Find Your Place with Garden & Gun Land
Begin your next chapter at one of these Southern havens
In Partnership with
When dreaming of a new home—whether a permanent residence or a vacation retreat—consider the atmosphere of the surrounding scene. If higher elevation is what you seek, a lakeside haven in the Blue Ridge Mountains may be a perfect fit; those drawn to the coast, however, may find bliss in a peaceful oasis along the South Carolina shore, or a New Urbanist beach town on the Florida Panhandle. Whatever you desire, Garden & Gun Land can help bring it to life. With a curated network of unique properties, we showcase the South’s finest locales—inviting places where craftsmanship is paramount and natural beauty abounds. Won’t you come along?
Photo above: A lookout point in Cashiers, North Carolina, provides a sweeping view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
A Mountain-High Retreat
Led by a team of local experts, McKee Properties unlocks the adventurous spirit of North Carolina’s Cashiers-Highlands Plateau
Perched on the edge of the Nantahala National Forest sits an enchanting pocket of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Highly sought after by outdoor enthusiasts, the Cashiers and Highlands region of Western North Carolina is home to a wide range of landscapes, from glistening freshwater lakes to a vast network of hiking trails. With much of the surrounding land protected by the United States Forest Service, the area retains a charming small-town feel, cultivated over the last century. Here, full-time and seasonal residents quickly become part of a genial community, replete with opportunities to connect with the great outdoors. All who love this place are eager to share what it means to them, with stories guiding newcomers to streams where the trout are biting, or secret trails with unobstructed views.
The brokers of McKee Properties, a local real estate firm founded in 1977, have a deep understanding of the region’s hidden gems—the mountain lifestyle, after all, is their own. They live and raise families in Cashiers and Highlands because they, too, are determined to take advantage of Western North Carolina’s natural splendor. “We deeply cherish the quality of life we enjoy here,” says Liz Harris, a McKee Properties co-owner. “We feel like we’re sharing a treasure with the people we connect with.” This intimate relationship also makes the company’s brokers the foremost experts on what the area has to offer. They use their expertise to make sure clients experience the region to its fullest. That might mean securing a coveted tee time at a top-tier golf course, snagging reservations at an acclaimed restaurant, or setting up a fishing excursion with a seasoned guide—the sorts of experiences that endear prospective homeowners to the Blue Ridge way of life.
In Cashiers and Highlands, the McKee Properties name is synonymous with stunning architecture, state-of-the-art facilities, and a sincere love for the outdoors. Over the years, the company has helped develop several residential communities and private clubs that center on these principles, including the highly acclaimed Wade Hampton Golf Club. Consistently named among the nation’s top courses, the club has been favored among golfers and families for more than thirty years and remains one of the firm’s proudest accomplishments. Wade Hampton is in good company here—golf has been a key pastime of the region for generations, with local clubs and courses dating back to the 1920s.
McKee Properties’ network of developments is diverse, including Cedar Creek Club (the area’s first tennis community), Snowbird, Arrowhead, Sassafras Ridge, and Little Sheepcliff, while it also lists properties in Silver Run Reserve, Chattooga Club, Mountaintop, High Hampton, and Lonesome Valley. Whether the emphasis is on tennis, golf, hiking, or water sports, access to recreation is inherent to every property. “Some of our finest communities have a major focus on outdoor pursuits,” McKee Properties co-owner Beth Townsend explains. “There’s an abundance of public land for all levels of hiking, as well as land available for estate owners to create their own private hiking experiences.”
The area’s lakes are another enticing draw. “Lake Glenville is ever increasing in popularity,” Harris says. “One of my family’s favorite things to do on a Sunday afternoon is get out there to boat, float, and swim.” The pristine waters make for more than picturesque scenery. “This area is unique because the water ‘springs’ from the mountains, and as it works its way downslope, it creates waterfalls of all sizes and complexities,” Townsend explains. “For that reason, it’s also a treasured spot among trout fishermen.”
While many flock to Cashiers and Highlands in the summer, owning a mountain home allows residents to experience all four breathtaking seasons. Amid this ever-changing landscape, gardening is another beloved activity, and thanks to plentiful rainfall and a temperate climate, the land is amenable to a variety of flora. Flowers like dahlias don’t just grow here—they thrive. Some of the loveliest gardens in the Southeast are found in the area, many skirting the plateau’s residential listings.
Following a day of adventure, the homes of local residents provide a quiet escape, cozy yet outfitted with modern comforts. For the brokers at McKee Properties, mountain homes are meant to deepen the owners’ connection to nature. With this idea in mind, the residences feature ample room for outdoor entertaining, creating space for owners to savor each moment—be it an intimate gathering around a firepit or a barbecue with family and friends. “It brings us great joy to see clients embracing the lifestyle we helped them cultivate here,” Harris says.
