Visiting North Carolina any time of year needs to be on your travel list. But fall is the best time of year to discover the Southern hospitality and lovely living in the Appalachian Mountains.
I spent five days in North Carolina, with one full day of travel from my home base in Arizona. With the time change and the connecting flight the first day was traveling to our VRBO in Asheville from Charlotte. Hoping to catch the changing fall leaves and colors during an early October trip didn’t quite pan out. The weather was unseasonably warm (mid to high 70’s) during our trip. The leaves were just barely popping some yellow and reds, so the crowds were also sparse at some sites. Give and take was the name of the game on this trip, and Asheville hospitality did not disappoint.
The first full day was spent at the “Largest Home in America,” Biltmore Estate located in Asheville near Pisgah National Forest. Built in six years by 25-year-old industrial magnate George Vanderbilt, the exquisite 250-room mansion and surrounding gardens was a country retreat for family and friends. The opulence of the time is showcased in every room during the self-guided audio tour.
First opened to the public in 1927 by Vanderbilt’s daughter, Cornelia and her husband, the grounds were continually upgraded for the times. The horse stables house quaint shops and a bustling restaurant. The barn and blacksmith’s shop are still on the property for learning about the past and future upgrades. These include a winery, tasting room, hotels, and working farm. Take at least one full day, (we had two) to enjoy the Biltmore for its historic grandeur.
The Great Smoky Mountains
One hour north of Asheville, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is full of fun activities. The untouched forest which borders North Carolina and Tennessee is one of the best spots to capture the changing fall foliage. Horseback riding, hiking, kayaking, and bird watching are also fun family activities to enjoy while in the park. The name comes from the low-lying mist and clouds which create a “smoky” scene in the valleys of the mountains. There are many small towns to stop and enjoy the native crafts and food along the way too.
If you have time, make a stop at the North Carolina Arboretum in Bent Creek, near Asheville, before heading home. The 434-acre “experimental site” is located in a part of the Pisgah National Forest. The partnership with the University of North Carolina has created breathtaking walking trails with all the trees, plants, and flowers identified for novices. The huge welcome center houses, a bistro, gift shop, and guided nature talks by volunteers. Again, the Southern hospitality can’t be beat for a wonderful send off from this lovely part of the county. Let me know if you’ve ever experienced North Carolina this year and what regions you’d recommend.
Happy Travels for your future trips!