A century-old favorite. In 2022 they’re celebrating their 100th anniversary!
High Hampton Resort and I are entering a new era together. For me it’s preparing for an empty nest. For High Hampton, it’s a change in ownership after more than a century. A recent visit to the historic mountain inn, located on a 35-acre lake surrounded by 1,400 acres of natural beauty and stunning mountain views, was a perfect escape, close to Atlanta, to try out my soon-to-be reality. I’m thinking it might not be so bad.
See why this resort in Cashiers, North Carolina should be on your list of places to visit.
High Hampton Resort’s new owners are a partnership between Daniel Communities, Arlington Family Offices and the Beall family, owners of the world-class Blackberry Farm in nearby Tennessee. The North Carolina resort reopened in 2021 with upgraded amenities like golf and tennis while adding things like fine dining, pickleball, croquet, air conditioning, and the celebrated Blackberry Farm service.
Although High Hampton Inn is still the family-friendly vacation destination I remember from an earlier visit with kids, the elevated touches made it feel more appropriate for our couple’s getaway.
The crisp mountain air, un-plugged theme (there are still no TVs or phones in the rooms), as well as the spacious manicured grounds dotted with historic trees and a colorful cutting garden that has been in existence for more than 100 years, gave my soul space to breathe, rejuvenate and consider this new life stage.
Whether you want to get away with the kids or without, here is everything you need to prepare for your North Carolina visit!
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GETTING TO HIGH HAMPTON INN
High Hampton Resort sits in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Cashiers, North Carolina We took 85N to South Carolina. Then just over the border, along Lake Hartwell, we followed US23N into Cashiers, North Carolina. From Atlanta city-center, it is 150 miles or about 2.5 hours.
The glorious thing about being in the mountains during summer is the weather! While our friends at home were feeling temps in the 90s, we were enjoying the high 60s/low 70s most of the weekend. It was like an early taste of fall, and absolutely divine to play outside without melting in the heat.
CHECK IN AND ACCOMMODATIONS
Guests of High Hampton Resort can enjoy staying in one of the 12 inn rooms or one of 40 guest rooms in six outbuildings, plus three cottage suites. All cottage guests enjoy a balcony (sometimes private, sometimes shared) overlooking the immaculate grounds, with Southern-style red rocking chairs that reinforce the slow pace and lull you under the High Hampton spell.
No matter what you choose, you’ll have an array of outdoor activities to choose from and to-die-for breakfast and dinner included with your stay. For this reason, rates for an inn or cottage stay are per-person based, with a two-night minimum. Check-in is at 3pm and check-out is at 11 am.
Our room was located in the Inn and quite large. In addition to a heavenly appointed bed that you could melt into each night, there was a sitting area with coffee maker, closet area with mini-fridge and a large bathroom with two sinks and a separate commode and shower big enough for a crowd.
Although there are no TVs in the rooms, there is reliable Wi-Fi that allowed me to check in on work…at least for the first few hours.
HIGH HAMPTON RESORT COMMON AREAS
Part of what I love about High Hampton Resort is the unplugged nature. The resort is designed to get you out of your room. The main lodge with it’s bark sided exterior is on the National Registry of Historic Places, and although you still have the rustic character and charm of the uneven, creaky floors, the renovation has modernized the space while leaving touches from yester-year like the original front desk and an old fashion telephone booth.
Outside the lodge are large wrap-around porches with several comfy conversation areas. Inside is more of the same with the prime spots located around the four-sided stone fireplace that even in August was blazing and a welcome place to take off the chill. It was here we met a couple from Tennessee who just dropped their last child off at college and were enjoying a game of Scrabble. My husband and I spent part of both our evenings in the ‘living room’ playing backgammon. Not to brag but I won all four games. All.four.games.
ON-SITE ACTIVITIES AND PLANNING AT HIGH HAMPTON RESORT
The joy of being at High Hampton Inn is spending time outside. There are just SO MANY activities for everyone. Some activities are included in your stay like canoeing, tennis court time, chipping and putting on the golf course, while others require a reservation and additional fee –which you can do through the concierge prior to your stay at High Hampton or when you arrive. My recommendation? Make a plan but keep it flexible! Here is what we enjoyed (and a bit of what you could expect.)
Hampton Lake is center of the resort! It’s 35 acres and just breath-taking. There are no motors allowed on the lake, but there is still plenty to do.
- My husband isn’t much of a swimmer so we opted to enjoy the lake by canoe. There are also kayaks and peddle boats. Life-jackets are included and you don’t need reservations to take out the boats, just ask the attendant at the dock to help you push off.
- Guests can also check out fishing poles. The lake is filled with rainbow trout, bass and bream. Because the lake is private, you don’t need a license, there is no closed season, and there is no state fee.
- Although we didn’t swim, I did enjoy the lake from the lounge chairs perched on the dock and reminisced about the last time I was here watching two of my boys playing in the roped off swimming area of the lake, which includes two floating docks for jumping and splashing.
