, true to its name, serves up perfectly prepared pasta dishes as well as quality takes on classic Mediterranean steak and seafood dishes. Also on Main Street is Wolfgang's Restaurant, whose award-winning menu could best be described as Euro-American-Eclectic.
But Highlands has lots to offer beyond shopping. It's a great jumping off point for exploring the south west Blue Ridge Mountains. There are waterfalls aplenty and hiking opportunities abound. Just south of town the Highlands Nature Center is the starting point for a short 1.2 mile round trip hike along a gravel road leading to Sunset Rock, which offers a panoramic view of the town nestled in a seemingly endless tableau of rolling hills.
With its lofty elevation and a high annual rainfall, the region around Highlands has more biodiversity that almost any other area in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Nature Center is part of the Biological Station which is the centerpiece of a long-term ecological study of the area. The Nature Center offers a summer-long series of programs on the environment and the ecology of the mountains. The Center also has Botanical Gardens that are open to the public.
Not far from the Nature Center you'll find the Glen Falls trail. This 2.8 mile round trip hike leads to three large and lovely cascading waterfalls. A little farther south the Chattooga Loop Trail leads for 2 miles through the deep woods and along the Wild and Scenic Chattooga River, which flows ever more swiftly as it cascades into Georgia and South Carolina.
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