Dine & Unwind at These 6 Cozy Culinary Retreats in the South

Think about escaping to a place where you can linger a little longer than usual over an extra cup of coffee or cocoa next to a blazing fire, where the main topic of lunchtime conversation is what you’ll have for dinner, and where a late evening hot toddy by the firepit is the perfect ending to a day of, well, basically nothing. Doesn’t that sound divine?!

Here are some of our favorite cozy resorts around the South, where comfort and cuisine are equally important — perfect for a cold-weather retreat.

Old Edwards Inn | Highlands, NC

Highlands, NC, is a charming little walkable community on the plateau of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and Old Edwards Inn is one of its centerpieces. The town has attracted visitors stretching back to Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, who were big fans, and the European-style mountain resort offers a variety of suites and cottages perfect for a winter getaway.

Pick from all-inclusive or a-la-carte packages for your stay and enjoy access to multiple dining options on the property. Farm-fresh regional ingredients drive the cuisine, and Madison’s Restaurant and Wine Garden is a popular destination for farm-to-table fare in a relaxed yet elegant atmosphere — or even al fresco by a waterfall if the weather allows. For a more casual-but-still-delicious dining option, check out Four65 for wood-fired pizzas and craft cocktails on the lively Main St. of downtown Highlands.

Then, enjoy a nightcap in Hummingbird Lounge or retire to your gorgeously-appointed suite or cottage for a bit of snuggling by the fireplace.

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Old Edwards Inn is a wonderful retreat from the ordinary. Image: Old Edwards Inn

Gazebo at Old Edwards Inn.

Robes, a fireplace, and a good book? Absolutely! Image: Old Edwards Inn

Blackberry Farm | Walland, TN

Blackberry Farm has been setting the standard for Southern hospitality for almost fifty years, ever since the Beall family first opened a small inn in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. In the early 2000s, the second-generation innkeepers of the Beall family placed a new emphasis on the culinary experience, opening The Barn at Blackberry Farm, a restaurant that has produced two James Beard Award-winning chefs.

Fog in the Smoky Mountains at Blackberry Farm.

A foggy morning reveals why they’re called the Smoky Mountains. Image: Blackberry Farm

The expanded food, wine, and spirits program includes an on-property working garden where chefs and mixologists source native ingredients to use in their creations. Guests can take educational tours of the garden and learn about what might appear on their plate at dinner that evening or sit in on daily cooking demos where the talented kitchen staff will show off the entire process.

Room service at Blackberry Farm is also a great option, delivered to your cozy room or cabin to be enjoyed at your leisure by a warming fire. Or enjoy a full spa day of pampering chosen from a menu of relaxing or invigorating treatments courtesy of the talented staff. You’ll undoubtedly discover why they say Blackberry Farm is “Easy to get to. Hard to leave!”

White and red barns at Blackberry Farm.

Who would think a converted barn could house one of America’s best restaurants? Image: Blackberry Farm

BBF soup at Blackberry Farm.

Every plate is a work of art at The Barn at Blackberry Farm. Image: Blackberry Farm

Woman enjoying a scalp massage at the spa.

Be sure to book some time at the spaaaaahhhhh! Image: Blackberry Farm

Guest room with a fireplace at Blackberry Farm.

Doesn’t this look like a great place to get lost for a few days? Image: Blackberry Farm

Fearrington House Inn | Pittsboro, NC

Fearrington House is unusual in that it was a restaurant first. Later, an inn was added for membership in the prestigious Relais & Châteaux properties, so you know that culinary endeavors are at the center of what makes the inn so special. The Fearrington House Restaurant has been a dining destination for Raleigh residents and visitors from throughout the Triangle region for more than 40 years, thanks to a laser focus on the diner experience and a menu of seasonal, regionally-sourced dishes.

Visitors plan entire visits around Fearrington House’s famous chocolate soufflé, made with decadent Valrhona dark chocolate, vanilla, and whipped cream, so be sure to save room for dessert. Walk off your dinner with a stroll around the restaurant’s garden, or wait until morning to visit The Belted Barnyard, the core of the old Fearrington Farm that is still home to adorable baby goats and cows.

For a little self-care, indulge in a day at Fearrington’s Day Spa, where expert techs offer facials, nail services, massages, and other customizable pampering packages. Fearrington isn’t a huge property, but it manages to fit a lot of luxury into its small footprint, which also means that the staff can offer even more personalized service.

Guest room at Fearrington House

The rooms at Fearrington House exude classic elegance. Image: Fearrington House

Cocktail and crudités and Fearrington House

What’s more refined than a cocktail and crudités? Image: Fearrington House

Chocolate soufflé from Fearrington House.

There’s always room for soufflé! Image: Fearrington House

Guest room at Old Edwards Inn.