- There is also a wading pool and sandy beach, which an adorable little towheaded boy and his older sister were clearly enjoying. The wading pool is corralled so it makes mom and kid feel a little safer, and it keeps the water toys from floating out into the lake.
- Interested in fly-fishing? Make a reservation for a fly fishing class in one of their stocked ponds.
- The Kids Club. If you are looking for a break, a trip to the spa, to hike a more strenuous trail, or some extra-incentive to keep the kids busy then I must say it looked like fun! You’ll find information here.
Start with a Property Tour.
- High Hampton Resort is such a beautiful property. We started our adventure just walking the grounds. Pick up a map at the front desk so you don’t miss anything.
- We visited in August and the dahlia garden was in full bloom and absolutely gorgeous! This garden has been re-planted for more than 100 years. Guests are allowed to cut the flowers for their own enjoyment one day a week.
- There are several champion trees on property including:North Carolina’s largest surviving American Chestnut at 81 ft tall and 43 inches around.
- A Bald Cypress that is the world’s largest known Cypress towering at over 3,400 feet. It is impressive!
- One of my favorite memories of my last visit here was a picture of my middle son climbing inside a 100+ year old boxwood and marveling at how it’s sturdy branches could possibly be the same specimen as the tiny bushes that grace our front yard.
- Ask about the Ginkgo, Bottlebrush Buckeye, fiery Copper Beech and one of America’s largest (and award winning) Frasier Firs.
- The High Hampton History Center is a quick, fun stop to understand the origins of the historic inn and a place to see photos and special objects from past iterations – like the famous indoor horse racing horses that were such a hit with my kids during our last visit.
- The workout room is impressive with Peloton bikes and a yoga studio, but I can do all that at home, so we didn’t spend much time here.
Sports are a perfect way to pass time at High Hampton Resort.
- My husband is a big tennis player so he was immediately drawn to the tennis program developed under the direction of Andy Roddick, the former world tennis champion and part-time Cashiers resident. The well-maintained tennis courts include four Har-Tru clay courts and one classic hard court. Wendall, the High Hampton pro, was able to hook my husband up with a local club member for a competitive match.
- Wendall also gave us both our first pickleball lesson. High Hampton has four pickleball courts that see quite a bit of use. My husband is now searching Amazon for paddles.
- High Hampton also has a robust croquet program. We didn’t have time for a lesson, but did notice a lot of activity on the croquet pitch.
- Golf at High Hampton Resort is a main attraction with good reason. The 18-hole golf course has been redesigned by Tom Fazio but still has the spectacular views of Rock Mountain, Chimney Top and nearby Whiteside Mountain. The fairways meander along natural streams, dense woods and open vistas.
- If you aren’t a golfer, you can still enjoy the course, just ask to take a self-guided golf cart tour around 4 or 5 pm when players are coming back in. It’s free.
- There is also a driving range on site to practice before your round, as well as a chipping and putting area. The chipping and putting is free for Inn guests, even if you aren’t playing a round of golf.
- The swimming pool is one way with lap lanes for a morning workout, then a large hot tub that allows multiple groups to enjoy without feeling like you are intruding on the others.
- And for those who like to hold a cocktail while playing, you’ll find corn hole and table tennis on the resort lawns.
- After all that activity, head to The Spa at High Hampton to experience deep relaxation. For now the spa is located on the top floor of the Inn. My massage was just what I needed to work out the kinks from too many online meetings and looming deadlines.
Hiking on the property is another way to adventure. There are 15 miles of trails with an abundance of nature and breathtaking mountain views. Grab a trail map from the concierge.
- There are five hiking trails on property that vary from easy to very strenuous.
- All hikes start with the Lakeside Trail, an easy stroll through woods around the shores of Hampton Lake, perfect for families.
- Take it up a knotch by heading to The Saddle via a trail that has a bit more elevation but very doable. From the Saddle you can choose to go to the more strenuous hikes of Chimney Top and Rock Mountain.
- My favorite is the Chimney Top Trail, an out-and-back hike with 4,604 feet in elevation. This is not for the faint of heart. There are rock scrambles and some steep inclines that will get your heart pumping. However the Highland views are worth it.
- The Rock Mountain Trail is the longest hike. On the map it is a single loop, but due to construction, it’s better as an out-and-back to the top. Here you’ll utilize wire ropes to help climb the rocky faces to picturesque views of the resort below.
- Whiteside Mountain isn’t accessible from High Hampton (it’s about 10 minutes from the Inn) but came recommended from someone I met at the top of Chimney Rock. The hike offers excellent views from the observation tower and along the trail. It’s about 2.5 miles long and should take about 2 hours.
- There are several waterfall trails near High Hampton Inn – see the “nearby attractions” section below.
DINING AT HIGH HAMPTON RESORT
Breakfast and dinner are included in your High Hampton Resort stay in The Dining Room, which overlooks the High Hampton grounds and a stunning view of Rock Mountain. Executive chefs Scott Franqueza and Zachary Chancy, as well as pastry chef April Franqueza were all trained at the famed Blackberry Farms.
