Deciding to get away from the oppressive heat for at least a couple of days, I went to Highlands, North Carolina recently. I did the same thing last year.
Highlands’ number one attraction is its coolness in the dead of summer, and, though it has hit the 90’s there this summer, it was characteristically cool when I was there. One day the high was 78 and the other, 81. Compared to 98 in Columbus, that’s cool.
The weather and gorgeous mountain scenery attract a lot of people with serious money, including some from our area. Most of them show up in the summer. It gets really cold in the winter. I was told the population in the winter is about 3,000 and it’s 25,000 in the summer. Even though it does have some very expensive restaurants and upscale boutiques to appeal to all of those rich folks,, there is also a lot to attract the average Joe and Flo.
For one thing, there is the very popular Dry Falls. It’s called Dry Falls because you supposedly can walk under it and stay dry. Basically that’s true, but you do get a little wet from the spray. I did. Though the walk down and back up caused a little heavier breathing than normal, I enjoyed the experience. It’s free, if you don’t count the big bucks you spend on gas to get there. Nearby there is also a nice state park with a swimming and fishing lake. You do have to pay to park there, but it’s only $4.
And, though I did enjoy eating in a fairly expensive restaurant that provided a posh ambience, I also equally enjoyed a nearby reasonably priced one. The Sweet Treats restaurant sits right by a crystal clear mountain stream that flows through downtown Highlands. The food is good, and it has an ice cream parlor that is quite popular. I got a sugarfree strawberry yogart. They blend fresh fruit into the yogart as you watch. Marvelous! It has a neat deck on the side where you can buy fish-food pellets to drop where some really large trout are swimming. When the pellets hit the water, the trout immediately strike and consume them.
Real estate prices in Highlands are still astronomical. Some new friends I met there have their old (it was built in the 1920s), modest home up for sale. In Columbus, I would say it would be worth about $160,000. The asking price in Highlands is more than $400,000. That’s because the lot is so expensive, somewhere in the $250,000 range.
“Getting a lot of bites?”
“Nope. People aren’t buying right now. It’s just like the rest of the country.”
“Are prices coming down because of that.”
“Nope. Our real estate agent tells us not to do that.”
So, according to him, homes are not selling, but prices remain high. I guess, if you have enough money, you figure you can wait out the slump.
Anyway, as I said, you don’t have to be rich to enjoy a really special mountain town. But, if you plan to stay there, it helps a lot.