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Old 10-19-2009, 10:42 PM
 
416 posts, read 1,420,215 times
Reputation: 86

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I wanted to take a second to jump back here and give some quick impressions about our recent trip to others also interested in the area and throw out a few questions to the locals...

Here goes...

We left Charleston and headed up to Boone through the Charlotte area and took us about 5 hours or so with stopping briefly for lunch and for the littles to stretch in Rock Hill. We seriously lucked out and scored this awesome cabin for two nights in Valle Crucis. I dare not give out the name in fear that it's awesome charm will be discovered and it will become hard to rent for us in the future, lol... but Valle Crucis was BEAUTIFUL and a destination in it's self. We would have been happy just sitting in the cabin all day.

There were lot of oppurtunities around for outdoor pursuits. The areas outside Boone- Banner Elk, Foscoe, Grandfather Mountain, Sugar Mountain, etc where really beautiful and we had alot of fun exploring them. Boone it's self was larger then I originally thought and downtown was really cute...but I was a but it is a huge colege town. like to the point I almost felt odd being out and about and over 25, lol. Is this the case all year? Can anyone discuss Boone more in terms of families and those with young children? We stopped and ate at Black Cat Burritos, which was great... but we were the oldest ones in the joint and are in our early thirties. Cool shops, places to eat, walkable for sure...but super super collegy. Wonderinf if this is really how it is or if it was just the time of year...

After staying in Valle Crucis, we headed to Celo via Burnsville. For some of you who may remember I was inquiring about Burnsville. Well downtown for about 2 blocks it was really cute. But outside of that, I am sorry to say it was n ot what I hoped... seemed kinda rundown, kinda depressing, little money going into the city it seemed. Very religous and conservative I both observed and was told by locals. The locals seemed nice and down to earth...but still we knew this was not an area we would head back to.

On to Celo. Arriving at the Celo Inn. Not what we hoped. Beautiful countryside to look at, but we wouldn't go back to the inn. We stayed in the cottage out back. And even though the grounds are very nice, and the outside of the inn is beautiful..structural it is amazing... but inside it seemed a bit cold and unwelcoming. Sparce and simple... and I know simple can be good..but this just seemed simple as in unfinished, half way done. Like you almost were not supposed to be there..like you were bothering them even though they were smiling at you needed something. The innkeeper was kind, but soft spoken and kinda made us uneasy. We did not feel overly welcome and comfortable. The inside of the cottage was not welcoming at all and seemed really cold in the mainroom and kitchen areas... just not cozy I think we were patrially spoiled by the first cabin we stayed in. Overall, I was unhappy with the place. We ended up being charged more then we were told by $50, which seemed like alot to a family traveling for a few days on a budget. partially maybe this was my fault since we originally booked for two nights and i canceled one of them the week prior, but was lead to believe this was not a problem and we should come anyway and would be charged for the one night. on the phone had i been told i was going to be charged for both, i would have tried not to change my plans, etc...but i guess i just felt it was not handled properly so was kinda upset about it. regardless i would not go back, as the inn was just not cozy or welcoming feeling to us. however we did visit mountain farm near by which was beautiful! defiantly a high point of the trip. beautiful property, great views, kinda nd pleseant owners...lavender mazes, goats, llamas, soap maiking, little shop...really great time. worth the drive for sure from either boone or asheviile, it;s midway.

Not much to choose from in terms of dinner near Celo/Mt Mitchell. Didn't want to head back to spruce pine or burnsville, as we realized this area didn't suit us and we didn't want to venture out too far into it...we decided to eat at the mt mitchell golf course restaraunt. surprise surprise..the food was great! much more then we expected as the place was kinda iffy looking. great views though out the windows, good service and a great meal. left in the morning knowing the only reasons to come back to celo would be mountain top farms and the cool craft shops to check out. not an area we would relocate too though.

In the morning on to Asheville from the north to see marshall, marshill and weaverville on the way down. Liked what we saw! Cute, rural areas...but scattered with new developments we'd want to avoid. Seemed to be a mix of old timers and new comers.... Coming into Ashville we had a hard time initially finding a place with a room being a weekend in October.... eneded up booking the holiday inn on tunnel rd. Was surprised with how close it was to downtown through the tunnel. Initially I was worried it would be far. Very clean new hotel, nice size room. Our stay was comfortable. About every chain restauraunt you can imagine surrounds the hotel. Not usually our thing, but convinent after a long drive with three hungry kiddos. Many of which walkable from the hotel.