It’s not just the chef’s that are impressive, the wait staff is quite attentive and everyone from the hostess to the person who pours water to the waiter are well versed on the menu and can enthusiastically recommend their favorites – which are always spot on.
Dinner is a dressy affair, jackets for men, dresses or nice pants for ladies. It was heaven to not worry about where we were going to eat or have to get into a car for a fine dining experience. My husband and I are not foodies, but really enjoyed the elevated yet approachable menu. It took us out of our comfort zone just enough to try some new things, while offering delicious twists on known favorites. Wine, beer or cocktails are available for dinner too; just ask your server and they will charge your room.
The menu always changes but some home runs from our stay included: North Carolina snapper with corn succotash, pickled peppers and Alabama barbecue. It was to die for! As a dessert person, you can’t go wrong anywhere, but the tropical pavlova with lime sorbet, coconut granite, and candied Marcona almonds was an unexpected standout.
The garden green salad with shaved veggies, and smoked onion vinagrette with toasted sunflower seeds is a menu staple, but honestly, even with more hearty appetizers available, this was a favorite way to kick off the meal. The sunflower seeds are what put it over the top for me.
For breakfast, make sure to order a side of home fries, which go through a 10-step process to reach the perfect amount of crunchy exterior and soft center, as well as the signature homemade pastry.
Can’t decide? Ask for a half portion of two things. Breakfast is open service until 10 am, however dinner requires reservations that can be made prior to your visit.
There are several options for a casual lunch at High Hampton. The Tavern, is a favorite and although we did not eat here we are told the hickory smoked chicken sandwich and the first in flight cocktail are a solid order. Our waiter at dinner also talked up the Tavern burger with a bun made in-house by the pastry chef.
The Tavern is also the place for a before or after dinner cocktail. The partially covered patio has views of the lake and Rock Mountain. Take in a pre-dinner game of corn hole or do what we did, warm up after dinner by the outdoor fire pits – it was a perfect setting for an amazing evening.
For a classic outdoor dining experience, guests will be delighted to experience Mitch’s Lakeside, named for a friendly fish fed by generations of young High Hampton guests. Mitch’s Lakeside is an upbeat, casual option for lunch, snacks, and poolside drinks.
You can also order a sandwich or snacks outside the golf pro-shop too. This was our go-to place after a hike to grab cold water and some goldfish to nosh. We’d sit on the covered patio, rest a moment and watch the golfers practice on the driving range.
Although we stayed on property for our entire visit this time, there are lots of activities near High Hampton Resort. We are suckers for a waterfall hike and there are seven falls located nearby. Ask the concierge for a handout with directions from the Inn.
- Whitewater Falls is 411 feet tall – higher than Niagara Falls. You can park (fee area) and walk to the overlook for gorgeous views. Brave souls can take the trails above or below the falls, but they are strenuous.
- Silver Run Falls is about 40 feet high. You’ll probably pass it on your way into High Hampton. It’s a fun place to picnic and swim, if you can take the cold water.
- Little Sliding Rock is a world of fun! This was a favorite when we visited High Hampton with my two boys. They loved sliding down into the cold water. There is also a pool of shallow water that younger kids can play in, and plenty of space for picnicking. Beware; this is also called Bust Your Butt Falls – which I did during our last visit. And I still remember it. Rocks are hard.
- Bridal Veil Falls no longer allows cars to drive under it, but it is still great to see. We have had more luck here in the winter than summer – our last visit showed no sign of water.
- Dry Falls is a must! A short walk from the car allows you to walk UNDER the waterfall! Don’t worry, there is a railing and wide pathway. When Lesli was here last her family watched river otter playing in the downfall below.
- Cullasaja Falls is visible from the road, but the street is narrow and windy so use caution.
- Glen Falls requires a short walk, and the falls can sometimes leave something to be desired BUT it is still worth the effort on a clear day because of the gorgeous view of Rabun Bald.
EXPLORING NEARBY MOUNTAIN TOWNS
From High Hampton Resort it’s just four minutes to downtown Cashiers NC and about 15 minutes to downtown Highlands where you can grab lunch and spend a few hours shopping the boutiques. But beware, a visit to either town will just add a few more items to your bucket list and require a return visit.
All in all, you can’t go wrong with a couple days escape to High Hampton Resort. It’s a close easy drive from Atlanta so you spend more time relaxing and less time traveling. It was the perfect amount of activity married with an appropriate amount of down time. It satisfied my desire for an elevated experience, without being pretentious or overly formal. And walking the spacious manicured grounds, and hiking the nearby trails was an opportunity glimpse life as an empty nester and made me realize, there’s a lot to look forward to.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO NORTH CAROLINA
- YOUR NORTH CAROLINA VACATION
- NC RESORTS: 23 Resorts In North Carolina That Will Have You Packing Your Bags Tonight
- 23+ INCREDIBLE DAY TRIPS IN NC FOR EVERY STYLE OF TRAVELER
- 18 AMAZING ROMANTIC GETAWAYS IN NC COUPLES LOVE
- 45+ BEST THINGS TO DO IN NORTH CAROLINA FOR AN AMAZING TIME
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