Hotel at a Glance: Randall Glen
At Randall Glen, you can hike through a meadow, tell ghost stories around a bonfire beneath endless stars, and then retire to an old-fashioned log cabin. Life's simpler pleasures are on the forefront at this resort, which is perched at more than 3,000 feet in elevation in the Great Smoky Mountains. There's even a working farm on the property that supplies fresh veggies and herbs for evening barbecues.
- Mountain trails weaving past babbling creeks, trout ponds, and fields of wildflowers
- Goats, sheep, and free-range chicken roam the farmlands.
- Horseback riding on wilderness trails surrounded by mountains
- Hot tubs and wood-burning fireplaces add coziness to the luxurious cabins.
- Pan for gold: The resort's gem mine contains rubies, sapphires, moonstone, amethyst, and other gemstones.
- Games barn with air hockey, ping pong, billiards, and foosball
- Internet cafe with fresh espresso
- Distance from downtown Asheville: about 23 miles
Asheville, North Carolina: Artsy Town in the Blue Ridge Mountains
Tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is the largest city in the western half of North Carolina, with a population of roughly 85,000. Downtown is an eclectic mix of boutiques, eateries, and art galleries housed in buildings designed in art-deco, Beaux-Arts, and neoclassical styles. Asheville’s premier attraction is Biltmore, billed as the largest residential home in the United States. You can take a self-guided tour of the 250-room chateau, which was built for steamboat-and-railroad tycoon George Vanderbilt in 1895. Be sure to visit the gardens designed by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted—they’re in full bloom in early spring.
While you’re in the area, you can take off on one of the most scenic drives in the country—the Blue Ridge Parkway, a 469-mile highway that winds through the mountains. If you want to stretch your legs, hike up to the panoramic lookout at Looking Glass Rock in Pisgah National Forest, or amble along a portion of the Appalachian Trail; the famed footpath goes past Asheville on its 2,180-mile journey from Mount Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in Georgia.