After working on a labor-intensive rental house project all spring, I was exhausted. We both were. Plus, when you travel for work and your work never ends, it can be hard to find time for you. So SVV and I squeezed in a quick little three-day vacation to the Blue Ridge Mountains in Georgia—a “small-cation” if you will—beginning moments after we turned the rental house over to its new inhabitants.
Living back in Tennessee for more than six years has presented us with no shortage of small-cations (destinations we can reach in a matter of hours): We’re bordered by eight states and can be in so many cool cities—Knoxville, Memphis, Louisville, Lexington, Asheville, Atlanta, Chattanooga, Birmingham, the list goes on—in a matter of hours by car. But when I’m stealing away for an actual vacation, I often want to get out of the cities, and Blue Ridge, Georgia was one place that had forever evaded me, despite it just being an hour beyond the Tennessee border.
Because we had planned to paddleboard, we opted to rent a Nissan truck from the Enterprise neighborhood location in Tullahoma by my parents’ house for our trips so we could take our boards along, plus also have space in the cab for our bags. It only cost us $180, too, which beats putting the miles and wear and tear on my own Jeep. (Pro tip: It’s always more affordable to rent a car from a neighborhood or non-airport locations as you save on airport taxes.)
For me, what makes a small-cation? A few things:
Not being in the car for more than three hours. Blue Ridge is just two-and-a-half hours from us; anything more than that, and I would demand more than a weekend there. It was the ideal distance for a three-day getaway.
Somewhere we can take Ella. Ella, being the only child that she is, gets pissed when we leave her behind—and we’ve been leaving her behind a lot lately. So when we were picking a weekend destination, taking her along was non-negotiable. I quite literally Googled “pet-friendly cabins in Georgia” and found Morning Breeze Cabin Rentals in Ellijay, just 15 minutes south of the town of Blue Ridge. It was perfect for the three of us.
A comfortable vacation rental with plenty of space to spread out. SVV and I like to have our own personal space when we travel. A bonus if we can sleep in separate rooms! (Hey, he snores. LOUD.) This house not only had three floors, but two bedrooms on separate levels, three bathrooms, a huge living room and a basement level with games. While I never got around to beating SVV in foosball again (I am a foosball master and I’m not afraid to admit it), we did settle in and make the most of that A-frame living room that overlooked the woods and a pond. Best of all? It cost us less than $200 a night.
Very little planning. We booked our cabin three weeks out and our car just three days out and did zero research until we were on the ground. For someone as Type A as me, this spontaneous (in a sense) getaway was liberating.
Diversity in activities. I’m glad we picked a cabin near a town, because while the outdoors was our main focus, Tropical Storm Alberto wound up thwarting our hiking and paddling and waterfall plans. Instead, we spent the afternoons exploring the downtowns in Blue Ridge and Ellijay and the evenings holed up in the cabin. And while we technically did work a little—we have a big site launching for a client this week that’s taking far longer than we anticipated—doing so in a cozy cabin with no cell service and plenty of cold beer still made those working afternoons feel like a vacation.
Restaurants and breweries nearby. Even though I like the idea of being somewhere remote like the mountains, I still like not having to (make SVV) cook, and the idea that Ellijay has a charming town square with a coffee shop and a handful of restaurants—plus, Blue Ridge and its three breweries being just 20 minutes up the road—definitely factored into the location we chose.
Access to the great outdoors. While our cabin was literally surrounded by woodland, we also stayed right on the fringe of Chattahooche National Forest and were just a half hour’s drive from so many Georgia gems like Fort Mountain State Park, Carters Lake, Amicalola Falls and Blue Ridge Lake. And while it may have been wet out, that didn’t stop us from tracking down lookouts like this one in between breaks in the sky.
Affordability. The cost of our three-day car rental and two nights in a massive cabin came in under $600. We could have done it cheaper, too, had we opted for a smaller accommodation. Our total for travel and lodging is what many people spend on a single plane ticket, so I consider that a pretty economical weekend trip for a family of 2.5!
Our small-cation was just the break we needed before entering our summer busy season, which starts tomorrow. We loved Blue Ridge so much, we’re already thinking about taking my parents down for a four-day break over the holidays later this year. After all, you can’t beat a retreat like this one that’s just over two hours down the road!
For more travel tips to Northern Georgia, check out this comprehensive site on the Blue Ridge Mountains region.