If you are looking for a getaway that takes you far away from crowds… offers plenty of outdoor activities… works for couples, kids, or multi-generational families… helps you forget your worries… and puts a focus on FUN… Candlelight Forest is calling your name.
Sleep in a treehouse
When I first learned about the two treehouses here at Candlelight Forest, I knew we had to stay! Both Sophie’s Roost and Le Petit Chateau were available so I picked the Chateau because of its feminine touches.
Both treehouses sleep 6 people, with 1.5 baths. We brought the grandparents, so they commandeered the queen bed on the main level.
Us younger folk climbed to the loft area above, which included a half-bath, 4 twin beds, and a table and chairs. We also appreciated that the upstairs and downstairs each had their own air condition units.
Back downstairs, the seating area included a sofa and love seat, mini fridge and mini microwave, plus a Kerig coffee maker.
On the back deck we found a dining table and several more chairs, so we were easily able to move a couple more indoors to accommodate seating for everyone.
The back deck also includes a huge and luxurious gas grill, and a “cowboy kitchen.” You’ll find silver, plates, a large pot, a large sink, and a prep area.
Because I didn’t know what to expect, we didn’t bring the “fixins'” for dinner…but it would have been a great place to prepare steaks or hamburgers. There are even burners on the gas grill, which we used to heat up water for French press coffee the next morning (I never leave home without my French press!)
These are the only two treehouses on the property, and they are next to each other. So, do expect that you will have a neighbor (we did!) but you still feel secluded. The treehouses sit about 150 yards apart.
Also worth noting, you will need to climb a short trail to the treehouse. The in-laws are 76 and 81, and they made it (carrying their own luggage) without issue. But, it is not wheelchair accessible. Additionally, if you need help with luggage, just let them know on the reservation and someone will come to assist you.
You’ll also find a gorgeous home on the property appropriately called This Old House. It was is the first show home created by the hit TV series This Old House.
It’s a lot bigger, with 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms – sleeping up to 8 people.
It includes a fireplace, TV, large indoor dining table, a full (large) kitchen, 2 master retreats, plus bunk beds for the kids and a loft area with a gaming system. There is also a washer and dryer, plus a gorgeous wrap-around porch perfect for sipping coffee.
I’d love to go back and stay at this house with some friends. It’s about $100 more per night (2-night minimum) than we paid for the treehouse, but if you split it with friends or family it is very affordable.
A note on pricing
One more note about pricing…when you stay the night here, you are able to take advantage of all the amenities afforded by the “Day Pass” without extra charge.
If you just want to come up for the day, you can enjoy most everything for $12 per person.
Additional fees (whether using a day pass or staying overnight) include s’mores kits (and all snacks and drinks), badminton rental, SUP boards, wishing lanterns, and Hummer rides.
Additionally, the AirBnB fees are steep for this property. We paid over $130 in fees, on top of the nightly rental amount. It was high…but it was still one of the best adventures we have done this year. (I later learned it’s a little better on VRBO. Those links included here.)
Go for a swing
If you ask my oldest about his favorite part of this trip, he will tell you it’s the rope swing over the creek. He and his brother probably took 200 swings over that water. And yes – even I took a few turns (but I’m not sharing those photos! ha!)
Next to the swing is the Pete Nelson Designed Grand Treehouse, perfect for playing in (see photo down below.) There is a swing under the treehouse, and plenty of rooms for playing in.
Also, just up from the rope swing in one of the small lakes is a Huck Finn-style raft with a pull rope to ferry you back and forth along the lake, so you can examine the fish. So much fun!
The creek itself was also a hit with the boys. It’s deep enough to be fun, shallow enough to be safe, and runs with enough strength that the water is clean, clear and fresh. They skipped stones, over-turned rocks looking for salamanders and crawdads, and splashed each other as the temps grew during the day.
Explore the lake
While my oldest favored the swing, my youngest loved the larger lake – Lake Angela. He caught sunfish here (catch and release) and loved spying the HUGE carpe that were put in the lake by the University of Tennessee as part of an algae-eating project.
