A getaway to the mountain resort towns of Cashiers and Highlands offers equal parts simple charm and elegant luxury.

With their bustling small-town streets and colorful treefilled vistas, there’s no better time than early fall to plan a visit to Cashiers and Highlands. The two idyllic mountain towns, long a favorite for Southerners seeking a retreat from summer’s heat, have become popular in recent years for those in search of elevated cuisine, luxury spas, and upscale shopping—all in a picturesque and peaceful setting.  In Cashiers, you’ll find Lonesome Valley, a verdant meadow in the shadow of a granite rock face. Here the cozy Canyon Spa, tucked inside a historic cottage, features treatments made from farm-fresh ingredients in a garden just across the field. Next to the garden is Canyon Kitchen, an award-winning restaurant with a menu that changes daily and includes local offerings ranging from trout to quail.     

Just twenty minutes up the curving mountain road is Highlands, where Old Edwards Inn is taking focus on the land to the next level with its new Glen Cove community. Opening this fall, the “agrihood” will have an organic farm, garden, and trout pond as its centerpiece. While these additions may be more recent, they reflect the same focus that has lured visitors for decades—the chance to relax and unwind amid the simple pleasures of life in this enchanting mountain setting.

The original Old Edwards Inn and Spa with its red brick facade and flowering window boxes sits squarely in the center of downtown Highlands. But the Inn has continued to expand since its original early 2000s renovation, adding cottages, guestrooms, suites, and even vacation homes. Regardless of where you choose to stay on the property, you’re in for a decadent experience. Bubbly wine greets you at check-in, warm whirlpools offer the chance for a dip in any weather, and a famously well-stocked fridge full of Dove Bars provides the chance for a playful indulgence (or two).   This kind of thoughtful attention to detail can also be found in the Inn’s accommodations. One-of-a-kind antiques fill many of the rooms and cottages, while sumptuous Italian linens and local art add sophisticated accents. Luxury amenities like Molton Brown soaps and heated bathroom floors round out the luxurious spaces. 

Canyon Kitchen Arrive early for dinner at this acclaimed restaurant in Lonesome Valley. Order one of the cocktails made with herbs from its adjacent garden and take a stroll around the picturesque pasture before your meal. Chef Ken Naron, whose background includes stints at Michelin Star restaurants in California, creates fresh, seasonal dishes with both global and local flavors for the nightly price-fixed menu. (Canyon Kitchen is only open May through October, so plan accordingly.) Madison’s On warm nights, the windows open up to the Wine Garden in this farm-to-table restaurant housed inside Old Edwards Inn. The sound of the garden’s waterfall sets the scene for an authentic mountain meal with hearty dishes like braised short ribs, roasted pork tenderloin, and handcrafted pasta with a local lamb sauce. For a more intimate  dining experience, request seating in the
wine cellar, a wine-walled room that feels more European than Appalachian. 

Mountain Fresh Grocery & Wine Market This specialty food shop and  restaurant in Highlands includes a sandwich grill, coffee bar, wine bar, wood-fired pizza counter, and bakery— and a selection of wine to rival any grocer in the state. It’s the ideal destination for   a post-hike bite or a casual dinner    with gourmet flavors.