Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville, NCIf you do your research, it does seem that life is but a dream in Asheville. Located on the French Broad River, with the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains as a backdrop, the climate is mild year-round, with ideal weather for participating in a variety of outdoor sports. Most important is the vibrant city itself, which has something for everyone.

The largest city in western North Carolina, Asheville offers an outstanding quality of life. Whether you enjoy outdoor activities or cultural events, you will find that there is no shortage of things to do in and around the city. The downtown area features art deco architecture, which houses an eclectic variety of restaurants and boutiques. Also downtown is Pack Place, western North Carolina’s center for education, arts and science. There you’ll find the Asheville Art Museum, Colburn Gem and Mineral Museum, The Health Adventure and the Diana Wortham Theatre.

Outdoors, the “Land of the Sky” beckons nearly everyone. The Blue Ridge Parkway is the nation’s most popular scenic highway, and statistics show that more motorists enter the highway at this point than anywhere else along its 470-mile length. It’s a great vantage point for leaf-watching in the fall and enjoying the colorful blooms of spring.

…Outdoors, the “Land of the Sky” beckons nearly everyone. The Blue Ridge Parkway is the nation’s most popular scenic highway…

Just a few miles outside of town, Mount Mitchell is the highest point east of the Mississippi River, at 6,684 feet. South of Asheville, in the Pisgah National Forest, is a national historic site known as the Cradle of Forestry.

George Vanderbilt was drawn to the North Carolina mountains and built the largest private residence in America in Asheville. Completed in 1895, the mansion boasts 250 rooms and is modeled after a 16th century French chateaux. Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park in New York City, landscaped Biltmore Estate, which welcomes thousands of visitors each year to enjoy its extravagant house and lush gardens.

Blowing Rock, North Carolina

Blowing Rock, NCIn the mid-1700s, a pair of feuding Indians tribes, the Cherokee and the Catawba, called this part of the High Country home. Two young lovers, one from each tribe, were near the Rock one day when the brave realized it was time to return to his tribe. The Indian maiden begged him to stay with her, and, unable to choose between his tribal duties and his love, he leaped into the gorge far below. Distraught, the maiden beseeched the Great Spirit to return her lover. In answer to her fervent prayer, the strong winds of the John’s River Gorge blew him back to her.

This romantic legend is just part of Blowing Rock’s charm. A village of fewer than 1,500, the summer population swells to around 8,000 people. Astride the Eastern Continental Divide, 4,000 feet above sea level, Blowing Rock sees a bit of snow during the winter months, but its climate is generally quite pleasant and conducive to a variety of outdoor activities.

“A village of fewer than 1,500, the summer population swells to around 8,000 people.”

The Blue Ridge Parkway is easy to reach from Blowing Rock, offering an opportunity to drive on the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, surrounded by magical vistas and views that stretch for miles. Hiking trails abound throughout the area, including the easy one that winds around the lake in Moses Cone Park and the tougher climb around the Linn Cove Viaduct. Grandfather Mountain, which, according to some, is the world’s oldest mountain, is just a short drive away.

If hiking through shops is more your style, Blowing Rock’s short but picturesque Main Street has a variety of antique stores and boutiques, and many offer crafts by local artisans. Be sure to stop at the unique Dulcimer Shop or the Mast General Store. And, for serious bargain hunters, Blowing Rock features a small outlet mall.

With all that hiking and shopping, you’ll no doubt be ready for a great meal, and you will not be disappointed. You’ll find mountain basics including barbecue and ham biscuits, but Blowing Rock also serves up a full menu of excellent dining experiences at places such as Crippen’s Restaurant, which has received many accolades, and The Speckled Trout, which, of course, specializes in rainbow trout.

The legend of the Blowing Rock continues today but in a slightly different way. Once you’ve been to Blowing Rock, you’ll be back. Perhaps to stay.