Downtown Asheville...lots of fun to walk around! Bigger then I initally though. Cool, relaxed vibe, lots of great restauraunts. Coelburn Earth Science Museum-Park Place Building...unimpressed. Has potential, but not really that great. trying to make stops to keep dry and keep the kids busy in the scattered rainy weather.

Headed up to the botanical gardens..great walking trail! Worth checking out. And free Doable with a jogging stroller or wheelchair, easy for kids to keep up, lots of native species to look at, pretty grounds, stream, etc.
Wished we had time to head to the NC Arboretum. But instead went to Chimney Rock. Orignially hoped to do more hiking off the beaten path, but with the rain we opted for the easy route with the kids... Beautiful views, worth the trip, great drive over scattered with little shops and scenery, but beware of crowds and commercialism. But still..views which would be hard for some (those hiking with little children, senior citizens, handicaped people, etc...) to otherwise get to see. I'd go back, but on a weekday. The weekend was a bit nuts.

Apple picking at Sky Top Orchard in Zirconia NC on the way home...Very crowded, but amazing views, almost no apples left on the trees...still worth the trip for the view and shop. But again, beware the large crowds on weekends!

Stopped in Saluda NC on the way home after apples, Cute place called Wildflour Cafe...food not so good, hoped for more cause the place was so cute...but cute antique shops and garden places near by to peek into!

Traffic was bad on I26 headed back to Charleston, ugh. But made it back in just over 4 hours from the Saluda area.

So the search continues...knowing know we liked both the Asheville and Boone areas, and that we want to be about 20-35 minutes from either one...but still find a place that feels rural and real. Preserved land, farms, forests, etc. Maybe a small town center. Focusing on the areas outside Boone toward Banner Elk and to the North and East of Asheville. Someplace not too conservative and more diverse is a plus. Artsy bohemian vibe is also a draw. Secular homeschool community also a huge plus, more natually minded eco friendly areas, etc.

Gonna plan a another trip this winter to both to see another season.

Does Boone get considereablly more snow then Asheville? We want snow. Lots still to figure out! Like the huge homeschool and natural communites in Asheville, but maybe the climate/landscape mroe in Boone. Worried Boone is too collegey though. Hm....
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Old 10-20-2009, 12:18 AM
 
Location: Up above the world so high!
45,270 posts, read 86,082,030 times
Reputation: 39670
Quote:
Originally Posted by wildwoodflower View Post
I wanted to take a second to jump back here and give some quick impressions about our recent trip to others also interested in the area and throw out a few questions to the locals...

Here goes...

We left Charleston and headed up to Boone through the Charlotte area and took us about 5 hours or so with stopping briefly for lunch and for the littles to stretch in Rock Hill. We seriously lucked out and scored this awesome cabin for two nights in Valle Crucis. I dare not give out the name in fear that it's awesome charm will be discovered and it will become hard to rent for us in the future, lol... but Valle Crucis was BEAUTIFUL and a destination in it's self. We would have been happy just sitting in the cabin all day.

There were lot of oppurtunities around for outdoor pursuits. The areas outside Boone- Banner Elk, Foscoe, Grandfather Mountain, Sugar Mountain, etc where really beautiful and we had alot of fun exploring them. Boone it's self was larger then I originally thought and downtown was really cute...but I was a but it is a huge colege town. like to the point I almost felt odd being out and about and over 25, lol. Is this the case all year? Can anyone discuss Boone more in terms of families and those with young children? We stopped and ate at Black Cat Burritos, which was great... but we were the oldest ones in the joint and are in our early thirties. Cool shops, places to eat, walkable for sure...but super super collegy. Wonderinf if this is really how it is or if it was just the time of year...

After staying in Valle Crucis, we headed to Celo via Burnsville. For some of you who may remember I was inquiring about Burnsville. Well downtown for about 2 blocks it was really cute. But outside of that, I am sorry to say it was n ot what I hoped... seemed kinda rundown, kinda depressing, little money going into the city it seemed. Very religous and conservative I both observed and was told by locals. The locals seemed nice and down to earth...but still we knew this was not an area we would head back to.

