Planning a vacation or even a “staycation” in Georgia can save hundreds on airfare or other travel costs. Across the state, LGBT-owned campgrounds and bed and breakfasts are plentiful. They can be great choices for weekend getaways, or provide a welcome respite if you are visiting family or traveling for work within the state.
Georgia on our minds: LGBT camping, bed & breakfasts in our home state
Some are high end and others are rustic; some are exclusively for LGBT travelers, while others are gay-owned but open to everyone. And while some are located in gay havens, others are pockets of acceptance in more conservative parts of the state, leading some owners to ask to be identified only by first names in this article.
One of the most prominent gay campgrounds in the state is River’s Edge. Its clientele is mostly men, with some women sprinkled in. Located in Dewey Rose near Athens, it’s on 63 areas and is clothing optional.
According to River’s Edge’s Preston Rudeseal, the members-only club “is what you make of it,” meaning it’s ideal for a festive camping weekend or simple R and R.
Swiftwaters, near Dahlonega’s Blue Ridge Mountains, is another noted Georgia campground, on 22 acres of riverfront property. According to lesbian owner Pat, little has changed since Swiftwaters opened 31 years ago. She says the makeup is mostly lesbian, although straight women visit.
According to Pat, it’s a perfect place to unwind. Before gays and lesbian were accepted, “we used to be a refuge for women,” she says.
Now that times have changed, Swiftwaters still attracts visitors. There’s also a Bed & Breakfast room and two cabins. No men are allowed, although children are.
Other popular gay-owned campgrounds in the state include In the Woods in Canon, Bobcat in Quitman and Unadilla’s Lumberjacks, which caters to both gay and lesbian campers.
Gay-owned bed and breakfasts are even more prevalent throughout Georgia. Two good options for “staycations” in Atlanta are Stonehurst Place and The Gaslight Inn.
Owned by lesbian Barb Shadomy since 2008, Stonehurst is known for being green – using purification, recycling and solar energy. Says spokeswoman Lori Woroschuk, “Stonehurst is also small enough that we can cater to individual needs.”
The Gaslight Inn in Virginia Highlands is also a busy location. It’s owned by gay couple Mark Hall and Emory Boone. Near many beloved Atlanta landmarks, the inn is known for its beautiful décor and hospitality.
“Our motto is arrive as a guest and leave part of the family,” says Hall.
Dennis Hoover and his partner, David Mulcahy, own Mountain Laurel Creek Inn, which, like Swiftwaters, is in Dahlonega.
“We are a romantic getaway, with quiet ambience,” Hoover says, adding that the wineries and scenery are added attractions.
The B&B is open to everyone, and Hoover and Mulcahy don’t hide their relationship. “We are open about who we are; we celebrate diversity here,” Hoover says.
Augusta’s Parliament House bills itself as the world’s largest all-male resort. A gay-owned, members only club, Parliament House has 70 rooms and a “cruisy” atmosphere.
Only miles from Athens is Watkinsville’s five-acre Ashford Manor. It is owned by Maurio Castro and his partner, Dave Shearon, who are not from the South but fell for the area after deciding to open a B&B. Ashford Place is an 1893 Victoria Manor house with five rooms and a penthouse suite. A pool, spa service, and onsite entertainment distinguish this B&B.
Bainbridge is the home of the Commodore Bed & Breakfast, owned by gay couple Quinton and Phil. “It’s the only five-star luxury inn within a 100 miles,” says Quinton.
In Savannah, Keith Galloway and his partner, Jim Klotz, operate the Galloway House, a plantation house built in 1895.
“There’s nothing like this in Savannah. So many people say to us that it’s more relaxing than being at home,” says Galloway.
Finally, Savannah is also home to Park Avenue Manor, owned by Glenn Gaylord and Maurice Norman. The building, near the heart of Savannah’s historic district, has been standing since 1889. Gaylord says the antiques, affordable rates and Savannah nightlife make it a great place to visit.