There's more to this Georgia mountain community than the solar eclipse

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There's more to this Georgia mountain community than the solar eclipse

If you're one of the many people who are flocking to Rabun County to see the solar eclipse, you'll want to make the most of your trip to the northeastern corner of Georgia.

The area – which includes the towns of Dillard, Clayton and Mountain City – includes amazing natural beauty and plenty of genuine small-town charm. It's become one of the most sought after areas to watch the solar eclipse, because the area is one of only a handful of Georgia locations that are in the eclipse's path of totality. According to eclipse2017.org, onlookers will be able to witness 2 minutes and 35 seconds of the eclipse in Clayton and 2 minutes and 38 seconds in Dillard.

This visitors guide to Rabun County will help you have the optimum experience before and after watching this singular celestial event.

Horseback riding through the Little Tennessee River in Dillard offers breathtaking mountain views. The Dillard House/For the AJC

Dillard

Dillard was settled in 1794 and experienced boom times when the railroad came through the town. After World War II, the Dillard House, a local boarding house and restaurant, opened and became a popular destination for well-off Atlantans, including Robert Woodruff, who was then the president of Coca-Cola.

Where to eat

Dillard House Restaurant, 768 Franklin St., Dillard. 706-746-5348.

The Dillard House has served up homemade Southern dishes since 1917. It's been recognized by the readers of Southern Living Magazine for being a favorite Southern restaurant as well as for having the best breakfast/brunch.

Cupboard Café, 7388 Highway 441 N., Dillard. 706-746-5700.

The Cupboard Café is known for its fresh food, including salad bar greens harvested nearby and fresh meat processed daily. Favorite dishes include the chicken and dumplings, down-home sides like macaroni and cheese and pintos, as well as fresh desserts like coconut cake.

What to do

Horseback riding - Saddle up at Dillard House Stables, where rides range from a 30-minute pasture ride to a 1.5-hour trip that takes you and your horse along – and in! - – the Little Tennessee River. The backdrop of breathtaking mountain views makes each ride even more special.

Fishing and gem mining – Located on 325 acres at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains, Andy's Trout Farm lets you bring your own pole and bait or rent cane poles and buy bait there. You can also mine for gems or simply enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Cabins and other accommodations are also offered if you'd like to spend the night.

Little-known fact: Although Dillard attracts plenty of visitors, its population is quite small – only around 335 people.

Clayton

Known for its picturesque scenery, old-fashioned Main Street and proximity to Lake Burton, Clayton is located only an hour and a half from Atlanta.

What to do

Along with more standard fare, the Chattooga River Festival will feature such "Deliverance"-oriented activities as a guided hike down Talullah Gorge to several iconic filming sites. HANDOUT

Explore downtown

Clayton has a charming downtown area where you can stop at the soda fountain at the Clayton Pharmacy, explore contemporary folk art at Main Street Gallery or browse in a shop or two.

Go whitewater rafting

Rafting the Chattooga River has been deemed "the #1 Thing Every Southerner Ought to Do" by Southern Living. Although you might be familiar with its "wild and scenic" reputation, there's also a section that's "mild and scenic," so it's appropriate for families with kids age 8 and up.

Where to eat

Fortify kitchen & bar69 N. Main St., Clayton. 706-782-0050.

Sophisticated dishes served with farm-to-table ingredients make Fortify kitchen & bar a standout. The restaurant also has an extensive list of specialty cocktails as well as plenty of wine, beer and cordial selections.

The Wicked Pig, 151 Main St., Clayton. 706-782-4300.

The Wicked Pig's slogan is "Serious. Southern. BBQ," which gives a pretty good idea of what you'll find at the restaurant. Choose from smoked brisket, spare ribs and pulled pork or chicken as well as any of seven house-made regional sauces.

Little known fact: Clayton was home to author and civil rights activist Lillian Smith, who was one of the first prominent white Southerners to openly speak out and work against racial segregation.

Mountain City

Located on the Continental Divide at the head of the Little Tennessee River, Mountain City is known as the "recreational jewel of the area." 

What to see

Black Rock Mountain is Georgia's highest state park at 3,640 feet. gastateparks.org/For the AJC

Black Rock Mountain State Park, 3085 Black Rock Mountain Parkway, Mountain City. 800-864-7275.

As Georgia's highest state park, Black Rock Mountain reaches altitudes of 3,640 feet with amazing views of Appalachian forests below. It has four trails that pass small waterfalls and lush forests, and you can also fish in the park's lake. Accommodations include camping and cottages if you'd like to stay overnight.

Foxfire Museum and Heritage Center, 98 Foxfire Lane, Mountain City. 706-746-5828.

Through period items and displays, the museum shows slices of life from 1800s Appalachia. You can get an up-close look at cabins, artifacts, artwork and crafts from this period and also see a wagon from the Trail of Tears.

Where to eat

Generally, restaurants are located in nearby Clayton and Dillard, which are just a few minutes away from Mountain City.

Little known fact - If you're looking to escape the heat, Mountain City is one of the coolest places in Georgia due to its high elevation.

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