On to Celo. Arriving at the Celo Inn. Not what we hoped. Beautiful countryside to look at, but we wouldn't go back to the inn. We stayed in the cottage out back. And even though the grounds are very nice, and the outside of the inn is beautiful..structural it is amazing... but inside it seemed a bit cold and unwelcoming. Sparce and simple... and I know simple can be good..but this just seemed simple as in unfinished, half way done. Like you almost were not supposed to be there..like you were bothering them even though they were smiling at you needed something. The innkeeper was kind, but soft spoken and kinda made us uneasy. We did not feel overly welcome and comfortable. The inside of the cottage was not welcoming at all and seemed really cold in the mainroom and kitchen areas... just not cozy I think we were patrially spoiled by the first cabin we stayed in. Overall, I was unhappy with the place. We ended up being charged more then we were told by $50, which seemed like alot to a family traveling for a few days on a budget. partially maybe this was my fault since we originally booked for two nights and i canceled one of them the week prior, but was lead to believe this was not a problem and we should come anyway and would be charged for the one night. on the phone had i been told i was going to be charged for both, i would have tried not to change my plans, etc...but i guess i just felt it was not handled properly so was kinda upset about it. regardless i would not go back, as the inn was just not cozy or welcoming feeling to us. however we did visit mountain farm near by which was beautiful! defiantly a high point of the trip. beautiful property, great views, kinda nd pleseant owners...lavender mazes, goats, llamas, soap maiking, little shop...really great time. worth the drive for sure from either boone or asheviile, it;s midway.

Not much to choose from in terms of dinner near Celo/Mt Mitchell. Didn't want to head back to spruce pine or burnsville, as we realized this area didn't suit us and we didn't want to venture out too far into it...we decided to eat at the mt mitchell golf course restaraunt. surprise surprise..the food was great! much more then we expected as the place was kinda iffy looking. great views though out the windows, good service and a great meal. left in the morning knowing the only reasons to come back to celo would be mountain top farms and the cool craft shops to check out. not an area we would relocate too though.

In the morning on to Asheville from the north to see marshall, marshill and weaverville on the way down. Liked what we saw! Cute, rural areas...but scattered with new developments we'd want to avoid. Seemed to be a mix of old timers and new comers.... Coming into Ashville we had a hard time initially finding a place with a room being a weekend in October.... eneded up booking the holiday inn on tunnel rd. Was surprised with how close it was to downtown through the tunnel. Initially I was worried it would be far. Very clean new hotel, nice size room. Our stay was comfortable. About every chain restauraunt you can imagine surrounds the hotel. Not usually our thing, but convinent after a long drive with three hungry kiddos. Many of which walkable from the hotel.

Downtown Asheville...lots of fun to walk around! Bigger then I initally though. Cool, relaxed vibe, lots of great restauraunts. Coelburn Earth Science Museum-Park Place Building...unimpressed. Has potential, but not really that great. trying to make stops to keep dry and keep the kids busy in the scattered rainy weather.

Headed up to the botanical gardens..great walking trail! Worth checking out. And free Doable with a jogging stroller or wheelchair, easy for kids to keep up, lots of native species to look at, pretty grounds, stream, etc.
Wished we had time to head to the NC Arboretum. But instead went to Chimney Rock. Orignially hoped to do more hiking off the beaten path, but with the rain we opted for the easy route with the kids... Beautiful views, worth the trip, great drive over scattered with little shops and scenery, but beware of crowds and commercialism. But still..views which would be hard for some (those hiking with little children, senior citizens, handicaped people, etc...) to otherwise get to see. I'd go back, but on a weekday. The weekend was a bit nuts.

Apple picking at Sky Top Orchard in Zirconia NC on the way home...Very crowded, but amazing views, almost no apples left on the trees...still worth the trip for the view and shop. But again, beware the large crowds on weekends!

Stopped in Saluda NC on the way home after apples, Cute place called Wildflour Cafe...food not so good, hoped for more cause the place was so cute...but cute antique shops and garden places near by to peek into!

