Hotel at a Glance: Randall Glen
Life’s simpler pleasures are the focus at Randall Glen, a resort perched in the Great Smoky Mountains. You can hike through a meadow, tell ghost stories around a bonfire beneath the stars, and then retire to an old-fashioned log cabin. A working farm on the property supplies fresh veggies and herbs for evening barbecues.
- Why it’s a great gift: Guests can enjoy the outdoors with bonfires, hot-chocolate hayrides, and sledding during the winter months.
- Mountain trails lead past babbling creeks, through fall foliage, trout ponds, and fields of wildflowers. Explore them on foot or horseback.
- Hot tubs and wood-burning fireplaces add coziness to the cabins.
- Goats, sheep, and free-range chicken roam the farmland.
- Pan for gold: The resort’s gem mine contains rubies, sapphires, amethyst, and other stones.
- Game room with air hockey, ping-pong, billiards, and foosball
- Internet café with fresh espresso
- Distance from downtown Asheville: about 23 miles
Asheville, North Carolina: Artsy Town in the Blue Ridge Mountains
Tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is the largest city in the western half of North Carolina, with a population of roughly 85,000. Downtown is an eclectic mix of boutiques, eateries, and art galleries housed in buildings designed in art-deco, Beaux-Arts, and neoclassical styles. Asheville’s premier attraction is Biltmore, the largest residential home in the United States. You can take a self-guided tour of the 250-room chateau, which was built for steamboat-and-railroad tycoon George Vanderbilt in 1895. Be sure to visit the gardens designed by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted—they’re in full bloom in early spring.
While you’re in the area, you can take off on one of the most scenic drives in the country—the Blue Ridge Parkway, a 469-mile road through the mountains. If you want to stretch your legs, hike up to the panoramic lookout at Looking Glass Rock in Pisgah National Forest, or amble along a portion of the Appalachian Trail, which passes Asheville on its 2,180-mile journey from Mount Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in Georgia.