20 Hours in Serenbe

7 April 2023

You all know we are big fans of the road trip over here. Since having kids, we’ve opted to travel by car pretty much every chance we get, including regular multi-day, 15+ hour treks to Maine and Michigan. There are many reasons for this: it’s less expensive, it may be better for the environment, we believe it’s growing something good in our kids – but one really important reason is that we just plain enjoy it.

We enjoy road trips in general, but we’ve also kind of perfected the form for our family over the years. We bring takeout to parks for picnic lunches, we pack good snacks and activities, and we try to make our overnight stops destinations in themselves. Sometimes this looks like staying at a riverfront Airbnb, sometimes it looks like staying with family friends, sometimes it looks like staying at a lakefront inn, and on our most recent spring break road trip to Florida’s 30A area, it looked like staying at the nature and wellness community Serenbe, about 40 minutes outside of Atlanta.

The Inn at Serenbe

I have a long history with Serenbe. It was the scene of the second Southern Weddings’ photo shoot I ever worked on, back in 2009; I fell in love with it the minute I drove onto the property as a wide-eyed recent graduate. I returned in 2014 for another photo shoot, again with nothing but good things to say. John has obviously heard me chatter about it for years, and curious to see it for himself, we decided to make it the overnight stop on our two-day drive to Florida. As I knew it would be, it was the most magical road trip stop. I’m so glad I got to share this special place with my family, and I’d love to share a few photos with you all, too!

Similar to Watercolor, Serenbe is a planned community. Dotted across its 1,000 acres are homes – townhomes, cottages, and larger “estates,” all done in a mash-up of modern/farmhouse/European stylish that somehow works – a few restaurants, adorable shops in little downtown pockets, a farmer’s market and organic farm, stables, nature trails, an Acton Academy school, edible landscaping (blueberries planted along walkways!), a gym and pool complex, and community in-ground trampolines. Everything – and I mean everything, from the trash cans to the real gas lamps lining the streets – is impeccably designed.

Guests can stay in one of the Inn’s 15 rooms, but must be 16+. Options for smaller visitors include the cottages on the grounds of the Inn or staying in a home in the community, which is what we did. (We stayed at the Duck, a 2-bedroom townhome over the wine shop.) All Inn accommodations, including the community homes, include breakfast at the Inn, access to the outdoor pool and 24-hour gym, and other amenities.

We arrived right as check-in opened, at 4pm. After getting our key, directions to our home, and a complimentary flute of champagne (how I’d like to be greeted after every road-trip leg), we drove a few more minutes further into the property and parked in the Selbourne downtown pocket, right in front of our home for the night.

Typo Market at Serenbe

We unloaded our overnight bag and took a quick spin through the accommodations before heading back out to stretch our legs and explore the rolling hills. (I also ducked into the gift shop under our home before we set out, which was tiny but packed and impressively curated.)

Lovely paths and trails criss-cross the property, so it was easy to walk back over to the Inn (across a wildflower meadow!) to visit the animal village. Sheep, donkeys, miniature horses, goats, and pigs were all friendly and willing to be pet. We heard there was complimentary food to tempt them with but didn’t find it.

Serenbe animal village paths
Serenbe animal village
Serenbe animal village miniature horse and goat
Petting a minature horse at the Serenbe animal village

We bounced on the trampoline, played half a game of chess, swung on the swings, and shot some hoops before walking back to Selbourne for dinner on the patio of The Hill, one of the restaurants in the community.

Serenbe in-ground trampoline with kids bouncing
Kids at Serenbe

Though there are fancier options on the menu, we split two pizzas and two salads and they were delicious. Dessert was the chocolate chip cookies the front desk staff had left in our room.

With an hour of sunlight left, we walked over to the hidden playground after dinner. Nestled in the woods, it’s a perfect example of the opportunities for wonder intentionally tucked into every corner of Serenbe. All three kids loved playing on it as well as splashing in the tiny waterfall a few minutes further up the path.

Kids playing on Serenbe hidden playground

The next morning was rainy, so we drove over to the Inn for breakfast at the Farmhouse. Warm biscuits and jam were brought to the table, and we had our choice of scrambled eggs, breakfast potatoes, cinnamon brioche French toast with berry compote, bacon, sausage, grits, fresh fruit, bagels and toppings, an oatmeal bar, and more buffet-style. It was very cozy on the glassed-in porch with the rain splashing outside.

Serenbe homes

After a drippy driving tour through the property so I could ogle at a few more houses, we packed up, turned in our key, and got back on the road. What a dream! It was such a treat to share this special spot with the rest of my family and to reminisce on happy memories.

More from Florida next! :)

P.S. For posterity and in case it helps anyone else, here is what kept our kids busy on this trip:

June (7): Counting trucks on the highway, Sudoku, listening to the first Harry Potter audio book, a paint-by-sticker book, a Mo Willems activity book, and trying to think of all the states so that we could play the license plate game (just the thinking of and writing down states soaked up a good 45 minutes)

Shep (4): An entire paint-by-sticker book, an alphabet activity book, and a coloring book

Annie (1): Looking at the 10 board books we brought (this and this are favorites), playing with little animals, and being read to

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April 7, 2023 9:30 am

Well, goodness friend, you sure make an appealing case for road tripping over flying. I always love your intentionality! As someone who has not necessarily enjoyed long car rides, this post is certainly a fresh perspective for me. :-)

April 7, 2023 9:46 am

I second what another commenter said about how impressive it is that you love the road trip! I am on the opposite side of the spectrum! I grew up doing LONG road trips with my military parents because we moved every few years, and we have family members that live in different states. My sisters and I STILL make fun of my dad for his “Wheels up at zero dark thirty!” declarations the night before every trip. Because yes, we usually left at midnight for every drive! And we never stopped to hike, or sightsee, or anything like that. No, we just couldn’t stop LOL We always drove straight through.
My side of the family is heading to Florida for a family reunion in a few months. We all live near DC. My middle sister and I have opted to use airline miles fly non-stop with my daughter and meet our parents in Orlando LOL That said, when my kid and any future siblings she has are older, I fully plan to do what my husband’s family did during his childhood: Zigzag across the country for a few summers to camp at and visit the national parks. My husband has so many fun stories from summers doing that with his family, and they’ve been to so many parks. I’m aiming to start this when my daughter is in 4th grade since 4th graders (and their families) get into all the parks for free!!

April 10, 2023 12:51 pm

This looks truly idyllic! A question about your road trip strategy- where does everyone sit in the car? Is it different from day-to-day seating arrangements? I feel like I’m pretty involved in keeping my kids entertained during a long road trip, so right now I sit between them in the 2nd row of our SUV. We’re hoping to have a 3rd child so I’m wondering how that would all work! Move the oldest to the 3rd row?

Kelly Strawberry
April 10, 2023 1:20 pm

Love your travel posts! I prioritize travel, but we are definitely a flying family if given the choice. Likely only having one child makes this much easier; it would be tough and expensive with three! I’m sort of weird in that I really enjoy airports and flying in general. Your road trip strategies actually seem the same for mine on flights. I bring a bookbag full of the same stuff, but Cam sleeps the ENTIRE time! He cannot stay awake in a car or plane to save his life, lol!
Excited to read about Florida!! :)