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STS Marketing College in Dahlonega, GA is one of my favorite times of year and it is bittersweet to have just finished my final year in the program. Though I'm sure I'll be back for Alumni classes, I have completed the 3 year TMP (Tourism Marketing Professional) certification program which brought me lifelong friends, valuable industry knowledge, and networking opportunities. If you are unfamiliar with what Southeast Tourism Society
is, much less Marketing College, and are curious to learn more then just let me know in the comments and I may follow up with a post specific to the program. However if you are currently in the program or about to start your journey, I wanted to give you the inside scoop on fun things to do in and around Dahlonega, GA.
1. PAN FOR GOLD
There's gold in them thar hills! Did you know Dahlonega had its gold rush 20 years before California? Gold is so intwined with their history the town slogan is "It's Pure Gold.
" When you get in town Sunday, have free time Wednesday afternoon, or after classes Friday consider heading to Crisson Gold Mine
, just a 3 min drive away from campus to pan for gold - open 7 days a week. There are several pricing packages offered. My group initially did a $10 sample bucket each which includes one pan for gold and a bucket for gem mining. We were pretty happy with the results but got the itch and ended up splitting another gem wheelbarrow between the 3 of us for $60. We each made off with good chunks of gems and fun experience with plenty of "I wanna know where the gold at
" shouts. See my bounty below!
2. STROLL AROUND LAKE ZWERNER
If you haven't had enough walking, though I can't imagine why as this time of year is one of the rare times I have no problem hitting 10k steps per day, head to Lake Zwerner for a 3.2 mile stroll or run. The trail around the lake is especially beautiful in the morning, or so I've been told because I haven't actually woken up before 7am at marketing college ever.
3. FLOAT THE CHESTATEE
This activity is best for your free time Wednesday afternoon and can take 1 - 3 hours depending on which section you'd like to float. Appalachian Outfitters
offers tubes, canoes, and kayaks though I don't recommend tubing because the river is pretty shallow in certain spots. Mention you are with STS and they will give your group a discount. If you have not kayaked before, do the lower Chestatee section for your first time because it is the easiest and perfect for a relaxing float. To make sure you get back in time to catch the shuttles to the vineyard grab a quick lunch right after classes end and get on the road. After 3 years of kayaking in a row I've found that a group of 6 is the ideal number and usually groups of 2 and 4 pair together along the river at different paces. When the river is low you can pull off on the banks to regroup and catch some rays. Waters shoes are encouraged because of the rocky river bed and don't forget to pack snacks and water.
4. SING YOUR HEART OUT AT KARAOKE
It is a long standing tradition at STS Marketing College to have karaoke nights. The hosting bar may change but the tradition lives on. In my time at STS we usually enjoyed karaoke night on Tuesday at Jonny B's (a short walk from the dorms). Now that my class is gone, it will be up to you to continue the tradition and set up the event. Our beloved DJ Tommy can be contacted here
and usually costs about $200 for the evening.
5. SHOP THE BOUTIQUES
There are so many great clothing, fudge, gifts, jewelry, wine, and gallery shops in the Square to choose from as well as the North Georgia Premium Outlets in Dawsonville about 30 mins away from campus. My personal favorite for clothing is J.R. Crider's located behind Gustavo's. This year I took home a trendy jumper, light weight cardigan and some blouses to add to my work apparel. There is a cigar shop within the retail store as well if you're into that.
6. EXPLORE MT. HOPE CEMETERY
Hidden in the back of this cemetery across the street from Jonny B's lies an artistic grave site that local jeweler Thomas Scalin had created for his parents. The stone walls feature intricate carvings of animals (even an opossum made the cut) and panels featuring various works by Emily Dickinson that honor the humor, love and hobbies of his family's memories.
7. VINEYARD HOPPING
Typically within the itinerary of STS you will visit 2 vineyards throughout the week with included transportation, usually Sunday and Wednesday. Dahlonega is a mini Napa of the East and currently has 8 wineries and vineyards
to explore if you want to see more. Most serve food and offer tours as well.
I hope these ideas help you make the most of your free time in Dahlonega. Most importantly, befriend the introverts and 1st years. They are not as inclined to know what is going on or initiate plans. Strive to always be a good host no matter where you are.
Let me know what other fun activities you've enjoyed at in Dahlonega while attending STS Marketing College in the comments!
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