Restored Victorian Inn Offers Mountain Views from Expansive Porches
In 1908, two hoteliers opened a Victorian inn nestled in North Carolina's Great Smoky Mountains. Situated at an elevation of 3,500 feet, Balsam Mountain Inn was built for travelers passing through the Balsam Gap depot, one of the Southeast’s highest railroad stations. To accommodate steamer trunks, the rooms and hallways were built extra wide. A restoration in 1991 added private baths, but the inn's spacious layout and 100-foot-long porches were preserved. Today, the Balsam Mountain Inn is a 2014 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence winner, as well as a nostalgic reminder of the past—Fodor's says "a stay here is like going back 100 years in time, when folks rocked and chatted on the front porch." Here, you'll stay amid vintage furniture, the original mansard roof, and an absence of TVs and other noisy distractions.
Different colors, textures, and furnishings decorate each of the 50 guest rooms. Just off the lobby, Room 100 evokes country elegance with white-iron bed frames and ivy print bedding. Located at the back of the inn, the floral-accented Room 106 offers views of the forest and the inn’s courtyard.
Though the menu varies by day, a complimentary breakfast may include banana nut pancakes or wild-berry french toast served in the wood-appointed dining room. À la carte meals can also be enjoyed on the adjoining dining porch, where floor-to-ceiling windows look out onto the lawn. The restaurant also hosts Songwriters-in-the-Round, a long-running music series that features performances from Grammy Award–winning Nashville artists. Tickets are $47 per person and include a buffet dinner.
Balsam, North Carolina: Small Mountain Town Minutes from Blue Ridge Parkway
The small town of Balsam is tucked between the Plott Balsams and Great Balsam Mountains, 40 miles west of Asheville. The Blue Ridge Parkway lies just a half mile away. One of the country's most-popular scenic drives, the parkway winds along the Blue Ridge Mountains' lavender spine and through Great Smoky Mountain fog, passing wildflower meadows and ziplining elk along the way. More than 100 hiking trails branch off the parkway, including the Appalachian Trail, which stretches all the way from Georgia to Maine.