In a valley at the crossroads of Highways 64 and 107, a 20-minute drive from Highlands, Cashiers (elevation 3,486 feet) is Highlands’ quieter, equally exclusive cousin. (Be sure to stop at Whiteside Mountain five miles outside of Highlands to walk its 2.5-mile loop trail; the payoff is a stunning cliffside view of mountains stretching all the way to South Carolina.)
How serene is Cashiers? Besides Jackson County voting in 2012 to finally permit liquor sales—creating a rush of new restaurants, including James Beard award-winning chefs—the big news of the last decade was the town’s second stoplight. By town, we mean a handful of upscale antique, interior design and gift shops; restaurants; and a gourmet grocery store concentrated around the crossroads. And by highways, we mean curvy two-lane roads. But Cashiers has something that Highlands doesn’t: a full-size Ingles grocery store. Sooner or later, you run into everyone there.
So what’s there to do? Play golf on one of 16 beautiful courses (the Wade Hampton golf course is No. 21 on Golf Digest’s Top 100 list of U.S. golf courses, and No. 48 on its world list), hike the many nature trails, rent a pontoon boat on Lake Glenville and picnic in one of its many tranquil coves. There’s a wonderful sliding rock on a little piece of the Chattooga River on Whiteside Cove Road off Highway 107; look for a break in the rhododendron bushes for the trail that leads to it.
Sarasota’s Debbie and Wayne Seitl have owned a home on tiny Whisper Lake in Sapphire, just outside of town, since 2004. “It’s a little piece of heaven,” says Debbie, “very laid-back, where the pace is slow and the sense of community is strong. It’s the way life is supposed to be.”
Places to Stay
Cashiers has many privately owned rental properties. High Hampton Inn, on the National Register of Historic Places, offers golf, tennis, fly fishing and nature trails. We challenge you to climb Chimney Top Mountain, located on the 1,400-acre property; at 4,618 feet, it’s a strenuous hike.
Where to Eat
Canyon Kitchen, 150 Lonesome Valley Road, in the private, gated community of Lonesome Valley; executive chef Adam Hayes won the Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen in 2014. lonesomevalley.com/project/canyon-kitchen
Cornucopia, 16 Cashiers School Road; everybody’s favorite lunch spot for 38 years; dinner served, too. Dine outdoors on the porch under a shady canopy. cornucopianc.com
The Orchard, 905 Highway 107 S.; one of Cashiers’ nicest dinner spots, with a newish event barn that hosts private events for up to 100 guests. theorchardcashiers.com
On the Side Barbecue, at the Cashiers Farmers Market gourmet grocery store at 78 Highway 64 E.; a family-owned enterprise offering pulled pork and BBQ chicken, catering, too. cashiersfarmersmarket.com