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Mountain Weekend Travel in the U.S.

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WEEKEND GETAWAYS. Make The Most Of Your Vacation - From Coast to Coast!

 

 

 

Greetings Getaway Lover!

 

Imagine a getaway tucked high in the mountains, with beauti-ful nature areas and several historical sites.  The place I am describing is The Blue Ridge Parkway, located through the southern Appalachian Mountains from Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The Parkway offers breathtaking views in a peaceful nature setting, along with historical places to visit, such as Monticello, one of the homes of Thomas Jefferson. 

DESTINATION: The Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway runs 469 miles through the southern Appalachian Mountains from Shenandoah National Park, in Vir-ginia, to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, on the North Carolina-Tennessee border.  The parkway offers motor-vehicle access to hiking, camping, and picnicking areas; cultural and historical attractions; and lodgings tucked in with some of the most stunning mountain scenery in the East.

Began in 1935 as a Great Depression-era public works effort, the Parkway was finished in 1987.  The goal was to link the parks and to fight the areas unemployment.  The parkway presently attracts more than 20 million visitors.

The attraction of the parkway is its views overlooking the wooded mountains and valleys of the Southern Highlands.  The peaks are covered in a lush, leafy canopy of oak, hickory, and maple, with the occasional highlight of hemlock, spruce, or fir.  Only a few summits at Blue Ridge are higher than 4,000 feet, with its highest point at Richland Balsam, which is 6,047 feet.  Surrounding the area is the bluish haze that supposedly gave Blue Ridge its name.  The haze was origin-ally due to moisture given off by the forest, but today it is frequently combined with airborne pollution that some-times restricts views.

The Blue Ridge attracts a steady number of weekday visitors from April through September.  The largest crowds can be found on summer weekends and during Octobers peak fall fol-iage, which is normally the second or third week of the month.  In very popular areas, such as Virginias Mabry Hill, the parkway is the most visited area in the 368-unit National Park System.  During the winter, few will travel the road, and sections are often closed because of ice and snow.

WHAT TO DO AND SEE:

 GRANDFATHER MOUNTAIN

Blue Ridge Pkwy. and U.S. 221, Linville, NC, USA

        A moutain that soars to 6,000 ft; famous for its Mile-High Swinging Bridge, a 228-ft-long bridge that sways over a 1,000-ft drop and the Linville Valley below.  Visitors may hike and picnic here.   

 

PEAKS OF OTHER RECREATION AREA.

Milepost 86, Blue Ridge Pkwy., Bedford, VA, USA

        A walking trail takes visitors to the top of Sharp Top Mountain (4,004 ft) where a panoramic, 360-degree view awaits.  Living-history demonstrations are held most week-ends at the Johnson Farm.  A 23-acre lake is nearby.    

 

MABRY MILL

266 Mabry Mill SE, Meadows of Dan, VA, USA

        Probably the most visited site along the Parkway, the Mill consists of a sawmill and a restored water-powered gristmill that makes cornmeal and buckwheat flour for sale.  Demon-strations of blacksmithing and other trades are often shown.  

 

MONTICELLO

Rte. 53, Charlottesville, VA, USA

        The famous home of Thomas Jefferson and his monument to himself.  The house is a masterpiece that was built over a period of 40 years. It is characteristic of Jefferson, who made a statement with every detail.

 

LINVILLE FALLS VISITOR CENTER

Rte. 1, Spruce Pine, NC, USA

        A mile hike leads to one of North Carolinas most photographed waterfalls.  The trail winds through evergreens and rhododendrons and overlooks the cascades falling into Linville Gorge.  It also has a campground and picnic area.

 

UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA

Charlottesville, VA, USA

        One of the nations most distinguished institutions of higher education, UVA was founded and designed by Thomas Jefferson.  Tours begin indoors at the Rotunda, a half-scale replica of the Pantheon in Rome.  The Bayly Art Mu-seum, part of UVA, exhibits art from around the world from ancient times to present day.    

 

LINVILLE CAVERNS

U.S. 221 between Linville and Marion, Blue Ridge Parkway,

NC, USA

        The only caverns in the Carolinas, they go 2,000 ft beneath Humpback Mountain and have a year-round temperature of 51 degrees Farenheit.  

 

 

Other Places of Interest:

HUMPBACK ROCK VISITOR CENTER

Milepost 5.8, Blue Ridge Pkwy., Waynesboro, VA, USA

        This center offers free maps, books for sale, picnic ta-bles, and updates on ranger programs.  Walk the short trail to a reconstructed pioneer mountain farm, with a cabin, spring house, chicken coop, and a barn.   

 

EMERALD VILLAGE

McKinney Mine Rd. at Blue Ridge Pkwy., Milepost 334, Little

Switzerland, NC, USA

        Take a tour of an underground mine or dig for gems on your own at this sparkling village.    

