Why Barnsley Resort in Georgia Should be on Your Family Vacation Bucket List

Kendra Pierson Avatar
formal garden at the Barnsley family resort near Atlanta GA
Photo credit: Kendra Pierson

Barnsley Resort is the perfect place for busy families to turn off the electronics and explore the great outdoors with everything from archery to horseback riding and canoeing. This Georgia destination, located an hour drive northwest of Atlanta, offers all the simple goodness and fun of a summer camp experience with the amazing culinary experiences and comfort of a luxury resort. Barnsley Resort welcomes all the members of the families from children to grandparents. Even the family pets can come along for the fun as well.

The writer was hosted.

When I was invited to Barnsley Resort for a chance to experience “adult summer camp,” I wasn’t quite sure if I was up to the challenge. It’s been a long time since I’ve hiked a trail or cooked over an open fire, not to mention archery or horseback riding

My visit taught me that summer camp and exploring the great outdoors doesn’t have to be as much of the ‘roughing it’ experience that I was afraid of. Barnsley Resort is a wonderful location to re-discover your long-forgotten passions, the joy of a simpler pace and the innocent fun of being outdoors. The instructors and staff were so patient in guiding me through all the experiences that I can’t wait to return with my family.

What Works for Families at Barnsley Resort

  • You can just bring your clothes and come for a true break. The resort can pretty much provide everything you need for a weekend, including all the activities.  
  • Barnsley Resort staff will work with you to develop a custom event for your family and provide the ‘extra touches’ for any special events.  
  • Tons of outdoor spaces for kids to run and play without disturbing anyone. 
  • Cottages with multiple bedrooms allow families to be together while having alone time. 
  • Use of canoes, resort cruiser bikes, catch-and-release fishing, evening bourbon ritual (for adults 21+) and several other activities all included resort fees. 
  • Multiple dining options onsite (and the food is amazing at all). 
  • Complimentary evening s’mores and firepits. 
  • A saltwater pool that overlooks the Fazio-designed golf course. 
  • On-site spa and fitness center 
  • A conveniently located playground area for smaller children. 
  • Pets are welcome and encouraged to visit. 

What Doesn’t Work for Families at Barnsley Resort

  • There’s no onsite babysitting or planned kids’ club for parents to have time alone but the resort will make recommendations for outside services. 
  • Cottages nor rooms have kitchens, so you’ll need either leave your cottage/room and visit one of the restaurants or order room service. (But that also means you can’t cook!)
King room in the Inn at Barnsley Resort
My room in the Inn at Barnsley Resort offered the perfect window seat to sit and read.
Photo credit: Kendra Pierson

Rooms at the Barnsley Resort

Barnsley Resort offers a few different styles of sleeping rooms. They have the Inn, which has 55 rooms, with king and double queens. Each of the rooms is slightly different but they all have quaint touches and spectacular views that make you want to return. My room had a window seat perfect for reading or an early morning coffee.

Families also have the option of staying in a cottage. There are 39 different cottages spread throughout the village green. They range from Suite Cottages made for 2 all the way to the Estate Cottages that can sleep up to 18, with several options in the middle.

The Suite Cottages are perfect for couples looking for privacy. They’re one bedroom suites with private sitting areas both inside and out. In contrast, the Estate Cottages have a shared living room, dining areas, pantry-style kitchens and private porches.

A view of different cottages available for families at the Barnsley Resort
In addition to the Inn, families can choose to stay in one of the cottages at Barnsley Resort.
Photo credit: Barnsley Resort

What Does the Resort Offer for Families?

One of the most amazing things that Barnsley Resort offers to families is all of the different outdoor spaces that you can just go out and explore. I was amazed that I had missed all the fun, even though it’s a short drive from Atlanta. If your family needs a little more direction in exploring, then there is plenty of support for that too. Barnsley Resort offers both a relaxed exploration of the outdoors and a more adventurous side.

Playground at the Barnsley Resort in North Georgia Mountains
The playground at Barnsley Resort is simple; perfect for families with small children to explore.
Photo credit: Kendra Pierson

Relaxing Outdoor Activities at Barnsley Resort

Barnsley Resort is situated on 3,000 acres with a 10-acre lake for fishing and canoeing, a Jim Fazio-designed course overlooking the mountains, a disc golf course, trails for biking and hiking and the Manor House Ruins.

Several of the cabins offer porch swings and/or rockers plus there is an onsite playground and saltwater pool if your kids are looking for swimming time. I loved all the quiet spaces for just quietly relaxing in nature – gazebos, hammocks, chairs around the fire pits.

Not to mention, the Gardens, the Meadows, the Meditation Gardens…just the overall grounds. The great news is that Barnsley Resort makes it easy to explore. Checking into The Outpost (the country store and space for rentals), you can easily borrow bikes, fishing gear, games and everything else you’ll need. 

Archery instruction at Barnsley Resort
With a little more training by the Barnsley Resort instructors, I’m sure I could become an excellent archer! Photo credit: Kendra Pierson

Archery, Axe Throwing – Guided Summer Camp Activities

For more adventurous families, there are guided horseback rides, introductory classes for archery, axe throwing and air rifles for all ages (beginning as young as 5), High Adventure UTV Trail Riding Experience and a Beretta Shooting Grounds 28-station clay course. I would love to bring my family back and have a ‘friendly’ competition with all the outdoor activities.

One of the relaxed exploration events is a Forest Bathing Journaling Walk, giving you the chance to connect with nature. Ms. Natalie was absolutely inspiring as she encouraged us in creating journals based on what we found along our walks. I loved that I learned a new skill that I’ll continue for future travels. Again, the resort provides all the materials you’ll need so everyone (parents and grandparents) can experience and enjoy it as well. 