Cashiers, North Carolina

Cashiers, NCCashiers is a tiny village of fewer than 200 people situated high in the mountains of Southwestern North Carolina. Near the Tennessee border, Cashiers-pronounced “cashers” by the locals-is often thought of in conjunction with its sister community of Highlands, a much larger town of nearly 2,000 that swells to as much as 25,000 in the summer, as visitors settle in to enjoy the cooler temperatures to be found at 3,500 feet.

Surrounded by 28,000 acres of national forest and offering amazing views at every turn, Cashiers has enjoyed a long history as a resort area. According to local legend, in 1879,
developers Samuel Kelsey and Clinton Hutchinson drew two lines on a map, one connecting New York to New Orleans and the other Chicago to Savannah. Kelsey and Hutchinson believed that the intersection of those two lines would be the ideal location for a vacation town. That spot was Highlands, just down the road from Cashiers.

While Cashiers offers spectacular mountain views, a comfortable climate, boutique-type shopping and excellent dining options, there is one more irresistible draw. This village is set in the middle of waterfall country. It is surrounded by a dozen scenic waterfalls, including Whitewater Falls, the tallest in Eastern America. Whitewater has a drop of 411 feet, 244 feet more than Niagara Falls. Many of these falls are easily accessible, although some require a bit of a hike.

Other outdoor activities include fishing for rainbow, brown and brook trout, looking for wildflowers and hiking the area’s many trails. If that’s too strenuous, there is always Catching the sunset from a rocker.


It is surrounded by a dozen scenic waterfalls, including Whitewater Falls, the tallest in Eastern America.

Cashiers continues to draw crowds year-round, many who stay at the High Hampton Inn and Country Club. Originally the hunting lodge of Civil War General Wade Hampton, it changed hands in the early 1920s. E.L. McKee, an industrialist and businessman from the Sylva area, purchased the property, building a two-story inn, golf course and tennis courts. Today, Cashiers continues to thrive, both as a vacation destination and a retirement haven.

If your dream retirement place is free of crowds, traffic, malls and neon lights, Cashiers is a natural choice.

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Chapel Hill was created primarily around and to serve the University of North Carolina, the oldest state-supported university in the United States. Today, it remains a diverse university town with a varied population ranging from university students, faculty and staff to retirees from all over. Although nicknamed the Southern Part of Heaven, the real name derives from the Church of England New Hope Chapel. It was first given the name of New Hope Chapel Hill but was later shortened. The Church stood in the 1700s where the Carolina Inn stands today.

"Sports Illustrated gave Chapel Hill the title of the Best College Town in America, and the people of Chapel Hill applaud the truth of that statement."

Since the University of Chapel Hill influences most of the residents’ lives, education has become a top priority. As a result, Chapel Hill is widely recognized for the quality of its public school system. Not only is education key in the lives of the town residents, but art and music enrich their lives as well. A European art collection of more than 15,000 objects accents the Ackland Art Museum.

In addition, Chapel Hill offers a vibrant music scene. In fact, many music artists’ careers began there. Tar Heel sports are also major events for Chapel Hill. More than 26 sports teams are housed under the roofs of Carmichael Auditorium and the Dean E. Smith Center complexes. To prove their support for Tar Heel sports, one fire engine from each fire station in Chapel Hill is painted Carolina Blue instead of the traditional fire engine red.Chapel Hill, NC

Those who love the outdoors and nature can slow down and relax in one of the many gardens or parks that add to Chapel Hill’s serene mood. A stroll down Franklin Street, named for Benjamin Franklin, can be quite an exciting experience. The heart of the town, Franklin Street is lined with more than 300 businesses. While downtown, take a few moments to enjoy a cup of coffee from one of the oldest original restaurants in the area, Franklin Street’s Carolina Coffee Shop, which began life in 1922 as the Carolina Confectionary.

Sports Illustrated gave Chapel Hill the title of the Best College Town in America, and the people of Chapel Hill applaud the truth of that statement. The college town gives off thrilling excitement as well as an excellent place for families to live and play.

