Blowing Rock: Romantic Mountain Getaway
Romantic mountain getaway.
By Amanda Lugenbell + Photos by Todd Bush Todd Bush Photography, www.bushphoto.com
Blowing Rock is a village in western North Carolina on scenic Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s named after The Blowing Rock, a formation with sweeping views of peaks, forests and the Johns River Gorge.
Located on the Blue Ridge Parkway and nestled along ridges against the Pisgah National Forest, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, is a Rockwell-esque town with rugged nature in its backyard. Offering the feeling of seclusion without isolation and the quality of being old-fashioned but not outdated, the town has an individual charm. Long cherished as an escape from the summer heat of the lowlands, the town has been welcoming visitors since its incorporation, growing to feature dozens of distinctive local shops, galleries, restaurants and inns. Now, year-round events entertain and delight, many of them part of long-standing traditions. All of this, plus a laid-back mountain attitude, make Blowing Rock a pretty little town worth noting. The “village” has been featured by Travel & Leisure among a dozen “Prettiest Winter Towns in America,” which followed behind a summertime granting of the title “Prettiest Small Town in North Carolina” by a group of southeastern travel writers. The town is appealing in any season, to be sure, but it’s also close to a wide array of attractions and activities from National Parks to fine dining, climbing to fishing. Whether you prefer the adrenaline rush of mountain adventures or the slow pace of relaxation (or both), Blowing Rock is an ideal hub for a mountain getaway.
What to Do:
Visit an iconic NC attraction
The Blue Ridge Parkway is, rightfully, at the top of everyone’s to-do list when they visit the High Country. But did you know that Blowing Rock is also home to North Carolina’s oldest travel attraction and its first theme park? The town is named for The Blowing Rock, a unique rock formation jutting over broad forests far below; it’s been a landmark destination since 1933. The Blowing Rock is the site of an old romantic legend and home to near-constant winds, where even the snow blows upside down. Tweetsie Railroad, celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, is a rip-roaring Wild West theme park featuring the historic steam engine No. 12 that once ran the commercial rails in Western N.C. Enjoy trips on the train and other classic amusement rides, themed performances, gem mining, and even a small zoo. Special guests and events fill the calendar, too, from the Grammy-award winning Riders In The Sky to the Railroad Heritage Weekend.
Hit the Trails
Blowing Rock is surrounded by natural beauty, and there is a huge network of nearby trails that provide up-close access. If you are looking for relaxing leg-stretchers, try one of the loops or byways within the 26 miles of carriage trails at Moses Cone Memorial Park, just a stone’s throw from downtown. The Blue Ridge Parkway features more paths to explore, like the Boone Fork and Tanawha trails, which offer glimpses of a wide variety of mountain streams, coves, glens, and vistas. Up for a real challenge? Take on the Grandfather Trail on Grandfather Mountain. This ridge-and-peaks trail is a rugged path that features a series of ladders for access. There’s even a trail right off Main Street in Blowing Rock — the Glen Burney Trail follows the path of New Year’s Creek, ending at a picturesque waterfall.
Where to Eat:
This casual restaurant quickly became a local favorite with its welcoming space and eclectic menu. With everything from tasty turkey sandwiches to delectable mountain trout, the place is a crowd pleaser. Each dish has a special twist that makes it uniquely Foggy Rock cuisine, thanks to the creativity of chef/owner Burt Myers. The bar always features an excellent selection of craft and regional beers, too.
Blowing Rock Ale House & Inn
Speaking of craft beers, Blowing Rock Brewing’s Ale House is located right in the heart of town and features delicious pints of their small-batch creations alongside locally-sourced food. The menu is often different from visit to visit as ingredients become seasonally available. The grilled flatbreads are delicious and the bison burger with the stout glaze is perfectly indulgent. Dine inside by the tasting bar in the cozy house-turned-inn, or on the patio or front lawn. On Saturdays, enjoy brewery tours right behind the inn.
Restaurant at Gideon Ridge
Gideon Ridge Inn overlooks the John’s River Gorge, a sweeping vista dominated by the Pisgah National Forest. Built of stone and surrounded by gardens, the gently sprawling inn looks smaller from the outside, creating an intimate impression from the first glance. That intimacy extends to meals at the Restaurant as well: limited, reservation-only affairs. The menu is not large but you’ll find nothing lacking, with selection of excellently prepared dishes that change to reflect the seasons. The wine list is extensive, with a wide array of vintages to complement the special dining experience.
Where to Stay:
The name means “Haven of Rest,” and that’s what one finds at Chetola Resort. Located within town limits, it’s close to everything while feeling miles away. Enjoy a relaxing day at the on-site spa, take in a meal with serene lake view, and listen to live musical guests. The resort is great for the whole family and even has programming for the kids. Lodging options include well-appointed lodge rooms, luxurious bed-&-breakfast rooms at the Bob Timberlake Inn, and condominium rentals.
Green Park Inn
This Victorian gem is a historical treasure and a charming step back in time. The Green Park Inn was one of the first inns built in Blowing Rock, and once even had its own post office. The restored property features a beautiful, high-ceilinged lobby and seating areas, a regular music schedule, plus an on-site restaurant and separate tavern, encouraging guests to mingle and stay a while. When you decide to get out and about, the hotel is convenient to everything in the area.
Mountainaire Inn & Log Cabins
Located right on Main Street, Mountainaire Inn & Log Cabins is a perfect location for enjoying downtown Blowing Rock. The inn is full of personal touches and charm, the rooms are comfortable, and the owners are friendly, welcoming guests personally on most days. The firepit on the lawn feels like a backyard feature, and often guests will gather there like neighbors. There are several cabins with porches tucked into a shady garden beside the inn, where couples and families can enjoy a little rustic getaway right in the heart of downtown.