Restored Victorian Inn Offers Mountain Views from Expansive Porches
In 1905, two hoteliers began construction on 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 2013 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence winner as well as a nostalgic reminder of the past, with vintage furniture, an original mansard roof, and an absence of TVs and other noisy distractions.
Each of the 50 guest rooms is decorated in different colors, textures, and furnishings. Just off the lobby, Room 100 evokes country elegance with pink-iron bed frames, rosebud bedding, and a diamond-studded butter churn. 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 blueberry waffles and bacon 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.
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 road winds along the lavender spine of the Blue Ridge Mountains and through the fog of the Great Smoky Mountains, 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.