Where to Stay: Spotlight on Glen-Ella Springs Inn & Restaurant

This classic inn in the northeast Georgia mountains continues to inspire passion.
Glen-Ella Springs Inn & Restaurant exterior

Photograph by Christian Giannelli

The Glen-Ella Springs experience begins with dinner. Fires crackle in the small dining room’s two stacked-stone fireplaces, the golden heart pine walls, ceiling, and floor adding to the warmth. On this night, at least, dinner is exclusively the domain of couples, who converse in hushed tones over the whisper-soft sound of jazz standards, “Autumn Leaves” and “My Funny Valentine.” Most hold hands.

While the historical inn set in the northeast Georgia mountains outside Clarkesville welcomes families—even groups for meetings and conferences—it has always seemed to me a place for couples. And indeed, the inn and its popular restaurant are favorite destinations for those celebrating anniversaries or making commitments or marking some shared milestone. Much of the credit for the destination’s continuing success goes to innkeepers Ed and Luci Kivett, who have worked to strike a balance between maintaining the property’s historical integrity and keeping it current.

When the Kivetts decided to leave their corporate life in Winston-Salem and began shopping for an inn, they quickly determined that it would be best to purchase an established property, one with a loyal clientele and a recognized name. They found it in Glen-Ella Springs. In 2008, they became the third couple to operate the bed and breakfast, following in the footsteps of Glen and Ella Davidson, who welcomed their first guests in the 1890s, and Bobby and Barrie Aycock, who restored and reopened the inn thirty years ago this fall.

Glen-Ella Springs Inn & Restaurant food

Photograph by Christian Giannelli

The Kivetts have made plenty of upgrades to the inn’s sixteen mountain-chic guest rooms and common areas—new rugs, linens, upholstery—and they’ve added walking trails and an outdoor fire pit to the seventeen-acre property bordering the Chattahoochee National Forest. And while they continue to update the restaurant’s menu, they’ve been careful to steer clear of a handful of longtime favorite offerings. Diners may rest assured that alongside newer rotating items (a market salad, a pasta special), they’ll find Glen-Ella Springs’ classic dishes, such as pecan-crusted rainbow trout and rack of lamb.

After dinner, guests may stroll the grounds, seek out a favorite spot to sit back and stargaze, or maybe even snuggle beside the new fire pit. After all, returning couples—who know something about finding freshness in the familiar—can appreciate the abiding appeal of Glen-Ella Springs.

1789 Bear Gap Road, Clarkesville, Georgia • (706) 754-7295 • glenella.com

While You’re There

Lake Life
Just miles from the inn, Lake Burton and Lake Rabun offer outstanding fishing and boating. Fall is a particularly lovely time to visit, as the leaves turn and the color-splashed mountains are reflected in the waters.

Falling Water
Northeast Georgia is home to a number of impressive waterfalls, including Amicalola Falls—at 729 feet, the tallest in the state—and Minnehaha Falls, a secluded series of cascades just minutes from the inn (check with the front desk for directions).

Hunting and Gathering
Make the twenty-minute drive to Clarkesville for an afternoon of antiquing in a half-dozen downtown shops (Once Upon a Time Company is a must-see). Also check out Soque Artworks for paintings, ceramics, toys, and jewelry crafted by local artisans, and stop in at the Nest for stylish home goods.