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Head to the High Ground: Highlands, NC

It’s time to head up to Highlands, a place that’s not too far to drive, yet still a world away.

Located just on the other side of the Georgia-North Carolina state line, Highlands, NC, offers everything you need to relax and recharge: golf, fishing, hiking, mountaintop vistas and beautiful waterfalls as well as antiquing, theaters and excellent restaurants.

Founded in 1875 by Clinton Hutchinson and Samuel Kelsey, it is said that the two men literally drew two intersecting straight lines on a large map – one connecting Chicago to Savannah and the other connecting New York to New Orleans – and determined that the area where the lines crossed would become a huge crossroads for business.  They envisioned trade routes through Highlands that would make it one of the most prosperous trading centers of the era.

It didn’t go exactly as planned, but fate would smile on Highlands none the less. 

Some 50 years later, the area did catch the eye of golfing legend Bobby Jones – founder of the in Johns Creek, home to one of the foremost golf courses in the world and site of the 2011 PGA Golf Championship. Jones got together with a few golfing buddies and founded The Highlands Country Club – no doubt to escape the oppressive Georgia heat at the height of summer.

The terrain of the area is around 4,000 feet above sea level, making it a cool haven against the hot Atlanta summers.  It wasn’t long before word got around and Highlands began to catch on.

Today the town, with its official residential count of about a thousand or so, swells to around 15,000 each year between the spring and fall – and the town happily serves the swell of tourists each year. 

The Old Edwards Inn and Spa is a favorite place to stay among Highlands visitors. This European style resort is in the very heart of Highlands, providing old world charm within walking distance of great antiquing, theatre and fine dining – including The Gamekeeper’s Tavern.

Chef Jonathan Reid’s elegant menu featuring a rustic, mountain flair is guaranteed to please the most discriminating palate.  It’s the best way to end a day in Highlands.

It’ll take about two-and-a-half to three hours to get to Highlands from Johns Creek, but it’s a pretty easy trip.

Just get over to I-85 North, veering onto I-985 North after about four miles.  Follow I-985 North until it becomes US-23 and continue north through Clayton and then Dillard. About a mile or so after you’ve driven through Dillard, you'll see GA-246/Larry McClurrie Highway going off to the east. Take that road for about 15 miles into Highlands.

Keep one thing in mind: During the 15 mile drive on GA-246/Larry McClurrie Highway, do not be confused because the road changes highway and state numbers.  It is following the terrain but is crossing back and forth between Georgia and North Carolina, so, you’re going to see it change from GA-246/Larry McClurrie Highway to NC-106/Dillard Road and back again several times.  You’re on the right road – just be patience and persistent, the payoff is worth it.

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