I’ve never been camping. There, I said it. Growing up in a family of all girls, if given the choice, I’m pretty sure my mother would have rather skipped vacation than go on a vacation that included any type of camping. It just wasn’t her thing and, therefore, not ours. But as an adult I’ve always wondered what it’s like – but not enough to actually try it because this apple doesn’t fall far from the mother tree.
This vacation wasn’t necessarily camping, but I’m pretty sure it was as close as my prissy preferences could get me without actually sleeping in a tent…and it’s all because of the location.
Lake Blackshear Resort and Golf Club sits inside the Georgia Veterans Memorial State Park in Crisp County, Georgia right along the banks of, you guessed it, Lake Blackshear. The park is a picturesque collection of everything you’d expect to find in a state park – like campsites, cabin rentals, and hiking trails – but here the campsites and cabins are waterfront, and it also includes a resort-style hotel, fine dining restaurant, boat rentals, and a four-star golf course designed by Denis Griffiths. It takes the best of both worlds and brings them together in one place for an incredibly convenient, unique, and very family-friendly vacation setting.
During our visit, we stayed in the newly-renovated Lodge overlooking the lake. It is “boutique” in size with just 14 rooms in the main lodge and 64 rooms in the surrounding villas across the property. In addition to the resort, there are waterfront rustic cabins available for rent and, of course, campsites for each varying degree of camping experience.
But this place is less about the rooms and more about the recreation. There are enough outdoorsy things to do here that you’ll never have to leave the property.
On land, we got our first taste of some outdoor adventure with an afternoon of archery and air-rifle practice at the range and hunting trail. We walked among historic jets, a helicopter, tanks, landing craft, artillery, and a Boeing B-29A Superfortress in the outdoor military museum and watched the local RC flyers club practice their stunts over an open field. One day, we played 9 holes of golf and practiced our swings at the driving range. They even have disc-golf, if that’s your kind of thing.
If you want to get out on the water, you can rent kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards from the visitors’ center or go all in and rent a boat at the marina. If you’ve got your own gear, bring it because there’s a boat ramp and docks, along with several fishing piers to practice your cast and enjoy the art of patience across the entire park.
If you want to explore the outside the park, the Historic SAM Shortline Railroad departs direct from the park and takes you on a round-trip journey to Leslie, Georgia where you’ll find The Rural Telephone Museum; then to Americus, Georgia to see the Rylander Theatre; and onto Plains and Archery, Georgia to see the museum, campaign headquarters, and boyhood home at the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site. All connected by beautiful cotton fields to awe at from the train.
We opted to do a bit of Georgia backroad driving ourselves and ventured to the nearby site of Andersonville, just 30 minutes from the park. Andersonville is the historic Civil War Prisoner of War site and home to the Andersonville National Cemetery. It is the actual site where 32,000 union soldiers were held captive during the Civil War in the most hell-on-earth conditions. Seeing it in person, you’re really struck with sadness of the realities of war our country went through. I would call it a must-see for the history enthusiast, young learner, and patriot-at-heart.
The park is situated in Cordele, Georgia right along the Georgia Grown Trails route that connects cities between Macon and Valdosta and all the farms in between who contribute to Georgia’s agriculture economy. The route weaves you between family-owned pecan and peanut farms, peach orchards, cattle ranches, fields of fruit, and the Georgia State Cotton Museum. The 36 stops in all certainly make for another fun day trip to take from the park.
Back at the Lodge, we dined in high style at Cordelia’s – the hotel’s breakfast, lunch and dinner restaurant named after the daughter of Samuel Hawkins, the founder of the nearby city of Cordele, GA and quite possibly the only fine dining restaurant within a 50-mile radius. Their menu features mouthwatering favorites like confit roasted duck with a port wine and chocolate reduction, pan-seared sea scallops with pork belly creme, and slow-braised beef short ribs with Makers Mark mushroom ragoût. The comfort and service are just what you’d expect to find in the South.
At night we made our own campfire out on the lawn to bring the whole “camping” feeling full circle for me.
The activities paired with crisp and cozy white hotel sheets at night is my kind of camping!
No, we didn’t sleep in a tent and rally in an RV, but we were able to experience all of the amenities of a camping-like state park vacation with the sleeping situation we, and you might too, prefer.
Learn more about Lake Blackshear Resort and Golf Club by visiting www.lakeblackshearresort.com.