Inspiring USA Destinations: Western North Carolina
Updated: Jul 14, 2020
Many people ask me when it will be safe to travel again. I wish I knew the answer but there are some predictions about travel this summer through the end of the year. Even though parts of the country and the world will reopen doesn't mean that everyone will feel comfortable with travel this year. Others are anxious to have the freedom to go and may consider travel in the USA as a place to start exploring again. Road trips will be appealing to many so as to be away from the crowds. Domestic flights to visit National Parks may be attractive to others.
I will provide inspiration about destinations in the USA over the next several weeks for a place to dream now for when you can safely travel later.
First up on my list - one of my favorites - Western North Carolina!
There are so many things to see and do in Western NC that it would require volumes of information to share with you. I will write a few of my suggestions in this article.
One of my top places to visit in Western North Carolina is Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is the most visited National Park in the country. It is a National Park that doesn't charge an admission fee so spending several days in the park is a great value. It was named for the blue mist that hovers over the mountains as shown in the photo above. The National Park spans 520,000 acres in North Carolina and Tennessee so there is plenty of space to roam. There are 850 miles of trails to explore!
The park has forty waterfalls and the 80-foot-high Laurel Falls is one of the most popular. It is a fairly easy two hour route round trip which is great for families or "soft" adventurers. Like Laurel Falls, Grotto Falls is the same round trip distance to the waterfall with the awesome feature that the trail runs behind the 25-foot-high waterfall.
The Blue Ridge parkway spans 469 miles between North Carolina and Virginia. Haywood County, which includes towns like Maggie Valley and Waynesville, is home to 46 miles of the parkway. It’s dubbed “America’s most scenic drive” for a reason.
There are plenty of overlooks like Waterrock Knob with its 360 degree views and Richland Balsam which is on the highest point of the parkway with spectacular views of the mountain ranges. A short but steep hike to the top of the 5700 foot summit to Devil's Courthouse is well worth the effort. My husband and I made the trek to the top shown in the second photo below.
Another suggestion for a must-do is the Biltmore Estate. It is a spectacular estate with guided tours of the historic mansion, grounds and winery, special events, dining, hiking and equestrian trails. My husband Mark and I visited in November when it was beautifully decorated for the holidays.
And finally, no visit to western NC is complete without a visit to Asheville. Check out Asheville's street art, drink one of over 100 local craft beers, float the French Broad river, walk the Asheville Urban Trail, visit the River Arts District and experience food from a variety of top-rated restaurants.
Asheville has more breweries per capita than anywhere else in the US. My husband and I visited the famous Sierra Nevada brewery for a cool tour and delicious lunch.
Western NC has something for everyone when its safe to travel again. When the time is right, I can design the perfect getaway for you. In the meantime, stay well and keep dreaming!