all photos copyright Anne Braly
As more travelers are getting the itch to get back into nature, going somewhere after self-quarantining for weeks on end, glamping has become a sought-after escape. It’s the ideal experience for those who want to encounter the thrill of the outdoors — getting back to nature without the hassle of backpacking and sleeping on the cold, hard ground — while continuing to maintain a safe distance from your neighbors.
That’s exactly what y’all can expect to find at Wildwood Resort and Marina, in Middle Tennessee’s Upper Cumberland region on the Cumberland River’s Cordell Hull Lake. A newly renovated resort, it offers glampers the best of both worlds — a place to enjoy nature while glamping in resort-style accommodations with a full range of activities. It’s summer camp all grown up — horseback riding, hiking, canoeing, paddleboarding, and kayaking.
And there is perhaps no better way to enjoy a vacation during this time of social distancing.
Spend the night in a glamourous Airstream trailer featuring beds with nice linens; Keurig coffees in the morning; scrumptious foods the day long; and a long list of things to do.
Days begin peacefully at Wildwood in an area called The Woods. Wake up in your fully restored Airstream _ there are five in all _ and enjoy your morning java surrounded by tall pines and hardwoods with a view of Cordell Hull Lake. At night, light a fire _ each Airstream has a fire pit _ and enjoy the peace and quiet of your surroundings. Don’t forget the marshmallows.
John and Natasha Deane and Kevin and Donna Jones bought the old marina in Granville, Tenn., in 2018 and reopened it as Wildwood Resort and Marina. After some major renovations and additions, the resort now boasts a houseboat with two bedrooms; a new lakeside lodge with 14 guest rooms; lakeside cabins; a state-of-the-art conference room (opening in mid-summer); and five vintage Airstreams, each named for the queens of country music. There’s Dolly from 1960; June, circa 1971; Emmylou, circa 1983; Patsy, circa 2012; and Loretta, circa 1985.
You can tailor your stay at Wildwood any way you want. Hop on a paddleboard or in a kayak or canoe and make your way across Cordell Hull and explore its nearby tributaries _ Indian Creek and Martin’s Creek. Or let someone else do the driving by taking a breakfast, brunch, or dinner cruise at sunset aboard a pontoon boat. Just make arrangements ahead of time with the staff.
Or simply wet a line and fish from the boardwalk along the jetty _ bring your own bait and tackle.
Offsite, there’s more to keep you busy. The area is known for its wineries and waterfalls, so grab a map and get moving. Guided tours can be arranged. Trails abound through the area, so be sure to bring your hiking boots, or hop on a horse and take a ride along a designated trail that skirts the lake. One- and two-hour rides are offered. Tired muscles after a day of fun? Put your name down for a massage.
The town of Granville, Tenn. has a population of 300 that swells to 10,000 during the Heritage Day Festival, held every Memorial Day weekend and is one of seven festivals held in the small downtown. Granville is also home to T. B. Sutton General Store, established in 1880, where every Saturday night, a bluegrass dinner is with live music played on the small corner stage and broadcast on radios across the world.
“Granville has a ton of history, and the town has embraced it,” Mr. Deane says, adding that tours that showcase the history can be arranged.
Again, check with the resort for reservations for all activities and schedules for events in town depending on Covid-19 regulations.
Wildwood offers two dining venues. Grab a snack, breakfast, or a quick lunch at Holston Cafe open seven days a week. Timberloft Lakeside Restaurant, open on weekends, offers cozy seating inside and out on a deck overlooking the water.
The Airstreams have outdoor grills, microwaves and refrigerators, however, so you can bring your own food for some of the meals.
Music is a part of life at Wildwood, too. May through September, there’s live music on Fridays and Saturdays with bands playing covers. The second Saturday of the month _ May to September _ prominent Nashville musicians come in for singer-songwriter night. Every Thursday night is Pickin’ on the Porch open to all who want to pick up and instrument and join in, or just sit back and listen.
“Wildwood is an irresistible destination for discovering the Tennessee wilderness,” Mr. Deane says. And glamping is a fun way to do it.
Glamping Around the South
Enjoy glamping at an authentic dude ranch in a rare untouched piece of Florida wilderness. Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo lies on 1,700 acres one hour south of Orlando. Designed to accommodate a couples getaway, family bonding or a group of friends. Glamping includes a fully-furnished, air-conditioned tent with access to a private bath, campfire with a s’mores kit, warm cinnamon rolls, and a personalized concierge service. Weekend guests can also return to the days of “Old Florida” by attending a rodeo in the 1,200-seat arena followed by a variety of Florida cowboy-themed activities.
Gulf Shores, Ala.
Gulf State Park is the perfect destination for exploring the white sand beaches of Gulf Shores. The campground is set up with three glamping-style safari tents that sleep up to four people. While glamping here is more rustic than some other places, you’ll still sleep in comfort off the ground on cots. A communal wash station is nearby with full bathroom facilities located a little farther away. It’s all about combining backcountry camping with convenience and privacy _ and a gorgeous beach.
Walhalla, South Carolina
You’ll need to make your reservation early to snag a date to sleep in a treehouse in the woods on a farm in northwest South Carolina, a stone’s throw from the Chattahoochee National Forest. Walls of windows will make you feel like a bird high in the trees with views all around. The property boasts gardens, forests of hardwood trees and trails galore. The treehouse has luxury bedding, a fireplace and dining room, a barbecue grill and hammock for relaxing. Bring your own food or, for an extra fee, dinner will be delivered to your door.