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Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Awesome Autumn Adventure

Posted October 10, 2007 7:23 a.m. EDT

Several times a month I receive emails or other inquiries from friends on where to stay and what to do on vacation. Asheville and Black Mountain came up in a recent discussion.

Here are some of my favorite places in that area. I would begin with Black Mountain. It is a beautiful village full of fine shopping. One of my favorite spots is Song of the Wood on the main drag. This is a music store featuring the hand made hammered dulcimers of Jerry Read Smith.

Be sure to take time to visit Montreat, the home of  a Presbyterian conference center and a lovely college campus. You'll find gorgeous views at Lake Susan in the shadows of the Black Mountain range. Check out the Ben Long frescoes at the Montreat chapel.

For a sunrise your best bet is the top of Ridgecrest, the beautiful Baptist conference center in Western NC. or along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I also recommend the Folk Art Center off the parkway near Asheville. For great hiking and views visit Craggy Gardens on the Blue Ridge Parkway north of Asheville. South of Asheville on the BRP you might want to stay at the Pisgah Inn. I love the drive there through lots of tunnels. Great hiking trails await you as well at Pisgah.

Asheville is a jewel with lots of great restaurants downtown. Savor a glass of wine around the huge stone fireplace at Grove Park Inn. And visit America's largest house at the Biltmore Estates which include beautiful gardens and a top notch winery.

These are my recommendations for the Asheville/Black Mountain area.

What would you suggest in that area?  Please include lodging, sightseeing and dining recommendations.