Lucille's Mountain Top Inn & Spa

964 Rabun Road P.O. Box 638, Sautee Nacoochee, Georgia 30571
Innkeeper(s): Jim Matthews and Jerry Morris

Autumn Brings Colorful Drives In Northeast Georgia Mountains 27 Aug 2015, 10:00 am

Every season is spectacular in the mountains where we’re located. But perhaps no time of year is it more so than in autumn, when leaves turn brilliant shades, from soft gold to rich claret. The following drives are guaranteed to wow you with stunning displays of colorand photo-worthy vistas too. Be sure to call soon to make reservations—autumn is a busy time here at Lucille’s.  


Not only do we think we live in God’s country, but National Geographic does too! They’ve named the drive through the Northeast Georgia Chattahoochee National Forest one of their “Drives of a Lifetime.” The RussellBrasstown Scenic Byway is a 41-mile loop that takes just over an hour without stops. But, trust us, you’ll definitely want to stop and soak in the beauty along the way, which includes the headwaters of the rolling Chattahoochee River, a section of the Appalachian Trail and several observation areas with superb mountain vistas. You can also hike up to waterfalls, and check out the State’s tallest peak, 4,784-foot Brasstown Bald where the views are an expansive 360 degrees.

Another great drive is along Highway 197 from Clarksville to US Highway 76, a lovely pastoral and scenic stretch of road.

What’s the best time to hit peak color? Mother Nature is often hard to pin down, but a general rule of thumb is that some color begins in mid-September in the highest elevations. But generally mid-October is a good time to enjoy the best breadth of color. Give us a call as the season progresses, and if we’ve got any first-hand information, we’ll pass it on.

Head out for your drive after a hearty breakfast with us, and stop by Betty’s Country Grocery Store in Helen to pick up sandwiches for a picnic lunch. Head back to the Inn after your day touring, where you can get a bottle of wine and settle on the deck to enjoy a colorful sunset. Here’s a toast to a great trip!



Hardman Farm Named North Georgia Historic Site in 2015 20 Aug 2015, 10:00 am

Photo courtesy of Georgia Department of
Natural Resources
Visitors to Lucille’s have a new place to check out, right in our own Sautee Nacoochee neighborhood. Hardman Farm, a 173-acre farm and homestead was made a new Georgia State Historic Site in March, 2015, and it makes a great outing for those who enjoy a beautiful setting with their history.

Located along the Chattahoochee River just south of Helen, Hardman Farm State Historic Site includes a house, barn and perhaps most recognizable of all, a gazebo-topped Indian mound, which is a favorite local landmark. The house was built by Captain James Nichols in 1870 and is a classic example of Italianate architecture. The last owner of the home was Lamartine Hardman, Georgia’s Governor from 1927-1931, and it was his family who preserved the property and donated it to the state in 1999.

The Nacoochee Indian Mound, with its unique gazebo topping, is a burial site, most likely from days long before the Cherokee came to the area. Tour visitors can see it as well as the restored dairy barn to learn how milk was processed and transported in days gone by. The spring house and former horse barn are also part of the tour.

Hardman Farm State Historic Site
143 Highway 17, Sautee Nacoochee, Georgia 30571
706-878-1077
Open Thursday – Sunday, March through December, 2015
Guided tours at 10:00 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Self-guided tours are not allowed.
Adults, 12; Seniors 62 and older, $10; Children 6-17, $7; Children under 6, $3.
Prices do not include tax. Reservations are suggested.

If you’re visiting the area on October 10, you could take in a special afternoon event at Hardman Farm that will feature hayrides through the site, hands-on pioneer exhibits, mountain music and apple cider from a hand-cranked press.
Fall Celebration at the Hardman Farm
Saturday, October 10, 2015
12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
$10/vehicle

On November 14, Hardman Farm will present a special program for Native American Heritage Month that includes musical performers, and Women of Heart’s interpretive history of the area’s native people.
Times and Places of the Cherokee People at Hardman Farm
Saturday, November 14, 2015
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
 Program, $5/person; Tour of house, $7/person

Once you’re done touring the great old mansion of Hartman Farm, you can head back to the beautiful setting of Lucille’s, and settle in on the parch to watch the sun set over the mountains. Sound good? Give us a call!

