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North Carolina's Blue Ridge Parkway: A State of Mind

When the question is what to do in North Carolina in autumn, the answer is to enjoy fall weekend getaways in NC. Among the many great places to visit in North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Parkway is at the top of the list, because it’s more than a scenic drive through a state. It's a state of mind. This All-American Road through the Appalachian Highlands is 469 meandering miles of nice, slow-going to appreciate the countryside's natural beauty. In October, that beauty is further enhanced with pops of vibrant hues when the much-anticipated North Carolina fall foliage arrives.

Drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway in the fall to fall in love with this special corner of America...and it's free. You'll experience changes in elevation up to 6,000 feet as the road winds around 382 overlooks, passing 91 historic buildings and crossing streams and ravines via 176 bridges, 26 tunnels, and 6 viaducts.

Start in Asheville, North Carolina and within two hours (make that longer if you pull off to visit charming communities and ogle the glorious foliage), arrive at the Mast Farm Inn or Green Park Inn, Historic Hotels of America where the welcome mat is out for you.

The Omni Grove Park Inn: Your Spa Awaits

Looking finer than ever as a centenarian,  The Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina celebrated her milestone 100th birthday in 2013. Rocking chairs are lined up by the front entrance of the old stone manor house, prompting many guests -- including first-time guests -- to remark that arriving here feels like a visit to an old friends’ place. Vintage never felt so homey.

You can meet your guide at the concierge desk any Wednesday through Saturday at 10 a.m. for a complimentary hotel tour to find out how the Grove Park Inn got this way. The resort's exceptional golf, sports, and award-winning spa facilities among the very best in North Carolina.

Make the classic Omni Grove Park Inn your base to poke around the antique shops, pottery studios and art galleries of Asheville and to visit the splendid gardens at the Biltmore. Upon your return, the resort’s exceptional golf, sports, and award-winning spa facilities are at your disposal. As the sun starts its descent, your dining table at Sunset Terrace, Vue 1913 or in The Blue Ridge Dining Room comes with a panoramic mountain view.

Mast Farm Inn: Personal Touches and Details

A 19th-century mountain farm turned country inn and restaurant, Mast Farm Inn wholly embraces the heart and soul of North Carolina High Country. This lovely spot on the edge of Pisgah National Forest and Grandfather Mountain State Park simply couldn’t be anywhere else on earth. The owners' intention is that as a guest, you wouldn't want to be anywhere else, either.

Choose a period-decorated farm house guest room in the main house, a private cottage to accommodate six, a deluxe farmhouse room with a claw-foot soaking tub for two or a historic cabin furnished with a handmade solid cherry four-poster king bed. Fifteen distinctively different lodging types are found throughout the pretty grounds. Will your preferences include a room with a stove fireplace or one with a pond out back?

Thoughtful and friendly hospitality touches are everywhere. A handwritten welcome note greets you on arrival and a country gourmet breakfast awaits each morning.

The restaurant reflects its focus on local and sustainable, presenting award-winning gourmet dining using ingredients from the micro-organic farm, freshly snipped herbs, just-harvested vegetables and gardens of flowers. At the Mast Farm Inn School of Cooking, country kitchen techniques are shared with guests. Best of all, everything is nestled in the agreeable climate of Banner Elk and Valle Crucis, beside peaceful mountains in Western North Carolina High Country near the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Green Park Inn: On the Continental Divide

Although the legendary Annie Oakley no longer offers her sharpshooter demonstrations and lessons here, you can practice a different sort of sharpshooting from the greens at the Green Park Inn golf course.

Make par and come to The Divide Tavern to raise your glass to the Eastern Continental Divide. In Blowing Rock, less than 3 miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway, this is the demarcation line between the watersheds of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.

Nightly music on the veranda, live piano entertainment on the weekends, murder mystery events and contemporary High Country fare in the Chestnut Grille make the Green Park Inn a must-do stop on a scenic Blue Ridge scenic drive.

This Grande Dame Queen Victorian property dating from 1891 displays the patina of her heritage with pride, including rare, original heart pine and American chestnut. A recent renovation features all-American materials to continue that legacy.

What Not to Miss: Within 20 miles of either Mast Farm Inn or Green Park Inn, Linn Cove Viaduct, a long bridge snaking around Grandfather Mountain, is a well-known highlight of a scenic drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

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