More than a few Atlantans have found the perfect place to get recharged and refreshed — the north Georgia and Blue Ridge mountains. They enjoy cool temperatures, breathtaking natural landscapes and a relaxed lifestyle. The mountains also offer friendly mountain communities and opportunities for activities like golf, fishing, boating and hiking.
“Our guests say that when they head here and first see the mountains in the distance, the stress just melts away and they feel lighter,” said Joan Chambers of Pinnacle Cabin Rentals. “Take a ride down any country road, roll down the windows, smell that sweet country air and listen to some great tunes; it will transform you.”
Pinnacle Cabin Rentals, in Helen, Ga., offers luxury cabins ranging in size from one to eight bedrooms that typically have gorgeous views, are near water and offer guests what they want, whether it’s peace and quiet or nearby activities like fishing and hiking.
“Our cabins are clean, well-stocked and well maintained,” Chambers said. “We have very high standards and our guests appreciate that. They tell us we have the best cabins in the Helen area, and once they found us, they come back again and again.”
The White Birch Inn is located on the square of downtown Clayton, Ga., allowing easy access to all the shops and restaurants. Owners Chuck and Brenda Patterson offer personalized service and small but important touches that include daily wine and cheese in the lounge.
“We have six individually decorated guestrooms and suites, two of which have fireplaces,” Brenda said. All the rooms feature impeccably clean and elegantly rustic interiors with unique furnishings and plush bedding.
“Our manager also serves as an adventure concierge,” she said. “And our sister business, White Birch Provisions, is a coffeehouse and bakery just a few doors down from us.”
It’s important to note that The White Birch Inn has policies of no smoking, no pets and no children under 12.
While there’s no bad time to visit the area, Brenda said that Thanksgiving is a festive weekend with The Turkey Trot, Christmas in Clayton and the Festival of Trees. “In spring, we have Celebrate Clayton, always the last weekend in April,” she said. “It’s a high-quality arts festival.”
Off the beaten path, Lakemont, Ga. is a small, historic arts village that’s minutes away from world-famous Tallulah Gorge. The only public lodging facilities in town are The Historic Lake Rabun Hotel & Restaurant, just across from the beautiful Lake Rabun, and the recently opened Lake Rabun Fish Camp.
“Our unique mountain lodge and Fish Camp offer guests an escape from technology and the fast pace of urban life,” said Josh Addis, General Manager at Lake Rabun Hotel & Restaurant, “a reminder that our history is steeped in the love of nature, family and places to reconnect with what matters most.”
The award-winning restaurant features farm fresh local ingredients creatively prepared, and concierge services for guests provide custom designed reservations, maps and guides to a vast array of mountain and lake adventures. There’s a long list of activities to choose from, including boating, fishing, swimming, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, zip lining, golfing and hiking, as well as waterfall and winery tours.
Visitors appreciate the outstanding service and hospitality, as well as the unique, authentic mountain lodge, which has been “restored by a preservationist and features aged heart pine walls, large stone fireplaces, native locust balconies, charming, upscale furnishings and beautiful grounds,” Addis said.
The child and pet friendly Lake Rabun Fish Camp is a beautiful woodland gathering place consisting of five two-bedroom cottages, with living and dining rooms, fully equipped kitchens and a large deck nestled in the woods.
Lake Rabun Hotel gets especially busy in summer and fall, but it’s a year-round resort. As Addis explained, “Hiking is a favorite all seasons activity in the north Georgia mountains along the nearby Appalachian and Bartram Trails.”
The Blue Ridge area and north Georgia mountains have activities for everyone, according to Jon Edenfield, General Manager at Blue Ridge Inn Bed and Breakfast. “Whether you want an active outdoor itinerary of kayaking, hiking and fishing or a more leisurely day of shopping for antiques, local art and dining, it’s all here for you,” he said, adding that The Blue Ridge Bed and Breakfast is in the center of it all. “The fall foliage is exceptional in the north Georgia mountains and just one of the reasons why so many come here,” he said.
One of the oldest residences in historic Blue Ridge, Ga., the Blue Ridge Inn Bed and Breakfast is a three-story, Victorian home that features eight guest rooms, fireplaces, 12-foot ceilings, original hand-carved woodwork and claw foot tubs. The inn provides exceptional service, personal attention and traditional Southern hospitality.
“There are many choices for people to stay in the area, whether in a cabin tucked away in the mountains or a quaint bed and breakfast,” Edenfield said. “My best advice is to book early especially during the fall, local festival weekends or holidays. Many places book a year in advance.”
Ed and Luci Kivett, innkeepers at Glen-Ella Springs Inn, said that while their season runs April through November, “…spring and fall tend to be our busiest times, with October typically being our busiest month.”
Glen-Ella Springs Inn, over a century old, is set in the Blue Ridge Mountains between Tallulah Falls and Clarkesville. “Our historic bed and breakfast has the perfect atmosphere for a romantic getaway, a gathering of family and friends, a corporate retreat or a North Georgia destination wedding venue,” said Ed. “It’s also one of the finest dining experiences in north Georgia.”
