Chimney Rock Celebrates 100th on July 4th


 

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On July 4, 2016, Chimney Rock Park will celebrate both its 100th anniversary and the centennial of the North Carolina state parks.

As North Carolina was creating its first state park at Mt. Mitchell, three brothers were also dedicating their new park in Hickory Nut Gorge. On July 4, 1916, Chimney Rock was dedicated by Dr. Lucius B. Morse and the first American flag was raised on the Rock. This year, exactly 100 years later, a special ceremony will take place as the North Carolina state flag will join Old Glory on the top of the “Rock”. The flag dedication will begin at the 8:30 AM on the top parking lot near the base of the Chimney. State Park Superintendent James Ledgerwood, along with other speakers, will open the festivities with a short history of the Park followed by a hike up the Outcroppings trail to the Chimney. Once on the “Rock,” color guard will raise the North Carolina state flag under the American flag to signify that North Carolina State Parks is prepared to continue to protect the park and its natural resources for the next 100 years and beyond.

The band Vintage Vinyl will play their rendition of the National Anthem followed by a short patriotic concert. Park Rangers will share historical photos and articles about Chimney Rock and other state parks, including a display on the 1916 flood that washed out the original Park bridge soon after its dedication on July 4th. Guests will be able to continue their walk through history by a taking a self-guided hike along the Outcroppings trail where other historical photographs of the Park will be on display. A limited number of tickets will be available at the Ranger’s exhibit table for interested guests to take a Behind the Scenes tour of the elevator at different times during the day.

Around 6 PM, as the color guard retrieves the flags, guests can take part in a toast to the next 100 years. The two flags will be then be placed in the Park’s historical archives and saved for future generations.

Gates will open at 7:30 AM and, in the spirit of celebrating 100 years, admission fees will be waived for the first 100 cars that enter the Park before 8:30 AM.

The celebration will continue later in Chimney Rock Village. From 8:30 to 9:30 PM gather along the Rocky Broad River behind the Old Rock Café for free s’mores and campfire stories with the Park Superintendent.

Chimney Rock also joins nearby Pisgah National Forest and the National Park Service in celebrating their centennials this year. Chimney Rock State Park is located 25 miles southeast of Asheville on Highway 64/74A in Chimney Rock, N.C. It is recognized as one of the Southeast’s most iconic sites and popular travel destinations. The Park’s 535-million-year-old monolith called Chimney Rock can be accessed via a 499-step Outcroppings Trail and offers guests 75-mile panoramic views of Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure. The Park features one of the highest waterfalls of its kind east of the Mississippi River, Hickory Nut Falls, at 404 feet.  Hickory Nut Gorge, one of the state’s most significant centers of biodiversity, is home to 36 rare plant species and 14 rare animal species.

See our Chimney Rock Park Guide for more info for visiting any time of the year.

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Farmers Markets near Asheville


Find fresh farm bounty at markets through the Blue Ridge Mountains in and near Asheville, North Carolina. Tailgate tents are going up, and area farmers markets are opening outdoors for the season. Get a taste of what Appalachian Grown™ farms are growing. Produce offerings will differ from market to market based on the location of vendor farms—micro climates vary greatly in the region.

Thanks to ASAP (Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project) for this list for 2016 with opening days and weekly times.

Central Mountains Regional Tailgate Markets

  • Asheville City Market: April 2, Saturdays 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Asheville City Market – South: April 6, Wednesdays 12:00 – 4:00 pm
  • Black Mountain Tailgate Market: May 7, Saturdays 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • East Asheville Tailgate Market: May 6, Fridays 3:00 – 6:00 pm
  • French Broad Food Co-op Wednesday Tailgate Market: April 13, Wednesdays 2:00 – 6:00 pm
  • Leicester Farmers Market: April 2, Saturdays 9:00 am – 2:00 pm
  • Madison County Farmers & Artisans Market: April 2, Saturdays 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
  • North Asheville Tailgate Market: April 2, Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Oakley Farmers Market: May 5, Thursdays 3:30 – 6:30 pm
  • River Arts District Farmers Market: May 4, Wednesdays 2:00 – 6:00 pm
  • Sundays on the Island: April 9, Sundays 12:00 –
  • Weaverville Tailgate Market: April 13, Wednesdays 2:30 – 6:30 pm
  • West Asheville Tailgate Market: April 5, Wednesdays 3:30 – 6:30 pm
  • WNC Farmers Market: May 5, Open Everyday 8:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • Yancey County Farmers Market: April 16, Saturdays 8:30 am – 12:30 pm