Barnsley Resort offers golf coaching by pros at the Barnsley Resort Golf Membership.
With open bays, guests can learn from golf pros during any kind of weather.
Photo Credit: Barnsley Resort

Barnsley Resort Golf Experiences

While I didn’t experience it this trip, I do think golfers wouldn’t mind playing a round at the 18-hour Fazio-designed course. It’s been recognized as one of the Top Golf Resorts in the SE by Conde Nest Traveler. My family would certainly be willing to bring out our clubs and play it through.

One of the resort’s newest editions is the Golf Performance Center. An onsite pro is available if we’d need a private lesson or we could join a drop-in clinic. It’s also one of the few green grass locations in the area that provides club fitting from three top manufacturers.

The relaxation area at the Barnsley Resort. Photo credit: Kendra Pierson

Barnsley Resort Spa

No luxury resort is complete without a spa and the Barnsley Resort spa doesn’t disappoint. The spa offers a full menu for both women and men in 10 treatment rooms. Guests can either choose to wait in the co-ed lounge or women/men’s locker rooms. Each has a steam room and sauna to relax before your service. 

One thing I learned is that the spa gets booked up very quickly so plan in advance if you’d like to have a service.

You can’t beat the food or the golf course view at the Woodlands Grill. Photo credit: Kendra Pierson

Dining at Barnsley Resort

Guests have three primary options for dining at Barnsley Resort. I’m just going to say with the exception of one dessert, everything I ate at Barnsley Resort was amazing. One other thing I respect about Barnsley Resort is that if you have a desire, they’ll do their best to make it happen.

Woodlands Grill is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Overlooking the golf course, it offers a full menu of traditional American favorites with their own unique preparation of each item. Be sure to ask your server for their recommendations, but honestly, try the Homemade Salmon Gravlax and Avocado Toast for breakfast and Scallop Risotto for dinner. I was lucky enough to get the last risotto one night!

Woodlands Grill also offers a children’s menu with the traditional children’s chicken tenders, burgers, etc. so you don’t have to worry about the kids not having anything to eat.

Rice House is a fine dining establishment and the menu is certainly an elevated experience with suggested pairings for each course. Rice House has an upscale resort dress code and doesn’t have a children’s menu. In my opinion, it’s worth a separate trip for just dinner.

Beer Garden is a super casual, open-air beer garden and the perfect place to grab sandwiches, salads, pizza and BBQ. The cool thing is that they have a new mobile pizza oven that makes special appearances. If you’re lucky, it’ll be out when you visit.

The onsite mobile pizza oven at Barnsley Resort
If you’re visiting when the onsite mobile pizza oven comes out for lunch or dinner, you’re in for a special treat!
Photo credit: Kendra Pierson

The Villages of Barnsley Resort

To fully appreciate the Villages of Barnsley Resort, you have to understand the history of the Barnsley Resorts. It begins in the 1840s when Godfrey Barnsley began building a grand estate, then known as the Woodlands, for his wife, Julia. They were originally from Savannah, Georgia, and planned the move due to Julia’s poor health. Godfrey hoped that moving to Bartow County, North Georgia in the shade and coolness of the Blue Ridge Mountains would give Julia more comfort than the humidity of Savannah.

Unfortunately, Julia passed away before it was completed and construction stopped. Godfrey eventually completed the Italianate-inspired villa, known as the Manor House, and gardens as a tribute to Julia.

Generations of the Barnsley family did live in the home until it was destroyed by a tornado in the 1930s. When touring the Manor House ruins today, you can see the level of detail and craftsmanship that was put into the construction of the house. The ruins overlook the restored formal gardens. The Barnsley Gardens were inspired by the designs of Andrew Jackson Downing and you can envision all of the love that went into making this a true family estate.

Skipping forward to the current era, Barnsley Resort is a full-service luxury resort with an English-inspired village setting with plenty of event space and lovely historical gardens that make you feel like you’ve stepped into a simpler time.

The Villages of Barnsley Resort isn’t as much a specific location but the heart and feelings of the resort. During my time, I could just walk to all of the different areas and felt like I was at home in my own little quaint village.

There is the center green, with the Woodlands Grill restaurant at one end and the Rice House restaurant and the Georgian Hall event space at the other. Along the way, there are cottages, meeting spaces like the Town Hall (resembling a small chapel) and even the outdoor Beer Garden, where you can grab a casual bite and one of the 30 craft beers they keep on hand.

Every evening, you can have a treat of s'mores by the fire, courtesy of Barnsley Resort.
Who doesn’t love s’mores? Every evening, you can have a treat of s’mores by the fire, courtesy of Barnsley Resort. Photo credit: Kendra Pierson

And one of my absolute favorite things is that no matter where you are in the Villages, you can usually hear the Barnsley Resort soundtrack and smell the wood burning from a fire. I can’t recommend Barnsley Resort as a place for families looking for a quick road trip getaway from Atlanta or Chattanooga enough and can’t wait to bring mine back.

Kendra Pierson has been the family-designated travel researcher since she was 16 and now shares that title with her husband and two boys. As a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), she used to spend 50% of her time planning meetings for clients around the US and was lucky enough to bring her boys along for most of that ride. She is a pro at maximizing travel to include business and personal, most often including a long weekend. When she’s not traveling, she’s homeschooling her sons as they explore the Atlanta area and can be found blogging at KendraPierson – Love. Learn.Travel..
Read full bio