He added that the goal at Glen-Ella Springs is to delight each guest and enrich their experience through a combination of an inspiring environment, outstanding food and exceptional service. “We offer great seasonal packages and other amenities,” he said, and suggested that visitors experience all the fantastic activities and attractions in north Georgia.
The Highlands-Cashier Plateau in North Carolina has a lot to offer as well. Due to the high elevation, the town of Highlands generally runs about 15 degrees, and Cashiers is normally about 10 degrees, cooler than Atlanta.
“The approximately two-hour drive from Atlanta is just enough time to leave your cares behind and watch your daily distractions disappear in the rearview mirror,” said Amanda Sullivan, Marketing Director of Old Edwards Hospitality Group. “As soon as you turn onto the mountain road leading into Highlands, you start to feel yourself fill up with a new energy, a relaxation that continues for your entire time in Highlands.”
Set along one of the East’s highest ridges, Old Edwards Inn and Spa in Highlands, N.C., is a world-class retreat known for its European-style luxury and peaceful, rustic setting. It features Old Edwards Club, an 18-hole, Tom Jackson-designed championship golf course as well as clay tennis courts and panoramic views.
Old Edwards Inn also has two sister properties — 200 Main and Half-Mile Farm — so visitors can find the ideal spot for their getaways. 200 Main boasts a Main Street location that’s perfect for exploring local shops, restaurants and galleries and well-appointed rooms and suites designed with a blend of rustic and modern mountain chic. “On property, guests can relax in hammocks in a parklike setting on the shady hillside,” Sullivan said.
Half-Mile Farm is a luxury country inn set on 14 tranquil acres with a garden and private lake. The secluded retreat is reserved for guests 18 and older. “All three properties offer heated outdoor mineral pools, heated marble bath floors, hand-selected décor, fine Italian linens, corporate meeting spaces and access to Old Edwards Club,” Sullivan said.
She suggested that guests call the hotel directly as all three properties are booked through central reservations, so guests can get help determining the right property and perfect room type. “None of the hotels are cookie cutter and there are many variations to choose from,” Sullivan said.
The Highlands area is a retreat from the outside world where guests come to experience cool, clean mountain air and to escape the stresses of daily life, according to Mathew Gillen of Fire Mountain Inn, Cabins & Treehouses, a mountaintop resort on the western edge of the plateau. “The average mean temp in July is 67 degrees. We offer a true, restful mountain experience,” he said.
Fire Mountain is located in the Nantahala National Forest and adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is within a few miles of the Sumter National Forest and Chattahoochee National Forest.
The inn welcomes guests all year long, but Gillen noted, “Fall season starts in October, and our mountaintop comes alive with color that draws people from all over the southeast and abroad to view the spectacular changing of the leaves. During the winter months our guests come to enjoy the peace and quiet and to relax in front of a roaring fire,” he said. Winter activities include snowtubing, sledding and hiking and star-gazing.
Autumn is one of the big draws for visitors to Cashiers, N.C. In additional to viewing the colorful leaves in fall, “the summer is a great time for families to enjoy the cool weather, hiking, fishing and, of course, seeing all the beautiful waterfalls,” said Kathy Korb, Manager at Laurelwood Inn, which offers unique lodging accommodations at a reasonable price.
The inn is in the heart of Cashiers, but Korb says that the property backs up to four acres of wooded land. “It’s the best of both worlds,” she said. “You can walk to the nearby shops and restaurants — including Whiteside Brewing Co., Cashiers first and only microbrewery that serves amazing food — but still enjoy the beautiful grounds with the feel of being in the mountains.”
Many guests take advantage of the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains hiking trails and waterfalls or spend a day shopping in the many antique and gift shops, she added.
Whether looking for natural beauty and relaxed settings or a wide range of recreational opportunities, Atlantans have learned that it’s all easy to find when they head for the hills.
Where To Stay
Blue Ridge Inn Bed & Breakfast
477 W 1st St., Blue Ridge, Ga. 30513
706-661-7575 or blueridgeinnbandb.com
Glen-Ella Springs Inn
1789 Bear Gap Road, Clarkesville, Ga. 30523
706-754-7295 or glenella.com
Fire Mountain Inn
700 Happy Hill Rd.,
Scaly Mountain, N.C. 28775
800-775-4446 or firemt.com
Lake Rabun Hotel
35 Andrea Lane, Lakemont, Ga. 30552
800-398-5134 or lakerabunhotel.com
58 Hwy. 107 N., Cashiers, N.C. 28717
800-346-6846 or laurelwoodinncashiers.com
Old Edwards Inn & Spa
445 Main St., Highlands, N.C. 28741
866-526-8008 or oldedwardsinn.com
Pinnacle Cabin Rentals
8063 Main St., Helen, Ga. 30545
888-906-4334 or pinnaclecabinrentals.com
The White Birch Inn
28 E Savannah St, Clayton, Ga. 30525
706-782-4444 or thewhitebirchinn.net
Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified a photograph of Half-Mile Farm.