Hidden in the foothills of Northern Georgia, Barnsley Resort is a perfect spot for a weekend getaway with kids. The 3,000 acre resort has every activity imaginable to keep the entire family happily entertained. We recently visited and spent the weekend enjoying lots of family time.
Barnsley Resort perfectly balances a casual, rustic vibe with just enough Southern sophistication. The entire resort focuses on an outdoor lifestyle, which is perfect for kids. I would describe it as unpretentious country club meets summer camp.
Even better, it doesn’t feel crowded. There were two weddings going on during our visit, leaving the resort at near max capacity. Yet, we still felt like it was so quiet and peaceful. Not once did we wait on a table or sit at the pool without a chair.
The gorgeous resort centers around the ruins of Woodlands Manor and gardens, a once grand estate in Northern Georgia. Idyllic cottages dot the property, surrounding plenty of common green spaces with fire pits, bocce ball, and bike paths. Over 11 miles of hiking paths wind around the property. Multiple hammocks and Adirondack chairs are scattered among the grounds, perfect for relaxing while the kids play (for about five minutes if you’re lucky- haha!).
Here’s the deal, though. While we loved Barnsley as a family destination, it would be perfect for a couples getaway! Then you could enjoy the spa, relax at the pool and take it in from a different perspective.
History of Barnsley Manor and Gardens
Woodlands Manor was built by Godfrey Barnsley for his wife, Julia. He purchased over 4000 acres in the early 1840s and construction began on the Italianate manor. Unfortunately, Julia passed away before completion of the grand house. While construction halted for a few years due to her death, the manor was finally completed in 1848.
While the Godfrey family lived in the mansion for several years, it eventually fell into disrepair. Located right in the path of Sherman’s troops during the Civil War, Woodlands Manor suffered irreparable damage and looting from Union Soldiers. Godfrey lost his fortune during the war and moved. However, his descendants continued to live in the house.
Then, during 1906, a tornado severely damaged the roof, leaving the mansion completely exposed to the elements. The remaining family members moved into the kitchen wing, and the mansion went downhill quickly.
Today, only the walls still stand. You can walk throughout the main floor and tour the ruins. The kitchen wing has now been turned into a museum with various pieces clothing, furniture, and other Godfrey family relics.
Barnsley Resort Location
Barnsley Resort sits in the Northwest corner of the Georgia foothills. Based near the Blue Ridge Mountains, the gently rolling hills lend to the beautiful landscape. Just a short one hour drive from both Atlanta and Chattanooga, and only three hours from Nashville, Barnsley is perfectly located for a quick getaway. However, you could easily spend a full week here, especially if you leave the property to visit some of the nearby towns, parks, and natural areas.
Barnsley Resort Accommodations
Barnsley Resort has several unique accommodation types. The mainstay of the resort has long been the cottages that span a large area of the property. There are options for rental of an entire cottage or a single room in a cottage.
We chose a manor room, located in one of the cottages. We loved having a large separate bathroom with a clawfoot tub. The small porch area was so great for lazy mornings and afternoons. To us, the cottages are ideal for a visit with kids.
Another option is staying in the recently completed inn. While this is more like a standard hotel, they’ve done an excellent job of blending it into the surroundings. The rooms are nice, with huge walk-in showers. The downside when traveling with kids, is the lack of a bathtub.
Barnsley Resort Dining Options
Barnsley Resort offers a variety of dining options to fit any taste or mood, from fine dining to causal, open-air options- all of which are kid-friendly.
This is where we ate a majority of our meals during our visit with the kids. Strung with lights and shaded by the trees, this barbecue style restaurant is the family favorite. A large fire pit in the middle adds to the relaxing atmosphere. In the mornings they have the basics like breakfast sandwiches, yogurt, and cereal. In the afternoons, they offer a few easy appetizers, hotdogs, barbecue plates and sandwiches, along with smoked chicken and all the sides. The beer garden at Barnsley is centrally located, and we ended up spending quite a bit of time there watching the kids play on the lawn or in the rocks by our table. On Fridays during the summer they have Barnyard in the Beer Garden, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. They bring a few of the animals over for a fun petting zoo experience. The kids loved it, and the moms and dads enjoyed the added bonus of beer, shade, and entertained kiddos.
Pool Food Truck
While not listed on the website, the pool has a permanent food truck set up. They offer a few things like a turkey sandwich and chicken strips with fries. We discovered this on day two and made the decision to get takeout for the kids. Because, heaven forbid they miss a day of chicken strips and fries- right?!?
