Take your family and get away from it all! Atlanta Parent’s staff has done the work for you, visiting resorts, rustic inns and affordable cottages to find great places to stay on any budget, all within “weekend only” driving distance from Atlanta.

The Lodge at Buckberry Creek

961 Campbell Rd., Gatlinburg, Tenn.
866-305-6343, buckberrylodge.com
From Atlanta: Approximately a 5-hour drive.

After a day amid the touristy bustle of Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge, drive just minutes to reach nature and calm. This Adirondacks-style lodge on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park blends rustic appeal and superb comfort. Families spend hours playing games or just relaxing.

Highlights for kids include storytime in a big teepee and roasting s’mores on the campfire. But the real hidden gem here is a half-mile down. Guests take the trail to Buckberry Creek and a covered pavilion, with tables for enjoying a meal, creek-side hammocks, big rocking chairs, TV, huge stone fireplace, and outhouses with chandeliers. Kids love romping and catching critters in the creek. Best: You won’t be hiking back up. Just pick up the phone and staff will come fetch you in a reconditioned Swiss army troop transport vehicle called a Pinzgauer. (An exciting ride in itself!)

The lodge has some 50 suites, with no two alike; all include stone fireplace, private balcony, kitchens, Jacuzzi soaking tub, a separate walk-in shower, and Internet.

Nearby attractions: Loads of family fun in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, including Dollywood and Cade’s Cove (11-mile paved loop within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park).

Costs: Lodge suites start at $165/night (king-size bed plus queen sofa bed); Gallery suites start at $195/night (king bed or two double beds plus queen sofa bed); 10 percent discount for AAA members.

Wilderness at the Smokies

1424 Old Knoxville Hwy., Sevierville, Tenn.
877-325-9453, wildernessatthesmokies.com
From Atlanta: Approximately a 4-hour drive.

Wilderness at the Smokies is a large water park complex with one indoor and two outdoor water parks. It was awarded the No. 2 spot on Southern Living magazine’s Top 10 list of the nation’s best water parks. The property holds six restaurants, a deli, gift shop, mini golf, 36-hole champion golf course, an arcade and countless waterslides, including the new Wild Vortex, the Southeast’s only near-vertical waterslide. A recent expansion added the Adventure Forest dryplay area with climbing walls, ropes courses, mini golf and laser tag.

Nearby attractions: Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and Dollywood.
Costs: $169-$434/night. Summer specials include “buy one night, get one free” on Jr. Deluxe or one-bedroom units, and $99/night weekday specials.

The Gaylord Opryland

2800 Opryland Dr., Nashville, Tenn.
615-889-1000, gaylordhotels.com/gaylord-opryland
From Atlanta: Approximately a 4½-hour drive.

Parents can admire the indoor gardens and waterfalls, use the spa and gym, or relax at one of the three pools at the resort. For children, the DreamWorks Experience provides interactive adventures with characters from films such as Kung Fu Panda, Shrek and Madagascar. Activities include the Kung Fu Panda Camp (parent must accompany child), character meals, pool parties with games and music with Shrek and Friends, and Cookie Castles decorating parties with Princess Fiona.

Nearby attractions: Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame’s Instrument Petting Zoo, the Adventure Science Center or the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere.
Costs: DreamWorks Experience packages range from $219-$419/night

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