Foothills Regional Tailgate Markets

  • Caldwell County Farmers Market: May 7, Saturdays 7:00 am – 1:00 pm
  • Hildebran Farmers Market: May 3, Tuesdays 8:00 am – 1:00 pm
  • Historic Marion Tailgate Market: May 3, Tuesdays 3:00 – 6:00 pm and Saturdays 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Lenoir Downtown Farmers Market: April 1, Wednesdays – Saturdays 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • Morganton Farmers Market: May 7, Wednesdays 2:00 – 6:00 pm and Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Rutherford County Farmers Market: April 30, Tuesdays and Saturdays 8:00 am – 1:00 pm, Thursdays 3:00 – 7:00 pm
  • Sawmills Farmers Market: May 3, Tuesdays 3:00 – 6:30 pm
  • Valdese Farmers Market: May 11, Wednesdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm and Fridays 2:00 – 6:00 pm

Southern Mountains Regional Tailgate Markets

  • Columbus Tailgate Market: April 9, Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Flat Rock Farmers Market: May 5, Thursdays 3:00 – 6:00 pm
  • Henderson County Curb Market: Year-round; Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays 8:00 am – 2:00 pm
  • Henderson County Tailgate Market: March 14, Saturdays 7:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Mills River Farmers Market: May 7, Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Saluda Tailgate Market: May 6, Fridays 4:30 – 6:30 pm
  • Transylvania Farmers’ Market: April 23, Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Tryon Tailgate Market: May 5, Thursdays 4:00 – 6:00 pm

Near West Regional Tailgate Markets

  • Cashiers Tailgate Market: June 1, Wednesdays 12:00 – 4:00 pm
  • Cowee Farmers Market: May 10, Tuesdays 3:30 – 6:30 pm
  • Franklin Farmers Tailgate Market: April 2, Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Haywood’s Historic Farmers Market: April 16, Wednesdays and Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Jackson County Farmers Market: April 2, Saturdays 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Original Waynesville Tailgate Market: May 14, Wednesdays and Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Swain County Farmers Market: May 6, Fridays 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
  • ‘Whee Market: April 5, Tuesdays 4:00 – 7:00 pm

Far West Regional Tailgate Markets

  • Andrews Farmers Market: June 4, Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Brasstown’s Farmers Market: May 25, Wednesdays 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
  • Cedar Valley Farmers Market: April 2, Saturdays 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
  • Graham County Farmers Market: July 9, Saturdays 8:30 am – 12:00 pm
  • Hayesville Evening Market: May 5, Thursdays 4:00 – 7:00 pm
  • Mountain Valley Farmers Market: May 7, Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm

High Country Regional Tailgate Markets

  • Alleghany County Farmers’ Market: May 2, Tuesdays 4:00 – 6:00 pm and Saturdays 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Ashe County Farmers Market: April 16, Wednesdays and Saturdays 8:00 am – 1:00 pm
  • Avery County Farmers Market: April 21, Thursdays 4:30 – 7:00 pm
  • Bakersville Farmers Market: March 26, Saturdays 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Blowing Rock Farmers Market: May 26, Thursdays 4:00 – 6:00 pm
  • Spruce Pine Farmers Market: May 4, Wednesdays 2:00 – 5:00 pm

Read more about Farmers Markets in the Asheville area.

20 Must See Waterfalls near Asheville NC


Graveyard Fields

The Asheville area of the North Carolina mountains is home to hundreds of waterfalls, many of which are easily accessible and offer beautiful sights year-round. Enjoy cascades framed by colorful foliage in the fall, wade in cool base pools during spring and summer months, and drink in unobstructed views of often-hidden areas of the falls in the winter.

The online travel vacation guide RomanticAsheville.com Travel Guide recommends 20 waterfalls to enjoy in the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains:

High Falls & Triple Falls
A three-mile easy hike takes you to the base of three waterfalls in DuPont State Forest. High Falls is a powerful 150-foot drop and Triple Falls was a film location for The Hunger Games. Nearby is Hooker Falls.

Looking Glass Falls
You don’t have to get out of your car to see this 60-foot waterfall, located on the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway between Brevard and Blue Ridge Parkway.

Linville Falls
The most photographed waterfall in North Carolina is on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Take a moderate 1.6-mile hike with four overlooks to enjoy a variety of views of the falls and Linville Gorge.

Dry Falls
Located near Highlands, this 75-foot waterfall allows the rare treat of walking safely behind it. Nearby, drive behind Bridal Veil Falls.

Sliding Rock
In the summer months, cool off as you slide down this 60-foot cascade in the Pisgah National Forest, near Looking Glass Falls. During cooler weather, enjoy the setting from viewing decks.

Graveyard Fields
The highland meadow on the Blue Ridge Parkway features trails to two waterfalls. Second Falls is just 1/3 of a mile from the parking area.

Rainbow Falls
This 150-foot waterfall in the Nantahala National Forest is accessed by a hiking trail in Gorges State Park. Slide and swim at nearby Turtleback Falls.

Crabtree Falls
This beautiful 70-foot waterfall, near Linville Falls, is along a 2.5-mile loop woodland hiking trail from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Upper Whitewater Falls
The upper section of the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi plunges 411 feet and is easily viewed via a short paved trail.

Skinny Dip Falls
This refreshing swimming hole on the Blue Ridge Parkway has several cascades, perfect for a hot summer day dip. And it’s a beautiful setting to enjoy any time of the year.

Pearson’s Falls
This 90-foot waterfall in a beautiful glen is located between Saluda and Tryon. It’s a must stop if you are driving on I-26 to/from South Carolina.

Soco Falls
This spectacular twin waterfall is easy to miss. Located along busy Highway 19 between Maggie Valley and Cherokee, there are no signs for the small parking area. A short walk takes you to an observation deck.

Deep Creek Waterfalls
See three waterfalls (Tom Branch Falls, Indian Creek Falls and Juney Whank Falls) in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with a beautiful hike near Bryson City.

Mingo Falls
Located near Cherokee in the Great Smoky Mountains, this 200-foot waterfall is a short walk from the parking area.

Hickory Nut Falls
This 404-foot waterfall in Chimney Rock Park was featured in the movie The Last of the Mohicans. Take the easy hiking trail to its base.

Catawba Falls
Just three miles from I-40 near Old Fort, hike 1.5 miles to the lower falls, a 100-foot cascade with best views in the winter since leaves hide the top of the falls.

To find even more in the North Carolina mountains, see the Top 60 Waterfalls near Asheville.

Burly Beers and Barleywines Festival comes to Asheville March 28th


Sierra NevadaThe North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild (NCCBG) is partnering with Sierra Nevada Brewing near Asheville to present the first ever Burly Beers and Barleywines Festival to celebrate the bold, malt-forward beers common in the cooler months. They’ve invited more than 50 breweries from across the country to gather at Sierra Nevada’s brewery in Mills River (south of Asheville) on Saturday, March 28, to pour a selection of their heartiest beers that will include at least one of the following: Barleywine, Stout or Imperial Stout, Barrel-aged beer or Spiced beer. 

The beer festival will be held 12 Noon until 4 PM with plenty of rare beer, live music and food. Featured breweries at the festival include Allagash Brewing Company-Portland, ME; Ballast Point Ales and Spirits-San Diego, CA; Boulevard Brewing Company-St. Louis, MO; Calfkiller Brewing Co.-Sparta, TN; Dogfish Head Craft Brewery-Milton, DE; The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery-Farmville, NC; Epic Brewing Company-Denver, CO; The Florida Brewing Company-Cape Canaveral, FL; Flying Dog Brewery-Frederick, MD; Fullsteam Brewery-Durham, NC; Great Divide Brewing Company-Denver, CO; Highland Brewing Company-Asheville, NC; New Belgium Brewing Company-Fort Collins, CO/Asheville, NC; North Coast Brewing Company-Fort Bragg, CA; Oskar Blues Brewing Company-Longmont, CA/Brevard, NC;  Red Brick Brewing Company-Atlanta, GA;  Ska Brewing Company-Durango, CO;  Sweetwater Brewing Company-Atlanta, GA; Thomas Creek Brewery-Greenville, NC; Wicked Weed Brewing-Asheville, NC; Wild Heaven Craft Beers-Decatur, GA; Wrecking Ball Brewpub-Atlanta, GA.

Festival tickets ($65 general admission. $30 designated driver) on sale now include a commemorative tasting glass, unlimited tasting pours, live music and food provided by the Sierra Nevada Taproom and Restaurant. All ticket proceeds benefit the NCCBG, a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to promote the interests of the craft breweries of North Carolina and to promote North Carolina craft beer. 

“You can always cut the chill of winter with a big beer, and the options from American craft brewers are endless,” said Brian Grossman, second-generation brewer and co-manager of Sierra Nevada’s Mills River brewery. “Here in North Carolina, winters are a little longer and a little colder than we were used to in California, so we’re breaking out the Barleywines to celebrate that. We’re excited to see what our brewing friends bring for beer fans—what new twists they’ll use to give their brawny releases an extra edge.”

The North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild is a not-for-profit member organization whose mission is to advance the interests of the craft breweries of North Carolina and to promote North Carolina craft beer. North Carolina boasts the largest number of craft breweries in the American South, with more than 125 breweries and brewpubs. According to Margo Knight Metzger, executive director of NCCBG, “It’s going to be a stellar kickoff to NC Beer Month in April which celebrates our state’s burgeoning craft beer industry with special events and unique brews.”

Founded in 1980, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is one of America’s premier craft breweries, highly regarded for using only the finest quality ingredients. The pioneering spirit that launched Sierra Nevada now spans both coasts with breweries in Chico, California and Mills River, North Carolina at 100 Sierra Nevada Way.

Read more about Asheville Beer & Craft Breweries.

Asheville Top 20 Things to Do in 2015


Blue Ridge Parkway NCAccording to the two million readers of RomanticAsheville.com Travel Guide during 2014, here are the Top 20 Things to Do and See during romantic getaways and family vacations to Asheville and the western North Carolina mountains as you plan for 2015:

  1. Blue Ridge Parkway: Unwind on “America’s Favorite Drive” and escape from your busy lives. Slow down to enjoy a leisurely drive with many scenic overlooks and attractions along the way. Hike, picnic, camp and meander without a schedule to keep!
  2. Waterfalls: Find cascades of all sizes from a never-ending list in the “land of the waterfalls.” Of the hundreds of waterfalls near Asheville, most are within state and federal parks with no admission fee. See our Top 60 waterfalls with guides for each.
  3. Hiking: Take a hike to fully appreciate the outdoor splendor. There’s a trail for all fitness levels, ranging from multi-day treks on the Appalachian Trail to short strolls in Nantahala National Forest. See our Top 60 hikes with detailed directions.
  4. Fall Color: Hunting autumn colors is definitely the favorite time of year for many visitors. With a leaf season that lasts 4-5 weeks, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy.
  5. Biltmore: Exploring America’s largest castle and most-visited winery, along with grand gardens, is a fairytale outing for sure. It’s the perfect spot to experience the “Downton Abbey” lifestyle, especially with the Dressing Downton costume exhibit that runs February 5 through May 25!
  6. Events: Attend a street festival, concert, play, art tour and other events. Check out our seasonal calendars for our favorites. Most are free.
  7. Downtown Asheville: Browse 200+ local stores, boutiques and art galleries, while enjoying the street performers, drum circle, and plenty of local food and brews. And don’t forget the many charming small towns nearby.
  8. Accommodations: Stay in an elegant bed and breakfast, hip hotel or secluded log cabin, providing the perfect romantic getaway with options for all tastes and budgets.
  9. Restaurants: Tasting your way through our booming culinary scene will keep you busy for weeks with many farm-to-table restaurants with local food and world-class chefs. See our Foodie Favorites guide to get your started.
  10. Sliding Rock: Gliding down this natural waterslide in Pisgah National Forest has been the favorite summer pastime for generations.
  11. DuPont State Forest: Hike, bike or ride a horse to beautiful waterfalls and mountaintops with panoramic views.
  12. Beer: Sample the local brews at dozens of craft breweries in Asheville and western North Carolina. Tour the new Sierra Nevada Brewery.
  13. Mt Mitchell: Drive to the top of the highest mountain in the eastern United States. See the views from the observation deck and walk through Alpine forests.
  14. Great Smoky Mountains: Discover this International Biosphere Reserve, home to rugged mountains, historic buildings, trails and 100,000 different types of plants and animals.
  15. Weddings: Get married and bring your friends and family for a memorable vacation. Destination weddings are booming in Asheville, and we have some amazing venues.
  16. Zip Lines & Whitewater Rafting: Fly through the trees in the morning and raft down river rapids in the afternoon.
  17. Chimney Rock Park: Ride the elevator through the famous rock formation to the top for spectacular views of the Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure. Plus, hike to a 400-foot waterfall.
  18. Art: Get up close to artists and their work. Hundreds of galleries and artist studios feature many art festivals, shows and tours. Take a hands-on class in the River Arts District.
  19. Spa: Pamper yourself with a soak in natural hot springs or a massage in a tranquil setting.
  20. Great Smoky Mountain Railroad: All aboard for a scenic train excursion in the Smokies. Their Polar Express train during the Christmas season is their most popular ride.

For more information on all of these things to do, go to the 650-page online Asheville travel guide at www.RomanticAsheville.com.

Asheville Happy Holidays Happenings


Downtown Asheville Christmas

Christmas Tree in downtown Asheville

This holiday season in Asheville, North Carolina, and the surrounding mountains will be busier and more festive than ever. Here are the Top Holiday Getaway ideas for things to do and events featured on our RomanticAsheville.com Travel Guide:

Christmas at Biltmore: Asheville’s biggest holiday event starts on November 7, America’s largest home is decked out in festive finery with 60+ trees and miles of garland. Candlelight Evenings are especially magical with live music. See the decorations through January 11.

Downtown Asheville: Make shopping more fun and relaxing while finding truly special gifts. Browse 200+ local shops and 30 art galleries. For a break, stop at one of the 50 restaurants or many coffee shops. And finish your day at a craft brewery or a wine bar!

Gingerbread Houses: For a real treat, see the amazing display of gingerbread houses from the National Gingerbread House Competition at the legendary Omni Grove Park Inn on November 19-January 1.

Polar Express: Ride the magical train to the North Pole with fun for all ages. The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad conducts excursions on November 7-January 5, departing the depot at Bryson City.

Winter Lights: A new event for 2014 at the North Carolina Arboretum features a first-ever light display that transforms their gardens into a nighttime wonderland. It runs November 22-January 4 and advance reservations are required.

Comedy Tours: LaZoom’s holiday tours on their purple buses take you around Asheville with fun all the way.

Biltmore Village: Located across from the entrance to Biltmore, the Village is home to more than 40 boutiques. The area also has the best antique shops too! Visit the first weekend of December for Dickens in the Village.

