Luxurious Suites in the Middle of Pisgah National Forest
More than a mile above sea level, a narrow suspension footbridge sways over a deep, river-cut gorge in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Originally built in 1952, Grandfather Mountain's Mile-High Swinging Bridge today draws more than 150,000 visitors annually who must steel themselves for what can feel like a precarious journey across the chasm. But those who do are rewarded with sublime views of rocky mountainsides, birds flying along the valley below, and a majestic, blue-tinted ridgeline. It’s the ideal introduction to the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Pisgah National Forest, where Blue Ridge Village Resort’s deluxe suites dot the picturesque terrain just a few miles north of Grandfather Mountain.
Knotty pines make up many of the floors, walls, and ceilings throughout Blue Ridge Village Resort. In the lobby's fireside sitting area, a canoe hangs above leather couches. Guest suites are air-conditioned with balconies overlooking the surrounding forest. Although the atmosphere is woodsy, visitors can still watch flat-screen TVs hanging above stone fireplaces, and WiFi is complimentary throughout the property. Full kitchens contain sleek black refrigerators, ovens, and microwaves, and living rooms open onto balconies.
The resort also boasts an indoor pool and spa tub for guests to cool off after a hike. Rent a paddleboat to explore a nearby pond, or hone your putting game on the property's mini-golf course. And if stovetops and ovens feel too domestic, then head outside to use the picnic areas’ built-in grills.
Banner Elk, North Carolina: Scenic Highlands near Appalachian State University
Located in the middle of the Pisgah National Forest in northwestern North Carolina, Banner Elk is one of several charming towns less than a half-hour's drive from the resort. In nearby Linville, the Avery Arts Council showcases the region's robust crafts community and its handmade treasures, including an exhibit of High County photography that opens on April 13. If you follow the Blue Ridge Highway northeast for 15 miles, you'll reach the college town of Boone, home of Appalachian State University and several vintage clothing shops and bookshops. Boone is also an excellent place to meet up with outfitters for expeditions through Pisgah National Forest on horseback, mountain bike, or steam-powered sleigh.