Love Blooms in the Georgia Mountains
By Kathie Farnell
Photos by Jack Purser Jr.

Updated: As of June of 2008, the new innkeepers are Ed & Luci Kivett

Visitors looking for romantic seclusion in a back-to-nature atmosphere can find it at two rustic yet elegant North Georgia resorts. Less than ninety minutes from Atlanta, the Glen-Ella Springs Inn near Clarkesville offers sixteen rooms overlooking a swimming pool and gorgeous garden. The Inn, built more than one hundred years ago as a home, later catered to travelers in search of a nineteenth century spa experience at the local mineral springs. Lovingly restored and reopened in 1987, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has won widespread acclaim for its cuisine, featured in Southern Living, Better Homes and Gardens and Atlanta Magazine, and is listed as one of Travel and Leisure’s Top Ten Getaways.

The Inn’s Penthouse room features a king four-poster bed, heart pine paneling, a private balcony and fine antiques, along with a beautiful view of the property’s seventeen acres.

Two suites offer whirlpool baths, a sitting room and gas log fireplaces. A six-bedroom golf villa includes two common areas with full kitchens. Guests staying in the golf villa enjoy complimentary playing privileges on The Orchard golf course nearby.

Rooms at the Inn open onto common porches replete with rocking chairs. Breakfast, included in the room rate, is served outdoors, weather permitting, on a terrace overlooking the gardens. Feeders scattered around the grounds are popular with migrating birds, who are in turn popular with Glen, the Inn’s nearly-spherical tabby cat.

The property includes a mountain creek and hiking trails. Nearby activities include whitewater rafting, horseback riding, shopping in the area’s antique shops, golf, trout fishing and enjoying the scenery.

The Inn is open for dinner most evenings by reservation. The menu includes herbed mountain trout, rack of lamb, and shrimp over grits. During my visit, we enjoyed a bountiful breakfast including trout cakes, homemade granola, biscuits and terrific peach preserves.

The Inn’s garden, with its rustic mountain laurel gazebo, is a popular spot for weddings. Up to 175 guests can be accommodated for ceremonies and receptions featuring anything from barbecue to a gourmet dinner.

For more information or reservations, check the website at

The Lodge at Smithgall Woods

West of Clarkesville, near the nouveau-Alpine village of Helen, The Lodge at Smithgall Woods nestles amid 5600 acres of woodlands. Originally a compound of five luxury cottages created by wealthy conservationist Charles Smithgall for himself and his friends, today The Lodge comprises part of the Smithgall Woods-Dukes Creek Conservation Area, managed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Dukes Creek, one of the finest trout streams in the country, meanders through its grounds.

The Lodge accommodates up to 28 guests in the rustic elegance of a private mountain estate. Gourmet meals, included in the room rates, are served family-style in Smithgall Cottage’s airy dining room overlooking the creek. Chef Mac Parks’ specialty is fresh mountain trout, which is served daily. The Lodge’s gardens provide fresh herbs, vegetables and flowers. During my visit, dinner was enhanced by wines from North Georgia vineyards.

Activities here include hiking to beautiful Dukes Creek Falls, observing wildlife, fishing, and listening to naturalist Pete Griffin, an entertaining musician and storyteller. Special programs on wildflowers and mushrooms are presented by visiting experts. A primitive cabin, transported here from its original site at nearby Unicoi Park, is the setting for Fireside Chats on everything from moonshining to making musical instruments.

Weddings at The Lodge at Smithgall Woods emphasize the beauty of the natural setting and the cozy elegance of the accommodations. Receptions take place outside on the spacious deck overlooking the creek, or in the Smithgall Cottage great room with its stone fireplace. Menus and other arrangements are custom-tailored for each occasion. Groups up to 100 can be accommodated for receptions and parties, and fourteen private guestrooms are available. The Lodge’s wedding specialist can assist in selecting florists, musicians and photographers.

Rates at The Lodge at Smithgall Woods range from $289-399 doubles per night including all meals. For more information, check the website.

This area of North Georgia provides a wealth of attractions. The Georgia Wine Trail runs through here. During our stay we enjoyed sampling wines from Tiger Mountain, Frogtown Cellars, and Wolf Mountain Vineyards, as well as a tour and tasting at Dahlonega’s Three Sisters Vineyards, site of the Georgia Wine Country Festival each June. Shopping opportunities include the chance to browse folk art in the town of Clayton’s Main Street Gallery (photo right), handmade furniture at Timpson Creek Art Gallery and Millworks, and pottery at Clarkesville’s Hickory Flat Pottery, the working studio and home of potter Cindy Angliss.

Related Pages:

> more articles on romantic getaways in Georgia
> Georgia's marriage regulations
> Barnsley Gardens' Ghostly Romance by Kathie Farnell

Kathie Farnell and Jack Purser are based in Alabama and have been doing travel writing and photography since the early 90s. Their favorite topics include nature travel, romantic destinations, weekend getaways and offbeat topics. They both come from a legal background; Jack was an attorney for the US Department of Agriculture, and Kathie founded Farnell Legal Research. Kathie also produces programming for public television and radio.,

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