A Perfect Getaway

A Perfect Getaway 
1.       Discover lots of art: Asheville is one of the top arts destinations in the country. Galleries abound downtown and in Biltmore Village (see the Gallery Guide). To explore artist studios tucked in valleys and communities near Asheville, pick up the Craft Heritage Trails book. Watch the artists at work, and buy directly from them. The book features more than 450 stops. Click here to go to the Craft Heritage Trails web site. For a guided tour to studios, go to Art Safari web site.
2.      Cruise the Blue Ridge Parkway: Enjoy a leisurely drive to see nature's beauty while riding the crest of the mountains. You'll find breathtaking overlooks, numerous hiking trails, and great spots for picnics. Drive north for panoramic views at Craggy Gardens and Mt. Mitchell. A drive south takes you through a dozen tunnels (we call them the tunnels of love!) by the time you stop for lunch at the Pisgah Inn on a 5,000-foot mountaintop. There is no entrance fee to the Parkway. Go to the Blue Ridge Parkway Guide.
3.      Watch a sunset from a mountaintop: Hike to the top of the Pinnacle at Craggy Gardens to watch the sunset (about 3/4 mile one-way). A great spot to hold hands and kiss. Be sure to leave the top to make the 15-minute walk back to the car before dark! (Go to the Hikes & Walks Guide under "Best Pinnacle Hike.") West-facing overlooks on the parkway are perfect to watch a sunset from your car.
4.      Strolling through gardens: Asheville is a garden city. Gardens with no admission fee include the Botanical Gardens of Asheville, by the University of North Carolina at Asheville, and Richmond Hill Inn. Tour the North Carolina Arboretum for a small per car fee (don't miss their bonsai collection). The Farms, Gardens and Countryside Trails book is a comprehensive guide for garden spots in West North Carolina.
5.      Picnic by a waterfall: Take a picnic to Dupont State Forest (about 40 miles from downtown Asheville) and relax by one of three waterfalls. Our favorite spot is Triple Falls, where you can picnic on a large flat rock area between two waterfalls. See "Best Waterfall Hike" in the Hikes & Walks Guide for more details. Often, your inn or hotel will prepare a picnic for you to take. Or stop by Laurey's Gourmet-To-Go.
6.      Explore downtown Asheville: A creative way to see downtown is the Urban Trail, a walking tour of 30 sculptures that depict tidbits of local history. Go to the Art Museum at Pack Place to rent audio headsets. The great architecture (with lots of art deco) and the quaint shops will fascinate you. See the Downtown Photo Tour.
7.      Sunset on the lake: Lake Lure is a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains. Enjoy a spectacular sunset with a one-hour cruise ($20/couple) departing between 6 and 7 pm (depending on the time of sunset). If you time your visit just right you can also take a moonlight two-hour tour during a full moon (bring a bottle of wine). Several times a year, you can take a Meteor Shower Cruise. Both of these cruises leave at 9 pm at $30/couple. Click here to visit their web site.
8.     Movie date: See an independent or foreign film at the nostalgic Fine Arts Theatre downtown, followed by coffee in Old Europe coffee shop (see After Dinner Guide). An entire evening for less than $35, including two movie tickets, popcorn, sodas, and after movie coffee. Click here to go to the Fine Arts web site to see what's playing.
9.      Mine for sapphires: Try your luck finding sapphires and other precious minerals at Old Pressley Sapphire Mine, an authentic mine about 20 miles west of downtown Asheville near Canton. For $45 a bucket, you both can sift through the soil and wash stones in their flume, and you are guaranteed to find a sapphire! Click here to visit their web site.
10.  Dinner with the best view: In pleasant weather, enjoy the great vistas and mountain breezes on the famous Sunset Terrace at Grove Park Inn. Enjoy steak and seafood with sunset views of downtown and the surrounding mountains. The average dinner check with wine is $150 per couple. Call early for reservations. Click here to visit their web site.

Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at www.PattiWood.net. Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at www.snapfirstimpressions.com. Also check out Patti's YouTube channel at http://youtube.com/user/bodylanguageexpert.