The Blue Ridge Mountains
The mountains get their name from the trees releasing isoprene into the atmosphere causing the distinctive color and haze.
I personally feel like when people go to plan a vacation their first thoughts are to head to the beach. Honestly, it is my first reaction but why? It makes me feel like I am cheating on the mountains and when we have one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in our backyard, we should take advantage! To spend a week with crisp fresh air, outdoor activities that are different from sun bathing and miniature putt putt, and being surrounded by un-touched nature sound like just what the doctor ordered. Sign me up - the mountains are definitely going to be my next adventure!
The Blue Ridge Parkway is the best way to travel along the mountain range because you will never experience views this beautiful again. I found this awesome website that lists the top secret spots to see along the entire Blue Ridge Parkway - check them out here!
Lets start with the best outdoor city:
This city is one of the most popular destinations in the south and the New York Times names it one of the "Top 45 Places to go" in the world. Only four US destinations were named and the southern city was the only one outside of California. Chattanooga is a breathtaking city nestled between the mountains of southeast Tennessee and the Tennessee River.
With Chattanooga being dubbed "the best town ever" by Outdoor magazine you can imagine how many activities you have to choose from. One day you could go rock climbing or mountain biking, or hot air ballooning, the next white water rafting or hang gliding or take it easy and walk down the 13 mile river walk.
Personally, I want to go for the music scene. The town offers killer festivals of all kinds and just imagine the homemade crafts this town has to offer!
I suggest visiting their official website for more information - this town is a must see for sure!
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Charlottesville, Virginia - A True Gem
For those of you who have never been to Charlottesville I am sure you have at least heard of it. The town, at least here in the south, is well known for being one of the greatest towns to visit and to live. The University of Virginia calls Charlottesville home so there is a young, hip vibe that accompanies the town and not only that, it is only an hour and half to Richmond making the mountains accessible from the coastal area. When I first went I camped out in Louisa, which is right outside of town, and it only took 20 minutes to drive in when we decided to go shopping or dine out. The downtown mall is well known as being the best shopping in Virginia - it is a must see! I suggest visiting on of their 20+ orchards or vineyards to pick your own apples or enjoy a wine tasting. Check out what the town offers here :)
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Asheville, North Carolina
Being a fellow North Carolinian, the town of Asheville has always been a part of my life in some way or another. And not once have I ever heard a negative thing about this mountain town, only raves. Hippies welcome, come one come all! For all you musically talented folk and artists out there, this town is for you. I have never been surrounded by more talented people in my life, this town breeds talent and welcomes all walks of life. Aside from it being culturally diverse, the views are breath taking! You could hike for weeks, swim in hundreds of different water falls and pan for gold too.
For the days you feel like being inside or taking it easy, head over to the 8,000 acre Biltmore Estate, the largest home in the United States. United Military Travel books trips to the Biltmore Estate all the time, even for their Christmas celebrations! Or if you feel like getting saucy, Asheville's craft beer scene is taking off like a wildfire. They even have a festival called the Beer City Festival that hosts all local breweries and local talents including musicians, artists and culinary works.
For more information on lodging etc click here!
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Now this is just scraping the surface of the many mountain destinations of the Blue Ridge Mountains so take your time and decide on what you want out of your vacation. The map above shows the cities by small, medium, and large towns - Google them and pick which one offers what you and your family needs.
Get out there and have fun!!!