A breath of fresh air for the whole family at Barnsley Resort
The travel landscape has changed. While we all hope for a return to normalcy, we are discovering ways to satisfy our wanderlust in the current climate. Close-to-home destinations that make the most of the outdoors are at the top of the list. Just an hour north in Adairsville at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the 3,000- acre Barnsley Resort offers experiences centered on connecting with nature with enough pampering thrown in to ensure you aren’t really “roughing it”—an ideal combination for my family of four.
Situated on the site of an 1840s Southern estate, the resort offers 150 total rooms arranged in an English style pedestrian village environment. Accommodations range from cottage rooms and suites with private porches to guestrooms housed in the three-story Inn at Barnsley Resort. The property also offers six Manor Cottages with four bedrooms, ideal for larger groups. We checked into our one-bedroom cottage suite and made ourselves at home amidst the cozy fireplace, hardwood floors and claw foot bathtub.
It wasn’t long before we stepped out into the open air to explore, and the thoughtfully designed landscape beckoned us to get lost among the foliage. We strolled through the historic ruins of Woodlands, the 19th century estate Godfrey Barnsley built for his wife, Julia. Our kids shrieked with joy as they navigated the manicured maze of hedges and threw rocks into the ornate fountain. We continued on foot to Barnsley Farm, breathing in the sweet smell of the jasmine bushes on the way. At the barn, the kids took part in Animal Canvasing, using non-toxic paints to create a masterpiece on a miniature horse named Tucker. While at first I found the thought of painting an animal a bit odd, the horse didn’t seem to mind. We thanked Tucker for his patience and made our way through the barnyard, greeting the horses, goats, sheep and llama. My son also befriended two ducks at the catch and release fishing pond. For another first, my husband and daughter tried their hands at archery lessons (a recently activity addition for ages 8 and up). They departed their lesson feeling like Robin Hood and Merida (from the animated movie Brave).
Later that afternoon, we embarked on a longer than planned hike over picturesque bridges, catching sight of the 18-hole Fazio-designed golf course and having a close encounter with two deer that left our kids buzzing.
After a busy day, we made our way back to the village center to unwind at the alfresco Beer Garden over refreshments and games of corn hole, accompanied with live music. It wasn’t long before my daughter made friends with some kids her age, and we chatted with the parents, promising to meet post-dinner for s’mores at one of the many fire pits. The promise was kept, and after Southern fare at the recently renovated Woodlands Grill, the kids roasted marshmallows and played hide-and-go-seek with their new friends until dark.
It was hard to tear everyone away from the idyllic surroundings when it was time to head home. There was much we didn’t experience. My husband is determined to come back for a round of golf, and I’d like to visit the spa. I’d also love to get everyone on horseback for a guided ride through the Blue Ridge Mountains. For the brave, ax throwing will be offered starting in November. The resort also has a 28-station sporting clays course, a 10-acre lake for canoeing and an 1,800-acre hunting preserve 5 miles beyond the gates. With all its offerings, Barnsley Gardens is the type of place you visit more than once, especially now that time spent outdoors reigns supreme.
On Nov. 25, the “Lighting of the Ruins” celebration flips the switch on the more than 1 million twinkling lights that bring Barnsley Resort to life during the holiday season. From December through the winter months, guests can also book the “Warm & Cozy” package, which includes a Barnsley Resort’s logo blanket. For more information on holiday events, such as ornament decorating and wreath crafting workshops, visit barnsleyresort.com/accommodations/event-calendar.
597 Barnsley Gardens Road
Contributing home editor and design columnist at Simply Buckhead. Travel & Business Writer. Mother of Two.