Chilly days, chillier nights and unruly rain showers may deter you from planning a camping trip in the next few months, but there’s no reason to stay at home. Cozy up, Southern comfort style, in a historic pre-Civil War cabin or wind down in a restored barn on a working farm. Looking for a middle ground between tent camping and a cabin? Try a yurt. These funky, circular dwellings are built out of flexible wood lattice and wrapped in canvas, generally with a skylight built into the domed roof. So you’re not exactly roughing it, but you’ve got all summer to do that. Here are our favorite, most scenic cabins and yurts in the Southeast.
Hickory Knob State Park – McCormick, South Carolina
You can’t help but feel like you stepped into the history books when you stay at the historic Guillebeau House in Hickory Knob State Park. Nestled into one of South Carolina’s most stunning landscapes, Guillebeau House was originally built circa 1770 and evokes all the sentimental southern feelings you never knew you had. Settle into the 2-bedroom cabin for the weekend and set out to explore Hickory Knob during the day. The lake, which lies on the border of South Carolina and Georgia, is fed by the Savannah River and offers excellent fishing among its never-ending coves. A 12-mile trail system hugs the shoreline of Strom Thurmond Lake, dipping in and out of dense stands of cedar and pine. Simple, Southern beauty.
Fort Yargo State Park – Winder, GA
Just south of Athens, Fort Yargo State Park is a true retreat, where you’ll find a sense of solitude and pristine beauty in early Spring. A group of five yurts make up the yurt village that sits on its own peninsula of the lake (and trust us, Yurt #3 has the best views since it sits on the elbow of the lake’s biggest bend). You’re surrounded by water on all three sides so you’ve got primo views of the lake’s west and northern banks. Sitting on the back deck mimics the feeling of being on the water. The yurts are located a few hundred yards from the boat ramp, and a canoe rack is in the village where $15 will get you a canoe for the weekend.
Red Top Mountain State Park – Cartersville, GA
Red Top Mountain State Park’s peninsula sits like a leaf on Lake Allatoona, its jagged edges breach the shores of the 12,000-acre lake. Book in advance, because there is only one yurt at the park – and it’s worth the wait. The yurt is hidden, and accessing it evokes the feeling of a top-secret hideaway. Just outside your humble abode are 15 miles of red-soiled trails that weave through picturesque rolling hills — perfect for a long distance trail run or hike. If the yurt is all booked up for spring, get it on your summer calendar – every Saturday evening in summer, listen to a live bluegrass concert at Old Vaughn Cabin just “next door.”
Lake Jocassee – Salem, South Carolina
Lake Jocassee, close to where the South Carolina, Georgia, and Western North Carolina borders meet, is an absolute gem. Rolling, undeveloped hills surround its deep, clear waters. Several waterfalls, tucked away in green coves, tumble over rough rocks creating secret hideaways. Thirty minutes away, sweeping views from atop Table Rock Mountain are worth the steep hike. And when the day’s adventure is done, kick back on the screened in porch of one of the 20 villas that line the lake at Devils Fork State Park. Whiskey and ginger not included.
East Fork Farm Cottage – Marshall, North Carolina
Imagine yourself waking early, surrounded by farmland, mist rising off the pastures as you sip a cup of hot coffee out on the deck. In the afternoon, you hike up to nearby Max Patch, a rolling meadow considered the most beautiful section in all the 2,168 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Unwind later in a cedar hot tub, watching the sun go down over the farm. That’s the norm when you stay at East Fork Farm for a couple days. The farm is family-owned and fully operational, located in the small mountain town of Marshall, about 25 miles outside of Asheville. There are three cottages on the premises: Meadow Branch is a quaint, cedar-shake getaway with a view of the entire farm. The East Fork is an elegantly refurbished utility barn surrounded on three sides by meadows and grazing sheep. And the Mill House is a small, two-story cabin complete with a working waterwheel. A great place for springtime contemplation and rejuvenation.
Nantahala Gorge – Bryson City, North Carolina
Within the steep canyon walls of the Nantahala Gorge lie some of the most wild and pristine wilderness in the south. For an experience that’s off the beaten path—but directly on the hiking trails—reserve one of the eight coveted Yurts at Wildwater Village. Rugged meets boutique, so this will appeal to campers and hotel aficionados alike. The yurts come complete with a queen bed, mini fridge, ceiling fan, space heater, and you’re never to far from a hammock. Like we said, there’s no need to rough it just yet.