Seven nights, seven towns, seven inns
Traveling Georgia's bed-and-breakfast trail
BY MARY ANN ANDERSON
The country French decor lends an air of elegance to the Goodbread House, in St. Marys, where a scrumptious breakfast is purely Southern.
A stay at a cozy bed-and-breakfast inn is a refreshing and welcome change from the often-impersonal style of a large chain hotel. But what you may not realize is that Georgia has a “bed-and-breakfast trail,” a surprising array of inns running the gamut from the sophisticated to the informal to the historically renowned.
Georgia’s inns offer a world of unexpected pleasures: gracious hosts, storybook beauty, true-to-the-bone Southern cuisine, picture-postcard views, verdant gardens and distinctive architectural styles including grand Victorian mansions, white-columned masterpieces, elegant country homes and simple farms.
In her travels as director of tourism for the Hazlehurst-Jeff Davis Board of Tourism, Wanda Marchant has sampled many of Georgia’s inns. “When I’m traveling, either on business or just a weekend trip with my girlfriends, we’re constantly looking for quaint bed-and-breakfast inns,” she says. “We enjoy the uniqueness, the quietness and the hospitality that we find in each individual inn.”
While the choices are plenty, there is no definitive version of the perfect inn, if only because everyone’s tastes in accommodations are different. But if you have a few extra days, you may want to escape from home and explore the undiscovered back roads in search of your own idyllic respite.
Perhaps there is no better place to begin your journey than in the farthest reaches of the state, in a tiny town called St. Marys, which is located at the intersection of Georgia, Florida and the Atlantic Ocean.
St. Marys, the gateway to Cumberland Island, is where you’ll find the Goodbread House, an inviting five-bedroom inn constructed in the 1870s. The inn’s wide verandas coax you into whiling away an afternoon with nothing more than a good book, a glass of lemonade or cup of coffee, cooling sea breezes and the comforting smell of freshly baked bread wafting from the oven.
“We serve an authentic generous Southern breakfast every day,” says innkeeper Barbara Ryan. “Dishes like eggs Benedict, shrimp and grits (our specialty) and always a first course such as a Southern parfait or strawberry crepes. At social hour, guests gather in the parlor to share stories of the day—the sea otters they saw in the crossing to Cumberland Island, the baby armadillos and wild horses on the island—sharing great memories while enjoying decadent desserts and libations!”
Contacts from this story
Goodbread House Bed & Breakfast Inn
St. Marys; (912) 882-7490; www.goodbreadhouse.com
The President’s Quarters Inn & Guesthouse
Savannah; (912) 233-1600; (888) 592-1812; www.presidentsquarters.com
Historic Statesboro Inn
Statesboro; (912) 489-8628; (800) 846-9466; www.statesboroinn.com
The 1842 Inn
Macon; (877) 452-6599; www.1842inn.com
Skelton House Bed & Breakfast
Hartwell; (706) 376-7969; (877) 556-3790; www.theskeltonhouse.com
Chipley-Murrah Bed & Breakfast
Pine Mountain; (706) 663-9801; (888) 782-0797; www.chipleymurrah.com
Melhana, the Grand Plantation
Thomasville; (229) 226-2290; (888) 920-3030; www.melhana.com
Other choice Georgia bed-and-breakfast innsThe Partridge Inn
Augusta; (706) 737-8888; (800) 476-6888; www.partridgeinn.com
Sugar Creek Farm & Inn
Blue Ridge; (706) 258-4494; (888) 662-8253; www.sugarcreekfarmandinn.com
Glen-Ella Springs Country Inn
Clarkesville; (706) 754-7295; (877) 456-7527; www.glenella.com
Colquitt; (229) 758-2888; (888) 282-7737; www.tarrerinn.com
Lily Creek Lodge
Dahlonega; (706) 864-6848; (888) 844-2694; www.lilycreeklodge.com
Mountain Top Lodge
Dahlonega; (800) 526-9754; www.mountaintoplodge.com
The Georgian Inn Bed & Breakfast
Greenville; (706) 672-1600; www.georgianplace.com
Jasper; (706) 253-6293; www.woodbridgeinn.net
Thyme Away Bed & Breakfast
LaGrange; (706) 885-9625; www.cityoflagrange.com/businesses/thymeaway.htm
White House Farm Bed & Breakfast
Montezuma; (478) 472-7942; www.whitehousefarmbnb.com
Mountain Top Inn & Resort
Pine Mountain; (706) 633-4719; www.hide-away.com
Rome; (706) 235-8002; www.zionfarms.com
Belle Tara Inn
St. Marys; (912) 882-4199; (877) 749-5974; www.belletara.com
Lucille’s Mountaintop Inn
Sautee; (866) 245-4777; www.lucillesmountaintopinn.com
The Hamilton Turner Inn
Savannah; (912) 233-1833; (888) 448-8849; www.hamilton-turnerinn.com
HLC Hotels Inc.: A collection of Savannah inns; including the Masters Inn, Masters Inn Suites, East Bay Inn, Eliza Thompson House, Olde Harbour Inn, The Marshall House
Savannah; (912) 352-4493; www.hlchotels.com
Magnolia Place Inn
Savannah; (912) 236-7674; (800) 238-7674; www.magnoliaplaceinn.com
Sarah’s Garden Inn
Savannah; (912) 234-7716; (866) 266-2714; www.sarahsgarden.com
The Coleman House Inn
Swainsboro; (478) 237-9100; www.colemanhouseinn.com
Hotel Warm Springs Bed & Breakfast Inn
Warm Springs; (706) 655-2114; (800) 366-7616; www.hotelwarmspringsbb.org
Ashford Manor Bed & Breakfast
Watkinsville; (706) 769-2633; www.ambedandbreakfast.com
Historic Banning Mills
Whitesburg; (770) 834-9149; (866) 447-8688; www.historicbanningmills.com
Macon's 1842 Inn showcases not only Southern hospitality but also its Greek Revival architecture. The inn is the perfect launch pad for a history-focused visit to Historic South.