Take a Walk on Wild Side At North Georgia Zoo & Petting Farm 13 Aug 2015, 10:00 am

Drive about 20 minutes southwest of Lucille’s and you can enter a world of the exotic. Spanning 30 beautiful acres of woods and pasture, the North Georgia Zoo & Petting Farm is home to more than 80 different species from all over the world, from familiar alligators and monkeys, to less well-known creatures, such as lemurs and Siberian lynx.

Courtesy of North Georgia
Zoo & Petting Farm
 The zoo makes for a relaxing place to spend a day, with a pretty creek that winds its way throughout the property, not only helping to cool the atmosphere, but providing enjoyment for many of the animals along its path. What also makes the venue so nice is that the zoo has created a special habitat for each animal suited to its needs. So, for instance, you’ll find wolves chewing on huge deer bones and primates playing with cardboard boxes, both things each animal loves to do.

To really appreciate all that is here, a tour is the way to go, and the Zoo offers several options. A Behind the Scenes tour brings you up close to animals not seen on regular zoo visits. You might see newborn babies, such as bottle-fed kangaroos, and get a chance to touch, feed and participate in the training of other animals.  You can also watch animal ambassadors as they train animals for roles in movies and commercials.  
Photo courtesy of North Georgia Zoo & Petting Farm
A very cool Sunset tour, Howl with the Wolves, lets you see and hear these elusive animals. The guided tour begins with a wildlife walk, and includes a camel encounter and a meet-and-greet with some baby exotic animals. Watch the sunset as you sip refreshments before taking a hayride back to the parking lot. Dates, times and prices for tours vary, so check the Georgia Zoo’s website for complete information.


The zoo is also home to Paradise Valley Farms, a working farm that specializes in rare breed and miniature livestock, including alpacas, water buffalo and miniature Shetland sheep.

There is no restaurant at the zoo, but they do serve refreshments, as well as chips, popcorn and candy. There is, however, a charming gift shop that has many handmade crafts, including porcupine quill jewelry made from quills shed by the zoo’s own porcupines.

North Georgia Zoo & Petting Farm
2912 Paradise Valley Road, Cleveland
706-348-7279
August 14-15 2015: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
August 16- October 31, 2015: Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.; Sunday, 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
November, 2015: Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.; Sunday, 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Open select days in winter.
General admission: Adults, $8; Children, $6
Tour prices and times vary, so it is best to check the website for up-to-date information.



The zoo is an easy ride from Lucille’s, which makes a perfect home base for this and other local attractions. Our majestic mountain setting is not only ultra peaceful and relaxing, but as you’ll see, we’ve got a few wild animals too

Fly Fishers Will Find Excellent Waters in Northeast Georgia 6 Aug 2015, 10:00 am

We love the mountains surrounding Lucille’s for their majestic beauty, but this area is also beloved for its great fishing waters. Both rivers and lakes around here provide miles of opportunity for visitors who enjoy casting a line in hopes of a big catch. The following is a list of some top-notch places to head. For even more places in the northeast Georgia mountains, check out the Georgia Department of Natural Resources website.

Close to the inn, just outside Helen, you’ll find DukesCreek, in the Smithgall Woods-Dukes Creek Conservation Area, one of the State’s premier destinations for trophy rainbow and brown trout. The creek is large and open, and flows through a fairly level valley, so wading is easy, and there’s room for careful fly casting. The area is catch-and-release, and you can find some good-sized species.

Boggs Creek, part of the upper Chestatee River, is about a 15-minture drive southwest of the Inn. Most of the creek is located in the pretty Chattahoochee National Forest and Chestatee Wildlife Management Area near Blairsville. Fishers here catch mostly rainbow trout. The supply of fish is boosted through stocking, mostly in the more accessible portions of the creek, nearby the road.

Another place to head in the Blairsville area—just over an hour’s drive from the Inn—is Lake Trahlyta in Vogel State Park. Named for a Cherokee Indian maiden, the 22-acre lake and its feeder stream, Wolf Creek, get periodic stockings of rainbow. Anglers will also find plentiful warm-water species here, including largemouth bass and sunfish.

