Century-Old Luxury Resort on Private Mountain Lake
In the late 19th century, a wealthy Pittsburgh entrepreneur named E.H. Jennings wanted to turn a remote patch of North Carolina wilderness into a resort area. The area lacked paved roads, but Jennings went so far as to fill a mile-wide gulch with water to create Lake Toxaway, the region's first manmade lake. His bet paid off: soon, magnates such as Henry Ford and Thomas Edison were visiting the area, drawn by the mountain air and luxurious accommodations. The resort area continues to impress today: The Greystone Inn earned a spot on Condé Nast Traveler's 2011 Top Small Resorts in the United States.
At Lake Toxaway, a boathouse rents out canoes and kayaks to guests at no extra charge, and the 14 miles of shoreline contain a number of secluded spots to walk, fish, or read banned books. You can also take daily tours of the lake on The Greystone's 26-passenger mahogany boat, Miss Lucy. Each cruise includes a champagne toast and historical commentary from the captain.
The Blue Ridge foothills serve as the backdrop for the resort's 18-hole, Kris Spence–designed golf course. It was named by Links magazine as one of the top resort courses in the Carolinas. Before teeing off, head to the Lakeside Dining Room for a breakfast of eggs benedict or belgian waffles. Each night, the restaurant serves six-course dinners in an upscale space where blue jeans and T-shirts aren't allowed and jackets are required. For a more causal dinner on Monday and Thursday–Saturday, visit the Lake Toxaway Country Club for bistro fare.
The property's centerpiece is the Greystone Mansion, built in 1915 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. No two guest rooms are exactly the same, but many have distinctive period-style furniture and hardwood floors. Luxury rooms—the largest in the mansion—have spacious living areas with couches, armchairs, and gas or wood-burning fireplaces. The Moltz room features a jacuzzi tub, and the Reynolds room has a private porch overlooking the lake.
Transylvania County, North Carolina: Waterfalls and Mountain Hamlets
Transylvania County, which contains Lake Toxaway and the slightly larger town of Brevard, is known regionally as the "Land of Waterfalls" for the hundreds of scenic cascades dotting its forests. Gorges State Park and Nantahala National Forest are lined with countless hiking and biking trails, and local guides lead horseback tours and fishing trips. About 20 miles northwest of The Greystone is the mountain town of Brevard, which has a relaxed, outdoorsy vibe and is filled with art galleries and restaurants.