After a year of staying in, working from home, and avoiding travel, quarantine fatigue is setting in for all us. To help you unwind and unplug, we’ve rounded up five remote Southern retreats with COVID safety protocols in place. From a posh private island to a low-key Appalachian Trail hide-out, these are spots where you can really escape, either now or in a few months.
Len Foote Hike Inn
Tucked up in the north Georgia mountains, Len Foote Hike Inn requires making a five-mile trek through the Chattahoochee National Forest via the Appalachian Trail. The easy-to-moderate hike takes between two to four hours depending on your skill level. There’s good reason to take it slow, though: As you traverse streams and ridges and pass ancient hickory, pine, and oak trees, the natural beauty of the place makes the work well worth the effort. The inn’s twenty rooms are comfortable but not luxurious—there’s no room service here. No power outlets for any of your devices, either. Instead, enjoy scheduled and socially distanced meals in the dining room or curl up by the wood-burning stove in the Sunrise Room with a book or a board game. hike-inn.com
Little Palm Island Resort and Spa
Little Torch Key, Florida
Only accessible by boat or seaplane, this lush, six-acre private island escape in Florida’s Lower Keys feels like the South Pacific—only without the customs hassle or days long flight. There are thirty thatched-roof bungalows with two suites apiece, outdoor showers, and deep soaking tubs. You can do nothing but lounge on the island’s white sandy beach and sip rum punches. (Watch for the miniature wild key deer that roam the place.) Or consider a wildlife tour, sailing, or a deep-sea fishing trip if you’re after a little action. littlepalmisland.com
The Lodge on Little St. Simons Island
Little St. Simons Island, Georgia
With ten thousand acres of virtually untouched maritime forests, marshlands, and pristine private beaches, Little St. Simons Island, a secluded barrier island off the coast of Georgia, feels like it might have centuries ago. Even the collection of six cabins and cottages built here are designed to blend into the natural landscape. Wood-paneled rooms like those in the main Hunting Lodge, built in 1917, open out onto rough-hewn, oak-shaded porches—a jumping off point for hiking sandy trails, paddling lazy creeks, and combing the beach for shells. (You can pocket any that aren’t home to another creature.) Reachable only by boat, the property sleeps just thirty-two guests, so you’ll never feel crowded. You can rent single rooms in one of the larger lodges; reserve a private detached cottage; or if you’re really after a little R&R, you can book the entire island. littlestsimonsisland.com
Set amid 3,200 pastoral acres of rolling hills and oak and pine forests, this family-run farm turned resort is only forty-five minutes from Birmingham and two hours from Atlanta, but you’d never know it sitting in a rocking-chair on the front porch of one of the property’s casually elegant cottages or cabins. Each comes with views of the surrounding pastures and the award-winning golf courses. Hamilton Place is the one you want. It’s a restored circa-1854 farmhouse with original hardwood floors and seven working fireplaces—there’s even one in the bathroom beside the deep clawfoot tub. At the Orvis Shooting Grounds, you can reserve guided hunts, enroll in the Wingshooting School, or go a round on the sporting clays course. After all that activity, make a reservation for a socially distanced meal at the farm’s garden-to-grill restaurant and tuck into a plate of quail and collards or Gulf shrimp and grits. pursellfarms.com
Sage Hill Inn Above Onion Creek
For sweeping views of the Texas Hill Country and unobstructed sunsets that force you to stop and sit a while, look no further than Sage Hill. The chic country inn is only thirty miles from Austin, but its eighty-eight-acres overlooking Onion Creek, a sleepy tributary of the Colorado River, are an oasis of rural tranquility. Sit by the firepit as the day winds down and watch for fox, deer, wild turkey, and other wildlife. Throw a game of horseshoes or hike down to the creek via the inn’s three miles of on-property trails. Sit by the pool, or, if the weather’s right, seek out a swimming hole—the staff will point you in the right direction. sagehill.com
This article was originally published in February 2016 and updated in February 2021.