The itch for a European lifestyle can be scratched in the woods of Georgia just 30 miles south of Atlanta at a place called Serenbe.
Nestled in Chattahoochee Hills, the nearly 700 creatives and aesthetes that call Serenbe home have found a paradise entrenched in New Urbanism that is in direct contrast to the traffic-clogged metropolis known as Atlanta.
“People are looking for a better way to live,” Serenbe founder Steve Nygren said. “We decided to develop in relationship with nature instead of in opposition to it.”
Since the first house was built at Serenbe in 2004, the village-like community has aimed to provide its residents “minimal mental stress and optimal physical health” by combining a walkable lifestyle with a social fabric centered on community, health and a love of the arts.
Nygren says people are typically forced to pick between two options when choosing a place to live or a place to work.
“Urban energetic centers offer high energy and activities for engagement while suburban residential settings offer large lots, fewer sidewalks and office parks that are designed for a tranquil work environment,” he said. “Serenbe is a unique place that combines high energy and meditative spaces for all living and working atmospheres.”
Meghan Sharp, a Serenbe resident since July 2015, said she has lived in many places across the country, but Serenbe is the only place where she felt a total sense of belonging.
“The neighborhood is a true community with the benefit of being set in nature,” she said. “Also coming, most recently, from city life in San Francisco, I don’t feel like I am missing out on an urban sophisticated lifestyle.”
The 1,200-acre project currently has about 200 homes with plans allowing for a total of 1,200 residents. It offers townhouses, cottages and estate homes that range from $470,000 to $1.4 million. Its four districts, or hamlets, are focused on the four pillars of the community: “arts for inspiration, agriculture for nourishment, health for well-being and education for awareness.”
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“Serenbe offers metropolitan living in the middle of nature with a playhouse, modern ballet, pop-up dinners, top restaurants and great shopping — we even have a local bookstore, market and a new sushi restaurant,” Sharp added.
Every front door in Serenbe opens up to a porch that’s adjacent to the sidewalk, giving direct connection to street activity — people walking dogs, parents strolling infants, children and adults of all ages coming and going.
“There is a natural culture of making eye contact and waving with neighbors and visitors which leads to front porch chats, invitations to events and completely new relationships,” Nygren said.
While the hamlets are connected by walking trails, country roads and sidewalks lined with blueberry bushes and fig trees, each has its own architectural identity and they’re separated by distinctive green spaces.
“Residents and visitors can step out of their back doors to directly connect with nature, whether that be the protected wildflower meadow, miles of footpaths, equestrian trails or areas for cycling,” Nygren added. “Benches are scattered along streams, overlooking meadows and horse pastures, and in organized gardens within the woods…all creating spaces of tranquility and to simply ‘be.’”
For the equestrian lover, Serenbe’s 15 miles of trails are best traveled by horse. Serenbe Stables sits in the heart of the community and features 20 stalls, two tack rooms with lockers, two feed rooms, two wash racks, a learning center, an lighted outdoor arena, six paddocks and two pastures.
A testament to Serenbe’s commitment to environmental sustainability, the community boasts a 25-acre professionally managed organic farm that has more than 300 types of produce. Farm-to-table and fresh food is a norm at Serenbe as lots of the produce grown at the farm is used in Serenbe’s three on-site restaurants: The Farmhouse at Serenbe, The Hill and Yumi Sushi.
In addition to restaurants, Serenbe has a spa, shops and a farmers market that is open each Saturday, April through November, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.
Chatt Hills Music brings in touring musical performers, usually with an acoustic and/or Americana bent. You’ll get the occasional classical and jazz show, too. Up next are singer-songwriters Liz Longley (Oct. 27) and Michelle Lewis (Nov. 3), both performing at the Art Farm at Serenbe (at 10455 Atlanta Newnan Road).
Serenbe’s nationally respected arts program is anchored by the Serenbe Playhouse. The company’s site-specific performances take place at locations throughout the community. The current prodcution is “The Sleepy Hollow Experience,” which runs until Nov. 3.
If the current showing at Serenbe Playhouse is sold out, residents and visitors have plenty of options that can cure a fix for creative culture. The community boasts a robust offering in arts including an artist-in-residence program, culinary workshops, music events, films and lectures.
Instead of heading north of the city to escape to Georgia’s mountains, The Inn at Serenbe allows for a nature-centered weekend getaway with its 27 guest rooms. The Inn sits on 36-acres equipped with a fully edible garden, animal village, lake and pavilion. All stays include afternoon tea, evening sweets and a full country breakfast.
“The Sleepy Hollow Experience.” Through Nov. 4. $30-$43. Serenbe Playhouse, 10950 Hutchesons Ferry Road, Chattahoochee Hills. 770-463-1110, serenbeplayhouse.com.
Liz Longley. 8 p.m. Oct. 27. $20. and Michelle Lewis (Nov. 3), both performing at the Art Farm at Serenbe (at 10455 Atlanta Newnan Road, Chattahoochee Hills. www.chatthillsmusic.com.
Michelle Lewis. 8 p.m. Nov. 3. $20. Art Farm at Serenbe (at 10455 Atlanta Newnan Road, Chattahoochee Hills. www.chatthillsmusic.com.
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