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Barnsley Gardens, GA
Find love among these ruins
With dark wood paneling, a towering stone fireplace, and iron lanterns, the “casual” Woodlands Grill is informal in a Tudor castle kind of way. A restful screened porch overlooks the golf course, and there’s a cozy tavern with a billiard table. The seasonally changing menu is fairly predictable—steak, salmon, veal Marsala, etc.—but far superior to typical country club fare. The white-tablecloth dining option, Rice House, is in an 1854 farmhouse moved here from nearby Rome, still bearing the scars of Civil War bullets. Its continental cuisine is a fancier, more selective version of the grill menu—not to mention pricier (and Woodlands isn’t cheap). An outdoor beer garden, which stocks a full bar but keeps several German brews on tap, is a fun place to gather around picnic tables or cuddle next to the fire pit.
Explore the Italianate mansion that 19th-century cotton merchant Godfrey Barnsley built for his beloved wife Julia, who died of TB before its completion. (Call the fairy godmother to arrange a fireside dinner for two under the stars here.) Stroll through the formal parterre with its original, 170-year-old boxwoods. Tee off on the award-winning golf course, which winds around lush forests and over surprisingly dramatic elevations. Each well-manicured hole is unique, ending with swift, challenging greens. Relax at the full-service spa, which helped Barnsley garner top ratings by Condé Nast and Zagat. Signature treatments use petals from the gardens’ heirloom roses. As befits a country manor, there are also a sporting clays course, stables, fishing, woodland trails, canoes, and kayaking. Or just chill in a hammock.