Franklin, North Carolina

Franklin, NCFranklin is literally a gem of a town. Franklin is the Gem Capital of the World thanks to an abundance of gems and minerals. Rock hunters flock to Franklin by the thousands to the Cowee valley in hopes of finding a valuable gemstone. And find them they do; the Cowee valley and surrounding mines are rich in rubies, sapphires and garnets.

Naturally, you’d expect to a Gem and Mineral Society in town and you would not be disappointed. The Society runs a museum in an old jailhouse featuring gems along with Indian artifacts. The Macon County Gemboree has been around for more than 40 years and is so popular that it now takes place three times a year.

Franklin’s treasures extend beyond gemstones. Located in the pristine mountains of western North Carolina, the town is surrounded by 16 waterfalls. Not to be missed are Dry Falls, which are anything but dry, but walk under the 75-foot falls anyway. Some falls are easily accessed while others involve a hike; if you’re up to it, you won’t be disappointed. The road is steep and winding in places but the reward is the breathtaking panorama of the ancient mountains.

“Franklin is the Gem Capital of the World thanks to an abundance of gems and minerals. Rock hunters flock to Franklin by the thousands to the Cowee valley in hopes of finding a valuable gemstone.”

The area around Franklin offers many opportunities for hikers. Some are short and not too taxing but there are longer, more strenuous trails for serious hikers. And, of course, the grandest of all, the Appalachian Trail passes within a few miles of Franklin.

Cycling – both motorized and pedal-powered – is a popular pastime and the roads are both challenging and rewarding for experienced riders.

Visitors preferring more sedate activities will find those in Franklin. A host of shopping possibilities are available, including quite a few gem shops. And after a long day of shopping or hiking, there are many dining options, from fast food to barbecue to fine dining.

The residents of Franklin treasure their town and it is easy to see why visitors consider making a permanent move to this gem in the North Carolina mountains.

Goldsboro, North Carolina

Goldsboro, NCIf you visit Goldsboro, be sure to bring your appetite and prepare to enjoy a taste of the town. Though Goldsboro offers a wide variety of dining options, the city claims to be the Barbecue Capital of the World. Be prepared to try Wayne County’s style of barbecue, which is vinegar-based and spiced with cayenne. It’s so good homesick Tarheel natives have it shipped to them when the craving for home town cooking hits.

After you’ve had your fill of Eastern Carolina barbecue, enjoy a taste of Goldsboro’s history. Like many North Carolina towns, Goldsboro thrived during the heyday of the train when the world’s longest railroad ran through town. Thanks to the rail connection, Goldsboro played an important part in the Civil War and was the site of the Battle of Goldsborough Bridge, when Union General John Foster destroyed the bridge and miles of track during a raid. Confederate losses were high.

Numerous historic markers identify places of interest and battlefields throughout the city. Some places you’ll want to visit include the Goldsboro Union Station, the Waynesborough Historical Village and the Cherry Hospital Museum. Of particular interest is the Willow Dale Cemetery, where an 1883 Confederate monument commemorates the mass grave of grave of approximately 800 rebel soldiers.

Agri-tourism is an important part of Goldsboro’s economy. There are more than a dozen interesting places to visit, including two wineries, a shrimp farm, a beekeeping operation and several farms offering seasonal crops.

Goldsboro offers many recreational opportunities, including athletic facilities for a variety of spots, parks and several golf courses. Hiking is a popular way to explore Goldsboro and its surrounding area. The North Carolina Birding Trail is part of the Cliffs of the Neuse State Park, which is in itself a fascinating destination.

Goldsboro’s Chamber of Commerce boasts about this ideal city, which is large enough to offer opportunities to its residents while maintaining an unhurried pace of life.

