gimme a break
February 22, 2011 9:16 AM   Subscribe

Recommend a nice (but not necessarily fancy) part of the South for a spring getaway. Details inside!

Mr. Thinking and I are hoping to get away this spring to decompress and reconnect.

Warm weather required. Beach not required, but big water or mountain view a plus. Also: accessible nature, pet-friendly. No need for restaurants or shopping--we just want to cook and relax--although a cute, walkable town or some historical stuff nearby would be nice, too.

Ideally, we'd rent a house (small cottage OK) under $1000 for a week and stay within driving distance of Middle Tennessee.

I like what I see on I would love some recommendations about where to search. Any thoughts?
posted by thinkingwoman to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Helen, Georgia
posted by litnerd at 9:18 AM on February 22, 2011

Charlottesville, VA, and the surrounding area is gorgeous. It's also a cute, walkable town.

Charleston, SC is more urban, but also has gorgeous beaches, and is easily one of my favorite cities in the southeast.
posted by schmod at 9:27 AM on February 22, 2011

Asheville, NC, or anywhere nearby in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
posted by supercres at 9:34 AM on February 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

Mount Cheaha has nice little A-frame cabins for rent, dirt cheap, with lovely views and furnished kitchens. The park is a few minutes drive from Mentone, which has antique shops, eateries, flea markets, and Quaint Out The Wazoo. There's plenty of hiking trails around the state park and national forest, as well as canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and bird-watching. If you like camping, you can hike down into Buck's Pocket, an absolutely gorgeous little canyon with a stream-fed lake (lake? Ok, large pond) where bream and bass practically jump into your cooler.

And it's cheap. Like, really, really cheap.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:37 AM on February 22, 2011

2nding Helen GA. Cute, Bavarian style town in the mountains, right on the river.
posted by COD at 9:48 AM on February 22, 2011

If you do go to Helen, Unicoi state park is just a few miles up the road and has some nice hikes and some really beautiful cottages in the woods. If you stay there you can pop into Helen or enjoy the scenery whichever you desire (I personally find Helen a little cheesy but it can be fun in small doses).
posted by TedW at 9:55 AM on February 22, 2011

Oops, forgot to link to Unicoi.
posted by TedW at 9:56 AM on February 22, 2011

Check out Scenic View Log Cabins up in Rising Fawn, GA, about halfway up Lookout Mountain. Downtown Chattanooga is only about 25 minutes away, and Cloudland Canyon is about the same distance. There's a couple of Civil War battlefields within easy driving distance too.

Chattanooga itself has tons to do if you want. There's the aquarium, a nice downtown park right on the river surrounded by a bunch of restaurants and shops, the Incline Railway, etc.

You can do three nights in the cabins for $200, so a week should be well under $1000.
posted by valkyryn at 9:57 AM on February 22, 2011

I think Helen is an awful kitsch funnel-cakey toytown, Georgia's answer to Gatlinburg. But that's me.

Hot Springs, NC is small, on the Appalachian Trail, has lots of reasonable cabin rentals in the vicinity, and is about 90 minutes' drive past Knoxville. The springs themselves are about as unpretentious as a spa can be.
posted by holgate at 9:59 AM on February 22, 2011

If you'd rather skip the mountains. we've had our eyes on Eufaula, AL as a destination ever since driving through it on our way to the FL panhandle. Gorgeous lake there, among other things. It got a decent (short) little writeup in Garden & Gun awhile back, too.
posted by jquinby at 10:22 AM on February 22, 2011

(Eufaula's on page 2 of that article, by the way)
posted by jquinby at 10:22 AM on February 22, 2011

I've heard good things about Chashiers, North Carolina.
posted by Theloupgarou at 10:56 AM on February 22, 2011

*Cashiers, NC
posted by Theloupgarou at 10:56 AM on February 22, 2011

Helen is pretty touristy - if that's your thing, then it's a lot of fun. The Bavarian building style that's required in the city limits is very pretty too.

Charlottesville and anywhere else near/on Skyline Drive in Virginia is also quite beautiful if what you want is natural mountain scenery. There are a lot of nice bed and breakfast type places in Staunton and Waynesboro if you'd rather avoid the "college town" feel of Charlottesville. If you want to do any of these and get warm weather, though, I recommend waiting until late Spring, since we can get pretty cool weather all the way through May.

Chattanooga is great too, or at least it was when I went there some 15 years ago! At that point in my life, I wasn't all that impressed by the Aquarium (I was in my teens), but Ruby Falls and Lookout Mountain/Rock City were fun. It may be more touristy now, though.
posted by ashirys at 11:26 AM on February 22, 2011

This may be a longer drive than you want, but how about Hot Springs, AR? We live in Memphis, and it's about a 3-hr drive for us. My husband and I stayed at Five Points on Lake Hamilton, which was about $100 per night for your own cabin with full kitchen, porch that overlooks the lake, and it's pet-friendly! (plus, they leave all the fixings for breakfast the next morning - bacon, english muffins, eggs, juice, coffee, milk, etc. - which I thought was a really nice gesture). You're about 5 minutes from downtown, historic Hot Springs, where you can shop and dine (or take one of the hot baths!) if you want. It was a very relaxing trip for us, and we've been recommending it to all of our friends.

Hope that helps!
posted by elisebeth at 7:58 AM on February 23, 2011

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