Head 30 miles northeast of Sautee Nacoochee and you’ll come to Tallula Falls, home to Lake Rubun. Managed by Georgia Power, the lake is a favorite for nighttime fishing. Largemouth bass rule here, and catching a big one is a possibility. Bluegill and sunfish are also common, and you might find walleye, which were introduced to the lake in the mid-1990’s.

If you’d prefer to go fishing on a guided trip, we often suggest Blackhawk Fly Fishing based in Clarkesville. The smaller, winding Soque River runs right past Clarkesville and the company maintains about a two-mile Blackhawk Trophy Trout Stream    along those waters. With skilled guides leading you, that elusive trout might just find its way onto your line!
Blackhawk Fly Fishing
9400 Highway 197 North, Clarkesville
706-947-3474
Open year-round, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., weather permitting

Why not call your fishing buddies and plan a long weekend stay at Lucille’s? We’ll start you off  every day with a great breakfast, and you can return to the patio in the evenings to share storiesand maybe even pictures of the “big one.”


Spice 55 Brings a Taste of Thai to North Georgia Mountains 30 Jul 2015, 10:00 am

It often surprises our Inn guests, nestled up here miles away from a city, that they have such delightful options for dining. In the little town of Helen, just five miles away, there are several restaurants we like to recommend, one of which is Spice 55.

Anyone familiar with Thai food knows the traditional flavors: chiles, coconut milk, fish sauce and lime to name a few key ingredients. At Spice 55 the restaurant has put its own spin on the country’s well-known dishes, and added a few of their own too.

Favorite appetizers top the starter menu, such as spring rolls filled with a rice noodle-veggies mix that are served with a mild Spice 55 special sauce. Mieng Kum is a refreshing bite of spinach wrapped around a mixture of lime, ginger, onions, roasted peanuts and coconut in a caramelized palm sugar sauce. Salad lovers can choose from four traditional options, including one with flame-broiled sirloin strip dressed with lime, lemongrass, mint and hot peppers.

Sharing is a great option, as choosing just one entrée out of so many is never easy! The Chef’s Selections are a good option, and offer a variety of protein dishes. Spice 55 Chicken, served in a pineapple shell, mixes sweet and heat with chunks of pineapple, cashews, mushrooms and chicken tossed in a spicy sauce. Lightly battered jumbo shrimp and sea scallops combine with crispy okra, eggplant for another entree.

If you enjoy the kick of curry, Spice 55 gives you several options, including chicken or beef in a red curry or sweet curry sauce, and a chicken masman curry dish that has a cool addition of avocado. Thai Noodle and rice dishes round out the main menu.

Spice 55 also has a menu of sushi, including all the basics and some distinctly unique ones as well. One example is the JB Roll, a popular choice that combines smoked salmon, avocado and cream cheese. Helen on the Beach Roll is a treasure trove of tuna, salmon and yellowtail mixed with cream cheese and avocado, then wrapped in soy paper and flash fried, served with a sweet miso sauce and a wasabi crunch.
Spice 55
705 Brucken Strasse, Helen
706-878-1010
Tuesday - Thursday, 11:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Friday, 11:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Saturday, 12:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Sunday, 12:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Closed Monday

Oh, and don’t worry about dessert. We’ve got you covered back here at Lucille’s where we serve a complimentary homemade sweet every night. Enjoy it on our deck, and you'll have a perfect ending to a day in the mountains!





African American Heritage on Display at North Georgia Museum 23 Jul 2015, 10:00 am

In 1850, a rustic slave cabin was constructed in Sautee Nacoochee, not far from where Lucille’s is now located. Still standing on private property in 2002, it was donated by the owners to the Sautee Nacoochee Community Association, which carefully restored it into what is now the AfricanAmerican Heritage Site.

A look inside the cabinthe only known antebellum cabin in the regionis a look inside history. Filled with locally collected artifacts, the Site serves as an educational tool for telling the unique story of slavery in our area. For the restoration, a local preservationist worked to remove additions and bring the cabin closer to its original structure. With the help of an archivist, tax digests, will and family records were assembled, together with census information to help paint a picture of one-time residents. Also included in the permanent exhibit are photographs that document the important architectural features of the cabin.