With extra touches like claw-foot tubs and country French decor, the Goodbread House is the ideal base from which to explore the antique shops, museums and wide tree-lined boulevards of the tiny town.
Traveling north from St. Marys, your next stop might be Savannah and the President’s Quarters Inn and Guesthouse. The President’s Quarters, with an exceptional location on Oglethorpe Square in the heart of the Historic District, was built in 1885 in the tradition of the early Federal-style mansions, complete with lots of red brick and dizzying 13-foot ceilings. The furnishings—rich fabrics, ornate four-poster beds, heavy draperies—suggest the romance, luxury and refinement of Savannah. And the best part: It is within walking distance of cobblestoned River Street and its myriad shops, restaurants and pubs.
About an hour or so northwest of Savannah, you’ll find the Historic Statesboro Inn and Restaurant. While the family-owned inn is located on Statesboro’s busy Main Street, its thriving, flower-filled gardens and distinctively decorated rooms make you feel as if you’re in the midst of English countryside. But it is the inn’s architecture that sets it apart from other homes and inns in the area. Built just after the turn of the century in 1905, it blends features from the Victorian era—its broad front porch and two-story gabled entrance are good examples—and the Classical Revival period, with its simple symmetrical balance. If you can drag yourself away from the inn for an afternoon, Statesboro—named a Georgia Main Street city—is ripe with shopping opportunities, particularly one-of-a-kind curio, antique and clothing shops.
Further northwest in Macon you’ll find the 1842 Inn. Rising high on a hill above College Street, the Greek Revival structure—once the home of Mayor John Gresham—has the distinction of being Macon’s only bed-and-breakfast inn. “Since we’re the only one in Macon, that immediately sets us apart from others,” says April Pellan, the inn’s public relations director. “We’re the best-kept secret in Georgia!”
The 1842 Inn’s exterior architecture is outstanding: 17 columns, manicured lawns and wicker-dappled veranda ooze Southern style in grand fashion. Combined with in-room extras like fresh flowers, English antiques and elaborately woven tapestries and carpets, the 1842 Inn is also a favorite site for weddings and social gatherings. From the 1842 Inn, you can traipse Macon’s walkable avenues through some of the most beautiful and historic neighborhoods in all of Georgia.
Heading northeast to Georgia’s border at Lake Hartwell is the Skelton House. This seven-bedroom, two-story Victorian inn is listed in the Select Registry, a directory of the leading inns and hotels in the world. Built in 1896 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Skelton House is luxurious yet comfortable, with special emphasis on its beautifully manicured gardens, perfect for weddings or parties. There is nothing ordinary about the Skelton House’s striking architecture, either, as it’s a series of angles, long porches and balconies and oversized windows that allow lots of sunshine to brighten its rooms.
The many-angled architecture of Skelton House sets it apart from other homes in Hartwell.
And there is no shortage of things to do in Hartwell, another Georgia Main Street city. Hartwell edges the scenic North Georgia mountains, the 56,000-acre Hartwell Lake and Hart State Park, located on the lake. Any time of the year is a great time to visit the Skelton House, but autumn is extraordinary, with fall color and scads of nearby mountain fairs and festivals.
From Hartwell, putter southwest across Georgia toward Pine Mountain, where you’ll find the Chipley-Murrah Bed & Breakfast, a four-bedroom, completely renovated Victorian home built in 1895. Accented by a white picket fence, dramatic turret, high windows and intricately carved molding, the inn is the quintessential Southern home, complete with a mix of antiques and modern furniture. After you’ve spent a day exploring places like nearby Callaway Gardens and Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park, the Chipley-Murrah house makes for a restful haven.
After leaving Pine Mountain, continue south to Thomasville and a place called Melhana, the Grand Plantation. Melhana is one of only two plantations in Thomasville open to the public—the other is historic Pebble Hill—and the only one open to overnight guests. Originally built as a private home in the 1820s, it still stands as a testament to the opulent plantation life of the late 19th century. Now peacocks, quail and hummingbirds flit about the grounds, while kaleidoscopic azaleas, camellias, angel wing begonias, hibiscus and magnolias complement formal English gardens and luxurious accommodations.
While Melhana may be the centerpiece of colorful Thomasville, the town—named like Statesboro and Hartwell, a Georgia Main Street City—is a prime location not only for antique shopping but for learning more about its unusual railroad, plantation, Indian and black history.
“A stay at an inn is such a great way to spend a night or two from home,” says Melhana’s Ericka Imbrunone, director of meetings and special events. “You get everything from romance to history to good food. It’s the perfect getaway.”
Once you travel full circle from St. Marys to Thomasville, you’ll discover how Georgia’s dozens of bed-and-breakfast inns have the bewitching power to transport you to another place and time. The good thing, though, is that with so many accommodations, it doesn’t matter whether you spend one night away from home or seven, because you’ll soon realize that something wonderful and special exists in your own backyard.
Mary Ann Anderson is a travel and nature writer who lives in Hazlehurst. Her favorite pastime is exploring the undiscovered back roads of Georgia in search of little-known places and stories.