One of the most cherished authors of the 20th century was Carl Sandburg. Part of his inspiration can be touched in his home, a National Historic Site, sitting just outside of Asheville in Flat Rock, NC. You’ll see the well of genius he drew from when you visit this serene home in the mountains.
Chimney Rock is one of my favorite places in Western North Carolina. And for good reason. You drive through the little town of Bat Cave and Lake Lure to get there. Quaint, Mountain shops and restaurants pepper the drive. Then Chimney Rock itself, named for its shape and perch on the top of a mountain, comes and you go take the elevator or the stairs to the very top and peer out over a scene that could make you cry it’s so beautiful. You can see why the makers of Last of The Mohicans and Dirty Dancing chose this area to film their blockbusters. With hiking trails, rock climbing, bird watching, and historical information spots, you will thoroughly enjoy your time here. If you happen to visit The Biltmore Estate, keep your ticket because they offer discounted rates. Also, while you are in this area, I highly encourage you to take a boat tour on Lake Lure http://lakelure.com/. It’s simply fascinating…not to mention gorgeous.
Grandfather Mountain, Blowing Rock, & Boone
Some of my earliest childhood memories are mixed with horror and joy. My parents would take us to visit Grandfather Mountain (named for it’s shape which looks like a Grandfather’s face) and the Swinging Bridge. My parents and sister would just waltz across the mile high swinging bridge which spanned over a bear pit, while I basically crawled across. The bridge back then was green wooden slats and would swing with the wind. Now, thank The Lord, it is a sturdy metal bridge that is much safer to walk across. Still a thrill and rush to the adrenaline, but a whole heck of a lot safer than the old one. They now call it the “singing bridge” because it sort of whistles as the wind hits the metal. You will truly have a mountain top experience up at Grandfather Mountain. It’s incredible. And they have animal exhibits packed full of bald eagles, deer, bears and more. If you’re fortunate to be up on the mountain at the right time, do not hesitate to attend The Highland Games – a festival of Scottish pride with a rich host of culture and excitement http://www.gmhg.org/. I would even recommend exploring more of the Blowing Rock http://www.blowingrock.com/ and Boone http://www.exploreboonearea.com/ high country for a couple days if time allows. Some of our favorites in these mountain parts are The Daniel Boone Inn (BEST fried chicken we’ve ever had!) http://www.danlbooneinn.com/ and the outdoor performance of Horn in the West http://www.horninthewest.com/ .
Do any of y’all live in a place that’s frequented by many a traveler? Growing up, everyone and their mother who came to visit us made it over to Sliding Rock. That’s still on my bucket list. Can you believe me? I lived in the area most of my life and never got to partake in this thrill! What on earth?! I still aim to do this, though. Sliding Rock is supposed to be one of the most fun activities in the area. I’m told it’s a good idea to wear jean shorts or even jeans as you go down so you don’t get rug burn. Let me know what you think of this fun mountain activity!
Mount Mitchell is the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. Anyone who travels to the Asheville area should make the short trip over to Mount Mitchell. Whether you drive it or hike it, the views are stunning and you can check visiting this high peak off your bucket list.
Please oh please don’t let the glitz and lures of the casinos distract you from the heart of Cherokee. Growing up, my mom made sure we were well educated on our own regional history. This was one of the places she took us to catch a glimpse into the rich cultural history of the Cherokee Nation. Not only can you tour the Oconaluftee Indian Village, but you can also enjoy a stunning outdoor performance of “Unto These Hills.”
There are many spots for the thrill-inducing activity of White Water Rafting in the area. I’ve been twice on the Nantahala River and absolutely loved it! Be sure to follow all safety precautions and listen to your guide, though.