Nestle into a room with a flue at this rustic North Carolina lodge.

We've warmed up to plenty of fireplace-furnished lodges tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains, but The Inn at Half Mile Farm, sequestered a half mile from Highlands, North Carolina, has become one of our favorites. This romantic hideaway, opened in the summer 2001, has already developed a devoted following of repeat visitors from Atlanta, Florida, and just about anywhere the hustle and bustle gets a little overwhelming.

The setting resembles the stuff of romance novels. The lodge centers around an 1870 farmhouse, fronted by a shimmering pond and framed by tall hemlock trees. A narrow dirt lane leads off the paved road, down past a creek, then curls up a gradual rise to reveal the house.

Jack and Beth Henry planned it that way. "We want to be upscale yet have guests feel comfortable walking through the common area in their bathrobes," says Jack. The couple purchased the 14-acre property in 1999, adding a pair of two-story buildings around the back of the original house and creating a large courtyard. Four of the inn's 15 rooms are in the old house, and 10 of them boast stacked-stone fireplaces. The front porch looks out over sparkling 6-acre Apple Lake, fed by two streams and filled with fish (or so Jack claims). Besides feeling spoiled rotten, what do you do? "Relax, mostly," Jack says. "Sit out on the porch as much as possible, and if it's a nice day, slip out on the water in a canoe."

Fireside Dinner

Continue the fireplace theme by dining at The Log Cabin restaurant in Highlands. Two of the dining rooms have fireplaces, and the setting couldn't be more inviting. Steaks are the specialty here, but save some room for Angela Lee's chocolate or coconut cake (husband Harold Lee, Jr., is executive chef, and Angela helps run things and bakes scrumptious desserts). Her favorite? "Oh, honey, anything with chocolate in it," she says with a laugh.

Let's review here: cozy fireplaces, great scenery, and fantastic food. This may be just what you need to cure the winter doldrums--actually, spring, summer, and fall doldrums too.

  • The Inn at Half Mile Farm: 214 Half Mile Drive, Highlands, NC 28741; (828) 526-8170, 1-800-946-6822, or Rooms are $180- $285 and include full breakfast and an evening wine-and-appetizer social.
  • Smoke from a different fire: Hampton Inn Highlands offers a limited number of rooms with fireplaces starting at $90; (828) 526-5899.
  • Kelsey & Hutchinson Lodge, on Spring Street downtown, has rooms with fireplaces (some are cute old-fashioned stovepipe units) for $91- $182; call 1-888-245-9058, or visit Ski packages are available.

For more information on the Highlands area, contact the Highlands Chamber of Commerce, (828) 526-2112 or

This article is from the January 2003 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.