Much like a country club dining room, this is a slightly nicer dining experience. We only ended up eating breakfast at the Woodlands Grill, but it was absolutely delicious. We both got the breakfast buffet, which was packed with every possible option. As a bonus, kids under five eat free on the buffet! We all know how kids never eat enough to rationalize paying for the buffet. Overall, they were very welcoming to the kids, so I’d have no problem eating there with kids for dinner next time.
This is the fine dining option at Barnsley Resort. Honestly, we didn’t attempt this. We consider ourselves pretty adventurous as far as traveling with kids goes. However, we weren’t really in the mood to have two fussy toddlers along for a meal consisting of multiple courses. We know our limits! That said, we did speak to a few other couples taking their kids, and they seemed to have survived. They did confirm that kids menus were provided. So go for it if you want!
Things to Do at Barnsley Resort
Barnsley is ideal to visit with young kids because there is so much to see and do. Between the plethora of outdoor activities and the pool, they won’t even think about watching television.
Go for a swim: The large pool has plenty of space for kids to swim, without running over everyone else. There are plenty of chairs, and they even have several pool floats for guests to use.
Ride Bikes: There are several bikes for guests to freely use. While I did notice a few kids bikes and helmets, there isn’t a huge selection.
Go for a hike: With six marked trails on the property, there is surely a hike made for everyone. The trails range from 0.7 to 3.7 miles in length, but most intersect so you could easily make it into a longer hike.
Visit the Manor House: The ruins of the Woodlands Estate are a beautiful sight to see. Make sure to spend some time walking through the gardens and checking out the manor. The views from the veranda are astounding.
Visit the Barnyard: Multiple animals live in the barnyard at Barnsley Resort. Most are extremely friendly and love a visit from young children. We spent quite a bit of time each day petting the goats and laughing at the silly llama. Horseback riding is available, with several options depending on the child’s age.
Go Canoeing: Complimentary canoes and paddles are available and ready for a fun row around the 10 acre lake.
Go Fishing: Complimentary rods are available for guests to use at any of the ponds on site for catch and release fishing. Lessons are also available in fly fishing.
Make s’mores: Check inside the inn for all the essentials you will need to make s’mores at one of the fire pits on the lawn.
Planning some alone time while your spouse takes the kids? Or visiting Barnsley for a couples trip? Make sure to consider some of the options geared toward older kids and adults.
Have a spa day: The spa has ten treatment rooms, a steam room and a sauna.
Play Golf: Make sure to book a tee time on the course ranked by GolfAdvisor.com as the #1 golf course in Georgia.
Practice your aim: Older kids and hunting enthusiasts will want to book a time a the shooting grounds.
Our Tips for Your Best Visit with Kids
- Choose accommodations in one of the cottages. You’ll have direct outdoor access, more space, and a tub. Plus, each one has a small green space in front, perfect for quiet downtime.
- Pack a few small toys for the kids. Our kids loved playing in the rocks at the beer garden, especially since they had taken a few dump trucks and random containers to fill with the rocks.
- Consider bringing your kids bikes. We wished we’d taken a bike for our daughter. She would’ve loved riding it back and forth to dinner and around the green spaces. They do have adult bikes onsite and perhaps a few kids bikes, but that selection is very limited.
- Consider bringing a good stroller (BOB/UPPA or similar with large wheels) or baby sling. The property is pretty large. Walking the grounds isn’t bad, but it isn’t exactly easy when yo’ve got a toddler with tired legs. We were wishing we’d taken our stroller. One of the more durable umbrella strollers would’ve probably worked as well.
- There is a playground near the pool. They don’t really mention it, but it is a perfect little spot for toddlers to burn off some energy.
- Make sure to bring lifejackets. We left ours by the back door (no!!!!), and wished we had it several times. This was especially true when we went to canoe on the lake; there were no children’s life jackets to be found.
- Gratuity and tax are added to all food, drink, and activity charges. We didn’t notice this until we’d made a few purchases at the bar. Just be aware- there’s no point in double tipping unless you intend to.
- Many activities are included in your resort fee, but a few are not- horseback riding, golf, etc.
- All rooms have a mini fridge so make sure to take some wine/beer for casual nights on the porch- or milk for the kiddos. We enjoyed sitting on the porch during nap time and in the evenings before heading out to dinner. It was nice to have a few options in our room, so we didn’t need to run over to the bar.
- Take a few snacks for hungry kids; same goes for snacks as for the drinks. While there are three restaurants on site, there aren’t a ton of options for grab-and-go snacks. Make sure to plan ahead.
- Make sure to check the calendar of events online or at the outpost. They always have fun events going on.
Make sure to let us know if you visit Barnsley. We want to know what you think!