Granite Falls, North Carolina

Granite Falls, NCThe local Indians were the first to see the waterfalls over Gunpowder Creek but the area’s first owner saw something else: power that could be harnessed to operate an iron forge. In 1791, pioneer Andrew Baird became the owner of what is now the town of Granite Falls. Eventually, the iron works faded away but the town remained and continued to grow thanks to a cotton mill that was founded in 1880. When the railroad followed a few years later, it strengthened the town more as new businesses opened.

Although Granite Falls is the most descriptive name, the town went by several other names before it was finally incorporated in 1899. Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains, the town, which is part of Caldwell County, dates back to the mid-1700s according to land grant records. A quiet, friendly town, it is just minutes from some of the highest peaks in North Carolina and the quaint village of Blowing Rock yet near the city lights of Hickory, just to the south.

“Granite Falls recently expanded its boundaries with the purchase of 72 acres on Lake Rhodhiss [which] will be used to protect Granite Falls’ water supply and to provide additional recreation opportunities such as hiking and biking trails offering lovely water views.”

Granite Falls recently expanded its boundaries with the purchase of 72 acres on Lake Rhodhiss. This property will be used to protect Granite Falls’ water supply and to provide additional recreation opportunities such as hiking and biking trails offering lovely water views. Three fishing decks and a picnic shelter will also be on the site.

The Granite Falls History and Transportation Museum is a relatively new attraction in town and is housed in the newly renovated home of founder Andrew Baird. Built in the 1790s, it is the second oldest residence in Caldwell County and has been restored to its former grandeur.

Easily accessible by I-40, I-85 and I-26, the town of Granite Falls continues to grow. Manufacturing is an important part of the economy but tourism and the retirement industry also impact the town’s prosperity.

Granite Falls is committed to preserving its wonderful way of life. In addition to the many outdoor activities available, the town is also very involved with the arts through the Caldwell Arts Council and Foothills Performing Arts.

Hickory, North Carolina

Hickory, NCHickory has been long-known as the furniture capital of the world. For years, people have driven great distances to the huge furniture showrooms looking for bargains. Miles of showrooms and outlets offer heavily discounted prices to shoppers who spend hours and even days searching for quality furniture.

Like many North Carolina towns, Hickory’s early success was tied to the railroad which helped it to develop into a trading center. After the Civil War, the city continued to expand and grow but it was not until 1901, when the first furniture plant opened, that Hickory achieved its true calling. Hickory became a boom town as scores of furniture, textile and hosiery plants opened.

“The Hickory Museum of Art is the second oldest in the state and, in addition to exhibits, offers art classes and lectures to the public.”

Clearly, the town of Hickory was built on hard work but that is balanced by the many recreational activities offered by its surroundings. Four Catawba River lakes are nearby, inviting boaters and fishermen to enjoy the water. A wealth of parks, from small city green spaces to large state parks, provide everything from tennis courts and sports fields to challenging hiking trails. The Catawba River Park is but one example with its picnic shelters, hiking and biking paths, observation deck, footbridge crossing Silver Creek and handicap-accessible walking trails.

Cultural events are part of the Hickory lifestyle, as well. With groups such as Hickory Choral Society and Hickory Community Theatre, the performing arts are well represented. The Hickory Museum of Art is the second oldest in the state and, in addition to exhibits, offers art classes and lectures to the public. The Western Piedmont Symphony often includes visiting classical music stars.

Many historic sites exist in Hickory and surrounding Caldwell County, including Maple Grove, which was built in 3 and is one of Hickory’s oldest structures. The J. Summie Propst house was built about the same time as Maple Grove and features intricate woodwork carvings. An interesting feature of this house is the scaled back porches and balustrades which were designed to accommodate Mrs. Propst, who was only 4’10” tall.
With so much to see and do and its proximity to the mountains and metropolitan area, it is no wonder so many people choose to move to Hickory.

