A Guide to Atlanta Area All Inclusive Escapes

Yep, you’ve done it. Scrolled through your Facebook feed and sunk knee-deep in vacation envy. Your kid’s para pro is slumming it in Jackson Hole at a yoga retreat/dude ranch this week. How do these people swing this stuff?  And your best friend’s cousin’s hairdresser is sailing around Puget Sound on a small private yacht holding a beverage that, no doubt, costs more than the shirt you’re wearing. And you’re a single mom. How the heck could you take a vacation by yourself with two kids, even if you had the time to plan it?

Here’s a trick. Go all-inclusive. And all-inclusive doesn’t have to be fancy. Your kids will be better people for it if it isn’t. Here’s a picture of my son feeding a goat. And I didn’t have to go through Hartsfield to get the scenery either.

ford goat

The Len Foote Hike Inn in Amicalola State Park in Dawsonville will be an adventure of a lifetime. Just a couple of hours from Atlanta, the Hike Inn requires a five-mile hike to get there. Your kids will gain a sense of accomplishment by completing the just-right hike. They’ll be fascinated when the lodge suddenly rises from the woods before them, like their secret hide-out. You’ll be proud of them too, as you tour the eco-friendly grounds, enjoy the scenery, swing in a hammock, and wait for dinner to be served. No meals to plan for you, no driving, and good exercise. Meals are shared family style, so you’ll get to visit with other adults. Your kids will have other friends to play with too if you’re lucky.

My absolute favorite all-inclusive spot near Atlanta is the Earthshine Discovery Lodge in Lake Toxaway, NC, near Asheville. Earthshine is a rustic family camp, a mountain retreat, with guided water hikes, a pioneer day where kids get to card and spin wool, make candles and work with a blacksmith. There’s a ropes course for older kids with an amazing zip line, and every night there’s a campfire with smores. My kids had the time of their lives, running through the open fields with the goats, playing board games in the lodge with new friends, and I managed to read an entire book, while they played outside and inside. They loved our log cabin room with its private loft, the beautiful views, reptile show, and turtle sanctuary. I loved that the meals were planned, served family style and that all the activities were planned and paid for. We also got to socialize with other families. We can’t wait to go back. Here’s my girl swinging the blacksmith’s hammer. She wouldn’t have gotten the chance to do that at the Hilton in Punta Cana, I’ll tell you that.

lena blacksmith

Did you know you can actually do the whole dude ranch thing here in Georgia? Southern Cross Guest Ranch is just an hour outside the city in Madison, and it has the whole package. Horseback riding, mountain biking, and a heated pool. It’s not cheap, but it isn’t a $2000/day adventure either like it would be to fly to Jackson Hole, my friends. I can’t wait to visit with my kids soon and give you the full low-down.

But no matter what, this single mom is making the adventures happen! All-inclusive is the way to go when you haven’t lined up family or friends to travel with. Traveling as a single parent can quickly become a relocation instead of vacation. It can be a frustrating, lonely hassle, but these kinds of all-inclusive lodges take the organizational edge off. The pressure is off–all the meals and activities are planned and adults and kids alike can kick back and make friends with the other guests. And all-inclusive isn’t just for international jet-setters, it’s right here, a short drive from your back door, Atlanta!


  1. These ideas cheered me up, thanks! I am totally feeling sorry for myself that everyone is going to the beach right now….except me, boo hoo!

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