An Easy Georgia Getaway at Big Canoe

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Big Canoe is a great place to getaway on a long weekend for Atlantans. It is an escape in the mountains by the lake and offers lots of water activities, golfing, and hiking. The best part is that it’s all at just an hour drive away in Jasper. It’s a community where many own vacation homes and rent them out for lucky folks like me. It’s a big of each: a place to retire, a vacation resort, and a subdivision for those who love the outdoors and want to get away from it all. It’s very dog-friendly and offers reasonable rates. In fact, I met a lovely woman with her Golden who had sold her home and was renting month to month. She was still in search of a new home inside the Perimeter, a coveted area for commuters. She said she was only paying $1500 a month so it worked out perfectly for her family’s meantime.

We have been going for a few years now for either Memorial Day weekend in late May, Labor Day weekend in early September and sometimes both. I hope it is a place our kids will remember as a favorite vacation spot. We initially rented from VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) online, but now we keep renting the same cabin from its owner.

We always stop at IGA, the local grocery store, which is not a mini-mart. It’s a nice grocery store with everything you’d find at the big chains at good prices. There were three families, all of us with youngins. We shared a three-level, cabin-like place with all the comforts and amenities of home. We arrived on a Friday night with, between us all, four dogs and five kids. We grilled burgers and played board games.

Saturday morning I awoke early for a jog with my Lab and took in the woodsy scenery, listened to the birds, and viewed the bridges and lakes by the golf course. On this pretty, quiet morning near the golf course, I understood that golfers don’t just golf for the sport. This course is in a lush, beautiful setting during the morning calm. A group of chuckling guys made being in good company, swinging a golf club and getting to ride around in a golf cart look pretty darn fun. Getting out for a jog and taking in the surroundings is one of my favorite things to do on vacations.

When I got back, we went to Big Canoe’s Village Festival, just outside the gates of the community in Jasper. It’s like a farmer’s market with not only fruits and veggies, but also fresh fish and meats, and all kind local artists selling their jewelry, books, artwork and crafts. We bought steak, a bake-at-home homemade pizza, and there was lots of yummy spreads of artichoke and such that we sampled. You have to come early for fresh fish as they had sold out by the time we arrived. I bought this really cool coat rack made of horseshoes welded together with hooks added from a couple of brothers that also had a barbeque place. The coat rack will be great to have my kids hang their coats and backpacks. I loved the colorful hats, jewelry, and beaded sandals that a woman named Maureen Starr from Kenya sold from her Safari Arts and Crafts. The wreaths a young woman named Amber Miller sold made of small pieces of upholstery with an initial hanging in the center were very attractive and on-trend, too. This is a very green community and the artists all are very charitable and pride themselves in giving a portion of their proceeds to their particular cause.

Then after lunch we went to the swim club which is next to the beach of Lake Disharoon. You pay a fee per person to get in for the day with a wristband. Then you have full access to all the paddleboats, canoes, beach volleyball and awesome rockslide just a short walk off the side of the lake by way of a sandy, shady trail. The rockslide really is something to behold and experience. You slide down two tiers of incline on natural rock made extra smooth by man, then drop from each tier into natural pools. The kids played with their shovels and buckets by the shore of the lake. My oldest son and I enjoyed a running jump off the pier swimming to the inflated obstacle course with slides, a climbing wall, and a spot to bounce on and off into the water. There was a DJ playing, casual dining as you can stand in line to order a frosty piña colada and lunch to enjoy at picnic tables overlooking the pool and lake. The kids went pedal-boating and swam in the pool. This is the most fun part of the community.

I went for another morning jog Saturday with my Lab and brought my iPhone to take some pictures because the day prior I found it so picturesque. I didn’t go far just from our rental back to the swim club, but there are lots of great trails and parks to explore: Meditation Park, Nature Valley Park, Playfield Park, Indian Rocks Park, Waterford, Choctaw, Wildcat Park, and McDaniel Meadows. All are no more than two mile trails. When I got back we went to Wildcat Pool, not as big and fabulous as the swim club on Lake Disharoon, but still nice for kids. It offers a few things that the pool at the swim club did not. It has a big, shallow kiddie pool with water spouts for our little ones to enjoy. It wasn’t as crowded as the swim club and also has lanes for laps for the more serious swimmers. We had a great time there, too. There is a fee to get into the pool, same price as the swim club. We discovered paying for swim club for the day also gets you into Wildcat Pool for the day and vice-versa. So, we could have hit both the same day.

The rest of the Sunday we played some board games, cooked and ate well, but that was about it. Monday we said goodbye to friends and headed home. We missed some of the activities we have done in the past. We usually rent a pontoon both at the marina on Lake Petit and cruise the lake. We jump in with the kids in our life vests and float and play around off the boat. You have to call the marina in advance to reserve a pontoon boat as it books up quickly. You can also rent fishing supplies. One year we rented poles for all the kids and had them lined by the lake fishing. It was awesome seeing them, five kids under five years old, sitting on a log by the lake with their poles in the water hoping for a bite.

Last year we had a rainy day so the wives went shopping at the North Georgia Premium Outlets about a 30 minute drive away in Dawsonville. The husbands stayed in the rental and for games of pool while the kids watched movies and played. They have an impressive list of factory outlet stores there like Coach, Gymboree, Stride Rite, Under Armour, Pottery Barn, J. Crew and Nike to name a few.

There is also a big grassy field with a shady fenced in playground for the kids in the community. We go there with a soccer ball and play around then sit on the benches in the playground area and let the kids play. They often have events there. There is another smaller, sunny playground right by the entrance of Wildcat Pool as well.

We have never toured the nearby Gibbs Gardens, which boasts acres and acres of beautifully landscaped gardens. My husband’s friend raved about how breathtaking it is in the spring. We also haven’t yet dined out at Big Canoe other than very casual dining at the swim club. We usually take turns cooking for each other, mostly using the grill. Within the community there is the Clubhouse and The Tavern at Wolfscratch Village. There is a pizza place called Forno right next to the IGA grocery store outside the gates, too.

It’s nice to have a go-to vacation spot for those long weekends that we can get to easily. It was a fun, relaxing weekend and we’ll likely to do it again come Labor Day. The kids just got out of school and what a great first weekend away for them and all of us.