Blowing Rock

Distance from Charlotte: 94 miles

This charming mountain town — the only one directly on the Blue Ridge Parkway—is well-known as a luxury retreat. In the summer months it fills with tourists in search of cooler weather, but don't let the crowds deter you. Here you'll find small boutiques, eclectic galleries, and gourmet restaurants — all set in beautiful mountainous terrain.

Every April the Blue Ridge Wine and Food Festival offers tastes of wines from around the state—and the world. The next one will be held April 11-15, 2012.


When you pull into this popular resort town, make your first stop at the Blowing Rock market & Wine Shop, a service station, deli, and convenience shop where you and your car can fuel up. Get a fresh deli sandwich to go, and maybe a locally made whoopie pie. While it's tempting to spend all day on the town's well-manicured streets, there are nearby parks and trails perfect for a walk and a picnic before an afternoon of retail therapy. 990 Main St., 828-295-7373


Conveniently, the market is located on the corner of Main Street and 221 South—your gateway to Blowing Rock's outdoor adventure. Just a short drive down 221, you'll see the Bass lake entrance of moses Cone memorial Park, a 3,500-acre park that was once the estate of textile tycoon Cone and his wife. Tucked into green, rolling hills, Bass Lake is a hub for fishers looking for a quiet spot and dog walkers who want to take advantage of winding loops of gravel trails.


Downtown bistro Storie Street Grille is the perfect spot for a relaxed but delicious dinner. With turn-of-the-century décor (look for the old model airplanes hanging over the bar), a cozy patio, and seasonal dishes using local ingredients, it's easy to see why it's a neighborhood favorite. The duck is popular, but the famous fried okra will make you wish this place were even closer to home. 1167 Main St., 828-295-7075


In downtown you'll find upscale fashion boutiques, art galleries, and jewelry shops, all on quaint flower-filled and lamp-lit streets. At Traditions Pottery, you can select from simple locally made pottery and folk art, while just a few doors down, Rock Galleries of Fine Art offers works by internationally known painters like Paul Landry and Tom duBois. Traditions Pottery, 1116 Main St., 828-295-6128; Rock Galleries of Fine Art, 1153 Main St., 888-576-2116


On your way down the mountain, stop in at Canyons hillside bar and diner, offering local brews and the best patio view in town. 8960 Valley Blvd., 828-295-7661

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