SEA ISLAND, GA
There’s a preppy verve behind the stalwart façades and walled courtyards of this fabled resort community’s elegant homes. Bring your flip-flops, but don’t forget a jacket and tie for cocktails.
Georgia’s poshest barrier island, this elegant getaway has been a favorite second home destination for well-heeled Atlantans for generations. WHAT TO DO Ride a bike under the tree-canopied streets, walk along the Atlantic shores, just relax. WHERE TO STAY The Cloister at Sea Island has been a mainstay for more than 80 years. Rates start at $349; seaisland.com. WHERE TO GO St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island and Little St. Simons are nearby and fun to explore. BEFORE YOU GO You can check out the local forecast and tide tables at comecoastawhile.com, and if you can’t get to the water fast enough, watch a video feed of the St. Simons Island Pier Cam at glynncounty.org.
ALYS BEACH, FL
Forbes.com named it the “best spot for the design-savvy.” Medjool date palms dot the town, which is an amalgamation of the best of Europe, Bermuda, Antigua, Guatemala, Morocco and the Mediterranean.
Located along Scenic Highway 30A in the Florida panhandle, this traditional neighborhood development is one of the newest in the state. WHAT TO DO Homeowners and their guests can wile away the days at the Caliza Pool. Passersby pop into the The Fonville Press for a New York Times and iced latte. WHERE TO EAT George’s at Alys Beach is a family favorite; we love Señora Anna’s Fish Tacos and the grouper sandwich. WHAT THE LOCALS KNOW The master plan for the community was designed by Duany Plater-Zyberk, the same firm which designed Seaside, Florida. BEFORE YOU GO Interested in a vacation rental? Visit alysbeach.com for tours of homes as well as their availability.
When nothing compares to the breathtaking views in this low-key North Carolina mountain community, why try? These items draw upon the area’s natural beauty, making themselves right at home.
Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, this idyllic village boasts an almost perfect climate, especially in the summer. WHERE TO STAY Since 1922, the High Hampton Inn & Country Club has offered simple and rustic accommodations. highhamptoninn.com. WHERE TO GO Stop at the Cashiers Farmer’s Market at the “crossroads” on Highway 64 for fresh produce and other locally sourced staples. cashiersfarmersmarket.com. WANT TO LIVE THERE? Check out cashiersnorthcarolina.com for a listing of local real estate companies. SAVE THE DATE The Cashiers Designer Showhouse is August 20-September 5. Visit cashiershistoricalsociety.org for details.
Chalk it up to the elevation—3,832 feet. you can always find a touch of whimsy or the unexpected in the beautiful homes of this mountain community. These finds convey the area’s fresh take on tradition.
Once you cross the Georgia/North Carolina border headed to this mountain hamlet, the temperature drops and the humidity all but disappears. WHAT TO DO Wander around the shops and galleries of downtown or take a hike up Whiteside Mountain, where you might spot a peregrine falcon or two. WHERE TO STAY The Old Edwards Inn and Spa was named the No. 1 Hotel Spa in North America by Condé Nast Traveler. Download the spa menu at oldedwardsinn.com. WHERE TO EAT Madison’s at Old Edwards Inn & Spa is a AAA Four-Diamond Award winner. We also love the food and the courtyard at Wild Thyme Gourmet Restaurant. Peruse the menu at wildthymegourmet.com.
LAKE MARTIN, AL
The lure of the water has long beckoned landlocked weekenders from birmingham, but now atlantans looking for a quick escape are discovering the quiet and solitute of this alabama gem.
This central Alabama retreat features a variety of home styles, from rustic cabins to luxe waterfront homes within the The Ridge at Lake Martin. WHAT TO DO Don’t miss a meal at Spring House restaurant, where the menu is created by Chef Chris Hastings of the famed Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham. WHERE TO GO Catherine’s Market at Russell Crossroads offers more than standard provisions; this gourmet hub brings a Dean and Deluca-esque quality to the area. INSIDER TIP Before dinner, arrive at the Spring House restaurant in time for a cocktail to watch the sunset from the upper deck. MORE INFO Check out the scenery at russelllandsonlakemartin.com
Due east between Atlanta and Augusta, this historic village features antebellum architecture, bucolic farms and a walkable downtown square, all perfect for a sunday drive to the country.
Just an hour from Atlanta, this town (founded in 1809) is perfect for aficianados of historic homes and architecture. WHERE TO STAY The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation is 30 miles away; ritzcarlton.com/reynolds. WHERE TO GO The Madison-Morgan Cultural Center is the the area’s hub for arts programming. WHEN TO GO The Madison in May Spring Tour of Homes is May 6-7. For details, visit mmcc-arts.org. INSIDER TIP An 1845 guide to Georgia proclaimed Madison “the most cultured and aristocratic town on the stagecoach route from Charleston to New Orleans.” REQUIRED READING Madison: A Classic Southern Town ($50, Golden Coast Books) by William R. Mitchell.
ROSEMARY BEACH, FL
On the outside, the homes in this gulf coast town reflect the white sands and crystal blue waters of the nearby surf, but inside, homeowners use jolts of color for accent and joie de vivre.
This idyllic beach community has everything you need, all within a ten-minute walk. WHAT TO DO Rent a bike, relax by the ocean or meet friends at one of the two Village Greens. WHERE TO STAY The town offers an extensive cottage rental program; rosemarybeach.com. For something romantic, consider the 11-room Pensione Inn. WHERE TO GO Grab a sandwich or a bottle of sauvignon blanc at the gourmet Wild Olives Market. INSIDER TIP Delta offers flights to the new Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, which opened last May in West Bay. It is the first international airport to be built in the United States in more than a decade.
From Americus to the Okefenokee, Thomasville to St. Marys, southern hospitality and charm reigns supreme among the dense piney woods. grab a seat, nab yourself a coke and linger a Little while.
Well-known for its hunting plantations, the area’s natural beauty lures visitors time and time again. WHERE TO GO Thomasville is a hot bed of activity; Jane Fonda performed there in April and its charming downtown is the epitome of Main Street USA. For the the adventuresome, try an overnight wilderness canoeing trip through the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Go to fws.gov/okefenokee for details. WHERE TO STAY Bedandbreakfast.com lists an array of cozy accommodations throughout the region. WHAT TO DO Jimmy Carter often teaches Sunday School at Maranatha Baptist Church; visit mbcplains.org for his upcoming schedule.