At the beautiful Barnsley Resort, you’re never bored. From action-packed activities like horseback riding and clay shooting to more chilled-out activities like fishing or golfing, there’s something for everybody here.
Situated on more than 3,000 acres in North Georgia, Barnsley Resort is a place for someone who craves a connection with nature, the outdoor lifestyle, and is intrigued by fascinating history.
A Haunting History
To sum it up, Godfrey Barnsley built the original manor for the love of his life, Julia. In the 1840s, he began construction on the Italianate villa but, before it was completed, Julia died. Distraught, Barnsley ceased construction, until he dreamt of Julia telling him to finish the estate for their children’s sake. The estate and gardens of Woodlands were eventually completed.
Throughout the years, the estate witnessed severe damage, including a Civil War battle plus a tornado. Barnsley’s daughter (also named Julia) helped salvage it. After Julia died, her daughter Addie Saylor raised her sons there. Harry Saylor and Preston Saylor (a prize fighter adopting the name “K.O Knockout Dugan”) couldn’t agree over the estate, and Preston ended up shooting Harry. Today, the blood stains are still visible in the resort’s museum.
Not only does this Southern estate come with a long timeline of rich history, there’s a long list of activities to enjoy.
For starters, the UTV Trail Riding Experience allows guests to travel through 15 miles of Appalachian Mountain foothills across the Beretta Shooting Grounds by High Adventure Company. I enjoyed looking at the spectacular views and all the tall trees that I normally don’t see in Texas.
Clay shooting at the resort is a must-do activity (it was one of my favorites). Shooting enthusiasts, this one’s for you! The 14-station clay courses are diverse, so it’s perfect for any beginner, expert or any level in between. I struggled in the beginning, but once the guide explained it to me more thoroughly, I suddenly became Annie Oakley, the sharpshooter. Tip: Make sure you’re holding the gun properly, or you’ll end up with a giant, ugly bruise — like I did!
Horseback Riding etc.
Another favorite was horseback riding through the Blue Ridge Mountains. A super fun activity that creates an everlasting memory. You can also learn the safety, technique and fun of axe throwing at the Barnsley Farm, or channel your inner Katniss Everdeen and check out archery. The Barnsley Farm will surely delight the younger guests with cute animal encounters. Get up close and personal with lovable miniature horses, donkeys, goats, and an adorable llama!
But Wait, There’s More!
Other notable activities include kayaking or fishing on the picturesque 10-acre lake for an afternoon with the family. Get your game on at the resort’s 18-hole Jim Fazio-designed course for some friendly competition. Get your workout on by hiking or biking the peaceful ponds, wooden bridges and walkways, and even along the gorgeous golf course.
Check out the much-lauded boxwood parterre gardens, modeled after the architectural designs of Andrew Jackson Downing. With roots dating back to the early 1840s (literally), check out the garden’s resplendent section of beautiful blooms, including white tea roses, multi-colored iris, and more. Keep an eye out for the Green Rose of Barnsley, a rose brought to the estate in the mid-1800s.
You’ll want to have a photoshoot all around the beautiful garden, and among the Manor House Ruins. At night time (and the holiday season), it’s even more beautiful when decorated with over a million string lights. The magical Meditation Garden is set among a canopy of bamboo, and also makes for a perfect photo op opportunity.
Wining & Dining
For activities that your tummy will love, Chef’s Fire Kettle Cooking School is an unforgettable experience that I think everyone should try at least once in their lifetime. Launched in 2021, the new, monthly Cooking School offers an open-air culinary exhibition where Executive Chef Nicolas Lebas prepares one of his favorite seasonal recipes over the open flame of a Sea Island Forge fire kettle. It’s a great opportunity to connect and learn from a culinary expert. Check out the next Fire Kettle Cooking School taking place June 19th with Matt Moore.
I had the pleasure of attending Winemakers Weekend, where I sipped and learned about a variety of white wines and pinot noirs thanks to Heathen Wine Tours. I enjoyed sipping on some pinot surrounded by gorgeous greenery. I especially loved the Melville Inox 2020 Chardonnay from Santa Rita Hills. On Saturday, it was wine, wine and more wine from Melville Winery, but also a delicious three-course meal that paired perfectly.
The next Barnsley event that you don’t want to miss is the Barbecue at the Manor House Ruins, July 3rd and July 4th. Resort guests and members can enjoy an all American cookout with fireworks. Stay tuned in the fall for the inaugural Swine & Wine Barbecue. Nashville’s Peg Leg Porker will return for a full pig roast, along with a wine tasting by Heathen Wine Tours.
Clearly you won’t go hungry at Barnsley, (or thirsty) since there’s plenty of enticing eats to choose from. Grab a spot by the window at Woodlands Grill to enjoy the insanely-beautiful picturesque golf course and surrounding hills. Rice House is in a 19th century farmhouse, and delivers the curated garden-to-table menu created by Chef Nicolas. For something more casual, The Beer Garden is a great place to kick back and relax. Enjoy one of the 30 craft beer selections paired with pizza and wings, or stop by in the morning for grab-n-go breakfast.
After all that outdoor adventure, exciting eatery, and fine wine, Barnsley Resort offers 150 total guest rooms and suites spread out among the Inn and 39 free-standing, individually decorated cottages. The Inn’s living room made me feel cozy, as if I was being invited as a guest into someone’s home. Many cottages include porches to enjoy the view, so step outside to read a book, roast marshmallows with the kids in the nearby fire pit, or have a drink with loved ones.
All in all, Barnsley is more than just a resort. Connecting with nature is the focal point of every experience, but it’s also a home-away-from-home, a place that emphasizes community and togetherness, and brings memories to last a lifetime.
Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of Texas in your inbox.
Cover photo courtesy Barnsley Resort
Leean Vargas is an Editorial Assistant at Texas Lifestyle Magazine and an honors graduate of
Texas State University with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations. She is a concert enthusiast who loves traveling, photography, good food, and discovering new hangout spots in her beloved city, Austin, Texas.