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I'm a solo travel enthusiast who began traveling in my thirties. Now, not quite still in my thirties, my goal is to encourage other women to get out and explore. For the more adventurous, I'm also a backpacking and hiking guide helping adults learn to explore our backyard of NC, TN and VA. Although not quite there yet, my next goals are mountain biking and rock climbing.
I didn't see pictures of people that looked like me when I started traveling and backpacking. All I saw were beautiful twenty-somethings in exotic locations. There were no pictures of women in their thirties or forties, overweight but active, out there traveling. After a few trips, I realized the reality is that more actual travelers looked like me than the models. You can stay in hotels or go on tours solo, you're not destined to stay in hostels and journey on foot if you don't want to.
Life is full of adventure. No one "missed their opportunity". It's always a good time to start.
Have you visited the Land of Waterfalls in North Carolina? That would be Brevard. With over 250 waterfalls in the area, including Sliding Rock and Looking Glass Falls. But there's so much more! I had a blast visiting the Cradle of Forestry which is the first school of forestry in the US. Then there was the good food. And DD Bullwinkels outiffters. Not to mention the historic museums. And of course, there's Pisgah National Forest surrounding you. So much to do, so little time. I have a feeling I'll be coming back soon.
Have you visited Saluda, North Carolina? Home to Thompson's Store, the oldest grocery store in North Carolina? And M.A. Pace which has everything from screws to ice cream. Or how about Azalea Bistro with its award-winning food? Maybe you prefer hiking and visiting waterfalls. There's always Pearsons Falls and Glen, or Little Bradley Falls. You can even sign up with Green River Adventures and rappel down a waterfall!!! Don't forget the Gorge zipline. 11 ziplines spanning 1.25 miles. That's an entire morning of flying over canopies. Don't let the small size fool you. There are plenty of things to do and see in Saluda.
I went to Hendersonville for the NC Apple Festival and swung by Saluda, NC for a visit. This charming town is amazing! Did you know they have a restaurant with a James Beard-nominated chef? If you're looking for something more "after hiking brews" there's Green River Eddy's at Saluda Outfitters, or S.P.O.T with its sign "tacos and margaritas" - Yes please! Of course, the outdoor adventures here are CRAZY! If you're not an experienced hiker, you can still enjoy one of the prettiest waterfalls in the area, Pearson's Falls and Glen. It's an easy 0.25 mile walk from the parking lot. I thought it would be a day trip, but you definitely need at least a weekend.
Have you been to Brevard, NC? Wow, was I blown away. I mean I know it's called the "Land of waterfalls" but that doesn't even begin to describe the magic. From Looking Glass Falls to Sliding Rock to Moore Falls and more. Then there's the Cradle of Forestry -- definitely plan on at least 3 hours there. Of course, you can't forget downtown and the hunt for the white squirrels. Maybe sit on a bench to wait for one while you munch a chocolate cherry scone from Blue Ridge Bakery? And of course, you can finish up your evening at Papa L.E.W for the best burger and fries on the planet.
Are you ready for Fall? I sure am. The crisp evenings (with no bugs), pretty leaves, and the Fall Festivals. September starts with a variety of Labor Day Weekend options including the NC Apple Festival in Hendersonville, NC, If you're busy that weekend, try the Morganton Festival (Sept 8-9). This is a huge street festival in downtown Morganton. And a perennial favorite - The Dirty Dancing Festival in Lake Lure on Sept 16 complete with a lake lift contest. If Lake Lure is too far, try the Eden Riverfest instead. So many options, so little time.
Marion, NC is so much fun to visit! You can explore downtown and check out the shops, Farmer's Market, Art Walk, or the waterfalls in Pisgah National Forest. To help you put together the best weekend itinerary, I've got the top things to do. Check out which hikes have views and which are nice outings. One tip: You have to stop at Artesana Ice Cream. They somehow made ice cream taste exactly like cookie dough!
