Dahlonega, Georgia

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Dahlonega is a small rural town that draws plenty of tourists.  It provides a good stop for lunch, or to browse the shops that surround the courthouse at the center of town.

Dahlonega is located about an hour’s drive north of Atlanta, on US 19.  Amicalola Falls State Park is nearby, on Georgia Rte. 52.

During my visit to Dahlonega, traffic was crawling through town, and finding a parking spot was no easy task.  Of course, it was a weekend day in the middle of summer, so I’m sure the congestion would ease up during the week.

The US Forest Service (Chattahoochee National Forest) operates a visitor information center on Park Street, downtown.  It’s a great place to pick up a free map and a few brochures on area attractions.

At the very center of town you’ll find the old Lumpkin County Courthouse, which serves as home for the Dahlonega Gold Museum.  On display are chunks of gold and some of the coins minted at the Dahlonega Mint in the decades before the Civil War.

Admission to the Dahlonega Gold Museum is $4 for adults.  You can check out its website for more information, here.

By at least one account, the phrase “There’s gold in them there hills” first emanated from the steps of the courthouse at Dahlonega, as officials at the Dahlonega Mint tried to urge prospectors to stay in the area (instead of heading to California in and around 1849).

I had hoped that, by wandering away from the crowded center of town, I’d find something less touristy and more authentic.  I didn’t.  The only area of interest was a park, a few blocks from the center of town.  Its main feature is this Christmas tree shaped iron sculpture, featuring silhouettes depicting animals and mountain life.

Note: This trip was first published in 2006.

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