Some people follow a pattern when they travel — like camping in National Parks, stepping foot in all 50 states or following a band around the country on a tour, like latter-day DeadHeads. I could be perfectly content spending years porch surfing, traveling from inn to inn in the South, perfecting my already fairly polished sittin’ and doin’ nothin’ skills. The South has more charming inns than we have recipes for cheese straws. My goal is to stay in all of best inns of the South. Here are a few of my favorites.
I don’t mind cooking when I’m on vacation. There’s nothing I like better than an evening at the beach with a big old plate of shrimp and a cocktail. But then again, I love having other people cooking for me and waking up to the smell of bacon is a heavenly way to start the day. These inns provide three meals a day.
My husband collected several years of brownie points when he whisked me away to a cottage in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains in Walland, TN to celebrate a big birthday. This 4,200-acre resort has so much to do — we enjoyed kayaking, hiking, biking and a massage in the spa. Pricey, yes! But unforgettable and home to the best biscuits I’ve ever had.
They had to shove me in the boat when it was time to leave our beautiful fall weekend at this mansion on Cumberland Island in Georgia, accessible only by boat. If I had to select a porch on which to live out my days, it would be here on the 100-foot long one. I would rouse myself for the two-course breakfast, picnic lunch, happy hour and the three-course dinner. Activities include a nature tour, kayaking, hiking or hanging out on the secluded white-sand beach.
Like summer camp for grown-ups but you have to dress up for dinner, High Hampton Inn is in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Cashiers, North Carolina where it has been welcoming guests since 1922. It’s great when you want your kids (and spouse!) to disconnect – there are no TVs or telephones but there is golf, tennis, a spa, and a lake for boating, fishing and swimming.
One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever stayed, Little St. Simons is the only place I’ve ever had fried catfish for breakfast. You won’t find luxurious accommodations here, but you will find a quaint lodge, unbelievably good food and activities that include swimming in the pool or at the secluded beach, nature tours and a wonderful swing to just sit and watch the tide roll in.
Best Inns in the South Near Mountain, Lakes or Beach
We may not have the Rocky Mountains or the Great Lakes but the South has plenty of smaller lakes, scenic mountains and of course, some of the country’s most beautiful beaches. Here are several places to relax and enjoy the scenic surroundings.
While I haven’t visited Asia, my friends the Murphys raved about this 5-room inn with a private spa, a 10-minute walk from Asheville, North Carolina.
Recommended by several friends, this bed and breakfast is in Georgia’s wine country, with enthusiasts claiming it’s the closest thing to a Napa Valley inn in Georgia. Take a cooking class at the inn’s North Georgia Cooking School.
This charmer is just 10 minutes from Chattanooga, across the street from Rock City Gardens, on top of Lookout Mountain.
This 20-room property is right on the beach on Amelia Island with a beautiful porch. It has garnered plenty of accolades from travel magazines and inclusion in “1000 Places to See Before You Die.”
Tucked back in the woods of Lake Rabun in Clarkesville, Georgia, Glen-Ella is a great place to stay to explore the many hiking trails and waterfalls of North Georgia. Check the website for lots of packages, including a Fly Fishing Lodging Package.
Chose from a room in the mansion, the junior suites in the Hillmont or Lakeside Suites at this beautiful inn on Lake Toxaway, North Carolina’s largest lake. An afternoon champagne cruise around the lake on the Miss Lucy is a highlight.
Sadly, I have not stayed at this 18-room top-rated inn renowned for its food in the countryside of Virginia. A complimentary tea is served in the afternoons and bicycles are provided to tour the town of Washington, Virginia.
I barely shed a tear when I dropped my baby off at college (sorry, buddy!) as my husband and I jumped in the car and immediately headed to Old Edwards Inn. The accommodations, the spa, the food – all first rate at this charming European-style resort in the middle of Highlands, North Carolina.
We spent the weekend in the cottage here last February with another couple and vowed to return soon. This charming mountain lodge is a perfect weekend getaway from Atlanta and the restaurant rivals any of the best in Atlanta.
The room was exquisite at this charming small inn in Clayton, GA but it’s the food that was really the stand-out. Make sure to eat dinner here and try to save room for the overindulgent breakfast. Rates start at $99.
Called the University’s living room, the Carolina Inn is right on the campus of the University of North Carolina and has been a favorite of visitors since 1924. While some of the rooms are on the small side, they are all big on charm. Make sure to eat in the spectacular Crossroads Restaurant. Call 800.962.8519 for rates.
If you’ve dreamed of staying in a Victorian mansion, this 1896 beauty in Savannah fits the bill. Set a spell on the porch overlooking Forsyth Park after a day spent exploring the other squares and many antique stores nearby.
This gingerbread cottage was a seaman’s cottage in 1897, has only four rooms and one of Savannah’s top rated breakfasts. Guests love the afternoon wine.
My husband and I found this 66-room boutique hotel in the French Quarter of Charleston years ago and fell in love with it. It’s a perfect location to walking to all the sites and has an amazing rooftop bar. Rates start at around $135.
Recommended by a friend, The Willcox’s website makes you want to jump in the car and go. This gorgeous property in Aiken, South Carolina was built in the 19th century as a place for the Yankees to stay during the Gilded Age. Rates start at $189.
When you stay in an inn run by a former caterer you know you’re in for some great food. Jackie Heinz will stock your room for breakfast in bed and serves up a morning feast at this Savannah inn with seven suites.
These are inns I mentioned during my appearance on “Belinda Skelton’s Atlanta Living” radio show on WSB 750. If you go, tell them Jan and Belinda sent you!