Former Farm Buildings Converted into Guest Rooms Along New River
"One of the most popular things to do here is absolutely nothing," reads the River House Country Inn and Restaurant website. That statement might seem ironic (much like the name of the ancient river the inn sits next to: the New River), but it speaks to the appeal of the quiet North Carolina countryside surrounding this 19th-century bed and breakfast. From the porch's white rocking chairs, the sight of the New River meandering past the Blue Ridge Mountains' hickories and oaks has a calming effect, especially when accompanied by a glass of wine.
Freestanding farm buildings converted into guest rooms are scattered about the property. Each room has a colorful history. The Weigh Station room once housed a giant scale for weighing cattle as they arrived and exited the farm. Art and country antiques lend a homey touch to the rooms, as does the fresh pot of coffee delivered to the door each morning. A complimentary breakfast waits at the main-house restaurant each morning.
At dinnertime, under the culinary guidance of chef and innkeeper Gayle Winston, cooks craft marinated lamb loin ($26), Alaskan halibut ($27), and other regional fare complemented by an international wine list. Winston is best known for her desserts, particularly the bread pudding and chocolate bourbon cake.
Most Sunday afternoons at 4 p.m. (beginning in April), River House hosts a salon modeled after the artistic salons popularized in 1920s Paris. The entertaining lineup ranges from musical and theatrical performances to poetry readings and art displays. After the show, guests can discuss the performances over a four-course dinner.
Grassy Creek, North Carolina: Cultural Towns amid the Blue Ridge Mountains
River House Country Inn is aptly named for its location along the New River, which was dedicated as an American Heritage River for being the oldest river in North America. For a small fee, guests can rent 1 of the inn's 12 kayaks and paddle down the ancient river or plop into an inner tube and let the current do the work. Visiting fishers may want to cast their line into the river, which is stocked with more than 1,800 rainbow and brown trout, as well as smallmouth bass, walleye, the cast of Finding Nemo, and flathead catfish.
Located about 15 miles southwest of the inn, the town of West Jefferson provides a dose of culture amid the Blue Ridge Mountains. The town is home to several art galleries, antique shops, independent bookstores, and boutiques selling clothes, gourmet cheese, and other artisan goods.