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When you think of a weekend getaway in Alabama, what’s the first destination that comes to mind? Maybe Gulf Shores for a weekend soaking up the sand and sea? Or some time relaxing on one of our state’s many beautiful lakes? You may even think of a bustling city like Birmingham, Huntsville, or Mobile for a staycation of sorts. But if you’ve never considered Pursell Farms in Sylacauga for a weekend away, you’ll want to add this 3,200-acre outdoor leisure resort—complete with an award-winning golf course, Orvis shooting grounds, gourmet dining options, spa, luxury accommodations, and much more—to the top of your list.
Pursell Farms is steeped in history. Even its location in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains is part of the story. Pursell Farms is located on the east side of Sulphur Mountain. On the west is Talladega Springs, a former resort town that hit its peak in the early 1900s when visitors flocked to its luxury 100-room hotel for a stay while enjoying the supposed healing powers of the area’s many sulfur springs. Today, Pursell Farms carries on the resort town tradition with its 40-room boutique inn, cottages, and cabins.
Though Pursell has evolved greatly over the years to become the upscale hospitality giant it is, its roots are a bit closer to the earth. In fact, the Pursells (who still own the business today) started in the fertilizer business in 1904. In 2002, third generation family leader David Pursell created FarmLinks, the world’s only research and demonstration golf course, that was meant to draw customers in to see the remarkable work of the family’s fertilizer firsthand. In 2006, the Pursells sold their fertilizer business and set their sights on creating a premier family farm resort based around the golf course.
What to Do
The Pursells wasted no time building upon their golf course’s reputation for excellence in outdoor sports. The farm partnered with renowned outdoor brand Orvis to create a shooting grounds for sporting clays and wingshooting, as well as a fly-fishing school. For those looking for another type of thrill, the resort offers a mountaintop UTV experience, where guests take a guided tour around the massive property and to the top of Sulphur Mountain. Families can explore the property on regular or e-bikes or on foot via almost three miles of scenic walking trails.
For those who prefer a slower-paced getaway, Spring House Spa is the ultimate destination for a relaxing massage or other specialty treatment. Once you’ve gotten out all the knots, stretch it out at Yoga on the Mountain, a complimentary yoga class held at Secret Place on Chalybeate Mountain with pastoral views overlooking the farm, the Appalachian foothills, and Lay Lake.
After a day of activity, Pursell offers several options for gourmet dining. The Clubhouse Grille, located on the golf course’s 9th hole, offers casual eats for breakfast and lunch. Arrington provides a menu of upscale farm-fresh fare with a Southern spin from Chef Joe Truex, a native of Mansura, Louisiana. In addition to a curated breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu, Chef Truex also hosts regular cooking events and classes where guests can learn from his expertise. For a nightcap or after-hours, Old Tom’s Pub is your spot. The Scottish-themed lounge and pool room offers signature cocktails and traditional drinks alongside a menu of small plates, pizzas, flatbreads, and other pub classics.
Where to Stay
The Pursell’s family land is speckled with plenty of places to call home for the weekend. From cozy cottages and rustic chic cabins perfect for friend groups and larger families, to the massive Parker Lodge ideal for reunions or retreats, and the historic Hamilton House ideal for wedding parties, there’s something for everyone.
In 2018, the resort rewrote the rules for visitors with its luxury three-story inn. Each of the Inn’s 40 rooms is full of dreamy décor and understated elegance with luxurious touches like standalone soaking tubs and plush king beds. Several of the rooms feature oversized balconies that look out onto the 18th fairway. On the bottom floor, you’ll find a resort-style pool, bocce ball courts, fire pits, and plenty of comfortable chairs ideal for sitting back and taking in the views.
The farm regularly runs “Get Out of Town” specials, so it’s even easier to plan your weekend escape.