Surprising Suburbs: Watkinsville

  • Cottage at Ashford Manor

All-inclusive resort vacations aren’t limited to the Caribbean; try this concept — a surprising suburb of Athens.


Point is—vacationing with indulgences is within reach! If this checklist works for you, head to Watkinsville.



  • Luxurious accommodations

  • Abundant art

  • Massage and yoga

  • Gardens and gentle walking paths

  • A bit of history

  • Convenient dining


Ashford Manor
Ashford Manor

Sleep in Ashford Manor, an 1893 Queen Anne home that is a sumptuous inn where breakfast is a work of art.

I might make arrangements in advance to see about dinner there too, or a picnic packed to enjoy on the terraced yard.

“We’re very high service oriented,” says Dave Shearon. “Breakfast can be in your room, on the porches or in the gardens.”

Wherever you like and whatever you like seems to be their style at the Ashford Manor.


Choose the 1840s cottage with three suites if you are an antebellum purist or the elegant main house. Expect almost 10 acres, four terraces, gracious yards and a gazebo.

What else is all-inclusive? You could arrange a massage therapist for in-room treatments.

Walk across the street—busy but with a traffic light—and choose from several eateries.

There is a yoga studio across the street too and that’s an all-inclusive feature many claim in the resort world. Could splurge on a four-day yoga renewal retreat in March, at Ashford Manor.

Artland is Watkinsville’s moniker, and one way to immerse yourself is in the 1827 Haygood House, now home and gallery for Jerry and Kathy Chappelle.

Watkinsville Chappelle Gallery
Watkinsville Chappelle Gallery

As if their fine pottery weren’t reason enough, 125 artists have works here. Happy Valley Pottery, the community of artists a few miles south of Watkinsville, is all wrapped up in the art movement here since the 1970s. Ask for pointers to the Watkinsville mural art that is located in several locations around town. The last population census was 2,832 so you know you won’t have to drive far.

The pewter is polished and the wood handsome in Watkinsville’s Eagle Tavern. Could have purchased a half-pint of cordial there had I visited in 1819, according to ledgers with flowing handwriting. Instead I mused about the wonder of standing in a 1790s former stagecoach, then hotel, then tavern on land given to a Revolutionary War veteran. That classic George Washington portrait hanging in thousands of classrooms meant more in this place.

Oconee is the county name, and Athens is just 10 minutes north.


Christine Tibbets

Christine Tibbetts claimed Georgia as her home state in 1972. She covers Georgia destinations, and the world, always offering prompts for exceptional experiences and opportunities to muse. Tibbetts earned a Bachelor of Journalism from the prestigious School of Journalism at the University of Missouri and is the recipient of numerous gold, silver and merit awards from North American Travel Journalists Association writing competitions. Follow her at

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