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Trying to find a place to stay in the North GA Mountains?

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I'm trying to plan next summers vacation and I'm looking at North GA Mountains. I was initially looking to take a trip to the Western NC mountains and stay in Highlands, NC, where I could take day trips down to GA as well as sights in NC. So, in NC I've been to Asheville and saw the Biltmore, toured much of Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and been/stayed in the Boone/Blowing Rock area and toured that area of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Saw Grandfather Mountain and Mount Mitchell. On the first trip, when I went to the Smokies and saw the Biltmore, I stayed in Gatlinburg on the TN side of the mountains. Although, I drove over to Cherokee and also went to Asheville, I've seen mostly the TN side of the Smokies. I have not also toured the Blue Ridge Parkway south of Asheville. Have not seen Chimney Rock around Asheville either. So, I'm debating for this next trip whether to stay around Asheville, stay in Highlands, or stay somewhere in North Georgia? I'm leaning towards North Georgia because I've never been to the mountains there. Asheville would be nice and I could revisit the Smokies on the NC side, goto Chimney Rock, and drive the Blue Ridge Parkway south. Highlands I really like the sound of, being high elevation and surrounded by scenery, but it sounds kind of fancy and expensive as far as restaurants. But, would provide a good base for exploring, even going down into Georgia. But, still since I've been to NC twice, I would kind of like to stay in GA. But, I don't know where to start. There's a lot of places to choose from. There's no one main base town for the area. But, I guess it could be Helen or Dahlonega. Helen seems very neat. An ideal town for us would be small to medium size, with a good selection of shops and restaurants, and that you could walk around. Highlands seems ideal, but it seems most everything is super upscale. We still like good restaurants but not 30+ dollar meals. We have a week. I know I could split it up between 2 destinations or something. But, I would like to rent a cabin, which usually rent by the week. So, I just want to rent a cabin for a week in one place and just take day trips to places that are under 80-100 miles away. But, in North GA is there as much to do and see as Western Carolina? And is the scenery as spectacular? We re mostly into car touring/scenic drives, short hikes, attractions, and historic sites.

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