Surrounded by mountain views and rolling hills, Cave Spring is a tiny town where everybody knows everybody. But don't worry, the locals are plenty used to visitors.
Take a lazy walk down on the square, perusing gift and antique shops, and grab an affordable and wholesome bite to eat. But don't end your trip without spending some quality time in the great outdoors.
Picturesque Rolater Park is the town's main attraction with historic buildings, a natural spring and a limestone cave open to visitors. And other outdoor attractions abound just a few minutes away.
Take a dip or have a sip
• In shady Rolater Park, you'll find the namesake of Cave Spring. Inside the walk-in limestone cave ($1 admission, open May through September), you'll find stunning stalagmites and the natural spring, which produces 2 million gallons of water every day. While in the park, take a minute to feed the fish or the ducks for just a buck.
• Rolater Lake - really a concrete pool shaped like the state of Georgia, filled with natural spring water - offers an icy place to cool off in the summer months. Open Thursday and Sunday noon to 6 p.m. and Friday and Saturday noon to 7:30 p.m. while school is on summer break. Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for children ages 3 to 10. Children 2 and under and senior citizens are admitted free.
• Locals swear by the natural spring water, which flows through taps throughout town. Bring a jug and fill up!
Source: Cave Spring Downtown Development Authority
Unwind or live it up
• A tributary of the Coosa River, Big Cedar Creek offers a mix of adventure and relaxation just a couple miles outside of Cave Spring.
• Cedar Creek Park is one of the best ways to experience the creek. Rent a kayak ($25) or a canoe ($35) and park staff will drop you off a few miles upstream. The park also offers a driving range, camp store, tube rentals and camper storage.
• Fish for striped bass, hybrid bass, trout, brim and catfish. But it's the "world-famous" crappie angling that lures flocks of fishermen - the earlier in the year, the better.
• Find a spot on the bank to pitch a tent ($12/night) or park your RV ($29/night). Or for a less rustic experience, spend a night in the lodge ($65/night; sleeps up to 8).
Source: Cedar Creek Park
Get some rest in historic digs
• Cave Spring's two bed and breakfasts offer affordable accommodations for those wanting to rest for a night or an entire weekend.
• Stay in the park at the Hearn Inn, operated by the Cave Spring Historical Society. The 1839 structure offers six rooms furnished with four-poster beds and vintage antiques. Full and twin rooms go for $73 and the queen guest room is $84. Breakfast is included. Call 706-777-8865 for reservations.
• Find a spot to relax on the massive wraparound porch or by the backyard pool at the Tumlin House, which offers four guest rooms just a couple of blocks from downtown Cave Spring. Rooms with a shared bathroom go for $75 a night, and rooms with en suite bathrooms go for $85. Breakfast is included. Call 706-777-0066 for reservations.
Source: Cave Spring Historical Society, Tumlin House
Weekends in the park
• Cave Spring Pig Out - this festival brings together the kings of barbecue and its fans each September in Rolater Park. Competitors smoke Boston butts, ribs and brisket all night Friday in preparation for judging on Saturday, when the meats and sides go on sale to festivalgoers. Check out cavespringpigout.com for dates.
• Cave Spring Arts and Crafts Festival - explore the creations of local crafters, artists and food vendors. The two-day festival in Rolater Park takes place the second full weekend of June.
Source: Cave Spring Downtown Development Authority
Go where the locals go
• For a made-from-scratch breakfast or lunch, try The Diner (2 Alabama St.; open Tuesday through Sunday 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Locals often line up for chef and owner Harry Tigue's all-day breakfast and affordable lunch specials - think country fried steak, meatloaf, catfish, etc.
• For a gutbuster breakfast, try one of the local favorites, the Barnyard ($5.50), which includes three scrambled eggs, sausage, onions and peppers served over farmhouse potatoes with shredded cheese and toast or biscuit.
• Twice a week, you'll find a gang of 11 bikers who ride more than an hour each way just to get their Diner fix.
• Tigue is renovating his original restaurant, the Cave Spring Cafe, just across the street. It's expected to open by October, when he will start transforming his diner into a sweets shop.
•Source: Harry Tigue, The Diner chef/owner
Tiny town with big history
• Population: 1,200
• Biggest employers: State of Georgia, Floyd County school board
• Number of miles from downtown Chattanooga: 75
• Landmarks or geographic features: Natural spring and limestone cave in Rolater Park
• Date founded: incorporated in 1852
• Historic info: The town's original founder named it "Temperance Town," in homage to the town's heavy Baptist influence. The original deeds on many buildings and homes included Baptist doctrine and banned gambling and drinking on the properties.
• Most famous resident: Eric Haney, who co-produced the CBS series "The Unit" and authored "Inside Delta Force," a memoir of his time inside the U.S. Army counterterrorist unit.
• Odd/unique traditions: Each fall, the town's historical society hosts a Founder's Ball in Hearn Academy, a 1910 building originally used as a preparatory school dormitory.
• Unique characteristics/fun fact: The building that houses city hall was formerly a Civil War hospital. It served Union and Confederate troops - at different times, of course.
Sources: City of Cave Spring, Cave Spring Historical Society, Cave Spring Downtown Development Authority