Lake Gaston, North Carolina

Lake Gaston, NCSurrounded by medium-sized towns like Roanoke Rapids, Emporia, South Hill and Henderson, Lake Gaston has many reasons to call the lake “home.” Conveniently located at the border of the North Carolina-Virginia state line, Lake Gaston is just 15 minutes from Interstate 95 from the east and Interstate 85 from the west, making easy access from Raleigh-Durham, Richmond, Washington, D.C., and other points both north and south.

The lake flows more than 34 miles over the Lake Gaston Dam into the Roanoke Rapids Lake, and the main body of the Lake is just over 1 mile across at its widest point.


Carolina Crossroads Music and Entertainment District will feature musical theaters, water parks, an aquarium, hotels and restaurants.

Lake Gaston is privately owned by Dominion Resources and is an impoundment of more than 20,000 surface acres along the Roanoke River. This was created to generate hydroelectric power due to a growing economy demanding more energy at lower costs.

Lake Gaston operates under a license issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The United States Coast Guard and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission monitor the waters.

The largest groundbreaking project to ever occur in the state of North Carolina was held recently for the new entertainment facility located in Roanoke Rapids. This is about 15 minutes from Lake Gaston at exit 171 of Interstate 95. The new facility will be named Carolina Crossroads Music and Entertainment District and will feature musical theaters, water parks, an aquarium, hotels and restaurants. One of the flagship attraction will be the Randy Parton Theatre, scheduled to open in spring of 2007.

This new facility alone will create 12,000 jobs for the local economy within the next 5 years and will benefit both tourists and locals alike.

Lake Gaston is populated by what some would call a “brain trust,” meaning a sum of retired CEOs, CFOs, doctors and military personnel. This group is very active in local associations and volunteers its time and ideas within the community on a regular basis.

Lake Gaston is, and has been, a destination for both retirement and vacation for decades. Some have property on the lake as a second home, while others permanently reside there. Either way, the lake gives many a reason to relocate, whether it’s for a weekend, a week or forever.

Lake Lure, North Carolina

Lake Lure, NCIn the stillness of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina lies the tiny town of Lake Lure, just 13 square miles in size and with a permanent population of less than 1,500. This number swells to more than 10,000 during the summer, when the second-home crowd arrives, drawn to the small-town atmosphere and Lake Lure itself, which National Geographic called “one of the most beautiful man-made lakes in the world.”

Development is booming in and around the town of Lake Lure and its namesake lake, a 720-acre sparkling man-made wonder with 21 miles of shoreline surrounded by mountains. Set in the heart of the Hickory Nut Gorge, 25 miles east of Asheville, the area is especially appealing to residents of Charlotte, Florida and South Carolina looking for second homes and vacation homes. Its proximity to Atlanta and Charlotte adds to the enormous popularity of this resort area, where real estate values have increased by 21 percent in the last five years.


…the town of Lake Lure and its namesake lake,
a 720-acre sparkling
man-made wonder with
21 miles of shoreline
surrounded by mountains.

Missouri physician Dr. Lucius B. Morse came here in 1902, looking for a climate that would help cure his tuberculosis. His dream was to establish a resort community with four golf courses, a yacht club, fairgrounds, a racetrack, an amusement park and an airport. He purchased 400 acres for $5,000 and created what is known today as Chimney Rock Park. The site, with its 500-million-year-old monolithic rock, dramatic scenery and Hickory Nut Falls, had been a popular tourist attraction for a century, and Morse made it even better. He bought another 8,000 acres over the years and built a dam at the Rocky Broad River in 1926, forming Lake Lure, three large bays, a seven-acre island and many small inlets.

Carole McKay, owner of Premier Properties, Lake Country Real Estate, has been selling real estate in the area since 1971.

“When I first moved to the area, it was a sleepy little town,” she says. “It still is, but the lure of the lake and the dramatic scenery are bringing in buyers and investors. More and more businesses are starting up to service the area, and they will ultimately change the complexion of the area.”

While Dr. Morse’s dream did not survive the Great Depression, Lake Lure and Chimney Rock did, and their small-town quality of life remains unchanged.