Traffic was bad on I26 headed back to Charleston, ugh. But made it back in just over 4 hours from the Saluda area.

So the search continues...knowing know we liked both the Asheville and Boone areas, and that we want to be about 20-35 minutes from either one...but still find a place that feels rural and real. Preserved land, farms, forests, etc. Maybe a small town center. Focusing on the areas outside Boone toward Banner Elk and to the North and East of Asheville. Someplace not too conservative and more diverse is a plus. Artsy bohemian vibe is also a draw. Secular homeschool community also a huge plus, more natually minded eco friendly areas, etc.

Gonna plan a another trip this winter to both to see another season.

Does Boone get considereablly more snow then Asheville? We want snow. Lots still to figure out! Like the huge homeschool and natural communites in Asheville, but maybe the climate/landscape mroe in Boone. Worried Boone is too collegey though. Hm....

Good synopsis - glad you are getting so much good intel

Just wanted to add one important fact - you traveled to the mountains in October, at peak week for leaves, THAT is the reason you ran into crowds at places like Chimney Rock. The rest of the year you wouldn't see such huge crowds - just so you know. Although during fall and spring semesters, Boone is always crowded and very much a college town. My favorite time in and around Boone is the summer, when all the college kids are gone!
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Old 10-20-2009, 03:11 AM
 
147 posts, read 401,549 times
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The place that you are looking for does not exist. There are far to many contradictions in your desires. You want someplace rural, but diverse? You want it to be artsy and bohemian, but real? Whose version of real are you talking about? It sounds like you are looking for someone from Portland or San Francisco's perception of what is real. But you went looking for it in western North Carolina. Do you know anything about the state of North Carolina? It is perhaps the most religious state in the country. You want secular and diverse in western North Carolina? There is Asheville. But it's not diverse in the way major cities are diverse, especially on the west coast. What is truly real for the majority of people who reside in western NC is not what you perceive as real. Sorry. It just ain't.
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Old 10-20-2009, 06:21 AM
 
Location: Western North Carolina
127 posts, read 408,108 times
Reputation: 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by memorytheatre View Post
The place that you are looking for does not exist. There are far to many contradictions in your desires. You want someplace rural, but diverse? You want it to be artsy and bohemian, but real? Whose version of real are you talking about? It sounds like you are looking for someone from Portland or San Francisco's perception of what is real. But you went looking for it in western North Carolina. Do you know anything about the state of North Carolina? It is perhaps the most religious state in the country. You want secular and diverse in western North Carolina? There is Asheville. But it's not diverse in the way major cities are diverse, especially on the west coast. What is truly real for the majority of people who reside in western NC is not what you perceive as real. Sorry. It just ain't.
I couldn't agree more. If you don't like South Carolina then you are not going to like North Carolina any better. Your best bet is to head back to Vermont.
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Old 10-20-2009, 07:15 AM
 
416 posts, read 1,420,215 times
Reputation: 86
actually i really liked what i saw in western north carolina. going to vermont is not an option for us anymore. no more cross country moves. our family is in SC, so being 5 hours away is what we are hoping for. gotta work with what we can...

luckily we did see alot of little areas we really liked outside of both boone and asheville. i understand many areas are religous and conservative...we have lived that in the rockies and know much of NC is also like that. we stopped and talked to many locals and really think we will find a place to be happy there. i do think places can be artsy and real... real people make art, real people work the land, real people enjoy the land. also please note i said secular homeschool community..as in group. not secular community. perhaps our definitions of just words are putting us at an impass. ah well.

why do some in this forum always turn everything so negative, like looking to debate? i've gotten some great info here, and am thankful to those who have given me all the tips and inside info. i thought perhaps someone else could benefit from our experience who is maybe looking into some of these areas for travel or relocating.... simple as that. that is what i shared...

thanks for your thoughts lovesthemountains....

