Girlfriend Getaways in Atlanta’s Four Corners
Atlanta offers a lot of great attractions, entertainment, restaurants and accommodations for any size or style of girlfriend getaway. But sometimes it’s great to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for something a little more relaxed. Head out from Atlanta in just about any direction, and you’ll find some prime destinations for your next road trip with the girls. The biggest problem may be deciding which way to head first!
Northwest: Barnsley Gardens Resort
Located halfway between Atlanta and Chattanooga, Tenn., just off of Interstate 75 in Adairsville, Barnsley Gardens Resort reminds me of a small English village tucked away in the British countryside. The heart of the resort is the accommodations, a collection of charming cottages, ranging from one to seven bedrooms. Each room has a separate keyed entrance to ensure privacy, so you can reserve the exact number needed for your visit. Plus, many rooms have a separate living room and porch, so you have lots of room to hang out with the girls.
Barnsley Gardens also offers a number of activities so you can be as active as you want. There’s the Jim Fazio-designed golf course, the 12 miles of hiking and nature trails, the sport shooting course, horseback riding, and the many gardens (duh!) throughout the grounds. Or you can head to my personal favorite, The Spa at Barnsley Gardens. May I recommend the Manor Omega 3 Body Wrap? This treatment started with a body treatment containing Omega 3’s, followed up by a brief shower to cleanse my skin. I then returned to the table for a massage. Next up was a full body mask and wrap, and, finally, a hydrating lotion was applied. All I know for sure is I was definitely in a happy place. Afterward, I suggest kicking back with a cool drink at the swimming pool, which is right next door.
When it comes to dining, Barnsley Gardens answers the call with four great options: Woodlands Grill, Rice House, The Beer Garden and room service. For a casual meal, head to the Woodlands Grill, with a menu of steak, seafood, pasta and more. If you want to dress to the nines one night, make a reservation at Rice House, the resort’s fine dining eatery. However, if you want to carry on the relaxed tone of your getaway, opt for sausages and pretzels at The Beer Garden, where you can dine outside as the sound of music permeates the air. Of course, if you just want to kick back in the comfort of your room, room service delivers a wide selection of choices as well.
For me, Barnsley Gardens Resort feels like a relaxed stay in the country without sacrificing all the comforts of a top-notch resort.
Northeast: Château Élan
Just a short 50-minute drive north on Interstate 85 out of Atlanta, Château Élan has evolved into one of the hottest destinations for culinary fans. First and foremost, there is the winery. Opened in 1984, the Château Élan Winery offers daily wine tours and tastings for a nominal fee. If that whets your and your girlfriends’ appetites for more, The Culinary Studio hosts a number of cooking demonstrations and classes. For those who want to delve into more than just a sample, Château Élan features seven onsite restaurants covering the global cuisine scene.
In addition to fine food, Château Élan welcomes you to experience a number of active pursuits, including golf, tennis, biking, hiking, swimming and a number of fitness classes. The biking and hiking trails give an in-depth look at the property’s extensive grounds, with trails through forests, along the equestrian center and, of course, along the flowing grape vines.
And, yes, there is an onsite spa, The Spa at Château Élan. Since the completion of a three-year renovation in August 2010, the spa is miles beyond the facility I visited in years past. Spa services include massage therapy, nail services, body treatments, skin care and facials, and hydrotherapy treatments. While I enjoyed the spa’s pedicure, there’s sure to be something to please all of your girlfriends.
When thinking accommodations, The Château Élan Inn features 275 guest rooms including 22 suites should you decide to go that route. Although the property is immense, all activities and facilities are easily accessible.
Take Interstate 20 east toward Augusta, and just a few miles down the road from the Greensboro exit you’ll find The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation. Facing the waters of Lake Oconee, this 251-room hotel features spacious rooms with either a lake view or a look at the property’s grounds. The added bonus of the lake-view rooms? A balcony where you can relax and enjoy the day (or night!).
