Sometimes the thought of planning for, financing, and packing for a far-away trip can be daunting — and that’s assuming the boss lets you have time off. That’s where staycations come in: Whether it’s a weekend digital detox or a longer stay closer to home, Georgia is rife with locally owned places to escape.
STAYCATIONS IN THE CITY The metro Atlanta area may be a tourism draw in and of itself, but there are quite a few places ATL-iens can hide away from the hustle and bustle of city life, without actually leaving the city. Decatur Alpaca Cottage is one of these. It’s nestled just off Lavista Road, minutes from Northlake Mall, but visitors barely notice — they’re too busy enjoying peace and relaxation with Marykay Mentzer’s alpacas and chickens.
“I call it our little legacy farm,” Marykay says. “I got our first chickens about 10 or 11 years ago. Chickens are apparently the gateway animal for alpacas.”
Guests can coordinate experiences with Marykay, who identifies as lesbian, and customize their stay with alpaca visits and gardening tutorials. Visitors can purchase eggs grown on the farm and cook them in the cottage kitchen. She describes the cottage’s aesthetic as “organic luxury,” complete with blankets made from alpaca fiber.
Another option for a city staycation is The Inn at Serenbe, part of the Serenbe community in Chattahoochee Hills. Its founders fell in love with the century-old farmhouse during a weekend outing, and later moved in full time. The farmhouse quickly became a favorite visiting spot for friends and family, and the owners decided to open it as a traditional bed and breakfast in 1994.
“Included with your stay is a complimentary breakfast with our new executive chef, Ryan Mull,” says Stevie Seay, regional public relations coordinator for Serenbe. “There’s complimentary tea time in the afternoon where you can get scones, homemade chips, and biscuits.”
That’s just for starters — additional amenities include a pool, an in-ground trampoline, regular classes like goat yoga and access to Serenbe’s animal village of goats, pigs, llamas, chickens, and rabbits. And if there’s no room at the inn, Serenbe offers cottages and community spaces.
THE INN AT SERENBE Rates start at $275 for the inn and cottages, $435 and up for townhomes. SerenbeInn.com
BLUE RIDGE CAST AWAY Twenty years ago, the Oyster family began making bamboo fly rods. They were one of the first to offer classes, sharing the highly guarded secrets of this craft with the public. “Before we knew it, people were coming from all over the world to make bamboo fly rods in our basement,” Shannon Oyster, owner of Oyster Cast & Blast, tells Georgia Voice. “About a decade ago, we decided to move to the mountains and we thought, ‘All these people need somewhere to stay.’”
They settled in downtown Blue Ridge, voted one of the most LGBTQ-friendly cities in the state, and turned their building into a workshop and inn. Between classes, locals started inquiring about staying, and the Oysters opened their rooms and calendar up.
“I set it up for the sportsmen, very clean and simple and chic, but it’s small. It’s very sweet, just exactly what I would want if I was traveling,” Shannon says. Visitors have the opportunity to watch the Oysters and their crew at work, building world-renowned bamboo fly rods, all while enjoying the charisma of this mountain town.
OYSTER CAST & BLAST Rates start at $89; the entire inn is available starting at $275.
Fly rod classes start at $1,760. Students receive a discounted room rate. Sleeps up to nine guests. OysterBamboo.com
WORTH THE HIKE Len Foote Hike Inn got its start when the Georgia State Park System wanted to open a backcountry lodge. The Georgia Appalachian Trail Club stepped in, created a separate nonprofit, and developed a staycation well worth the five-mile hike it takes to get there.“Everything is inclusive,” Executive Director Eric Graves says. “All you need to hike up is a change of clothes and a toothbrush.” The inn is situated just outside Amicalola Falls State Park in Dawsonville, and prides itself on sustainability and conservation.
“Whether it’s [Appalachian Trail]-related or blackbird ecology or birding, we do some type of environmental program each evening and we strongly encourage guests to disconnect for a few minutes and enjoy the people you’re with,” Eric says.
LEN FOOTE HIKE INN Rates start at $180 for two adults. Hike-Inn.com