Marion, NC is one of the prettiest towns I've visited in Western North Carolina. Just a little over 3 hours from Raleigh, it's the perfect weekend getaway. Downtown Main Street is full of cute shops and restaurants. You can fuel up before hitting the trails in Pisgah National Forest, including a few waterfalls. I'll be heading back for their Mountain Glory and Bigfoot festivals. They're both huge and lots of fun.
#ad #sponsored The Ultimate Travel Summit kicks off on Monday! This totally free event features 20 amazing speakers (including me!) who are ready to teach you how to travel smarter, safer, and more affordably. If you want to see the world but feel held back by invisible barriers, this summit will help you break free! You’re going to hear from some amazing experts like Kristin Hanes, Patrick Casale, Jenny Melrose, Kathryn Bird, Funk Roberts, Thei Zervaki, Abigail King, Julie Chickery, and more! Let me know which presentation you’re most excited about in the comments and, if you haven’t yet, check out the link to learn more and grab your FREE ticket! The Ultimate Travel Summit kicks off on Monday! This totally free event features 20 amazing speakers who are ready to teach you how to travel smarter, safer, and more affordably. If you want to see the world but feel held back by invisible barriers, this summit will help you break free! You’re going to hear from some amazing experts like Kristin Hanes, Patrick Casale, Jenny Melrose, Kathryn Bird, Funk Roberts, Thei Zervaki, Abigail King, Julie Chickery, and more! Let me know which presentation you’re most excited about in the comments and, if you haven’t yet, check out the link to learn more and grab your FREE ticket!
From good food to mountain biking to hiking, Old Fort, NC has it all. If you're not sure what to do or where to start, check out my latest post. I've got all the fun things to see in downtown Old Fort, plus some of the best hiking and mountain biking trails from beginners to advanced covered. This little town packs a big punch. Make sure to stop off next time you're on I-40 heading west.
Have you been to Old Fort, NC? It's the perfect home base for some of the best mountain biking in Pisgah National Forest. Of course if you want to hike, have a picnic, see a man-made geyser (or where one is supposed to be), check out a 15-foot arrowhead, and eat some great food.... it's also perfect for you 😀 I was surprised at how much there was to do in the area. And it's right down the highway from Marion, Black Mountain, and Asheville. Old Fort is definitely worth stopping if heading down Interstate 40 through the mountains.
Registration is officially OPEN for the Ultimate Travel Summit! The Ultimate Travel Summit is your ticket to traveling smarter, safer, and more affordably. If you want to see the world but feel held back by invisible barriers, the summit will help you break free! It’s got 20 incredible speakers with topics ranging from planning your dream trip, to making money on the road, to conquering common barriers along the way, and more! The summit kicks off on Monday, and it’s going to be 5 action-packed days that you won’t want to miss. Who’s excited?! Click here to find out more.
Looking for great views or challenging hikes? Hmm - maybe Pilot Mountain State Park is worth a look. You've got the mountain section and the river section, although I kinda like the mountain section myself. These trails are no joke. There are a few trails beginners may enjoy, but be sure you're ready before tackling Grindstone, Mountain, or Ledge Trails. Of course, you can still enjoy those views without the sweat by driving to the summit on the nicely paved road and parking in the paved parking lot with the restrooms and water fountain. I'm just saying - Pilot Mountain really does have something for everyone.
Looking at the map for Mayo River State Park and not sure where to start? There's the waterfall at the Deshazo entrance, the Mountain Trail and ponds at the main entrance, and the beach at the Anglin Mill Acces - where do you start? Don't worry, I've explored the entire park and have answers to all your questions. Check out one of NC's best-kept secrets.
In my mission to share our awesome NC State Parks, I finally got around to one of my faves, Pilot Mountain State Park. This is where I go to train for big hikes. You can hike 3 miles, power through an 18-mile hike, or just drive to the summit for the views. Either way, it's pretty spectacular. Hit the Ledge Spring trail to watch the rock climbers or just wander around Big Pinnacle. Maybe hit the observation area at the summit parking lot and see if you can spot downtown Winston-Salem. I was surprised to find out they recently added a Meadow walk that's designed to attract butterflies. With so many new things to experience, I may just have to go back.