#22 best destination in the world




  • Châteauesque-style mansion built for George Washington Vanderbilt II between 1889 and 1895
  • Largest privately owned house in the United States, at 178,926 square feet
  • Still owned by George Vanderbilt’s descendants, it remains one of the most prominent examples of Gilded Age mansions (1870s-1900)


Walton’s Distillery


  • Craft distillery making Moonshine, Whiskey and Bourbon
  • Full production facility with daily activities related to the mashing, fermentation, distillation and bottling of spirits


Dry Falls


  • 65 ft waterfall located in the Nantahala National Forest
  • Flows over an overhanging bluff that allows visitors to walk up under the falls and remain relatively dry when the waterflow is low, but visitors will get wet if the waterflow is high


International Civil Rights Center and Museum


  • Museum building formerly housed the Woolworth’s, the site of a non-violent protest in the civil rights movement
  • Four students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NC A&T) started the Greensboro sit-ins at a “whites only” lunch counter in 1960
  • The next day there were twenty students
  • The aim of the museum’s founders is to ensure that history remembers the actions of the A&T Four, those who joined them in the daily Woolworth’s sit-ins, and others around the country who took part in sit-ins and in the civil rights movement
  • Founded in 1993 and officially opened its doors just fifty years to the day after the sit-in movements in Greensboro NC


Blue Ridge Parkway


  • All-American Road in the United States, noted for its scenic beauty
  • Runs mostly along the spine of the Blue Ridge, a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian Mountains
  • Runs for 469 miles through 29 Virginia and North Carolina counties


Cloud Chamber for the Trees and Sky


  • Work of British artist Chris Drury who built the structure as a rustic camera obscura
  • Mixes fairy tale design with medieval technology
  • It is light-tight when its door is closed, except for one small, round opening in its roof which allows the building to act as a camera obscura
  • Images of the sun, clouds, and trees are projected onto the smooth white walls of the interior of the chamber


Cryptozoology and Paranormal Museum


  • Exhibits include casts of Bigfoot prints, many of them made by Barcelo, the owner, himself
  • Mrs. Beasley is the haunted doll reported to move about in her locked case
  • UFO sighting testimonials accompany photographic evidence of their appearances
  • There is also a section of fakes, such as a Feejee mermaid
  • Opened in 2015


Blue Ghost Fireflies


  • Watch the blue ghost firefly known throughout the southeastern United States, which glow a hard to capture on film blue-green color
  • The fireflies’s habitat is shrinking, from expanses ranging all the way to Arkansas in 1825, and they’re now relegated to the few pristine Appalachian forests left with spongy leaf bottoms and stream beds nearby, especially Dupont State Forest
  • Mid-May through mid-June is prime viewing time, and they come out late, after sunset, not during


Judaculla Rock


  • Curvilinear-shaped outcrop of soapstone with quarry scars and petroglyphs
  • Appears to be physical representation of the entire landscape the Cherokees inhabited, and it not only embodies a distinctive characteristic of petroglyph boulders in the region but also is likely to yield additional information about the history and prehistory of the area


Abandoned Henry River Mill Village


  • Small textile village, unaltered but now decaying, it is an example of an early industrial environment
  • Built as a planned community, the village was a self-contained complex with its own mill, dam, water and fire-protection systems, and company store
  • In later years, the village gained amenities such as walkways, terraced green spaces, and field stone retaining walls
  • Today most of the village’s original buildings remain sited along a small gorge of the Henry River
  • The site is private property but can be driven through via Henry River Road




Number of Days: 12 days

Best Time To Fly: March-May, Sept-Nov

Airline tickets: $532

Seattle -> Raleigh (round trip) = $532

Food: $45/day x 12 days = $540

Rental car: $489

$40/day x 12 days = $489

Gas: $62

Entertainment: $104

Airbnb: $123 x 11 days = $1,354

TOTAL: $2,591