In my long-standing birthday tradition of 'getting the hell outta dodge,' I took a birthday road trip through Georgia last May, and along the way I spent a night at the Hostel in the Forest, a hostel where each rentable room is a standalone treehouse. If you've ever desired to live the life of an Ewok, or Robinson Crusoe, this is your destination.
Built and maintained by volunteers, the Hostel in the Forest has existed for 35 years as a labor of love, and is a registered International Youth Hostel. It sits on 133 acres of forest and wetlands, just two miles off of 1-95 on the southeastern coastal plain of Georgia, and is just miles from the beautiful Jekyll and St. Simon's islands, which are known as the "Goldens Isles" of Georgia. The main office of the hostel is a great place to see its long and beloved history:
Our treehouse was surrounded by dense, sub-tropical forest palms, evergreens, saw palmettos, magnolia trees, and gigantic live oaks draped in moss. Over 300 species of birds populate the region, as well as dozens of species of reptiles. Anole lizards --the most adorable of all lizards -- are everywhere you look, so watch your step. In the wetlands, you can spot alligators and river otters.
The grounds also feature a large, 'clothing optional' lake, which really translates to mandatory nudity, which is fine with me! (Though my thoroughly sunburned butt made the return drive home on leather seats pretty unpleasant, so make sure to wear a lot of sunscreen on parts of you that don't see the sun very often.)
The grounds feature awesome outdoor showers, and your ridiculously small fee of $25/per person includes community dinner, which was pretty delicious. If you want the full experience, visit during a full moon and participate in the sweat lodge ritual, but book early: it's a popular tradition, and seats only 15 people. If you're looking for a luxury vacation, this is not the place for you. if you're looking for adventure, weird woods to explore, and mossy green pools, then book yo'self a treehouse, asap.
Also, about an hour into the woods, I found this creepy house: