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  • Kathie Scalf

Perfect Fall Getaway


After 7 long years I’ve finally penciled in a proper vacation for the end of October. While I’ve been blessed to take some trips here and there, nothing has lasted longer than a long weekend and it’s definitely starting to show. While I’m taking an entire week away from work, I’m splitting it up half at home and half away, because when you spend as much time on the road and in hotels as I do, nothing feels more like a vacation than your own bed. With that being said, for the “away” portion of my trip, I’ve booked the ultimate autumnal getaway and I couldn’t be more excited. And the best part is that it’s only about an hour from the Tri in North Carolina! So I’m sharing my itinerary with you all in case you also need a relaxing stay amongst the leaves. The little mountain villages nestled between the peaks and valleys of the western North Carolina Appalachians are some of my favorite places on Earth. Blowing Rock, Boone, Linville, and Banner Elk in particular are always full of year-round fun, but during fall they really show their colors.

I began planning my trip by picking the perfect date. Based on prior experience and scheduling conflicts, I chose the 3rd weekend in October, as the leaves really seem to peak around weeks 2 and 3 of the month. Any later and you miss them, any earlier and it’s still summertime. While most people choose to do a 3 night stay over the weekend, I opted to shift mine Sunday-Wednesday, giving myself more options for lodging at drastically reduced prices. The only downside to this decision is that some restaurants close early in the week so be sure to check hours of operation at all destinations you’re wanting to take in.

Once I landed on the date, I pondered on my accommodations. Did I want to stay at a condo atop Sugar Mountain with all the amenities of a hotel? Did I want to try a rustic “glamping” adventure in a yurt or RV? I opted instead for a rustic stone cabin in the woods, complete with a hot tub and fireplace for total relaxation and privacy. I chose to stay in Banner Elk because that is the headquarters for all the dining options I want to see, but all these little towns are so close together it’s not going to make that much of a difference.

After securing my lodging my mind shifted to my favorite activities-food and drink. There are 5 unique and beautiful wineries in this area and any one of them are the perfect place to spend an afternoon taking in live music and sipping/strolling your way through the vines. With my 3p check-in and an early evening dinner reservation in Banner Elk, I’m going to head up around 1p on Sunday to Banner Elk Winery and relax with a glass of vino and locally made Trosly Farms chocolates. It will be a short trip to the cabin to check in and freshen up before I settle in at the Chef’s Table at Sorrento’s for a multi-course feast that will begin with cocktails and amuse-bouche and end in flames with their rolling flambe station. The in-between will be filled with perfectly paired entrees and wines selected from their seasonally changing menu. If I’m not in a full-blown diabetic coma, I hope to end the night snuggled up in front of a roaring fire and preparing for a good night’s sleep.

With all the delicious food and beverage in the area, it’s a good thing there’s no shortage of outdoor activities to burn off the sins of Sunday night’s meal. After taking in my hot coffee on the chilly balcony, I want to get an early start with a hike on Grandfather Mountain across the Mile High Swinging Bridge. Since it’s so close by, it only makes sense to pop in Grandfather Mountain Winery afterward to calm my nerves and try their newest vintages of locally produced grapes. Monday will be the perfect night to stay in, with most restaurants being closed for the evening. I want to grab a few groceries and whip up something hearty and delicious for dinner, followed by reading a good book and soothing my hiking legs in the hot tub until bedtime.

Tuesday is probably the day I’m most excited for, as I managed to snag a sunset reservation at Artisnal, a seasonal restaurant I’ve been dying to try for 2 years. Between their limited hours and constant full bookings, I’ve never managed to secure a seat at this 3-course, prix fixe, wine cellared spectacular. But all that will soon be changing and I cannot wait! But before I send myself off with the Last Supper of vacation, I have the whole day to spend however I want. I absolutely adore Blowing Rock, and in autumn it’s like something out of a Hallmark film. All the streets are lined with mums and gourds of all shapes, colors and sizes, and due to the high elevation, there’s typically a thin layer of fog lingering over the city, which gives it the perfect spooky Halloween vibe. There’s numerous shops and restaurants, but a must-see for me is always grabbing a pint and a nibble at Blowing Rock Ale House. This local taphouse has one unique feature-it also doubles as a bed & breakfast! So if you prefer the charm of a b&b, you could definitely book a stay in one of their quaint cozy rooms and be mere steps away from tasty brews and delicious food 24/7.

Wednesday I check out of my cabin, but since I’m off the rest of the week I’m in no rush. I want to wind my way back down the mountain with a drive around the Blue Ridge Parkway and get as many photos I can of the beautiful fall foliage. Be prepared for hundreds of leaf-lookers to be doing the same, and while the traffic can get a little congested, it’s worth it for the breathtaking 360 degree views of fall’s last hurrah.

While this itinerary is all subject to change, except the reservations, I intend to keep a laid-back attitude and go with the flow, come what may. No matter the weather or circumstances, I am so elated to just enjoy some peace and quiet in a part of the country where there is no cell service. I hope my plans have been enough to inspire you to do the same, if only for a bit! We live in such a beautiful part of the world, it’d be a shame to miss autumn at its absolute best!



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