"Haven of Rest" Surrounded by Appalachian Beauty
Tucked away in a quiet pocket of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Chetola Mountain Resort has served as a family home after the Civil War and a Coca-Cola magnate's estate. Today, it's a rustic getaway that lives up to the name Chetola, a Cherokee word meaning "haven of rest." With a private lake and 87 acres of rolling hills, the property hosts a long list of outdoor pursuits, ranging from fishing to hiking, complemented by an indoor jacuzzi, a blond-wood sauna, and a full spa.
The resort's secluded location borders forests and waterfronts alike, leading Frommer's to call it "the grandest resort in the area." Hiking trails connect to neighboring Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, a 3,600-acre wilderness harboring a turn-of-the-century manor. The resort sits along the banks of Chetola Lake, which you can navigate by paddleboat ($3/half hour) starting in mid-May or plumb its depths by renting a fishing rod.
In turn, there's a full spa to soothe muscles after branch-wrestling one too many spruce trees. Maple floors, sea-stone inlays, and a wall fountain set the mood for a 90-minute Swedish massage using essential oils (available for $75, normally $125). Alternatively, fitness classes include yoga sessions, which realign spines and one’s mental equilibrium (available for $6, normally $8–$10).
Come evening, savor local entrees such as duck breast and Carolina trout at Timberlake's Restaurant, which is set to open at the end of May 2012. Prior to that, the resort is offering a free nightly shuttle to area restaurants from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Then it's off to the Chetola Lodge and your guest room, rustically decorated with wooden furnishings. Microwaves and refrigerated wet bars prevent the need for squirreling astronaut rations into suitcases.
Blowing Rock, North Carolina: Picturesque Rock Formations in the Blue Ridge Mountains
Located along Pisgah National Forest in northwest North Carolina, the town of Blowing Rock shares its name with a local rock formation, which towers about 3,000 feet over the Johns River Gorge. Thanks to its high altitude (3,566 feet above sea level), the town has long been a refuge for southerners seeking cooler weather.
Though most come to visit the nearby Appalachian State University in Boone, others wander Appalachian slopes via the Blue Ridge Parkway, a 459-mile scenic drive that goes just north of town. One of the parkway’s prettiest stops is Linville Falls, located about a 45-minute drive south of Blowing Rock. There, a 90-foot cascade roars over jagged stones before crashing into the Linville Gorge.