Also available, the two- or three-bedroom golf cottages and, for the ultimate girlfriend getaway, The Presidential House. This luxurious lakeside abode spans three floors, with four master suites, four bedrooms and two guest baths. There’s also a living room with fireplace, a wet bar off the foyer, a formal dining room and a full kitchen. Amenities include a pool table, game table, wet bar and flat-screen television. Outside, you will find a screened-in back porch and a private, heated outdoor pool, plus there is a golf cart waiting in its own garage off the mudroom.
While there is much to do here–golf, hiking, biking, Segway tours, etc.–I highly recommend taking in all the lake has to offer: swimming, boating, water skiing, fishing and so on. You also can choose from a wide array of lawn games, which are available at the resort concierge desk. These include checkers, horseshoes, Frisbee golf, bocce ball, croquet, basketball, football, softball, soccer balls, etc. If “do nothing” tops your list, just head to the lakeshore, and kick back in one of the Adirondack chairs scattered along the water.
Another must for me? The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation Spa, where I experienced heaven on Earth via the Drift to Sleep body treatment. This 110-minute body therapy starts with an aromatherapy milk bath followed by a body massage accompanied by aromatherapy oils and capped off with a 30-minute power nap. Let’s just say after it was over, I could barely crawl back to the relaxation lounge.
When you’re ready to eat, I recommend Gaby’s by the Lake. This casual eatery is the ideal place to bond with your gal pals over pizza, salads, sandwiches, seafood and pasta, among others. Other dining options include Georgia’s Bistro, Linger Longer Steakhouse, the Lobby Lounge and room service, but nothing compares to the relaxed atmosphere you’ll find at Gaby’s. However, no matter where you have dinner, make sure you save room for s’mores at the fire pit behind the lodge. This nightly event should be on your schedule every evening of your stay.
An hour southwest of Atlanta, The Lodge & Spa at Callaway Gardens welcomes girlfriends to get back to nature. Situated just outside the gates of Callaway Gardens, The Lodge and Spa at Callaway features 150 deluxe guest rooms, each one with a private balcony so you can commune with the great outdoors. Speaking of the outdoors, the lodge features a swimming pool and spa just steps from your room, the perfect place to spend a few hours.
Another great way to spend some time is at Spa Prunifolia. With a treatment menu full of nature-based massages, custom facials, herbal and mineral wraps, and more, you may be hard-pressed to leave the facility. During my visit, I enjoyed an hour-long body massage that was the perfect remedy to relieve the stress and tired muscles that tagged along on the trip.
For mealtimes, the lodge offers Piedmont Restaurant, a casual restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, I recommend exploring the many dining options available throughout Callaway Gardens. With 10 restaurants, Callaway meets every desire, from a quick sandwich to fresh Southern cuisine. Make sure to include the Country Kitchen on the itinerary. Selections include farm-raised catfish and country-fried steak with fresh vegetables such as turnip greens and mashed potatoes with gravy.
Of course, you can’t come to The Lodge & Spa at Callaway Gardens without exploring the gardens. Covering 13,000 acres, Callaway Gardens offers a variety of entertainment options to fill the days. There’s the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center, where more than 1,000 butterflies representing more than 50 species flit around and, perhaps, land on your shoulder. Or you can check out the John A. Sibley Horticultural Center to view the beautiful floral displays both inside and out. Perhaps you want a quiet place to take a break? Sitting on the edge of Falls Creek Lake, the Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel offers a cool respite from the bright sunshine.
When exploring the gardens, I highly recommend renting or bringing a bike. Biking is a wonderful way to travel among these sites and to get a first-hand look at the garden grounds. Covering 10 miles, the Discovery Bicycle Trail offers visitors a relaxing way to traverse the gardens and get some exercise at the same time.
Regardless of what you decide to do with your best girlfriends, you can bet you all will leave with some wonderful memories.