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Get cozy this winter: 5 great cabins in the South

When ol' man winter arrives, many feel drawn to revel in the cold season by snuggling up for a time in a cozy cabin in the woods somewhere where snow might be something other than a delirious fantasy. There's just something primordially appealing about a cabin -- the shelter and warmth of the softly lit interior, with a fireplace and maybe, just maybe, a hot tub! The peace and quiet of a wooded remote landscape... Oh, yeah!

"I think people love staying in a log cabin, enjoying a cozy fire with a wood burning fireplace and experiencing in real life what they have always imagined a cabin in the woods in winter would be like," says Beverly Thompson, owner/manager of Fall Creek Cabins near Boone, N.C., with her husband Timothy. "A rustic feel with some modern day conveniences and maybe a hot tub and just getting away from it all."

That sounds good, doesn't it? Sure, sometimes it's only a cottage but nothing suits at wintertime like a cabin in the woods. There are plenty of great winter cabin rental opportunities not far from the hustle and bustle of the ATL. Here are five of the best.

Creekside Cabin

Alright, so let's say it's just you and your sweetheart. You're seeking some alone time in a secluded, rustic, romantic cabin on hilly terrain near some mountains. One with a fireplace, a hot tub. Oh, and a king-size bed with high thread-count linens. Well, take a beautiful four-hour drive up to Gatlinburg in the Smoky Mountains area of Tennessee, and you'll find just what you're looking for. Creekside Cabin sits on a gated, heavily wooded 30-acre site and is built above a mountain stream. There's a fire kettle on the patio. Go ahead, nobody's looking. Snuggle on up!

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Creekside Cabin at Stonecreek Cabins, 865-469-0400, www.stonecreekcabins.com/creekside.html

The Cabin at Laurelwood Inn

Thinking a nice and secluded cabin for you and your sweetheart sounds good but maybe combining it with a day of great skiing, all at a very reasonable price, sounds even better? The Cabin at Laurelwood Inn in Cashiers, N.C., just three miles away from Ski Sapphire Valley, will fit the bill. The free-standing log cabin has a king-size bed in the master bedroom, a full kitchen, rocking chairs on the screened back porch and a BBQ grill. Head out N.C. Highway 64 when you're ready to hit the slopes...or the tube park...or the zip line.

The Cabin at Laurelwood Inn, 58 Highway 107 North, Cashiers, N.C., 828-743-9939, www.laurelwoodinncashiers.com/guest-rooms-cabin.php

Creekside Overlook at Fall Creek Cabins

About 5 hours northeast of Atlanta, in Purlear, N.C., near Boone, sit eight comfortable log cabins by a couple of gurgling creeks and marked hiking trails on a 78-acre heavily treed site. One of them, Creekside Overlook, sits up high over Green Branch Creek. You can sit out on a covered porch in rocking chairs, a double swing, or in the hot tub, looking out to the creek below. Inside, the two-bedroom, two-bath cathedral-ceilinged cabin also has a loft sleeping spot so it can sleep five. The stone fireplace has all the tools you need to tend to the cracklin' fire you're sure to start.

Fall Creek Cabins, 1105 Fall Creek Road, Purlear, N.C., 336-877-3131, www.rentcabinsboonenc.com

Mystic Mountain Hideaway

Under two hours from Atlanta and a mere two-and-a-half miles away from Alpine-styled downtown Helen but seemingly a world away from civilization, the Mystic Mountain Hideaway is one idyllic winter cabin option. Sitting among acres of wooded seclusion, this two-bedroom, one-bath rustic but very comfortable retreat has a master loft with a king bed and bunk beds downstairs. The living room fireplace burns wood, while the bedrooms use electric fireplaces. Outside is a stone fire pit and the lighted back yard has a hammock and picnic table. A private clothing-optional hot tub is on an open-air side deck.

Mystic Mountain Hideaway, Helen, Ga., 678-571-4976, www.vrbo.com/205227#ownerprofile

Amicalola Falls State Park Cabins

If you're good with something comfortable but basic, there are 14 cabins sitting amidst 829 acres of beautiful North Georgia mountain wilderness in the heart of the Chattahoochee National Forest that'll probably work like a charm for you. It doesn't hurt that they're a short hike away from cascading waterfalls. The cabins are available in one-, two-, or three-bedroom arrangements.

Amicalola Falls State Park, Amicalola Falls State Park Road, Dawsonville, 800-573-9656, www.amicalolafallslodge.com/accomodations/cabins/

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