Last edited by wildwoodflower; 10-20-2009 at 07:25 AM..
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Old 10-20-2009, 11:00 AM
 
Location: Weaverville
765 posts, read 2,219,199 times
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Real is a relative term. As long as wildwoodflower can define what she considers real and find a place that fits that definition then that's great. Diverse is another one of those relative terms. It can mean ethnically diverse, culturally diverse, historically diverse, religiously diverse, or whatever you want to plug in there. One thing about WNC is that it does offer a lot of the above in a geographically small area which is part of its charm and draw. And as more folks move in from other areas that diversity will continue to increase. That may dilute the traditional concepts of what is real and diverse but change is something we all have to learn to live with--or just spend a lot of time complaining about change. I'm glad you found something that met your expectations wildwoodflower--

As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin'.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'.
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Old 10-20-2009, 12:59 PM
 
2,087 posts, read 1,347,048 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wildwoodflower View Post
actually i really liked what i saw in western north carolina. going to vermont is not an option for us anymore. no more cross country moves. our family is in SC, so being 5 hours away is what we are hoping for. gotta work with what we can...

luckily we did see alot of little areas we really liked outside of both boone and asheville. i understand many areas are religous and conservative...we have lived that in the rockies and know much of NC is also like that. we stopped and talked to many locals and really think we will find a place to be happy there. i do think places can be artsy and real... real people make art, real people work the land, real people enjoy the land. also please note i said secular homeschool community..as in group. not secular community. perhaps our definitions of just words are putting us at an impass. ah well.

why do some in this forum always turn everything so negative, like looking to debate? i've gotten some great info here, and am thankful to those who have given me all the tips and inside info. i thought perhaps someone else could benefit from our experience who is maybe looking into some of these areas for travel or relocating.... simple as that. that is what i shared...

thanks for your thoughts lovesthemountains....


I have to agree, there are many conservative highly religous people in this are who are wonderful artists and who care for the land. They are not necessarily the bohemians of asheville but wonderful people.

That being said 20 minutes from Asheville in any direction is a potential development waiting to happen. It may be open now but 5 years from now it may be full of 500,000 dollar houses. If you find your piece just hold onto it.
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Old 10-20-2009, 01:49 PM
 
Location: Alabama!
5,802 posts, read 15,489,049 times
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Did you check out Little Switzerland next to Spruce Pine?

Honestly, I agree...you're looking in the wrong part of the US for your requirements. I can just hear my relatives - natives of that area since the 1700s - hooting at your requirements.
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Old 10-20-2009, 01:55 PM
 
416 posts, read 1,420,215 times
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we didn't get over to little switzerland. but saw it was close to where we stayed in Celo...but with allt he rain we had we decided to stay closer to the inn.

well, we have family in SC, and want to be close enough to visit. 5 hours is a good time frame. and we have done cross country moves now three time. not easy with 3 kids under 7 and finacial something we just can't keep doing. a five hour move is MUCH easier then 20 plus hours. And we can't afford land prices or taxes in Northern New England anyway....

like i said, we have lived in rural remote areas of montana/wyoming and vermont and understand the good ole boy thing, trust me we do. but for us, western NC is the most feasable option right now..and we can't stand to stay in charleston another year. we miss the mountains like crazy. we are not trying to change the way things are, we are not trying to force something... live and let live. we are just looking for a little piece of land to call our own and raise our children on. we are open minded and accepting, and from speaking with the locals on our trip, we were felt welcome in many areas. there seem to be great little pockets outside asheville and boone we hope to look into more.
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Old 10-21-2009, 02:40 PM
 
Location: South Yarmouth, MA
140 posts, read 296,798 times
Reputation: 135
I've never been to WNC, but spent 10 years in Vermont and am planning to relocate to WNC or ETN in the next few years. So, other than the home schooling bit, (I prefer public schools for my kids), I'm looking for similar things. I can tell you, as a weather nut, that you'll get LOTS more snow in Boone than Asheville because Boone, at over 3000' elevation is about 1000' higher than Asheville. I also understand Boone has the best downhill skiing around.

I have young kids, 11 and 7, but I'm 58 and I love the feel of a college town and having a lot of twenty somethings around. Colleges tend to contribute to the artsy feeling of an area. Northern New England examples you may be familiar with are Burlington and Middlebury VT and Hanover, NH.

So, if it's not too far from where you want to get to in SC, maybe concentrate on a rural area around Boone. I'm very interested in following your search. I'm looking to find less snow, but still a tolerable summer, so for me that's at a lower elevation in WNC like around Asheville.

Mark
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