It’s a tiny town tucked away in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Asheville is a quaint community with loads of delicious restaurants and independently owned shops. The historic pinball museum is an educational and entertaining experience, and a unique opportunity since only three dozen or so similar locations exist in the U.S.
Nearby is the Biltmore Estate, America’s largest home. The 250-room mansion was built in 1895 by George Vanderbilt and can be toured with a guide or alone.
For hikers the area is loaded with parks and trails, including Chimney Rock State Park with a reasonable uphill walk to a spectacular view. The town below (also called Chimney Rock) has ample places to shop and eat, and an occasional fair or festival to entertain.
And there’s lots of golf for those into that.
I’m not much of a hiker, not a golfer and while I love great food and shopping there has to be more to a vacation. So why else visit the area?
For any movie buff, there’s something familiar about Lake Lure just half an hour from Asheville. When we visited I couldn’t quite place my finger on it until someone mentioned “Dirty Dancing.” Yes, this is the same lake where Johnny lifted Baby out of the water, the same one where Baby danced across a log. Each September at the Dirty Dancing Festival guests are invited to participate in the aforementioned lift and a watermelon carrying contest. The annual festival has been postponed until 2021, which is plenty of time to plan a trip now. The rest of the year learn the area’s history and geography by boat with Lake Lure Tours. Reserve well ahead of time because tours are limited and require masks.
May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor
An hour east of Asheville is the tiny town of Henry River. The town was abandoned until 2011 when it became District 12. Fans of “The Hunger Games” can visit Katniss’ home and Peta’s bakery. Its mills were once important to the North Carolina textile industry, and that history is shared during a tour of the town.
A portion of funds go toward preserving the village which is open from Wednesday through Sunday. Through fundraising the community hopes to add shops and places to stay in the future.
While live guides aren’t currently an option due to the pandemic, fans can still visit the filming sites. Virtual and Zoom led tours are available through the Facebook page and they’ll also provide a map of the area.
Triple Falls (featured at the end of the film) is a very short drive from Asheville in the DuPont State Recreational Forest. It was also a setting for “Last of the Mohicans.”
Many additional scenes of that film were around Chimney Rock, and on the grounds of the state’s most famous house…
On set at The Biltmore
The home’s vast 8,000 acre property has been a box office backdrop for nearly a dozen films, plus multiple documentaries and television shows. It was first a movie set in 1956 when Grace Kelly’s “The Swan” was filmed there.
Other films featuring the building’s exterior are the 1979 film “Being There” and the movie version of “Richie Rich” (starring Macaulay Culkin). The grounds were utilized for scenes in “Forest Gump,” “Patch Adams” and “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” among others.
While Asheville itself is a quiet, laid back town, there’s plenty in the area for dozens of interests.