Art: Asheville is a mecca for artists, so this is the place to find one-of-a-kind gifts. In addition to the galleries downtown and Biltmore Village, head to the Folk Art Center and the River Arts District.

Hikes & Waterfalls: For the best views of the year, take a winter hike to a mountaintop or a waterfall. With leafless trees, cool temperatures, less crowds and frequent bright blue skies, it may become your favorite time of the year to hit the trail.

Pick Your Tree: Visit a Christmas tree farm and choose-and-cut the perfect tree for your home. It’s a great holiday tradition for many.

Holiday Packages: Take advantage of a special or overnight package at elegant bed and breakfast inns, cabin rentals and hotels.

For more holiday things to do and a calendar of our favorite events, go to www.romanticasheville.com/holidays.htm.

Top 20 Places for Fall Color near Asheville


Fall Mt. MitchellBeautiful fall mountain scenery abounds in North Carolina in October. The fall color season is a long one with the 5,000-foot elevation range in the Asheville area. In fact,  the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains have one of the longest-running fall leaf shows in the USA. Here are our top places to go and things to do to enjoy the colors. For more information on these and more things to do, go to RomanticAsheville.com Travel Guide.

  1. See the first autumn colors the first week of October on Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak in eastern America, with panoramic mountain views from the observation deck. Colorful views into the valleys from the top extend into mid October. Take a jacket! It’s always cooler on the summit and there is often snow there by late October.
  2. The other spot for early fall color is Grandfather Mountain and the Rough Ridge hiking trail on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
  3. Cruise the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of top scenic drives in the United States. Stop at many overlooks, have a picnic and take a hike. The best color varies with elevation throughout the month. So if you don’t immediately see color, keep driving!
  4. Watch the sunrise from atop Craggy Pinnacle at Craggy Gardens.
  5. Drive the Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway from Brevard to the Blue Ridge Parkway in mid-October with great stops such as Looking Glass Falls and hikes to many other waterfalls in the Pisgah National Forest.
  6. Stop at Graveyard Fields along the Blue Ridge Parkway the second week of October for the some of the most brilliant color in the mountains. Relax by the waterfall or walk through the mile-high valley.
  7. Near Graveyard Fields on the Parkway, walk across mountain balds at Black Balsam Knob for endless views.
  8. Drive US Highway 64 from Brevard to Highlands. Stop to walk behind Dry Falls and drive behind Bridal Veil Falls.
  9. Watch the Shadow of the Bear immerge from behind Whiteside Mountain near Cashiers just before sunset.
  10. Capture the most photographed waterfall in North Carolina, Linville Falls, surrounded by fall color in mid October.
  11. Speaking of Linville Gorge, see stunning views of the canyon with easy hikes to the top of Table Rock and Hawksbill Mountain in Pisgah National Forest.
  12. Watch elk graze in the Cataloochee Valley in the Great Smoky Mountains as the male elk make their legendary mating bugling calls, walk woodland trails and explore historic buildings.
  13. Also in the Great Smoky Mountains, enjoy views from Newfound Gap gap road and hike on the Appalachian Trail to Charlies Bunion for spectacular views.
  14. Raft down the Nantahala River or French Broad River in early October for warmer temperatures!
  15. Take a zip line canopy tour through the colorful woodlands throughout October.
  16. Ride the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad along Fontana Lake and Nantahala River on a train excursion.
  17. Take a short hike in DuPont State Forest to see three waterfalls, or hike to Cedar Rock for mountain views in late October.
  18. Explore the 8,000-acre Biltmore Estate by foot, bike, car, river raft, horse or Segway. See colorful fall gardens, mountain views and colorful forests.
  19. Stroll through the gardens and see the tiniest fall color show with their bonsai collection.
  20. Ride the elevator or hike to the famous Chimney Rock with 75-mile views across Lake Lure. The peak fall color show there extends into early November.

For more details on these and the latest fall foliage week-by-week forecast for western North Carolina, events and festivals and many photos, visit the free 600-page online travel guide at www.romanticasheville.com/fall.htm.