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When I first moved to Atlanta from Chicago in 2011, I was lucky enough to land in a little city called Brookhaven. At the time, Brookhaven was nowhere near as robust as it is now—I’ve only recently come to find out that when I moved here it had just been officially approved by Georgia to become the City of Brookhaven. So when I say I was there in the beginning, I suppose I actually was. And I was immediately charmed.
Located in northeast Atlanta, butting up against Buckhead, Brookhaven stretches out for 12 miles across diverse neighborhoods, parks, restaurants, shops, galleries, and so much more.
While residing in Brookhaven, I was lucky enough to live right across from one of my favorite parks in all of Atlanta, Blackburn Park. Filled with tennis courts, baseball fields, a local garden, and loads of great walking trails, Blackburn Park is 50 acres of pure natural perfection. If you’re lucky enough to be around the area in March, don’t miss the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. There are also food truck Wednesdays during the summer.
One of my favorite areas in Brookhaven is the stretch on Dresden Drive. Full of restaurants, shops, and one of my favorite day spas, there is something for everyone on Dresden. I suggest grabbing lunch at Verde Taqueria or, if the weather is nice, sitting on the patio at Kaleidoscope where pups are welcome. Pop into Marguerites on Dresden for a little shopping and, if you need a relaxing retreat, head to Natural Body Spa Brookhaven. For dinner, grab a pre- or post-dinner cocktail at Pour. Kitchen + Bar and make a reservation at Haven, Valenza, or around the corner at Arnette’s Chop Shop. And if it’s Thursday, definitely opt for the patio at Haven where there’s always live music.
Even though I no longer live in Brookhaven, I make a habit of spending at least a day or two there each month visiting my old favorites and discovering what’s new. Whether you’re an Atlanta local looking for a day trip adventure or visiting Atlanta for the first time, make sure Brookhaven is on your list of places to explore.
A few times a year my husband and I hit the road and escape to the mountains. Our destination: Old Edwards Inn and Spa. Perched atop the Blue Ridge Mountains, just two and a half hours away from the hustle and bustle of Atlanta, sits this European-style luxury resort. Surrounded by pristine mountains, lakes, and waterfalls, right in the heart of Highlands, North Carolina, you’ll find the ideal place to relax, celebrate, and simply get away.
From the moment you pull up to Old Edwards Inn, you’re immediately drawn in by its charming exterior and loads of flowering window boxes.
There are many reasons to visit Old Edwards, but one of the best is their spa. It’s one of my absolute favorites, and trust me when I say I have visited many a spa in my day. While the spa has a very strict no cell phone/photos policy, I was able to snap a pic of my post-treatment spa lunch.
Around every corner you’ll always find an inviting fire to cozy up to.
The town of Highlands is full of great little shops, restaurants, and sweet spots. A personal favorite of mine being Kilwins. I always stop for toasted coconut ice cream and load up on fudge and seafoam chocolates to take on the road.
There are two different pools on property and plenty of chairs for lounging.
I always try to visit Old Edwards Inn when they have a specialty event or dinner going on. This time we were lucky enough to attend the Culinary Stars & Whispering Angel six-course dinner with female chefs from around the globe and Whispering Angel wine.
Mountain Fresh Grocery is probably one of my favorite places in the world. Part gourmet grocery and wine store, part diner, part best-pizza-parlor ever. We always make a few stops to Mountain Fresh for their coffee, homemade chips, strawberry cake, all the wine, and ALL the pizza! Insider tip, always get a pie for the drive home!
I’m not sure if it’s the town of Highlands, the mountain air, or Old Edwards Inn and Spa, but the lifestyle quickly becomes part of your fabric—so much so that every time we leave, I find myself planning when we’ll return next before we’re even halfway down the mountain. I assure you, no matter what you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it at Old Edwards Inn and Spa. The air just feels better up there.
Mandy Kellogg Rye is a retail shop owner, e-commerce entrepreneur, digital influencer and founder of Waiting On Martha, Inc. WOM boasts a lifestyle blog, e-commerce channel, and brick-and-mortar home and gift shop in Atlanta. Mandy’s take on joyful living—from recipes and entertaining to home decorating, personal style, and travel—resonates deeply with her readers and customers. With all of the moving parts WOM brings, Mandy sometimes needs to sneak away for a few days.
Amelia Island is one of my absolute favorite places to escape. It’s close enough to Atlanta that we can drive, but it feels a million miles away from my daily reality. It’s simply perfect.
A few years ago, when I first stepped foot onto the sandy shores of Amelia Island, I knew this would quickly become a place I visit to rest, refuel, and smell that salty ocean air.
Stretching approximately 13 miles, Amelia Island is part of the Sea Island’s chain of barrier islands just off Florida’s Atlantic coast. Amelia Island’s history and vibe is rich in Spanish, French, and British influences, which you can feel everywhere from the island’s Spanish moss trees to its architecture.
Full of some of the best resorts, golf courses, restaurants, and sandy dunes, Amelia Island has quickly become my sanctuary. For this particular trip, I found solace at one of my favorite resorts: the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort. Situated upon 1,350 acres with 3.5 miles of private beach, the Omni boasts the largest pool-scape in North Florida. One of my favorite features: every room is oceanfront complete with a large balcony, which is where you’ll find me every morning watching the sunrise and sipping on coffee.
Once I’m fully caffeinated, my days on Amelia Island typically have me either stretched out on the sand, book in hand, or popping in and out of the shops in downtown Fernandina Beach. Amelia Island’s city, Fernandina Beach, is a small community full of diverse restaurants, great shops, and that “welcome to the island” sentiment that makes you feel right at home. I love walking the historic downtown in search of beach memorabilia, and I always make a point of stopping into Casey Matthews‘ art studio, Lindy’s Jewelry, and Hudson & Perry.
And there’s the food, of course. From fine dining to beach bars and small family-run restaurants that have been in business for decades, Amelia Island has something that’s sure to please everyone. If you’re asking for suggestions, grab a burger at Falcon’s Nest (seriously, one of the best burgers I’ve ever had), have lunch at Café Karibo, stop in for a bloody mary and enjoy the harbor views from the Salty Pelican, plan date night at Salt, and end with a nightcap at the newly-renovated Lobby Bar at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. The smoked old fashioned is a work of art!
Whether you’re looking to relax and rest like me or planning to take the whole family on a vacation they’ll always remember, Amelia Island is easy to reach but hard to forget.
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