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Little town of Tiger offers up rural adventures
Spend your summer days at the vineyards, wine tasting or catch a flick at the drive-in theater
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Clouds roll over Glassy Mountain in August 2016 at the Stonewall Creek Vineyard in Tiger.

This summer, get swallowed up by Tiger.

Though the North Georgia mountain town luckily lacks the claws and teeth and general bloodthirstiness of its namesake, its mountain trails, two vineyards, farm-to-table cafes and unique drive-in theater have a grip just as strong.

Tiger sits less than an hour north of Gainesville in Rabun County, and attractions in the immediate vicinity of the 300-person community are enough to keep individuals, couples and families busy all day long.

Even before you reach Tiger, the route up U.S. 23 from Gainesville takes you past the striking, strange School Bus Graveyard (25 minutes north) and the Tallulah Gorge State Park (45 minutes).

Just past Tallulah Falls sits Goats on the Roof, a souvenir and sweet shop that — you guessed it — has live goats on its roof. With its Amish food and goods and its ice cream made with liquid nitrogen, hit Goats on the Roof on your way into or out of Tiger. It’s open every day beginning at 10 a.m.

Also, the goats are aliens.

The town of Tiger centers on the intersection of Bridge Creek Road-Tiger Connection and South Main Street.

Just north of the main drag, at 2592 Old Highway 441, is Tiger Mountain Vineyards, a well-established North Georgia vineyard that also has a tasting room in Dahlonega.

The vineyard itself produces fine wines. Though it grows pick-your-own blueberries on the farm, all of its wines are made with the grapes grown on the property, said assistant vineyard manager Lisa Ezzard.

“We do old-world wines, very European-style,” she said.

With a focus on French-inspired wine, the tasting room is an experience best for adults, Ezzard said, but the blueberry picking is a great spot for children. The blueberries will be ripe in late June.

Ezzard is the sixth generation in her family to work on the farm, which is now owned by her parents, John and Martha Ezzard, and their business partners, John and Marilyn McMullan.

“We usually really do a hands-on walkthrough,” Lisa Ezzard said. “If it’s their first time tasting wine, that’s totally fine and fun. We just talk about the wines as we go. There are Sweet Grass Dairy cheeses — my mom really loves to support local (business) — so people can grab a little cheese on their way down the wines.”

The tasting room has special events, including live music and a “library wine” tasting of older vintages, slated for June and July.

The vineyard also operates its own farm-to-table restaurant.

“Red Barn Café is an indoor-outdoor renovated barn,” Ezzard said. “It looks out over the vineyards — it’s really beautiful — and we have quite an extraordinary chef from Atlanta for the season.”

Chef David Sweeney is working the restaurant this year, and reservations are recommended for those making the trip to the vineyard.

On the other side of Tiger at 323 Standing Deer Lane sits Stonewall Creek Vineyards, which also has its own Dahlonega tasting room.

The vineyard sits on five acres and grows six varieties of wine. Carl and Carla Fackler planted their first vines in 2005 and opened for business in 2012.

This year, the Facklers have released their 2016 Boriana, a dry Petit Manseng — a version of the vineyard’s best-selling wine.

The Facklers hold special events each month that can be found at their website. Their tasting room in Tiger is open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

If you’re still on your feet after visiting the vineyards, head over to Tom Major’s Tiger Drive-In Theater at the end of your day — and bring your tent.

The theater and snackbar at 2956 Old U.S. Highway 441 S sells $10 tickets for two showings beginning at 9:15 p.m. or later.

This month, the theater is playing kid-friendly “Cars 3” — and less kid-friendly “Baywatch” — until June 30, when it’s picking up “Despicable Me 3” and, in July, the new “Spider Man.”

The snackbar is open until 1:30 a.m. on movie nights, Major said, but it’s more than just a snackbar.

“We built a smoker rotisserie barbecue — built it right there (in the theater),” he said. “For the opening of the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’ we had a 136-pound pig. We sold every pound of it.”

Similar offerings are on the table for big openings and other events at the theater, like the total solar eclipse coming this August.

“Everything is sold out up here (around then),” Major said. “You can’t get a place to stay, so I’m letting people camp at the theater, which is fine. You just have to pay admission every night.”

The drive-in theater also hosts events ranging from car shows to Boy Scout campouts. If you have a little spending money, the theater can be rented out in the spring, fall and winter off-season.

Major’s new, digital projector is compatible with television feeds and video game systems, meaning your kiddos can plug an X-Box into the projector and play on the big screen.

Later this year, the University of Georgia’s alumni association is heading up to Tiger for a tailgating event that will include live football blasted on the drive-in’s screen, Major said.

And when your movies are over, roll out the sleeping bags — the theater is available for overnight camping at no extra cost, he said, and the business’ bathroom is left open.

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