Exploring the nearby North Carolina mountain towns of Banner Elk and Blowing Rock with a stay at The Chetola Resort is just the balm your family needs as school and schedules take priority.
Stop in Banner Elk, for the night and dine at Stonewalls where the owners, Scott Garland and chef Tim Heschke, offer up a chef-driven menu and patio dining. Stay at Perry House Bed & Breakfast where host Mike Dunn will share favorite hiking destinations, like Grandfather Mountain. A unit of the United Nations’ Southern Appalachian Man and Biosphere Reserve, the mountain is estimated to be 300 million years old. I headed to The Black Rock Nature Trail, parking at the Hiker’s Parking Area with a wide view of dramatic peaks.
The Chetola Resort is a lovely property, with condos and inn rooms, fire pits, dining options and sports galore. It's a pleasant walk to downtown Blowing Rock, for shopping and happy hour. Back at the resort, wander the adjoining 3,600-acre Moses Cone Park.
A few hours on the Watauga River with Orvis-endorsed guide Dustin Coffey was rewarding. My husband caught a Southern Slam (brown, bow and brookie) in a quiet pool while I clambered up the river and found a few brown and rainbow trout willing to put up a fight. Chetola's Sporting Reserve offers a 5 stand clay station, 13 station sporting clay course, and ranges that dot the 67 acres of rural rolling terrain, towering pines, red maples, and mighty oaks.