Highlands, North Carolina, provides the kid-less getaway of COVID-year dreams.
Only the call of a romantic mountain retreat at Half-Mile Farm in Highlands, North Carolina, could have drawn my husband and me out of our lockdown mode this winter. The utter peace and quiet of the adults-only, luxury country property 2.5 hours from Atlanta and a few minutes’ drive from quaint downtown Highlands were a divine gift of rest and reconnection for two weary toddler parents.
Our first, second and third order of business was to relax. A Champagne welcome, followed by a nap in a Frette linen-clad king bed and reading an issue of Vanity Fair on a balcony overlooking a pine tree forest complete with a running brook soundtrack, fit our “take it easy” agenda. Next, we indulged in Half-Mile’s daily 5 to 6 p.m. cocktail hour, taking our vino and complimentary meat and cheese plates out to the veranda to enjoy the view of serene Apple Lake, named after the orchard that once flourished on the original 120-acre farm, which began as land grant in the 1880s. Today, a few apple trees remain.
Half-Mile Farm’s 21-room property features a main house that boasts bones from its early 1900 beginnings and now houses a reception area, cozy bar and spacious breakfast restaurant. Its accommodations include several newly renovated guest rooms just off the main house, each with an outdoor entrance (a COVID-era plus) and three historic, rustic-chic cabins. The latter originated as eight cabins in locations throughout the South and were carefully dismantled, relocated and reconstructed with larger floor plans at Half-Mile.
For laid-back fun without leaving the property, complimentary bikes, a canoe and stand up paddle boards (for the brave and well-balanced in the winter!) are available. A heated pool beckons sore muscles from active adventures no matter the season. Several indoor and outdoor seating nooks are nestled throughout the spaces, including a guest lounge where you can curl up by a fireplace and play board games (currently available upon request), share conversation or simply enjoy blissful silence. Off-property, an abundance of outdoor activities, including various hikes, awaits. Craving time in nature without making a day of it, my husband and I embarked on two nearby trails. First we tackled Whiteside Mountain, a 2-mile loop that sounded but didn’t feel “moderate” during the 1-mile ascent to the top, but it offered breathtaking vistas that made the strenuous climb worth it. Glen Falls trail, also roughly 2-miles roundtrip, provided four scenic stops to view the rushing falls.
Afterwards, I savored every minute of a signature massage at The Spa at Old Edwards Inn. While the spa’s saunas and steam rooms are currently closed, the coed Fireside Lounge welcomes with the plushest of lounge chairs to sink into.
In addition to the spa, guests of Half-Mile enjoy all the amenities sister property Old Edwards Inn has to offer including its restaurants, presently open only to inn guests. Trusted foodie friends told me Madison’s Restaurant was not to be missed, and the romantic, farm-to-table fine dining in a relaxed, stone cottage-like ambiance did not disappoint. Recommended: the roasted root vegetable “kilt” salad with bacon lardons, aged goat cheese and apple cider vinegar to start followed by a Dijon and herbcrusted pork tenderloin with roasted apples, fingerlings and garden greens.
The inn’s shuttle is at your service after a night on the town. Look out for bears crossing—we delighted in spotting a mama and her cubs.
Having enchanted us with its ways and with so much more to see and do, Highlands has certainly landed a place on our must-return list. Now back to the “real world”…
Managing Editor and Kids Columnist at Simply Buckhead. Wellness & Beauty Writer, Certified Holistic Health Practitioner and Mother.