8 places to relax

Even in go-go metro Atlanta, you can release tensions or just take a break.
Watch cats play and mingle while unwinding at the Java Cats cafe. Contributed by Fred Strobel

Watch cats play and mingle while unwinding at the Java Cats cafe. Contributed by Fred Strobel

Relaxation can be in the eye of the beholder. For some, it comes in the form of physical activity, and for others, it’s any opportunity to mentally unplug and do absolutely nothing. No matter how you choose to unwind, research shows how important it can be to work in moments of self-care. But no need to stress yourself trying to find out how. Here are eight great options around metro Atlanta to find some Zen.

Atlanta Alpaca Treehouse in the Bamboo Forest

Need a refresh? A staycation is often an easy, affordable way to change your environment. The Atlanta Alpaca Treehouse, one of the most requested retreats on Airbnb, is perhaps the coolest way to escape the city grind — without actually leaving the city. Raised 15-feet above the ground inside an 80-year-old bamboo forest, this luxury treehouse has a well-designed set-up, which includes a porch, skylight and queen-size bed. And if sleeping in a treehouse wasn't enough to bring you childlike glee, then watching the property's grazing llamas and alpacas might just be the mood booster you never knew you needed.

$375 a night. Atlanta Alpaca Treehouse in the Bamboo Forest. 678-595-0038, alpacatreehouse.com.

Treat Your Feet Buckhead

Whether you’re trying out foot reflexology as alternative medicine or just for pure relaxation, Treat Your Feet is a great place to get your feet wet — literally. Guests can indulge in a one-hour session, which includes a foot soak, scrub, hot stone massage and even a quick neck, shoulder and scalp massage. And at a fraction of the average price of a full-body massage, it’s affordable enough to impulsively purchase for those really stressful days.

Starting at $40. Treat Your Feet Buckhead. 3275 Peachtree Road NE, Suite 250, Atlanta. 404-812-0579, treatyourfeetbuckhead.com.

Java Cats Café

Most pet lovers would relish in an opportunity to commune with cats over a cup of joe, right? A popular trend in Japan, the cat café experience is believed to leave cat-loving visitors with a sense of calm and a chemical hit of happiness from being in the company of animals.

At Java Cats, touted as the first cat café in Atlanta, patrons are advised to make reservations (as a limited number of guests are allowed in the café to guarantee the safety and comfort of the cats). Best of all, if you get attached, your friendly feline hosts are up for adoption.

Starting at $7 (includes tea or coffee). Java Cats Café. 415 Memorial Drive SE, Suite C, Atlanta. 470-305-7575, javacatscafe.com.

Exhale Spa in Loews Atlanta

OK, the idea of driving up your heart rate for workouts like barre, spin and yoga doesn’t exactly sound stress-relieving, but for some, solid endorphin-pumping exercise is a welcomed “means” to a fully relaxed “end.” And when these workouts take place at Exhale’s exercise studio and spa, then you can easily round out that serenity with one of their tension-melting massage treatments. Exhale offers both class and spa memberships, in which guests enjoy unlimited visits to classes like flow yoga and 30-minute H.I.I.T., and indulge in monthly spa treatments like acupuncture massage and detoxing facials.

Starting at $29. Exhale Spa Atlanta. 1065 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta. 404-745-5000, exhalespa.com.

Forest Bathing at Serenbe

The concept of forest bathing is another rejuvenating therapy with roots in Japan. Called shinrin-yoku, the therapy is based on studies linking time spent in nature to health benefits, such as decreased stress levels, lowered blood pressure and even improved immunity. Of course, you can go anywhere to connect with plant life and open spaces. But for a great opportunity to really understand and absorb the therapeutic experience, Serenbe offers monthly forest bathing courses. In the 2.5-hour class, participants are led on a walk by Serenbe’s Certified Nature Therapy Guide and are encouraged to focus on the scents, textures, tastes and sounds of the forest. And if you’re looking to make it a whole day of relaxation, Serenbe, described as “a wellness community … on the edge of Atlanta,” offers other activities, including farm-to-table dining, goat yoga and horseback riding.

9:30 a.m.-noon. Next walk is Feb. 22. $45. Starts at the One Mado building: 11090 Serenbe Lane, Chattahoochee Hills. serenbe.com.

Intown Salt Room

For two unique stress-reducing experiences, head to Intown Salt Room. You can choose to unwind in their Meditation Room for a multisensory escape. As guests recline in the room’s zero gravity loungers, they listen (in headphones) to soothing spa music that synchronizes with chair vibrations. Or, visitors can try out their Dry Salt Therapy breathing room. Here, guests relax in a Himalayan salt room, where dry salt is misted in the air. The popular salt therapy trend is believed to be both calming and detoxifying. But don’t feel salty if you’re torn between the two; go ahead and try both experiences (30 mins each) for $60.

Starting at $30. Intown Salt Room. 563 Memorial Drive, Unit CU-A, Atlanta. 678-974-7867, intownsaltroom.com.

Chattahoochee Nature Center

Adventure calls at the Chattahoochee Nature Center, but relaxation isn’t far behind it. Again, with an opportunity to reap the health and stress-reducing benefits of nature, visitors will have plenty of hiking options with their multiple forested trails. Furthermore, as the center’s programming varies throughout the year, visitors can always find new ways to use the center as a disconnect — from summer canoeing excursions to their Enchanted Woodland Trail exhibit, which currently runs until Feb 29.

$6 for children, $10 for adults. Chattahoochee Nature Center. 9135 Willeo Road, Roswell. 770-992-2055, chattnaturecenter.org.

JeJu Sauna

As a popular go-to for many Atlantans, this traditional Korean bathhouse has a bit of everything — for everyone (as children are welcome, too). With a general admission fee, you get to don a spiffy spa uniform and are allowed unlimited access to the saunas, steam rooms, hydrotherapy pools, baths and relaxation lounges. From there, you can opt in for a la carte treatments, such as Swedish massage and foot reflexology. Food and drinks are also available for purchase. And it’s open 24 hours, so it’s available whenever you need it most.

Starting at $20. JeJu Sauna. 3555 Gwinnett Place Drive NW, Duluth. 678-336-7414, jejusauna.com.