The well-appointed rooms at Old Edwards Inn are some of the nicest in the Highlands area. Image: Old Edwards Inn

Breakfast spread at Madison's at Old Edwards Inn.

Breakfast at Madison’s is always a treat! Image: Old Edwards Inn

Cozy drink in front of the fireplace at Hummingbird at Old Edwards Inn.

A hot drink at Hummingbird wards off the winter chill. Image: Old Edwards Inn

The Lodge on Little St. Simons Island | St. Simons Island, GA

If your idea of relaxation is returning to nature while enjoying a little bit of luxury, it’s hard to beat The Lodge on Little St. Simons Island. Accessible only by ferry, leave your car and troubles behind as you make your way to 11,000 acres of gorgeous wilderness, offering a rare opportunity to be immersed in the unique ecosystem of the coastal marsh of this barrier island. On-site naturalists provide tours and experiences that include guided hikes, bird watching, biking, fishing, or just a peaceful stroll along the beach.

But just because you’re immersed in nature doesn’t mean you have to rough it. The Lodge can accommodate up to 32 guests in private rooms or six historic cottages. Each lodge features a fireplace and all the amenities you’d expect from a luxury property. Even though you might enjoy the privacy of your cabin, be sure to schedule a pre-dinner visit to the Hunting Lodge for a social hour with your fellow guests. The lodge was built in 1917 and is still the hub of activity on Little St. Simons Island.

The talented culinary team at The Lodge prepares three meals a day using locally-sourced ingredients that showcase the bounty of the Lowcountry. An outdoor oyster roast featuring bivalves harvested from nearby Eagle Creek is a real treat — the epitome of eating locally.

Screened-in porch at the Lodge on Little St. Simon's Island

Get back to nature without leaving your porch at The Lodge on Little St. Simons Island. Image: Phillip Murdaco

Guest room at the Lodge on Little St. Simon's Island.

It’s hard to call something this beautiful a “lodge.” Image: Phillip Murdaco

Three people looking at the Milky Way from a field.

When was the last time you got far enough away from the city lights to see the Milky Way? Image: Phillip Murdaco

Woman birdwatching at the Lodge on Little St. Simon's Island.

Little St. Simon’s Island is a birder’s paradise. Image: Benjamin Galland

Shrimp, lemons, and corn at a Lowcountry boil.

Indulge in the flavors of the region with a Lowcountry boil. Image: Cassie Wright

Community table set up for dinner at the Lodge on Little St. Simon's Island.

This table is set for the ultimate oyster roast! Image: The Lodge on Little St. Simon’s Island

Little Palm Island Resort & Spa | Little Torch Key, FL

Hygge doesn’t have to be strictly a cold-weather phenomenon. Nothing says you can’t feel content and cozy with a margarita in your hand. Intentionally cut yourself off from the hustle and bustle of everyday life by traveling by boat or seaplane to Little Palm Island Resort & Spa, where they practice “The Art of Getting Lost.”

Unplug as soon as you arrive and feel your cares wash away as you check into your Caribbean-inspired bungalow or suite. Ocean views are the norm, even while lounging poolside by the palapa bar. The main dining room offers world-class cuisine courtesy of executive chef Brendan Mica, but the most amazing experience is a private dinner on the beach. Book your table and dine by candlelight or set up a firepit to snuggle by while you enjoy a champagne sunset toast.

Two lounge chairs on the beach next to a fire.

A champagne toast by a campfire on the beach at sunset is just what the doctor ordered. Image: Little Palm Island Resort & Spa

Cabanas bu the pool at Little Palm Island Resort & Spa.

Poolside cabanas draw you into a tropical paradise. Image: Little Palm Island Resort & Spa

Luxe bathroom at Little Palm Island Resort & Spa.

Rustic and romantic, the resort offers ample opportunity for a bit of rest and relaxation. Image: Little Palm Island Resort & Spa

Coming Soon: Southall Farm & Inn | Franklin, TN

After years of anxious anticipation, Southall Farm & Inn is due to open soon on 325 acres just outside the charming town of Franklin, TN. We have no doubt it will be an excellent addition to the region’s list of luxury resorts!

Southall aims to be a sustainable addition to the community, growing much of the food served in the resort’s restaurant in greenhouses and garden plots across the property. Acclaimed chef Tyler Brown runs the culinary program and serves as vice president of agricultural operations, integrating the farm and the kitchen in a way that very few restaurants can. Chef Tyler has already introduced his cuisine to the community with a series of outdoor dining events called “The Rambling,” and future guests can expect plenty of opportunities to dine in and on the natural habitat of Southall. We can’t wait!

Read our full insider preview of Southall HERE.

Rambling Outdoor Party at Southall Farm & Inn

The highly anticipated Southall Farm & Inn may not be open yet, but gorgeous dining experiences offer a preview of what’s to come. Image: Southall Farm & Inn

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