In an effort to help visitors gain a more true experience, the African American Heritage Site features living history demonstrations, reenactments, 19th Century interpretations, festivals and special events.

Photo: FPM Greear
Courtesy of Sautee Nacoochee Center
The Site is associated with the Sautee Nacoochee Center, which was the focus of last week’s blog, and together, they tell the varied stories of our rich heritage.
African American Heritage Site
Sautee Nacoochee Center
283 Highway 255 North, Sautee Nacoochee
706-878-3300
Monday – Friday, 10:00 a.m. -5:00 p.m.
Saturday, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.


Whether taking in the history or the beauty of the areaor both—make Lucille’s your home away from home. Come visit soon.

Folk Pottery Museum Highlights the Culture of Northeast Georgia 16 Jul 2015, 10:30 am

It is rare to find a wonderful museum nestled away in a small mountain village. It’s even more rare to find one of the quality and depth of the Folk Pottery Museum of Northeast Georgia. It’s a gem, and we are lucky to have it so close to Lucille’s. (See, one more reason to come visit!)

Photo courtesy of the Folk Pottery Museum
The Museum is part of the Sautee Nacoochee Center, which in addition to pottery, has a wealth of information on Cherokee heritage, as well as local history of gold strikes, railroads and timber. But the Folk Pottery Museum is definitely the star of the Center, one of just a few museums in the world to focus on folk pottery.

Early on, pottery was considered utilitarian and what was made was used for preserving and storing foods. Most was made by families such as such as Meaders, Hewell, Dorsey and Fergusen, local families that were especially noteworthy for their work. With the introduction of refrigeration and new types of products utilitarian pottery was less in demand by the mid-1900’s. To survive, several companies began creating pottery as a decorative art form.

Plan to spend a good amount of time at the Museum—there’s just so much to see!
In the living history area, visitors can learn the process start to finish: how the clay is dug, shaped on a treadle wheel, the intensive firing methods, and finishing with a locally-made glaze. Through interactive exhibits you can trace the 200-year history of pottery in the region, and see how the tradition has carried on through today. There are excellent examples of pottery, and special exhibits throughout the year that feature area artists.

For those who would like to get out and meet some of these artists, there is an established Folk Potters Trail featuring 15 potters in northeast Georgia. You can download a map at the Museum’s website.

Folk Pottery Museum of Northeast Georgia
Sautee Nacoochee (4 miles southeast of Alpine Helen, Georgia Highway 255)
Monday – Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
$5, adults; $4, seniors; $2, children
706-878-3300


If the directions sound tricky, not to worry. Come stay with us at Lucille’s—we'll always make sure you get to your destinations just fine!

2015 Yonah Crush Fest Gets Georgia Wine Lovers Stomping 9 Jul 2015, 10:00 am

Remember that infamous I Love Lucy show where Lucy and Ethel hiked up their skirts and stomped the grapes?
Photo courtesy of
Yonah Mountain Vineyards
Well, get ready to do a little stomping of your own at
the 6th Annual Yonah Crush Fest, Saturday, September 5, 2015!

Autumn is grape harvest time and Yonah Mountain Vineyards has created this festive day to celebrate it. So if you like wine and are up for a bit of fun (which we at Lucille’s highly support!), take off your shoes and join the party. Stomping grapes is definitely a highlight of the festival, and even owner Bob Miller gets in the action with a rousing accordion accompaniment. 

Photo courtesy of
Yonah Mountain Vineyards
All this messy fun is just part of the day-long party that draws more than 3,500 wine lovers from around the Southeast. Wine, of course is the focus and there will be opportunities to taste some of the variatals YonahMountain Vineyards produces, including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot.

In between sipping, you can head over to the special festival marketplace and check out the local and regional artisans selling wine and food related products. While in that area, you’ll find plenty of good things to eat at several gourmet food vendors and food trucks.

Along with wine and food, music is a big part of the event, and visitors will have a chance to see two top Georgia draws performing hourly, the Atlanta Falcons Drumline and the Atlanta Pipe Band. In addition, there will be two stages featuring live music performances throughout the day.

Though wine is a main attraction, Yonah Mountain Vineyards promotes Crush Fest as a family friendly event, and they follow through with lots to amuse the kids, including a horse-drawn wagon tour, mule-drawn ice cream maker and a “Kid-Zone” bounce house.

