- The rooms at The Inn at Ragged Gardens feature lavish decor.
- Main Street is the hub for shopping and dining.
- Sonny's Grill serves up hot ham biscuits and sweet potato pancakes.
We wish we could tell you Blowing Rock, tucked into the mountains of western North Carolina, was a secret. The truth is that many descend on the town this month when it's thriving with autumn's color and cool days. Despite its popularity, the small-town charm remains intact. Here are just a few of the local jewels you'll find when you visit.
The Center of Activity
Stroll the sidewalks of Main Street for the best shopping around. Watch Larry and Cyndi Ziegler pour and carve candles at High Country Candles ( 295-9655), one of a cluster of shops in the Martin House, built in the 1860s. Their hand-carved ($14 to $42), jar ($10 to $22), and pillar candles ($13 to $30) come in a variety of scents. As you can imagine, Baked Apple Crisp and Russian Tea are the most popular ones right now.
You'll have to do a little exploring to find one of our favorite shops in Blowing Rock. De Provence et d'ailleurs ( 295-9989) sits in a little shopping center a block off Main Street. "If you ask someone where the French shop is, they'll point you in the right direction," says owner Danielle Tester. The shop (whose name translates "from Provence and elsewhere") offers antiques, soaps, figurines, dinnerware, and other home decor items.
An Old-Fashioned Downtown Diner
For 50 years, Sonny's Grill ( 295-7577) on Main Street has served hungry diners. Inside, you'll find only a few tables and some stools around the bar. Be ready to wait, or at the very least be prepared for a tight squeeze--especially on the weekends. But breakfast here is worth it. While they are known for their ham biscuits ($1.70 a piece), try a stack of sweet potato pancakes ($4) so wide they'll just about hang over your plate's edge.
Stay the Night
Because this is the area's high season, be ready for pricey lodging options. The Inn at Ragged Gardens is expensive, but the richly decorated rooms and cozy ambience offer an elegant experience that is worth it. The stay also includes a full gourmet breakfast. Rates range $140-$310; (828) 295-9703.
For a more affordable option, consider Chetola Resort at Blowing Rock. From basic but comfortable hotel-style rooms to multi-bedroom condos, Chetola presents a family resort atmosphere with children's programs and activities. Rates start at $91; 1-800-243-8652.
Blowing Rock perfectly blends its quiet, peaceful nature with a variety of things to see and do. While it's certainly not undiscovered, the town's allure will make you happy to discover yourself here.