We visited deluxe resorts, rustic inns and affordable cottages to find great places to stay on any budget, all within “weekend only” driving distance from Atlanta.

Georgia State Parks

800-864-7275, gastateparks.org
Cottages and lodge rooms throughout the state, all within a few hours drive from Atlanta.

From the stunning vistas of Cloudland State Park on the western edge of Lookout Mountain, to alligator encounters and dripping Spanish moss at Little Ocmulgee State Park and Lodge in South Georgia, our state parks offer an affordable option for families. Many have fully equipped cabins called cottages. At Hard Labor Creek, sleep well amid the quiet of the woods, wake refreshed and go for a stroll or hike on more than 22 miles of trails. Then hit the 275-acre Lake Rutledge, a popular swimming destination with a wide, sandy beach. State parks offer myriad programs and activities for kids and families, including twilight and moonlight hikes. At Amicalola Falls, enjoy gorgeous waterfalls while staying in cottages that sleep four to 10 at the top or bottom of the falls.

Costs: Summer rates for a rental cottage at Hard Labor Creek State Park, about an hour’s drive east of Atlanta is $110-$120 per night for a two-bedroom cabin that sleeps eight. Rates are comparable throughout the state. The website lists Georgia’s many parks, their overnight options and amenities.

Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation

One Lake Oconee Trail, Greensboro, Ga.
706-467-0600, ritzcarlton.com
From Atlanta: Approximately a 1½-hour drive.

If expense is not a concern and true luxury close to Atlanta matters, then the elegantly appointed Ritz-Carlton Lodge on Lake Oconee beckons. Parents can enjoy fine dining, golf on a pristine course, and relax in a top-drawer spa. For kids, there’s the Ritz-Kids Camp, a supervised program for guests ages 5-12. Kids spend all or half the day enjoying activities such as nature hikes, canoeing and kayaking, arts and crafts, scavenger hunts, and lots more. Kids especially love the “Big Fish” program, in which they learn all the fishing basics. When a child catches a bass or a catfish, that very fish gets to swim around a huge tank in the kids’ headquarters until the youngster who caught it checks out with his family. Families with older kids can ask about “teen itineraries,” which include golf, tennis and movies.

Families spend time together in the “infinity pool,” on a pontoon boat or jet skis on the lake, at the horseshoe pits or on the trails. The Linger Longer Express, a 26-passenger train, takes visitors around the landscaped property, departing at 3 p.m. for a two-hour experience.

Nearby attractions: Shop and explore historic Greensboro or Madison.

Costs: Lodge rooms begin at $239/night weekday, $329/night weekend; suites from $479/night; cottages begin at $1,299/night. Ritz Kids Camp: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily, $85; half-day option (9 a.m.-noon or 1-4 p.m.), $65

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