- By Helena Oliviero The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Now is a glorious time for enjoying the outdoors — going on hikes, roasting marshmallows and maybe even sleeping under the stars.
But while many seek quick weekend getaways, not everyone is up for sleeping in a tent.
For those wanting to unplug and reconnect with nature without having to rough it (at all), “glamping” — or glamorous camping — may be just right.
Georgia is home to several destinations where you can cozy up with nature without sacrificing the comforts of home.
Here’s a look at six of them:
Candlelight Forest, situated on 200 acres of hardwood canopies and a meandering creek, is home to two cozy treehouses nestled in the woods. Located only minutes from downtown Chattanooga and adjacent to Lookout Mountain, these treehouses are ideal for those who want to enjoy the great outdoors but without sacrificing the comforts of home.
Sophie’s Roost and Le Petit Chateau treehouses sleep up to six people, and each one features two bedroom nooks, one-and-a-half baths, outdoor kitchenettes with gas grills, running water and decks with spectacular views. (Inside, there are a coffee maker, mini fridge and microwave.)
These adorable, designer-decorated tiny retreats of about 500 feet stand just a few feet off the ground. Two more treehouses are scheduled to open by the end of next year.
Unwind, unplug and enjoy a wide range of activities from movies projected on tree-hung sheets, late-night s’mores and treasure hunts. There are also a hammock cove, a seasonal farm stand and a lake for canoeing and paddle boarding. Check in at an old-fashioned candy store. Rates start at $200. Candlelight Forest, 9862 Ga. 193, Chickamauga, Ga. 404-297-4350, www.thecandlelightforest.com.
The yurt concept is more than 2,400 years old, but the round-shaped, rustic abodes now are a popular glamping trend across the country. And Atlanta’s closest state park, Sweetwater Creek State Park, is now home to 10 yurts.
Located in Lithia Springs, about a 30-minute drive from Atlanta, the yurts are tucked away in a quiet, wooded section of the park. Made of wood and canvas, the yurts sleep up to six people and come with beds, futons, screened windows and locking doors, as well as an outside deck, picnic table and grill/fire ring. There are no bathrooms inside the yurts at Sweetwater Creek (or any Georgia state park), but clean bathroom facilities are nearby in the the yurt village.
Yurt reservations at Sweetwater Creek are $85 per night. 1750 Mount Vernon Road, Lithia Springs. 770-732-5871, gastateparks.org/SweetwaterCreek.
Note: With the addition of the Sweetwater yurts, Georgia state parks now have 39 yurt accommodations available. Rates range from $85 to $100. Additional state parks that have yurts include High Falls State Park, Red Top Mountain State Park and Cloudland Canyon State Park.
Guests at Historic Banning Mills can (literally) branch out from traditional accommodations by staying in a treehouse village.
Set about 70 feet above the gorge and accessible only by rope and wood sky bridges, seven treehouse rooms offer guests a rare opportunity to find tranquility up in the leaves, complete with a slight sway in the breeze and tree trunks bursting through the floorboards and out the ceiling.
The treehouse rooms each come with a king-sized bed, gas log fireplace and lots of windows. Also, just because guests are sleeping in a tree does not mean the accommodations are without modern perks, as rooms include a microwave, small refrigerator and a jetted tub for two, as well as a Keurig coffee machine.
Treehouse rooms are $209 the first night and $189 for each additional night, double occupancy. The price includes a full country-style breakfast each morning of the stay.
About 19 miles south of Douglasville, Historic Banning Mills is located at 205 Horseshoe Dam Road, Whitesburg. 770-834-9149, www.historicbanningmills.com.
Experience “glamping” in a North Georgia hardwood forest in the rustic comforts of a native American tepee, and new this fall is a cowboy cabin.
North Georgia Canopy Tours features seven furnished tepees, which sleep two, five or 10 people, and each one is equipped with electricity, heat and air conditioning. The new cowboy cabin sleeps six people. All accommodations are near a comfort station with separate men’s and women’s facilities, charcoal grills, and a communal fire pit. Breakfast biscuits can be ordered at check-in for a bit of yummy luxury. You can reserve a zip-line tour to experience the North Georgia hills from the trees.
The sites are named after the seven clans of Cherokee society, and tepees are vividly painted with authentic Cherokee symbols. The cowboy cabin is named after a famous train robber in Lula known as the “Gentlemen Bandit” — Bill Miner. Other activities include disc golf, geocaching and cornhole.
For those who actually enjoy “roughing it,” North Georgia Canopy Tours also offers 15 rustic camping sites.
The tepees start at $90 per night, and the cabin starts at $129 per night. (To reserve the cabin, click on the blue region of the map.) 5290 Harris Road, Lula. 770-869-7272, www.northgeorgiacanopytours.com.
Bright colors, an open floor plan and elegant bedding make luxury sleeping tents a truly special glamping experience at the Martyn House. Don’t let the word “tent” fool you. This is an 18-acre, adults-only retreat in Ellijay that features gorgeous, environmentally friendly luxury tents from India, and each one comes with its own private bath, including on-demand hot water and composting toilet. Each tent also includes a deck with chairs overlooking the woods. Massages can be arranged, as well as a candlelight dinner for two. All tents are heated and will keep you toasty warm on those cooler fall nights, and fans for those warm summer nights keep you cool during the warmer days. An innkeeper prepares a hearty country breakfast served every morning on the farmhouse veranda. The glamping season here runs from April 15-Dec. 1. Nightly rates for glamping tents are $220 per tent for two people. Rooms are available year-round at the 1930s Farmhouse on the property (and rates start at $150). The Martyn House. 912 Flat Branch Road. Ellijay. 706-635-4759, www.themartynhouse.com.
Yurts have caught on at Stone Mountain Park’s popular campground as an option for first-time campers, families with children and park visitors just looking for a different kind of adventure.
The park began a couple of years ago with three lakeside yurts, and since then have added nine more. Several more are expected to open during the coming months (including three jumbo yurts, which will sleep eight people).
And now, there are three Safari Tents next to the yurt village, and the park also recently added six RVs with plumbing, which are across the street from the yurts.
In other words, there are plenty of glamping options at Stone Mountain Park.
Made of sturdy canvas, the Safari tents all have the charcoal grills, spigots and fire rings just like yurts, and inside, each has a queen bed, dining table, fan and lamp, but they are not insulated or climate-controlled (beyond the fan for the summer months). In other words, Safari tents are somewhere between a primitive tent and yurt — you’ll be dry and snug, but you’ll have to handle the highs and lows of Georgia temperatures.
The new RV option allows you to enjoy the novelty of RV camping without the hassle and cost of owning your own RV.
However you decide to glamp, there are plenty of activities from hayrides and magic shows to ice cream socials during the warmer months.
Safari tents rent for $70 a night and require a two-day minimum. Yurts also require a two-night reservation for $119 a night or $159 a night on holidays. RV rentals start at $175 per night. Camping spots start at $26 a night. Stone Mountain Park, 1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd., Stone Mountain. 1-800-385-9807, www.stonemountainpark.com/Campground.