Savvy seniors looking for adventure, new moms needing a break, or bridesmaids celebrating the bride-to-be will find that Albany, Georgia, is the place to go with your best girls. Just off of I-10 in the southwest part of the state, only 30 minutes from I-75, this idyllic Main Street city developed along the Flint River is an escape that will satisfy active outdoor lovers, oenophiles, culture-seekers and fashionistas. Smash the stereotypes of a girly-girls getaway and design a retreat that takes every interest into account.
Wine, dine and retire
Perhaps the two attractions that seal every vacation deal are food and lodging. Albany has more than two dozen safe and affordable accommodations to suit every taste, many with complimentary breakfast. Some require no driving to dinner and drinks. One option is Merry Acres Inn, with historic Southern historic charm and complimentary transportation to and from three restaurants. For celebrity panache, stay in the Paula Deen cottage, complete with two bedrooms, a living area, a small kitchen and memorabilia showcasing the Albany native. After dinner and dessert, continue soul sessions over nightcaps at Merry Acres’ on-site Manor House Pub. The next morning, linger over a complimentary hot breakfast. Special room and amenities packages are available, including a splurge-worthy chauffeured 1939 Studebaker or 1973 Cadillac Eldorado convertible. Merry Acres Inn, 1500 Dawson Road, Albany, Georgia 31707; MerryAcres.com
For no additional charge, the Inn offers transport in a Mercedes van to one of three highly regarded restaurants to suit the mood. On Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays Harvest Moon transforms from Albany’s top family-friendly eatery into a hopping nightlife destination as Southwest Georgia’s go-to music venue. The Catch Seafood and Oyster Bar focuses on the fresh, not frozen, the bounty of the Georgia and Florida coast, yet satisfies meat-eaters and vegetarians. Osteria is Albany’s newest restaurant, a stylish Italian concept that also pays homage to the former, much-loved Henry Campbell’s Steakhouse.
Relax with sips at Albany’s Pretoria Fields Brewing and enjoy home-brewed seltzers and beers. Catch live music and local events and choose from a collection of core beers as well as specialty blends throughout the year. Take a quick day trip to Still Pond Vineyard and Distillery for tastings. Sample some of Still Pond’s 18 award-winning wines and savor sips of flavored and straight moonshine, vodka and other spirits, including its vodka awarded a Double Gold medal. In December the Still Pond Festival introduces the year’s Christmas wines; other events are held throughout the year. 1575 Still Pond Road, Arlington, Georgia 39813; StillPond.com
Outdoors and Active
Active outdoor adventurists have plenty of options. Paddle the Flint River by kayak or canoe via the several picturesque launch areas. Kayak Attack Adventures can provide all equipment, advice and guided tours. Albany’s six-acre Riverfront Park offers walking and biking trails. The downtown Albany Welcome Center in the Historic Bridge House offers brand new bicycles for rent at reasonable rates, including a helmet, a lock and at no extra charge. Engage in the South’s quintessential quail hunting experience at internationally recognized Wynfield Plantation, which also offers a 10-station sporting clay course and skeet range. At the Welcome Center, or online at VisitAlbanyGA.com/explore, discover dozens of additional pursuits, including mountain biking, golf and fly-fishing.
Pampering and polish
Albany is also a shopping destination. In addition to malls and national retailers, more than 20 boutiques and specialty stores provide on-trend fashions and home décor, antiques, gifts, recreational and fitness gear. New locally owned additions include Rebel Dolls, offering standout, youthful clothing and accessories, and The Paisley Fig specializing in fair-trade products and featuring local artisans. Ibiza curates unique yet affordable clothing, shoes and accessories, while Roots & Wings Boutique has just about everything, thanks to three generations of family owner-managers.
Before or during a day of shopping, fortify at one of three specialty coffee shop options, including Cornerstone Coffee, which serves locally-roasted beans, along with pastries from Sugar Mama’s Bakery. After the marathon, kick back and relax with massages, spa mani-pedis, facials and more at Oasis Day Spa and Salon.
Culture, entertainment and history
The Albany Museum of Art offers a host of galleries and exhibitions featuring regional, national and internationally recognized artists with a remarkable collection of 19th and 20th Century American and European art. The Albany Municipal Auditorium plays host to Ballet Theatre South while the Albany Civic Center showcases musical performances from country to contemporary Christian.
Albany pays homage to its heroes and ordinary people who were part of the Civil Rights movement. The Albany Civil Rights Institute offers a walk in the footsteps of history. A digital oral database features stirring real-life recollections, while an interactive exhibit is an experience of life’s harsh realities of the times. A trip through the museum ends at the Old Mount Zion Baptist Church Sanctuary where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. inspired thousands in 1961. Back in town, rest and reflect with a free “concert” at Ray Charles Plaza. The Albany native and beloved musician is honored with a life-size bronze sculpture seated at a Baby Grand piano on a rotating pedestal fountain. His sweet, familiar melodies play as water spills into a reflecting pool.