From the homes themselves to the surrounding land, a sense of wonder lies at the heart of it all. “I think McKee Properties really represents ‘play.’” Townsend says. “When we connect with people, we want them to have fun, whether that’s through outdoor pursuits, meeting people, or trying something new. We find that when that happens, they always want to come back for more.”
Find your perfect mountain escape at McKeeProperties.com.
An owner and an architect come together to create a charming coastal home in the South Carolina Sea Islands
Jan Eubank fell in love with the Lowcountry decades ago. With its grand oak trees draped in Spanish moss and the lazy ebb and flow of its waterways, she deemed South Carolina’s coastal islands the perfect place for her and her husband to raise a family. Now a widow with an empty nest, Eubank found herself longing for a contemporary space—something to symbolize this new chapter of her life. Her previous residence was located on a tidal creek, and she was still enchanted by the relaxed country lifestyle it afforded. Thus began her quest for a new space (for herself and her chocolate Labrador retriever, Annie) to call home.
“I wandered over to Kiawah River after hearing about it, and really fell in love,” she says. In the burgeoning community, currently in development between the Stono and Kiawah Rivers, she found the perfect riverfront homesite. Only the building’s foundation was in place at the time, but Eubank could see its potential. Kiawah River offers both turnkey and custom home plans, giving residents the option to collaborate with an architect on a home tailored to their needs. Eubank took advantage of this option, working with nationally recognized architect Phil Clark and Level Building Projects on her four-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bathroom home. Throughout the process, the pair corresponded about personalized touches that would make the house feel like home, including accent ceiling beams of reclaimed pine wood. As a result, Eubank found herself with a bright, open, and thoughtfully planned space, fully integrated with the surrounding scenery.
The pearl of the home is undoubtedly the back porch, which overlooks the placid waters of the Kiawah River itself. “Here in the Lowcountry, we live on our porches all year long,” Eubank says with a laugh. “I never put my outdoor furniture away.” In the tranquil early hours, she sips her morning coffee while watching the sun rise over the water. Later, she and Annie will stroll along the riverfront, taking advantage of the community’s picturesque trails and the pleasant breezy weather. In the evenings, Eubank is often entertaining friends or family, who gather to watch the sun set across the causeway. In every peaceful moment, she now participates in a much-loved Sea Island pastime: watching the natural world go b
In Eubank’s backyard, herons, spoonbills, and egrets are frequent visitors, arriving to feed on the fish and crustaceans left behind by the tides. It’s wonders like these that residents can learn about from Kiawah River’s own biologist, who hosts monthly gatherings for curious minds. “One of the things I learned at our last meeting is that bluebird houses line the pasture fence because they eat bugs and keep the pest population down,” Eubank says. “It’s fascinating to live so close to nature, and in this era of uncertainty, it’s nice to feel that maybe you’re helping in your own small way.”
To maintain this lush, unspoiled environment, Kiawah River places great emphasis on sustainability. One way it does this is by leaning into the island’s agricultural traditions. At the center of this environmentally conscious community lies a one-hundred-acre working farm, enabling an authentic farm-to-table lifestyle to thrive. The community also encompasses a variety of amenities that strengthen connections to the natural world. Half of the property’s two thousand acres will remain undeveloped, providing ample green space for those that seek it. And since the weather is balmy year-round, residents need not travel far to entertain, hike, fish, and bird-watch at their leisure.
Rest assured, however, that Kiawah River is anything but remote. A short drive beyond the property’s majestic oaks lies the historic city of Charleston, beckoning with world-class dining, shopping, and cultural pursuits. When residents are ready to return, Kiawah River’s natural beauty will be waiting, allowing the chance to unplug, unwind, and leave the pace of city life behind.
Learn more about life at Kiawah River—and virtually tour of some of its exquisite properties—at KiawahRiver.com.
Come Home to the Coast
Distinguished by its pearly architecture and deep community emphasis, Alys Beach, Florida, is in a class of its own
Nestled along Scenic Highway 30A in the Florida Panhandle sits one of the South’s most captivating destinations: a stretch of paradise known as Alys Beach. Halfway between Destin and Panama City, and within a day’s drive of most major Southeastern cities, this quiet enclave is surrounded by preserves and conservation parks, a detail that grounds this picturesque town in a rich sense of place. In a region known for its sugar-white sand, turquoise waters, and temperate coastal weather, Alys Beach presents a graceful, modern take on waterfront living, and a quieter approach to Florida’s quintessential beach life.