Because of the carpe, the lake is crystal clear – even in the deepest areas you can see all the way to the bottom of the lake. Canoes and paddles sit along the shoreline – grab one and head out to the center to see for yourself!
Take a hike
There are multiple trails on the property. Near the front, the kids loved the Mason Jar scavenger hunt trail. It starts right near the Pygmy goats and chickens, and circles around.
Every few hundred feet there is a mason jar hanging from a tree, filled with a rhyming clue that leads you to the next one…pointing out an old farm bell, carriage wheel, beehive, and more. The boys loved it…and it ends at a treasure chest with a prize!
We also walked to the Observation Point….though in Spring, with all the tree growth, there is not much to see. The top was pretty, though, with moss and greenery that reminded us of a hobbit village.
I also want to remind you that you are only about 20 minutes from Cloudland Canyon State Park, with some of the best hiking trails in Georgia.
Adventure at night
Before the sun begins to set, head over to the community fire pit and get your s’mores roasting fire going. Yes, it was almost 90 degrees the day we visited – but we couldn’t have a day of old-school play without roasting marshmallows.
The fire pit was already arranged, with a pile of wood to the side to keep it going. Fire starter sticks and a lighter were located in our treehouse, which were necessary to get it going.
While we roasted marshmallow and made s’mores, we watched the sun go down. We also played a few rounds of corn hole and horseshoes (set up right by the camp fire area)…and loved seeing the fireflies come in!
After our bellies were full and the sun had sat all the way, we took wishing boats down to the lake. You can purchase them at the farmstand for $3 each.
We all wrote our wishes on the white tissue paper, lighted the tea candle, and set them to sail on the lake. It was beautiful!
More info on these: You don’t keep the wooden pieces of the wishing lantern. The staff here collect them from the lake the next day, though we were up and fishing early so we saw them along the lake bed and put them on a table for the crew. This enabled us to take our white tissue wishes home with us. If you want to write your wishes, also, consider bringing the paper and pens down to the fire pit with you. That’s where we wrote ours. You’ll want to get them well before dark, though. The store closes at 5pm.
Grab a snack
The Plucky Peacock is the farmstand for Candlelight Forest. You’ll find ice cream, water, sodas and a few other goodies here. There is usually also an opportunity to order a picnic lunch, but was on hiatus when we visited.
This is where we purchased our s’mores goodies, waters, and a few ice cream bars for my sweaty fishermen. You can also rent badminton or SUP boards, sign out life vests, and more.
Notes on noshing
I mentioned the cowboy kitchen we had at our treehouse (or the full kitchen in the larger home) but if you want to dine out, you have a few options.
First, you could go about 15 minutes into Chickamauga. Lunch at Primetime Pizza was awesome. Dinner at Los Potros, not so much. It’s only about 10 more minutes to go into Chattanooga, where the food is substantially better…we probably should have done that.
Also, I should note that Chickamauga is a dry county so you won’t find margaritas at the Mexican restaurant or a liquor store on the corner. Plan accordingly.
What to pack
- Bug spray
- Fishing poles and bait
- S’mores ingredients (to save money…but you can buy them there)
- Lighter (we had one in our cabin but it was low on fuel)
- Waters and/or juice bags
- K-cups (plus sugar and/or creamer)
- Swim suits for the kids (if they want to play in the creek)
- Bottle of wine (we drank from the coffee mugs in the cabin; there was a corkscrew)
- Easy breakfast food like pop tarts or pre-cooked cinnamon rolls
Our weekend at Candlelight Forest was not complimentary…we paid for all of it, and would do it again in a hot second. It was really so much fun!
I shared with some friends that I felt like it was a 1970s summer adventure…just catching fish, climbing trees, playing in the creek…good clean fun! I loved hearing giggles and belly laughs from the boys the entire time…and never a complaint about no TV or Internet (though the Wifi there is great – just don’t tell that to the boys!)
It was the perfect place to take our older parents…they were able to vacation with the grandkids and explore without worry. Except for our restaurant jaunt, we saw only 2 other families from way way way across the field…and we made a point to meet the owner and say hello. Other than that…it is social-distance heaven.
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