Unless you live under a rock, then you know that my birthday just passed. I’m just kidding, but I seriously blasted it from all the roof tops. Either way, Doug surprised me with an impromptu getaway to one of my favorite cities: Asheville! Near and dear to my heart, Asheville is not only home to the Blue Ridge Mountains, but it’s where we got engaged almost six years ago. I am a mountain girl through and through.
After a fun yet restful three days in Asheville, I wanted to round up five sites you have to visit if and when you find yourself in the area.
Chimney Rock State Park: 30 minutes outside of Asheville
While Chimney Rock Park isn’t Asheville proper, it’s just a short drive away and so worth it. Chimney Rock Park was acquired by NC State Parks in 2007, and is relatively new state park .The North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation has acquired more than 6,800 acres in Hickory Nut Gorge for Chimney Rock State Park. In December 2011, the N.C. Council of State approved the purchase of an additional 1,222 acres at Rumbling Bald Mountain to expand Chimney Rock State Park by more than 20 percent.
The Chimney Rock Park area currently offers two areas open to the public. The main park is admission–based due to its high maintenance and capacity issues. However, the second area is Rumbling Bald Climbing Access, which has free access. Learn more about Chimney Rock Park here.
Lake Lure: Asheville adjacent
Again, Lake Lure isn’t Asheville proper, but since we’re already in the area, I have to mention it! It’s literally just a hope and skip from Chimney Rock State Park, so you can not miss out on taking in the sights of this lake against a beautiful mountain back drop.
The vision of a resort community in Western North Carolina was the vision of Dr. Lucius B. Morse. Poor health brought Dr. Morse to the Gorge and it was from Chimney Rock in the early nineteen hundreds that the vision of a lake and a resort development was spawned. The resort was to be developed by Chimney Rock Mountains, Inc. The centerpiece of this resort was to be a lake created by impounding the Rocky Broad River at Tumbling Shoals. This lake was to become Lake Lure. The lake was named Lake Lure by Dr. Morse’s wife, Elizabeth Parkenson. (Town of Lake Lure)
Earlier, I said that we were engaged in Asheville but really we were engaged in Lake Lure. However, that wasn’t the only historic thing to happen there; Dirty Dancing was also filmed in Lake Lure in 1987.
The Flowering Bridge
As a bonus, if you visit the Lake Lure, you have to visit the Flowering Bridge. It’s excellent for a beautiful photo op.
Though Mount Mitchell is actually located in South Toe, NC, it still makes the list. 35 miles outside of Asheville, Mount Mitchell’s summit is the highest point east of the Mississippi at 6,684 feet and was the inspiration for one of the nation’s first state parks. From its easily accessible observation deck, the spruce-fir forest of Mount Mitchell State Park leads the eye to unmatched views. A museum explains the mountain’s cultural and natural history, and its trail network allows visitors to explore up close, offering short hikes near the summit and challenging treks leading to adjacent wilderness areas. A nine-site tent campground is open in warm-weather months, and backpacking opportunities abound, including entry onto the Mountains-to-Sea State Trail. A concession area and a full-service restaurant serve visitors from May to October. (Ncparks.gov)
The mountain, previously known as Black Dome for its rounded shape, was named after Elisha Mitchell, a professor at the University of North Carolina, who first explored the Black Mountain region in 1835, and determined that the height of the range exceeded by several hundred feet that of Mount Washington in New Hampshire, commonly thought at the time to be the highest point east of the Rocky Mountains. Mitchell fell to his death at nearby Mitchell Falls in 1857, having returned to verify his earlier measurements.
A 4.6-mile (7.4 km) road (NC 128) connects the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway to a parking lot where a steep paved 980-foot (300 m) trail leads through a conifer forest to the summit. The 40-foot (12 m) stone observation tower on the summit was torn down in late 2006. A new observation deck was constructed and opened to visitors in January 2009. Also on the summit is the tomb of Elisha Mitchell. (Wikipedia, 2020).
The Blowing Rock; the Asheville area’s oldest attraction
The Blowing Rock is held as North Carolina’s oldest attraction. Legend has it that a Chickasaw chieftan, fearful of a white man’s admiration for his lovely daughter, journeyed far from the plains to bring her to The Blowing Rock and the care of a squaw mother. One day the maiden, daydreaming on the craggy cliff, spied a Cherokee brave wandering in the wilderness far below and playfully shot an arrow in his direction. The flirtation worked because soon he appeared before her wigwam, courted her with songs of his land and they became lovers, wandering the pathless woodlands and along the crystal streams.
One day a strange reddening of the sky brought the brave and the maiden to The Blowing Rock. To him it was a sign of trouble commanding his return to his tribe in the plains. With the maiden’s entreaties not to leave her, the brave, torn by conflict of duty and heart, leaped from The Rock into the wilderness far below. The grief-stricken maiden prayed daily to the Great Spirit until one evening with a reddening sky, a gust of wind blew her lover back onto The Rock and into her arms. From that day a perpetual wind has blown up onto The Rock from the valley below. For people of other days, at least, this was explanation enough for The Blowing Rock’s mysterious winds causing even the snow to fall upside down (Theblowingrock.com).
The Blowing Rock’s observation deck offers sweeping views of picturesque mountains, among other attractions. Learn more about The Blowing Rock here.
Of course, if you’re in Asheville you have to venture downtown. The main strip is filled with shops, restaurants and bars. During this last visit we enjoyed a tailgate brunch from Sunny Point Cafe (the Huevos Rancheros is AH-mazing!) and a beer on the patio at All Seven’s Brewing. We also browsed the West Village Market which offered fresh fruits and vegetable, as well as a variety of coffee imported from places like Honduras and Peru.
For more information on things to do in downtown, click here.
Needless to say, Asheville was lovely as expected! I highly recommend it for a weekend trip or even a day trip depending on where you live. There are so many things to do while remaining safe.
P.S. Happy birthday to all my fellow Virgos 🥰.