The Time of Your Life: Blue Ridge Foothills, North Carolina
Have the time of your life in the Blue Ridge Foothills of Western North Carolina. Home of the famous lake scene of “Dirty Dancing,” this area is just teeming with a multitude of unforgettable sites. Lake Lure, Chimney Rock, Rutherfordton, Spindale, Forest City and Bostic, are all waiting for you to explore, enjoy and love.
“Nobody puts Baby in a corner…”
Let’s just get right to it. That epic scene where Patrick Swayze lifts Jennifer Grey in the Lake, was shot at Lake Lure. Several areas of Lake Lure were used in the filming of the 1987 classic film Dirty Dancing. While here filming many of the cast and production team lodged at the beautiful 1927 Lake Lure Inn and Spa, where you can book the exact same rooms that Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey stayed in while filming. The majority of the film was done in Lake Lure former Boy's Scout Camp. The gymnasium of the camp happens to be the filming location of the talent show and the final dance scene in the movie. The area embraces this 30-year connection to the classic film. Even the Rutherford County Welcome Center even houses a few movie artifacts, photos and even a replica of the staircase Baby practices her dance moves on…epic selfie moment opportunity!
Now, looking past the Hollywood connection, the beautiful communities making up the Blue Ridge Foothills offer something much more tangible and genuine. Shopping the art and street festivals, listening to homegrown music, enjoying landscapes and the quaint small town scenes; with so many choices, you'll want to visit again and again. The quaint towns in Rutherford County are conveniently located between Charlotte and Asheville, and just an hour north of Spartanburg, making it the ideal springboard to a bevy of regional attractions. visitncsmalltowns.com
Chimney Rock State Park
With outdoor adventures, scenic driving tours and iconic landmarks like Chimney Rock State Park, it is the perfect opportunity to unplug from your daily grind and reset your clock. Winter in Chimney Rock can boast surprisingly warm temperatures (sometimes 60-70 degrees!) or be so chilly that incredible ice formations can be found in the Park. If you are planning a trip to Chimney Rock State Park this winter, be sure to check the weather before you visit so you know how to dress. The hiking trails are kid-friendly and great for the whole family, however small kids may not be able to keep up on all the trails. There are also rock-climbing opportunities on Rumbling Bald. The payoff, of course, can be found at the top of Chimney Rock with 360 degree scenic views for as far as the eye can see. chimneyrockpark.com
Next to walking and hiking, one of the best ways to experience this area is with your own car. Rove the scenic byways with show-stopping vistas and panoramic lake views. Make a stop at a local boutique winery like Overmountain Winery in Tryon, which offers old world style wine like petit verdot, rosé, chardonnay and a viognier, in a beautiful location. One of Rutherford County Driving Tours will surely immerse you in authentic small town culture. To get started, check out the Cherry Bounce Trail, with over ten different points of interest covering 46 miles. Better yet, follow the Hometown Holiday’s Tour that takes you to Forest City, Spindale, Rutherfordton, Lake Lure, and Chimney Rock, for a taste of the holidays in each destination. overmountainvineyards.com
Once you’re settled in to the area, it’s time to tackle a “to-do” list. Whether it’s as unfettered as a boat tour on Lake Lure or watching the kids play at KidSenses Children’s Museum in Rutherfordton, or as thrilling as a treetop zip line ride, or a concert at the Foundation Performing Arts & Conference Center, the choices are endless. Throughout the region, there are numerous parks, trails, and walking paths, ranging from gently sloped to vertically challenged. kidsenses.org, foundationshows.org
If you want to experience some of the areas backcountry up close, head over to Buffalo Creek Park in Lake Lure. Hike it, bike it, or just stroll along at your own pace to get totally distracted in the gorgeous scenery that surrounds you. Other great options include the Rocky Broad Riverwalk in Chimney Rock and the Thermal Belt Rail Trail that traverses three towns in Rutherford County. townoflakelure.com
Whether you visit for a day or a week, no trip is complete without a little bit of shopping in Lake Lure and the Blue Ridge Foothills. Peruse the funky, homegrown stores and boutiques along our Main Streets and be sure to check out the side streets, too. Each signature shop features its own essence and plenty of exceptional finds. For vintage kitchenware and mid-century pieces, try Robin Rose Antiques in Forest City. For exceptional local art and handcrafted pieces, stop by Rutherford County’s Visual Arts Center, it acts as a gallery and storefront for the growing art community. artatthevac.com
Sleep & Savor
Many of the best accommodations can be found in and or around Lake Lure, including afore mentioned Lake Lure Inn & Spa (which houses an unbelievably elegant restaurant, The Veranda). With 69 guest rooms and suites, it is not only pet friendly, but also offer sweeping lake and mountain views. Larkin’s on the Lake offers a more relaxed atmosphere to eat at their Bayfront Bar & Grill, but kicks it up a notch upstairs at their more formal restaurant upstairs. In Chimney Rock, The Esmeralda Inn & Restaurant offers elegant and comfortable rustic surroundings along with a casual restaurant with a fine dining menu and farm to table approach. lakelure.com, larkinsonthelake.com, theesmeralda.com
When people envision an idyllic Western North Carolina small town experience, complete with historic inns, flourishing shops, corner cafes, striking mountain vistas, cold mountain streams, genuine hospitality and farm-to-table fresh food - they envision the region encompassing Lake Lure and the Blue Ridge Foothills. It is the granddaddy of small town charm, with bustling main streets and miles of rolling countryside as folksy as a vintage North Carolina postcard.