We’re traveling differently these days — if we’re traveling at all. Less flying; more driving. Less dining out; more accommodations where you can prepare meals or at least comfortably eat take-out.
Road trips seem to be the way to go, but for Floridians, most of us have to first drive and drive to leave the amazingly long state.
I planned a recent road trip north and my best tip from the experience is this: a stop in a Georgia State Park cabin once you leave Florida.
We stayed in two wonderful Georgia State Park cabins on our trip: First, 90 minutes north of the state line, at Fort McAllister Historic State Park outside Savannah, minutes off I-95.
Then, five hours north, we stopped at Fort Mountain State Park two hours north Atlanta, for two nights in the mountains.
I was amazed to see that Georgia State Parks have more than 30 parks with cabins located throughout the state.
The two Georgia State Park cabins we stayed in were both overly spacious for two adults, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. They had full well-equipped kitchens, comfortable living room and dining furniture plus huge screen porches with wonderful views and furniture designed for spending time there. This isn’t roughing it: There were TVs with cable in both bedrooms and the living room.
These Georgia State Park cabins, which cost $175 a night (plus taxes) would be perfect for families, even two families meeting. These cabins were classified as “premier” cottages; some parks also have two bedroom cabins at $150 a night.
Both parks offered beautiful scenery and lovely places to stroll or hike right from our cabin doors, plus more to do within a short drive.
We brought all our own food, which reduced our exposure to people and stores. Not spending money on restaurants and bars balanced out the cost of accommodations. If you traveled with more people, that $175/night would be a bargain for these cabins.
One reason I opted for Georgia State Park cabins over AirBnB or VRBO vacation rentals is that for short stays, those cleaning fees and service fees make stays expensive. Also, it’s hard to tell if your VRBO location provides good scenery and walking-distance recreation. With state park cabins, there are no additional cleaning fees and you are guaranteed a location in a recreation hub. Unlike vacation rentals, you know there’s a ranger available in the park if you have a problem or even just need advice on what to do.
Fort Mountain State Park (Photos Bonnie Gross and David Blasco)
On our way back to Florida, we may stop at another cabin at Crooked River State Park, 20 minutes north of the state line on a woodsy coastal river near St. Marys.
For Floridians, a terrific vacation road trip would be to make a loop and spend a few days each at several Georgia State Park cabins that appeal to you. (If you’re a camper, there are even more Georgia State Parks from which to choose.)
I’d love to stay at F.D. Roosevelt State Park, which has 21 cabins and is near Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Little White House historic site in Warm Springs about 90 minutes south of Atlanta.
I’m also drawn to several state parks in Georgia’s gorgeous mountains. There are at least 10 Georgia State Parks with cabins that would quality as “mountain” locations. One, Vogel State Park, has 34 cabins, so you are more likely to encounter a vacancy here than in some other parks.
There are also a number of state parks on lakes, rivers and flowages, where boating, fishing and swimming are popular.
For road-trippers, here are your best options:
Georgia State Park cabins near I-95
Crooked River: 20 minutes off I-95. Coastal location with waterfront views and pine forest. There are11 cottages from $160 to $225 for a three bedroom.
Fort McAllister: 90 minutes north Florida border; 20 minutes off I-95. Vast salt marsh and fascinating Civil War site preserving extensive earthworks that proved impervious to Union monitors, iron-clad warships. It was the site of the sinking of a Confederate blockade runner and history buffs will find it worth visiting.
Georgia State Parks cabins near I-75
Georgia Veterans State Park, 9 miles off I-75, 90 minutes north of Florida state line. This park is also known as Lake Blackshear Resort and Golf Club. It’s a lakeside destination with 10 rustic cabins renting for $150/night plus a large lodge and villas. It’s known for its golf course.
Indian Springs State Park, 20 minutes off I-75, three hours north Florida state line. A historic site frequented by both Creek Indians and settlers who flocked here for the artesian spring. Popular activities are wading in Sandy Creek, nature trails and biking. Ten cabins with wood burning fireplaces at $175 a night.
Red Top Mountain State Park, 5 minutes off I-75, four hours north of Florida state line. The park is best known for the 12,000 acre lake, but it is also a great place for hikers, with more than 15 miles of trails through the forested park. There are 18 cottages, ranging from $150 for two-bedrooms to $250 for three-bedroom premier.
There are many other Georgia state park cabins if you are willing to drive 30 to 45 minutes off I-75.
Reserve all Georgia State Park cabins via Reserve America.
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The author, Bonnie Gross, travels with her husband David Blasco, discovering off-the-beaten path places to hike, kayak, bike, swim and explore. Florida Rambler was founded in 2010 by Bonnie and fellow journalist Bob Rountree, two long-time Florida residents who have spent decades exploring the Florida outdoors. Their articles have been published in the Sun Sentinel, the Miami Herald, the Orlando Sentinel, The Guardian and Visit Florida.