The moonshine mile

The moonshine mile

A trip to Dawsonville will rev your engine

August 4th, 2012 by Joan Garrett McClane in Glimpse 2012

The Georgia Racing Hall of Fame in Dawsonville, Ga. features displays of racing history.

The Georgia Racing Hall of Fame in Dawsonville,...

Photo by Angela Lewis /Times Free Press.

Dawsonville, Ga., traces its roots to moonshine and fast cars.

In fact, many of the skills used by today's NASCAR racers were first learned by drivers speeding illicit booze between North Georgia's deep-woods stills. But there is more to do in this once law-breaking town.

Natural beauty abounds and some rare animals call the area home.

Learn the back roads

• Visit the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame Museum to learn the history of racing in the area and check out some Georgia racing legends. The museum is recognized by the Georgia Legislature.

• The Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. The building is located at 415 Highway 53 in Dawsonville.

• Gordon Pirkle, local businessman and longtime racing enthusiast, can often be seen taking groups of people through the museum. He'll explain that stock car racing is a byproduct of moonshine manufacturing and distribution.

• Join the Chase Elliott fan club!

Source: Georgia Racing Hall of Fame Museum

Shop 'till your drop

• North Georgia Premium Outlets offers some of the best deals for those looking for high-end retail without the high-end cost. If you have been lusting over a Burberry coat, a Coach purse of a set of pans at Williams-Sonoma, this is the place to find something without suffering from sticker shock.

• The mall has 140 outlet stores and is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. On Sunday hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

• Check their Web site at to stake out fresh deals.

Source: North Georgia Premium Outlets

Biggest waterfall around

• The 829-acre Amicalola Falls State Park is one of Georgia's most popular state parks and holds one of the tallest cascading waterfalls in the Southeast.

• The falls tumble 729 feet down mossy rocks. Paths around the falls allow visitors to view the waterfall from several angles.

• Get active. The eight-mile Southern Terminus Access Trail inside the state park opens into the 2,175-mile Appalachian Trail, and is a huge draw for hikers and backpackers.

Source: Amnicalola Falls State Park

Grab your fiddle and rev your engines

• Mountain Moonshine Festival - Join Dawsonville residents as they celebrate their colorful heritage. (October in the historic downtown)

• Sparks in the Park - Bring a blanket for some sky-popping fire works displays. (July in the Rock Creek Sports Complex)

• Spring Fling Festival - Arts, crafts and dancing to celebrate warmer weather (May in Dawsonville)

Source: Dawson County Chamber of Commerce

A popular bistro with fare for all palates

• The Blue Bicycle (671 Lumpkin Campground Road, closed Sunday and Monday) offers unique dishes with local foods. It gets busy on Friday or Saturday nights, so reservations are suggested.

• Enjoy seared duck with Georgia peaches or a White Marble Farms pork tenderloin with chimichurri. Don't forget to try the crab cakes or other fresh seafood prepared daily.

Source: The Blue Bicycle

A city on the fast track

• Population: 2,536

• Biggest employers: Nordson and Sleeveco

• Number of miles from downtown Chattanooga: 100

• Landmarks or geographic features: Chattahoochee National Forest, Lake Lanier, Amicalola Falls, Dawson Forest, the Etowah and Amicalola Rivers and the Appalachian Trail

• Date founded: 1859

• Historic Info: Gold was discovered near Dawsonville in 1828, stirring violence and anarchy in the area. The city and the county were named for William Crosby Dawson, a well-known Georgia judge, soldier and politician who argued for slavery. Business and population growth didn't occur until after Lake Lanier was created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1956.

• Most famous resident: NASCAR driver Bill Elliott

• Odd/unique traditions: Animal care experts at the Kangaroo Conservation Center have been saving and breeding endangered kangaroo species for more than 26 years.

Source: Dawson County Chamber of Commerce