Posts Tagged ‘North Carolina’

Cooling Off in Highlands Again

August 23, 2010

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.

Small downtown Highlands, NC shopping nook sitting by a brook

 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.

Guess who at Dry Falls

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. 

The way it looks behind the falls

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. 

Deck walkway on the side of Sweet Treats restaurant and ice cream parlor. There are huge trout fish in the stream below that you can easily see and drop fish food pellets to see them break the surface.

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.


Cooling Off Like the Rich Folks

July 5, 2009
Gotta get outta this heat and humidity.  What to do? Do what the rich folks do. Go to Highlands, North Carolina.
Viewing area on the way up the mountain to Highland's, NC

Just getting  there is fun.  Riding up those curvy mountain roads, the view is beautiful.      



Once there, the high is 76 degrees.  That’s 76 compared to Columbus’ 98. 


 Downtown is picturesque, with lots of quaint old stores that sell high price stuff.


And there are plenty of fun side trips, things like a ride on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad.  You board the train at Bryson City, NC.

  GSMRR 2 

07 02_HIGHLANDS NC ETC._1069 

Not many train rides offer a view of  folks rafting, but this one does.



Just miles and miles of beautiful views along the Tuckasegee River and Lake Fontana.


That ride brought back memories of when passenger trains were a common mode of transportation, and one of life’s highlights was eating in a nice dining car.

 07 02_HIGHLANDS NC ETC._1076

So I got to beat the heat the way rich folks do… for three days.