Spanning 158 acres, the master-planned community was created to foster a harmonious relationship between residents and the natural world. In addition to a limited number of vacation rentals, Alys Beach is home to a range of residential offerings—from custom homesites where owners can inform the construction process from the ground up, to turnkey properties such as brownstones, courtyard homes, and villas, each offering residents a brief stroll to the cerulean shoreline. Here, the homes are created with relaxation and entertainment in mind, and when it comes to design, dramatic ceilings, breezy verandas, and airy terraces are the stylish standard. What’s more, every home also features private outdoor space, where details like arched colonnades, private cabanas, bubbling fountains, and refreshing pools deliver a sense of tranquility beyond the beach.
In Alys Beach, design choices are carefully made to highlight the elements that make this place so special, but the traditions of Antigua, Morocco, and Greece also enhance the architecture. Throughout the town, pristine white rooftops paint the skyline, reminiscent of those found in Bermuda and other island communities. Environmental sensitivity is also crucial to Alys Beach, so much so that it was the first community to be certified by the Florida Green Building Coalition. Even the community’s cobblestoned plazas were carefully placed, considering the impact to the protected wetlands just beyond the town’s edge.
This thoughtful intentionality also extends to structural integrity; engineered for resilience, Alys Beach’s buildings are constructed to stand the test of time. It’s considerations like these that draw many residents to the community, promoting a collective peace of mind. In turn, homeowners can spend their leisure time relaxing, cultivating a balanced lifestyle with amenities such as the ZUMA Wellness Center, which offers cutting-edge fitness opportunities, quiet outdoor spaces, and an indoor/outdoor lap pool. Nearby, the dazzling Caliza Pool is another restorative space, transporting guests to a tropical oasis.
In Alys Beach, connection among neighbors is another core philosophy. The emphasis isn’t just on living well, but also on fostering community. Pocket parks and pedestrian paths provide shared spaces for folks to gather and appreciate the picturesque landscape they inhabit. Much of life also revolves around the Town Center, where residents can shop, dine, and enjoy open-air events like Alys Beach Crafted, a weekend celebration of craft beer, spirits, cocktails, and more, focused on stories of the creation process. And the community’s offerings are growing still. In 2022, several new merchants will set up shop in the Town Center, contributing even more texture to this world-class shopping and dining destination. Whether residents are in the mood for a casual meal alfresco or decadent fine dining, there’s something here for everyone. In these beloved restaurants, global flavors are paired with fresh local seafood, creating a vibrant culinary experience unique to the region.
While many aspects of Alys Beach, including annual happenings such as the 30A Wine Festival, are open to the public, there are also amenities reserved for homeowners, such as the newly opened Gulf-front Beach Club by the renowned architects at Hart Howerton. The community’s dedication to its residents means that those who call Alys Beach home enjoy an intimate sense of belonging—as well as invitations to exclusive events. To deepen the experience, the community recently introduced an app that caters to residents, offering updates on everything from the beach’s flag status to upcoming events and announcements. With the touch of a button, residents have reservations, fitness schedules, spa offerings, and more at their fingertips.
Exquisite in its execution, Alys Beach is defined by elegance and ease—an atmosphere that allows its homeowners to truly appreciate the luxuries of Gulf Coast life. Whether potential residents are dreaming of a blissful vacation home or a place to settle in full-time, this oasis by the water offers a breath of fresh air, and something far from ordinary.
Into the Heart of the Everglades
A fly-fishing expedition amid the tangled mangroves, rustic chickees, and blissful remoteness of the Everglades takes a writer deep into a rarely seen world
Food & Drink
Southern Chefs Go Hog Wild
Invasive feral pigs wreak havoc on native landscapes—but as many Southern hunters know, they sure can shine on the plate. These five myth-busting recipes, from a Louisiana pork chop to a spring Bolognese, provide ample inspiration to stay high on the hog
Arts & Culture
Unearthing the Art of Cora Kelley Ward
A cache of paintings by the unsung Louisiana artist leads the author on a yearslong journey to fill in the details of her unconventional life—and understand why her work grabbed him and wouldn’t let go
Food & Drink
The Mad Scientist of Pawpaws
Largely the domain of foragers, the biggest edible fruit in the South has mostly been forgotten. A quietly obsessed Quaker from West Virginia has made it his life’s mission to change that
Food & Drink
How an Award-Winning Pastry Chef Doctors Up Boxed Cornbread
Even Kelly Fields whips up a box of Jiffy every once in a while. Here’s how she makes the store-bought stuff her own
Arts & Culture
The Top-of-2021 Reading List for Southerners
G&G contributors, editors, and Southern book lovers share new releases and old favorites to read right away this year—and a couple forthcoming releases already on preorder