Every summer, parents stuff sticker-festooned footlockers with flashlights, mosquito spray, and swimsuits and drop their kids off at summer camp. If the thought has you yearning for a grown-up version of carefree fun, leave the squeaky bunks and dubious dining hall food behind and check into one of these Southern getaways offering adventure and camaraderie in more elevated digs.
Andiamo Lodge makes it easy to follow the imperative of its name—andiamo means “let’s go” in Italian—with its packed calendar of events. Guided arrowhead hunts and fly-fishing outings (with build-your-own-bamboo-rod sessions) make the most of the lodge’s perch on a Lookout Mountain plateau. Chocolate and whiskey tastings, pasta-making classes, pop-up dinners with visiting chefs, and indigo-dyeing and encaustic painting workshops satisfy culture and culinary cravings. The lodge may be itty-bitty (only six cozy cabin-chic guest rooms and a two-bedroom cottage), but its size lets owner Colleen Duffley create bespoke experiences in addition to scheduled events. “With a little notice, we can make all kinds of things happen, from on-demand art classes to hang-gliding,” she says. “Helping guests make a unique memory is my idea of a perfect day.”
With historic formal gardens and the ruins of an 1840s Italianate villa as focal points, past is present at Barnsley Resort. Its three thousand acres in the lower Blue Ridge Mountains—dotted with a lake and crisscrossed with twisty trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding—give all the camp feels. Guests will also find two fifteen-station sporting clays courses and seasonal wing-shooting at Beretta Shooting Grounds. Add disc golf, axe throwing, swimming, tennis, and canoeing, and your schedule will be packed—just be sure to unwind with an herbal compression massage at the spa.
Robbinsville, North Carolina
Snowbird first welcomed guests in 1941, but when the all-inclusive property got new management last summer, it also gained a director of outdoor experiences, Zach Girgenti. He oversees a slew of activities, including immersive wanderlust weekends (like July’s Cast to Cast Iron, combining fly-fishing and just-caught-trout cooking instruction) and Camp Snowbird, packed with pickle-ball competitions, hikes to 360-degree views atop Huckleberry Knob, and paddling on Lake Santeetlah, which really floats Girgenti’s boat. “It’s such a quiet, pristine lake, and rarely do you see other people, so you feel like you’re totally alone,” he says. Another plus of “camp” here: swaying on a hammock with a sip from the lodge’s 150-plus-bottle collection of bourbon, Scotch, and whiskey.
Southall tucks a luxury inn and cottages and a working farm into its 325 acres of pastoral calm. Whether you’re nibbling on heirloom produce during a kitchen garden tour, helping the beekeeper harvest honey, or swinging through the aerial ropes course for a bird’s-eye view of the property’s orchards, fields, and greenhouses, every experience encourages a deeper dig into middle Tennessee’s agricultural heritage. Dining on dishes built from its harvests, like sweet potato soup with just-picked apples, puts an exclamation point on Southall’s farm-forward philosophy.
Since Windy Hill Farm and Preserve opened last summer, general manager Steven Brewington has relished sharing the land that’s been in his family for generations. Guests come to hunt quail amid the gentle hills and fields of East Tennessee’s uplands, practice their aim on an archery course, and learn about native habitat preservation during wildlife walks and classes. They often leave with new friends. “Our small size drives a natural intimacy, and guests start chatting over s’mores during nightly campfires,” Brewington says. “By the end of a weekend, they’re swapping numbers.” They also buddy up on the property’s one-mile wine hikes to explore terrain and terroir. “Our guides are knowledgeable about wine and our land. They pair pours with five spots, maybe a white with a mineral finish to highlight a distinct geology or something floral to go with a seasonal bloom.”
This family-owned resort is known for its award-winning golf course and its Orvis sporting clays, wingshooting, and fly-fishing schools. The property’s UTV rides, which traverse fields and forest paths up to scenic overlooks, also rev engines. “There are views that span five counties, and you can see Sylacauga’s famous white marble quarry and Bull’s Gap, the bottom foothill of the Appalachians,” says activities director Justin Clifton. And here, drizzly days aren’t a downer. “Folks love splashing through the mud holes on the trails,” he says. “They laugh like kids.”
River Ranch, Florida
Saddle up at the 1,700-acre Westgate River Ranch Resort, the largest dude ranch east of the Mississippi, which rests alongside the Kissimmee River. Classic camp and ranch activities include horseback riding, stargazing, archery, fishing, and horseshoe throwing. The weekly Saturday night rodeo also ropes in guests who cheer on cowboys barrel racing and bull riding. The tents are more “glamping” than camping, with bathrooms, stone fireplaces, wood floors, and inviting front porches.