Hiawassee is situated near the border of North Georgia on the southeastern side of Lake Chatuge. According to the U.S. Census in 2000, Hiawassee had a population of 808 and a total land area of 2.2 square miles. At 2,000 ft. above sea level, Hiawassee’s climate is temperate and the region surrounding Hiawassee is known as the Enchanted Valley. On the north side of the Enchanted Valley are the mammoth mountain ranges of the Nantahala National Forest. On the south and east sides are the peaks of the Chattahoochee National Forest and at the center of the valley is the 7,500 acre Lake Chatuge, one of North Georgia’s most popular tourist destinations.

A great way to have fun exploring Lake Chatuge is to enjoy a leisurely cruise on a pontoon boat. Pontoon boats can be rented at full service marinas on Lake Chatuge where fishing boats, waterskiing boats, jet skis, canoes, kayaks and peddle boats are also available. Lake Chatuge contains numerous peninsulas and coves that form beautiful locations for swimming, boating and other water sports. Hiawassee is also renowned for year round trout fishing in local streams and creeks. Fishing licenses are required.

Another reason why tourists come to Hiawassee is to visit the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds. For over 60 years, the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds has been hosting popular events such as the Georgia Mountain Roots & Music Festival, the Hiawassee Festival of Arts, the Superstar Concert Series, the Georgia Mountain Fall Festival, Georgia’s Official State Fiddler’s Convention, and the Georgia Mountain Fair. The Georgia Mountain Fair showcases North Georgia’s history and culture with local arts and crafts, farm produce and live music performances.

Real estate in Hiawassee

The estimated median home value in Hiawassee was $257,317 in 2007, having appreciated from $144,000 in 2000. The cost of living index in Hiawassee is 96.1 and the average population density is only 514 people per square mile. At the center of town in Hiawassee, most of the homes are much older than the homes around Lake Chatuge and few of them are available for sale because they are occupied by long term residents.

Homes near Hiawassee are situated in rural forested areas and are typically priced between $200,000 and $300,000. Custom built homes and newer, more upscale condominium and townhouse developments are located along the shores of Lake Chatuge. Rustic vacation cabins, mountain cottages and private homes in Hiawassee can be rented by the week or by the month through local real estate agents or directly from owners who advertise their properties in local newspapers and on the Internet.

Lodging, shopping, dining and entertainment

The Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds has 189 camping and RV sites with modern conveniences such as telephone and cable TV service. The Fairgrounds also has two children’s playgrounds, a boat ramp, two tennis courts and many shaded picnic tables. For those who desire more luxurious accommodations, the Ridges Resort & Club in Hiawassee has a main lodge featuring 66 rooms with private balconies overlooking Lake Chatuge, and the Ridges Resort Golf Villas for golf lovers who can also enjoy the resort’s championship golf course designed by Willard Byrd. The fully furnished golf villas range in size from 1 to 4 bedrooms and can easily accommodate relatively large families and groups.

The Boundary Waters Resort & Marina in Hiawassee offers deluxe lakeside suites and Mallard Point lakeside cottages with full kitchens and private deck views overlooking the surrounding national forest and the resort’s secluded cove on Lake Chatuge. Guests enjoy free docking privileges for their private boats and complimentary use of the resort’s canoes, kayaks and pedal boats. Try one of the deluxe ski boats or jet skis for some real excitement, exercise while paddling around in a canoe, kayak or one of their pedal boats, or just relax and have fun swimming in the lake.

The entire region around Hiawassee is an antique shopper’s dream because the mountainous area is so beautiful to drive through and there are many intriguing stores to visit. In North Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, serious antique shoppers can spend several days browsing through an increasing number of unique specialty shops and antique malls. Art stores throughout the area display the work of many well known painters, potters and sculptors along with a colorful array of Appalachian folk art.

Restaurants in Hiawassee include Daniel’s Steakhouse and Hawg Heaven BBQ, two family style restaurants specializing in grilled and barbecued meats. Three different fine dining experiences are offered at the Ridges Resort & Club. The Sequoyah room serves exquisite entrees complemented by an exceptional wine list and dessert menu. The Old Hiawassee Grille features local and traditional Georgia cuisine, and the Cherokee Grill has bountiful sandwiches, mouthwatering appetizers and fresh salads.

In downtown Hiawassee, free outdoor concerts occur every Saturday evening during the summer. Hiawassee is also renowned for its Enchanted Halloween event featuring the Midnight Coon Dog Howl, and the Towns County New Years Eve festivities with its Ugly Coon Dog contest. At the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, musical concerts are often presented at the 2,900-seat Anderson Music Hall. Families with children can enjoy the historic Pioneer Village where visitors can tour a one-room schoolhouse, a general store, a blacksmith shop, a repair shop and an authentic old Appalachian mountain home. The Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds also features the Fred Hamilton Rhododendron Garden. Established in 1982, the Fred Hamilton Rhododendron Garden contains more than 3,000 hybrid rhododendrons and it is one of the largest collections of rhododendrons in Georgia.