I won’t pretend to be the ultimate guide to anywhere, especially not Clayton (go check out Wander North Georgia for that). But I do love day trips, visiting local shops, and finding the best places to eat.
I grew up going to Clayton and camping along the Tallulah River, getting milkshakes at the Clayton Pharmacy and staring out the window in awe as we passed the lake houses surrounding Lake Rabun.
We’ve been a handful of times since we moved to Athens and it’s been so fun to think back on those memories. There is so much to do in Rabun County, so it makes for the perfect little day trip at only an hour and half drive from Athens.
Traveling with an 8-9-month-old is a new challenge but we usually try to plan car rides around nap time. We usually head to Clayton a little after lunch. Shep will play some in the car and then fall asleep for the rest of the drive. Our first stop on our last trip was Minihaha Falls in Lakemont.
The drive to Minihaha is beautiful no matter how you get there. You basically end up driving around Lake Rabun, getting little peeks of the lake through the trees around every curve in the road. The final road to Minihaha is dirt, but manageable for most cars. I have an SUV so dirt roads don’t bother us too much. There isn’t much parking available at the trailhead and we couldn’t find a space on the day we went, so we took our chances and parked along the side of the road. The road isn’t very wide, so if you do that, make sure you aren’t blocking others from getting by. There are houses pretty close to the trailhead so double check you aren’t blocking a driveway or parking spot before you start hiking.
The hike to Minihaha is easy, but does have exposed roots and inclines. It’s less than half a mile and can be slippery when it rains. The falls is busiest on the weekends, but even with 5-6 families at the falls there is plenty of room to spread out.
When Walker and I would go pre-baby we always climbed to the top of the falls. There are side trails on either side leading up to the top – but know your limits. It is steep and very easy to slip – but fun if you are up for the challenge!
Now when we go, we spend most of our time letting Shep splash around in the pools at the bottom of the falls. The water is so cold, but he loves it. I can’t wait until he is older and can explore a little more!
Things to Pack for Minihaha:
- Change of clothes
- *We left everything but our Chacos and phone/camera in the car. It’s a short hike, even if you’re soaking wet and for us, it’s a lot easier to dry off and change in the car.
On your way back to Clayton you will pass Timpson Cove overlook which is worth stopping at. You get a great view of Lake Burton with the mountains in the background – oh to wake up to that every morning!
After enjoying Minihaha and the mountain views, we usually make it to Clayton around 5:30 or 6:00. We can’t visit Clayton without stopping by Wander North Georgia’s brick and mortar shop downtown. Things look a little different now in the midst of the pandemic but we are thankful to be able to support small businesses and do our part in social distancing.
Wander North Georgia is full of cool apparel and gifts. If I had all the money in the world I would probably own one of everything they sell. On my ongoing Sidney Gift Guide Pinterest Board, you will find the original logo long sleeve shirt, the Good Views, Good Times sticker, and this Terrazzo Mug. I could spend all day reading the staff reviewed books or thumbing through their art prints – it’s by far one of my favorite places to visit in Clayton.
• Super soft Wander North Georgia tee
• New notebook + It All Turns In Affection by Wendell Berry
After checking out downtown we HIGHLY recommend going to Fortify Pi on Main Street. They have a great setup with the pandemic that has worked well for us. We ordered pizza to go and had a beer while we waited at their outside bar. We’ve learned that with an 8-9-month-old + global pandemic means we probably won’t be eating inside anywhere for a while – and we are 100% okay with that.
What to order at Fortify Pi
• Grumpy Granny Hard Cider from Mercier Orchards
• Supreme Pizza
Shep enjoyed crawling around, trying to sneak past us to get to the complementary dog water bowl and playing with the coasters. He’s been so great to travel with and we are pumped we get to add another adventure buddy to our pack!
Pro Tip: Pack formula in the diaper bag and ask the waitress for a glass of hot water. A full baby is a happy baby – at least in Shep’s case.
Once you get your pizza head down the street to the park in front of The Rock House to enjoy your socially distanced dinner in Clayton. There is a picnic table you could snag, but we enjoyed sitting on the picnic blanket and relaxing after our hike. The lawn is beautiful and has plenty of shade in the afternoon.
Things to Pack for Downtown Clayton:
- Picnic Blanket (I snagged this one at Target and it has been perfect this summer)
- Toddler UGA hat (okay, maybe not a must-have but how cute, right?!)
- Formula/Nursing Cover
- Lots of toys
- **Shep gets into everything now, so our game plan to enjoy our pizza was to distract him with as many toys as possible. I will say that plan was a success this go around.
Yall, the pizza was amazing. We ordered a large and had some to take home, even after hiking and playing in the water all day. The crust is thin and the olives are the perfect touch to the Supreme.
We can’t wait until we feel comfortable in restaurants to try out Fortify Kitchen + Bar, which is a contemporary farm to table restaurant right next door and run by the same owners.
To end, grab a to-go dessert from The Market in Downtown Clayton. We opted for lemon meringue pie and a chocolate cupcake and I really couldn’t decide which one I liked best.
It should be around 8:30 at this point which is the perfect time to put a very sleepy baby in the car and head home. 10/10 recommend spending the day, the weekend, a whole week in Clayton. There is plenty to do and see and this day trip barely scratches the surface.
Have you been to Clayton? Let me know your favorite places in the comments.