Life Enrichment
Unplug & Unwind

Unplug & Unwind

Get away for less with these Georgia escapes
Kathy Kidwell

Between Facebook, Twitter, iPhones and the multitude of other electronic distractions vying for your time and attention (or should that be “addiction”?), it’s important to just unplug every now and then and get away. These days, it’s crucial to be able to break away without breaking the bank, and with so many fabulous vacation destinations located within state lines, that’s not as tough as it sounds. Check out these six sensational destinations we found—all within 100 miles of Atlanta. Most of these trips will cost you just $250 or less, depending on Sutton Mill_cottageevethe number of nights you stay and your food and transportation expenses.

Sutton Mill

While it’s only 80 miles north of Atlanta’s bustling cityscape, the scenery at Sutton Mill appears to be worlds away—perfect criteria for a weekend trip. This mountain getaway showcases 50 acres of bucolic pastures and woods in the Sautee-Nacoochee Valley, along with the charming nearby village of Clarkesville, home to holistic healers and a vibrant artist community.

Endearing escape
Sutton Mill is a restored 1890s gristmill surrounded by guesthouses available for rent, starting at $195 per night, with a minimum 2-night stay. While these prices may be a bit steeper than other options, they are quite reasonable when compared to most guesthouse rentals—after all, you are renting an entire house, not just a hotel room. So bring a group of friends or your extended family and split the cost. Spend your days rafting, hiking, fly-fishing or enjoying other outdoor activities at the Soque River or nearby Lake Rabun and Lake Burton. Visit to check availability and find more information.

Barnsley Gardens Resort

Barnsley GardensThe 1,400 landscaped acres that Barnsley Gardens Resort encompasses will make you feel as though you’ve discovered a hidden jewel in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Located just 60 miles north of Atlanta, Barnsley Gardens is more like an intimate residence than a resort, offering charming accommodations, world-class golf, Orvis wingshooting and fly-fishing schools, 160-year-old gardens featuring hundreds of varieties of heirloom roses, kayaking on the lake and horseback riding along scenic trails. Friend them on Facebook and you can receive special offers! Learn more at

Worry-free weekend
Reserving a getaway package with Barnsley Gardens can save you more than $100 a day compared to their nightly rates and other fees. The Worry Free Weekend package will give two adults a 1-night stay in a manor room, suite or cottage, breakfast for two, a picnic lunch and dinner at the resort restaurant of your choice—all for $345 plus tax. Additional packages are available, as well—check their Web site for more details.

Callaway Gardens

Callaway GardensIf you’re into resort-style getaways where you don’t have an itinerary yet there are plenty of things to do, then Callaway Gardens is for you. Located about 80 miles southwest of Atlanta in Pine Mountain, Callaway Gardens is a 13,000-acre, award-winning resort and center of enrichment, offering four distinctive gardens to tour, a 35,000-square-foot complex with exhibits and environmental education, nature trails, a butterfly garden, fishing, tennis, golf, a spa and more.

Activity-filled and affordable
For as low as $99 a night, the Callaway Gardens Stimulus Package deal offers accommodations at their Mountain Creek Inn, secluded villas or cottages, one free round of golf and cart (per night of stay) at their Lake View course, 2 free hours of bicycle rentals, 2 free hours of boat rentals, 1 free hour of tennis court time, admission to the Callaway Gardens and use of the Callaway Fitness Center. Visit for more details

Len Foote Hike Inn

Len Foote Hike InnOne of Georgia’s most unique travel experiences is the Len Foote Hike Inn at Amicalola Falls in Dawsonville. Less than 60 miles north of Atlanta, the Inn is a great way to combine the adventures of camping in the woods of the Chattahoochee National Forest with an overnight stay at a charming, eco-friendly bed and breakfast. But be sure to pack light! The Hike Inn has a very literal name—it is accessible only by foot over a moderate, 5-mile hiking trail that originates at the top of the Amicalola Falls.

A wilderness hideaway
Once you park your car, you can check in at the Amicalola Falls State Park Visitors Center to get information and directions for your walk to the Inn. You must check in before 2 p.m., or you will not be permitted to hike. The hike takes anywhere from 2 to 4 hours, and you will be required to leave your cell phones, pagers and radios behind. Once you arrive at the Hike Inn, you can enjoy a family-style dinner followed by educational and entertaining programs in the Sunrise Room, or nestle in with a good book or a round of board games. You can also rest assured that your stay is creating as little of a carbon footprint as possible—the Inn utilizes composting toilets, solar panels for energy, rainwater harvesting and vermiculture practices. During your stay, you can hike the various trails surrounding the Inn. The Inn’s rates are $70 per adult for double occupancy, or $97 per adult for single occupancy, including dinner and breakfast. Discounted rates apply to children ages 12 and under. Trail lunches are available to overnight guests for a small fee. Learn more at

Pura Vida USA Wellness and Yoga Retreat

Pura VidaFor those in need of recuperation from the stress of their daily lives, the Pura Vida USA Wellness and Yoga Retreat can provide a relaxing, effective detox weekend. Located just over 70 miles north of Atlanta in the town of Dahlonega, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this 72-acre retreat offers fresh air, an outdoor Jacuzzi, natural trails, spa treatments, a yoga studio and accommodations in a quaint inn. Schedule your trip during one of the town’s numerous festivals, and you’ll have a fun, relaxing, memorable getaway. Learn more and book your trip at

Wellness getaway
Among the many package deals Pura Vida offers is the Wellness Getaway Package, which is a perfect recipe for rejuvenation. The package includes 2 nights’ accommodation with breakfast for two each morning, two $75-value spa treatments per person and unlimited use of the Jacuzzi under the stars and nature trails. Yoga sessions also are offered on Fridays at 4 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m. Package prices vary depending on the type of room, single or double occupancy and the time of year, but a double-occupancy summer weekend is priced at $540, to give you a ballpark.

Budget-friendly deal
If the getaway packages are too pricey, you can book a one-night stay for as little as $105.


AthensA 70-mile trip east from Atlanta, Athens was the birthplace of R.E.M., the B-52s and Widespread Panic and remains best known for hundreds of bands that perform nightly in the local clubs. Athens is home to the University of Georgia, but the creative energy of this town goes beyond music and youth thanks to the vibrant arts scene, hip shops and historic districts.

Two Athens hotels to look into are: The Foundry Park Inn & Spa, where the $115-a-night cost lets you stay on-site and enjoy The Melting Point, a top live-music venue; and the Country Inn & Suites, a new property offering rooms for as low as $87 a night with amenities like a 4-story atrium lobby, fitness center and indoor heated pool. Athens also offers plenty of activities for free or at nominal cost, such as:

Roll into town Thursday, Friday or Saturday in time for tours and tastings at Terrapin Brewery. From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Terrapin offers free tours, live music and, if you purchase a glass for $8, you can sample up to eight beers.

Vegetarian cuisine
The Grit, located at 199 Prince Ave., is a hip spot that’s a favorite of local musicians, widely known for its meat-free cuisine, casual ambiance and diverse menu. A meal here costs $10-$12.50 per person.

Market merriment
On Saturday mornings through November (8 a.m.-1 p.m.), check out the Farmer’s Market at Bishop Park, where local farmers, craftspeople and volunteers sell naturally grown food, crafts and works of art.

Gardens galore
Athens is also home to the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, where a free admission lets you enjoy nature trails, theme gardens and a tropical conservatory with art exhibits. Learn more at