 

FRONTIER CULTURE MUSEUM

1250 Richmond Rd., Staunton, VA, USA

        An outdoor museum that re-creates the beginnings of agra-rian life in America in four genuine 18th-century farmsteads:

American, Scots-Irish, German, and English.    

   

WHERE TO SLEEP: Hotels,Inns etc.

 

ESEEOLA LODGE AND RESTAURANT

U.S. 221, Linville, NC 28646, USA

Phone: 828/733-4311 or 800/742-6717

        A lakeside lodge that sits 3,800 ft above sea level with lovely grounds, rich chestnut paneling and stonework.  Has an 18-hole golf course and putting green.

 

CLIFTON, THE COUNTRY INN

1296 Clifton Inn Dr., Charlottesville, VA 22911, USA

Phone: 804/971-1800 or 888/971-1800

        Each guest room has its original fireplace and down com-forters covering the antique bed, giving the room a cozy feel.  The landscaped grounds have a spring-fed pool with a waterfall at one end.

 

KESWICK HALL AT MONTICELLO

701 Club Dr., Keswick, VA 22947, USA

Phone: 804/979-3440 or 800/274-5391

        A Tuscan villa resting on 600 lush acres that offers a luxurious, cosmopolitan retreat.  Each guest room is furn-ished with English and American antiques.  Some of the rooms have whirlpool baths and balconies.  Guests are welcomed inside as if they were entering someones home.   

 

WINTERGREEN RESORT

Rte. 664, Wintergreen, VA 22958, USA

Phone: 804/325-2200 or 800/325-2200

        This resort offers an extensive choice of sports options, especially in the winter.  Accommodations include studio apartments, four-bedroom condos, and even houses with seven bedrooms.  The acres are protected by natural forest, and a staff biologist plans nature walks.

 

CATALOOCHEE RANCH

119 Ranch Drive, Maggie Valley, NC 28751, USA

Phone: 828/926-1401 or 800/868-1401

        A rustic, ranch-style resort with two lodges and seven cabins on 1,000 acres next to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  An amazing view is offered from the 5,000-ft elevation.  The ranch has plenty of recreational activ-ities, with a public golf course and a ski area nearby.  The rooms are rustic, but modern, with handmade quilts.

 

WHERE TO DINE:

 

BUCK MOUNTAIN GRILLE

3603 Franklin Rd., Roanoke, VA, USA

Phone: 540/342-6455

$20 to $40

        The Grille has traditional decor and features the artwork of local artists.  The food is made from scratch and inclu-des vegetarian dishes, seafood, chicken, and steaks.  Enjoy some homemade tiramisu for dessert.

 

C&O RESTAURANT

515 E. Water St., Downtown, Charlottesville, VA, USA

Phone: 804/971-7044

Under $20 to $40

        One of the best restaurants in town with a formal dining room upstairs and a lively bistro downstairs that both serve French-influenced meals, with Pacific Rim and Ameri-can Southwest touches.  Try the veal sweetbreads simmered in cream or the steak chinois.

 

CROZET PIZZA

Rte. 240, Crozet, VA, USA

Phone: 804/823-2132

Under $20

        Serves some of Virginias best pizza, with 35 toppings to choose from.  Place takeout orders hours in advance on the weekend.  The restaurant itself offers a rustic ambience, with portraits of the owners forebears and a wall covered with business cards from around the world.

 

CONTINENTAL DIVIDE

811 W. Main St., Downtown, Charlottesville, VA, USA

Phone: 804/984-0143

Under $20

        Serves Southwestern cuisine, such as quesadillas, burr-itos, spicy pork tacos, enchiladas, and potent margaritas.  The restaurant can get crowded and convivial, but customers like it this way.

 

MRS. ROWES RESTAURANT

I-81 (Exit 222), Staunton, VA, USA

Phone: 540/886-1833

Under $20

        This restaurant has plenty of booths and enjoys a solid reputation for inexpensive and delicious Southern meals.  Try the fried chicken, skillet-cooked to order.  For break-fast, enjoy some oven-hot biscuits covered with gravy.

 

HAMILTONS AT FIRST AND MAIN

101 W. Main St., Downtown, Charlottesville, VA, USA

Phone: 804/295-6649

$20 to $40

        Features eclectic cuisine such as the pan-roasted halibut on Cuban black bean cake with cilantro-lime beurre blanc and tropical citrus salsa.  A local favorite situated in the Downtown Mall.

 

 

 
        LINKS:

 

www.blueridgeparkway.org

www.nps.gov/blri/

http://ncnatural.com/Parkway/

www.virtualblueridge.com

www.blueridgeparkway.info