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The lodge is gorgeous at night.

Trying new vacation spots takes a little bit of courage.  This past April our family ventured to Miami’s South Beach only to stay at a hotel that specialized in generous sized women wearing not so generously sized thong bikinis, luxuriating and lathering poolside!  You are thinking to yourself, “What do you expect,  you were in South Beach.” Yeah…yeah.

So, when my birthday came around a few weeks ago, my darling husband said, “Let’s go to Atlanta. The Ritz has incredible deals going on.”  My initial reaction was “Book it!”.  Is there anything better than sitting at the bar in the Ritz in Buckhead anticipating their 500+ count sheets?  But, then I started considering, “What do I really want from my rare foray away from our three daughters?”

What I really wanted was a slower pace with the outdoors mixed in.

My friend Betsy mentioned the Dancing Bear Lodge in Townsend, TN.  The minute I heard it was owned by Blackberry Farms I was sold.  The Dancing Bear Lodge is a little bit of heaven on this Earth.  The property is a combination of a huge lodge (it feels like a hunting lodge) with combinations of 1 & 2 bedroom cabins.  We stayed in a darling one bedroom cabin with a fireplace and hot tub.  And, just as I expected, there were touches of Blackberry Farm’s magic everywhere like the comfy leather chairs by the fireplace, the terry cloth bathrobes, the down comforters and the great linens.  The word I conjure up is tasteful.  Everything was simply tasteful.

The sense of seclusion is magical at Dancing Bear Lodge.

Townsend offers many possibilities for exercise or you can be a total slug and read books all day. The Great Smoky Mountains are at your backdoor as are many rivers for rafting.  The Dancing Bear Lodge rents bike and has trails all through the property. What I loved most about Townsend is its pedestrian friendly nature.  Bike paths and walking paths are everywhere.

Once you have had your fill of whatever suits you for the day, you can look forward to relaxing at the lodge. We made 8PM dinner reservations, perfect timing for the end of the day.  Strolling up the lane to the lodge with a full moon, bottle of nice wine in hand and anticipation of a gourmet dinner is about a close to Nirvana as it gets.

Don’t underestimate a romantic getaway with your husband.

The dinner was divine:  fresh trout, crispy duck, roasted chicken. Incredible desserts and a full wine list in the event you don’t want to pay the $15 corkage fee.  After dinner, we grabbed a port and sat on the front porch gazing at the full moon and enjoying the breeze.

The meals are lovely: simple, using local purveyors.

I always said my favorite birthday was my 8th birthday:  I had a store bought cake and party at Overton Park.  Oh, and the policeman stopped by so we offered him a piece of cake.  Well, I think this one even tops that!

So, instead of a present, consider a mini-trip for your next big day.  “People who spend money on experiences are happier than those who buy “stuff,”according to a study from San Francisco State University (as quoted in this month’s Shape magazine).  Being just three hours away, Dancing Bear can be your happy booster as well.

Rates vary depending of cabin size.  $139 – $399

All rates include an incredible continental breakfast.

Dancing Bear Lodge
137 Apple Valley Way
Townsend,TN  37882

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