Yonah Crush Fest
Saturday, September 5, 2015
11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Yonah Mountain Vineyards
1717 GA-255, Cleveland
706-878-5522
General Admission, $30;  includes four 3-ounce tastings of wine and a take-home Crust Fest glass.
Non-drinkers, $15; Youth under 16, free

Yonah Mountain Vineyards is just a 15-minute drive from the Inn and makes a nice visit even when there’s no big fest going on. The setting is lovely and you can sample wines in their Tasting Room seven days a week. They also have music from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m. each Saturday. Many guests purchase a bottle of wine there to enjoy back on the deck at the Inn. It’s a relaxing way to end another great day in the mountains!







The Wedding of Your Dreams on a Georgia Mountaintop 2 Jul 2015, 10:00 am

Starting a beautiful life together is even more beautiful in the North Georgia Mountains!

Our Inn’s beautiful setting in the Blue Ridge Mountains provides a gorgeous backdrop for the perfect wedding. And if you’re hoping for a special day without having to suffer stress planning it, we can help with that too.

We find great joy in working with brides and grooms to plan their small weddings or elopements, and have finely-honed the process to make it easy. For those wishing a more elaborate custom wedding, we can help with every detail from hair and makeup to cake design, photography, flowers and table settings.

Another benefit of booking your wedding at our Inn is The Spa at Lucille’s, which offers full spa treatments, so you and the wedding party can enjoy some much needed relaxation and pampering before the big day.

The Intimate Elopement and Small Weddings Package provides an indoor or outdoor ceremony for up to 30 guests. Amenities include a wedding officiate, wedding cake and anniversary topper, bridal bouquet, groom’s boutonniere, wedding consultation, and an overnight stay in one of our beautiful mountain-view rooms. Extra services, such as professional photographer or appetizers pre- or post-ceremony, are also available for an additional charge.

The Custom Wedding Package includes further options such as rental of the Conference Room for wedding preparations, additional flowers, champagne toasts, and wine and beer service.

Those considering booking the Inn for a wedding are welcome to make an appointment to tour the Inn. Because we are a smaller property, we do require you to call in advance to arrange a time for the visit.




The Tavern Brings Great Pizza to North Georgia Mountains 25 Jun 2015, 10:00 am

It’s not just because Nacoochee Village Tavern & Pizzeria is a mouthful to say, it’s because everyone who eats there—including all of us here at the Inn—feels like a local. So we just call it the Tavern. And it’s our go-to spot for great pizza.

Photo courtesy of The Tavern
The setting is part tavern, part pizzeria with a big dose of neighborhood comfort thrown in. Owner Paul goes out of his way to deliver quality food and it begins with his use of pure and fresh ingredients. So flours for the dough are un-bromated and unbleached, the spring water is un-chlorinated. Crusts are made fresh daily and hand-stretched the old-fashioned way, then baked free-form in a stone oven. Local, fresh ingredients are used as much as possible, which all adds up to some mighty tasty pies. One favorite is the Spicy Piglet, which comes topped with homemade tomato sauce, cappicola ham, bacon, roasted onions and pickled jalapenos. Veggie options include the Tree Hugger with roasted eggplant, sweet peppers and onions, and portabella mushrooms. The Tavern also caters to special diets with a daily Paleo option and gluten-free crusts.

The Mess
Photo courtesy of The Tavern
In addition, the menu offers a few appetizers good for sharing, including a dish they call The Mess, which is a heaping bowl of Paul’s famous meatballs and melted cheese, served with homemade tomato sauce and bread. Spinach and bacon salad is a nice side. For those wanting something other than pizza, the hogies, cosmos and paninis are also top-notch. 

You might want to take some of your dinner to go, just so you have room for one of the Tavern’s oh-so yummy desserts, like the sticky bun spoonbread served with warm cream. Or you can get your dessert to go and enjoy it back at the Inn with a glass of wine.

Either way, plan a stay with us—and you’ll just be minutes away from all this deliciousness!
7275 South Main Street, Helen
706-878-0199
Monday - Thursday, Sunday, 12:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Friday - Saturday, 12:00p.m. - 10:00 p.m.