- Blake Guthrie For the AJC
For a mix of modernity and history in a vibrant downtown setting, Winston-Salem has a lot to offer. Stroll through the streets and gardens of Old Salem (Visitor Center: 336-721-7300, www.oldsalem.org) to revel in the history of a place that was settled in 1766 by the Moravians. Many of the original structures are still standing and open for tours. Bed down at Historic Brookstown Inn (rates start at $133; 200 Brookstown Ave., Winston-Salem. 336-725-1120, www.brookstowninn.com) steps away. Downtown you’ll want to explore the Downtown Arts District (DADA), where you’ll find working studios, galleries, shops, restaurants and nightlife. Another don’t-miss spot: the Reynolda House Museum of American Art (2250 Reynolda Road, Winston-Salem. 1-888-663-1149, reynoldahouse.org).
Grove Park Inn
Open since 1913, the Grove Park Inn (rates start at $211; 290 Macon Ave., Asheville. 1-800-438-5800, omnihotels.com) just north of downtown Asheville is listed as one of the Historic Hotels of America and on the National Register of Historic Places. It now operates as an Omni property. The main lodge building looks like something straight out of a fairy tale with its fieldstone construction and drooping red roof. The list of dignitaries and celebrities that have stayed here over the years ranges from William Jennings Bryan to Barack Obama. Two newer wings and a large spa facility provide a modern touch. There are multiple restaurants on-site, as well as a great westward-looking view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Idyllic mountain towns don’t come more quaint or easily accessible than tiny Dillsboro. Take U.S. 441 north and you’re there in under 2.5 hours from Atlanta. The tiny downtown area is full of arts and crafts shops, an ice cream parlor, candy store and a great barbecue restaurant. The Tuckasegee River flows through town with many outfitters ready to take you on a not-too-intense scenic whitewater adventure. Dillsboro is a destination stop on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, a sightseeing excursion train that departs out of nearby Bryson City. There are plenty of private vacation rentals in town, and the Best Western Plus River Escape Inn (rates start at $117; 248 WBI Drive, Dillsboro. 828-586-6060, www.bwriverescape.com) overlooks the river; request a riverside balcony room.
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