The next time you find yourself wistful for the days when kids just ran outside and played, book a room at the High Hampton Inn. The resort is like summer camp for adults and children alike—that is, if camp had a golf course and state-of-the-art spa. Chestnut-paneled guest rooms at this nearly century-old inn are intentionally rustic, without televisions, phones, or even air-conditioning. The pool is a thirty-five-acre lake. However, new furnishings make the bedrooms feel fresh, clean, and inviting. Besides, open windows and cool evening breezes have become rarer amenities than hot tubs.
Recreational opportunities include tetherball, shuffleboard, badminton, and the ever-popular evening bingo. Wander the dahlia garden and snip a few blooms for your room. Take your kids golfing and call in a lunch order from the phone on the eighth tee. Explore miles of mountain trails, and you might even spot the fabled bear-shaped shadow that appears across the face of Whiteside Mountain every October. The most contemporary facility is a new spa and health club, where innovative services range from hoop fitness classes to Ashiatsu massage, provided at a private station set deep in a woodsy laurel thicket.
Buffet-style meals are ridiculously generous and delicious—locavore without the pretense. Men are required to wear coats and ties for dinner, echoing the compound’s Adirondack flavor—established by the poplar- and chestnut-bark exteriors, towering hardwoods, rocking-chair porches, stone fireplaces, and chilly highland temperatures. (from $250 per night in October, double occupancy, includes all meals, 800-334-2551, highhamptoninn.com)
This month, turtles won’t be the only seafarers flocking to Tybee Island’s coast, as thousands of buccaneer wannabes trek to the island’s annual Pirate Fest (10/8–9, tybeeisland.com/piratefest
). Swing by the Thieves Market for treasure, or catch doubloons tossed from the swashbuckling parade along Butler Avenue. Enjoy a weekend of dancing and live music headlined Saturday night by seventies star Eddie Money. Children romp in Little Matey’s Cove, a kid-friendly haven with a petting zoo and costume contest.
If you don’t get your fill of grog and grub from the festival’s vendors, head for Sundae Cafe (sundaecafe.com). Don’t let the strip-mall location fool you; the cafe offers sophisticated fare such as stuffed shrimp and pistachio tuna.
After a day of revelry, relax in one of the brightly colored cottages from Mermaid Cottages Vacation Rentals (mermaidcottages.com, from $150 per night plus fees in October). Scattered across the island, the vintage cottages are quintessential cozy beach hideaways. Or check into the DeSoto Beach Hotel (desotobeachhotel.com, from $179.95 per night during Pirate Fest), the island’s only beachfront hotel.
If you’re attending this month’s Georgia versus Florida football game in Jacksonville and want respite from the drunken masses, nearby (and relatively quiet) Atlantic Beach’s One Ocean Resort Hotel & Spa offers a lovely escape. The resort is a brand-new, $37 million renovation of the beloved Sea Turtle Inn, built in 1973—which is how the high-rise escaped this picturesque town’s current thirty-foot height limit. The benefit is that every guest room, the dining room, and the spa have unimpeded views of the white-sand beach. The hotel’s award-winning contemporary decor is in soothing shades of azure, sand, and pearl. Each guest is assigned a “docent” (aka personal butler). Activities range from horseback riding on the beach to championship golf to marine-inspired spa treatments. Amelia Island, Ponte Vedra, and even St. Augustine are easy field trips.
Enter the hotel’s Azurea Restaurant through a pebbled blue tunnel reminiscent of an aquarium, and ask for an intimate table in one of the high-backed circular booths. Enjoy “First Coast” cuisine (a blend of American, Caribbean, and European flavors), which chef Ted Peters recently demonstrated at the James Beard House in New York.
The resort is located in a busy pedestrian village of shops and restaurants. For a nightcap, wander over to Pete’s Bar (petesbar.net), home of twenty-five-cent billiards, founded by a storied bootlegger at the end of Prohibition and a favorite haunt of novelist John Grisham. (from $179 per night in October, 904-249-7402, oneoceanresort.com)
Photo courtesy of tybeeisland.com