By Kate Parham Kordsmeier
Serenbe is a place I’d heard a lot about—but no words could prepare me for the whimsy and wonder I found on my recent trip to the extraordinary community. Serenbe was created in 2004 by husband-and-wife team Steve and Marie Nygren (both of whom come from foodie backgrounds—Steve started the Pleasant Peasant restaurant chain in Atlanta, while Marie’s mother was the former owner of Mary Mac’s Tea Room), in an effort to protect the land known as Chattahoochee Hill Country. While Serenbe is home to an inn, you’ll also find an artsy community development modeled after small European towns (think dense living towns surrounded by greenspace).
To get the full picture, follow along on my 24 hours in Serenbe to see all it has to offer:
3 p.m. Check-In to the Inn at Serenbe // Explore: Tourists from around the world come to stay at this quaint farmhouse—after all, it’s only 25 minutes south of the airport—which boasts 19 guest rooms, two pools and hot tubs, a croquet lawn, ropes course and infinite nature exploration. Here, you’ll find 900 acres of preserved forestland, wildflower meadows and 15 miles of trails (which can be explored on foot, by bike or horse) complete with two waterfalls and a large granite outcropping. Rooms start around $200 per night.
Insider Tip: Request a golf cart to help you explore the area more quickly, and stop into the Blue Eyed Daisy Bakeshop for a coffee to sip while you see.
4 p.m. Tour Serenbe Farms: Food is a major focus at Serenbe, where farm-to-table takes on a whole new meaning. Though you’re sure to eat the delicious fruits and veggies from the community’s 25-acre organic farm at one of Serenbe’s three restaurants, you can also take an hour-long tour for just $15 per person. If tours aren’t your thing, don’t miss their seasonal Saturday Farmer’s Market—local Georgians can even pick up produce as part of their CSA program.
6 p.m. Dinner at The Hil: The Hil is the perfect combo of fine dining and neighborhood restaurant. Be sure to start with a cocktail—you can’t go wrong with a classic Manhattan—and don’t miss chef Hilary White’s famed antipasti and French fries. The menu changes seasonally, but we loved the fried endive and grilled lamb.
8 p.m. Get Artsy: We were lucky enough to catch a screening from the Atlanta Film Festival during our visit—the Serenbe Film Society frequently hosts film events—but if there’s not one happening during your stay, there’s likely another outdoor theater event at Serenbe Playhouse, or cooking classes, musical performances and talks via the Artist in Residence program.
10 a.m. Feed the Animals at Animal Village: After complimentary breakfast at the Farmhouse, stop in at Guest Services for a bag of feed and walk over to the adorable Animal Village, where you’ll find pigs, goats, donkeys, chickens, sheep and llamas (and plenty of baby animals to ooh and ahh over).
11:30 a.m. Lunch at The Farmhouse: There’s no shortage of amazing fried chicken in Georgia, but the flavor-packed bird they serve for lunch at the Inn’s restaurant, The Farmhouse, may be one of the very best. It’s ultra-crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside and served with habit-forming sour cream and chive biscuits.
1 p.m. Massage at The Spa at Serenbe: It wouldn’t be a weekend escape without a trip to the spa—this holistic, natural remedy retreat is one of my favorites in the state. My massage with Diane was restorative and relaxing, her technique varied and customized just to your liking.
3 p.m. Wine Tasting at The General Store: With no big box grocery store in Serenbe, this charming shop offers up all the essentials, from unique grocery products to artisanal food items, beer, wine and a grab-and-go station with soups and sandwiches. Don’t miss their frequent events—the wine tastings are dangerously delicious.