Bordering the outstretched arm of the Pisgah National Forest and named for a storied rock formation, Blowing Rock forms the home base for summer hikes, fall foliage vigils, and football games at nearby Appalachian State University. An early home to Cherokee and Catawba tribes, the town became a refuge to families during the Civil War, and then to southern residents seeking a high-elevation shortcut to cooler weather. The scenic, serpentine Blue Ridge Parkway curves nearby, climbing undulating Appalachian slopes into the mountain air.Throughout massive swaths of nearby state parks and national forests, rafts careen over frothing whitewater rapids, bikes surge over famously striking and challenging paths, and fly-fishing lures arc toward trout lurking beneath the surface of natural and stocked lakes. Host to the annual Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show since 1923, the area stables a plethora of dashing steeds, enabling mountainside riding through Moses H. Cone Memorial Park and other verdant environs. Two-legged hoofing along the Linville Falls trails unveils a 90-foot waterfall among jagged, staircase-like rock formations cascading in a soothing susurrus into the Linville Gorge. Those who feel guilty about leaving a pet mannequin at home can appease it with presents culled from Tanger Outlets, a medley of upscale outlets including Banana Republic, Loft, and Polo Ralph Lauren.