I don’t even begin to know how to tell you about this fall road trip. We planned it (last minute) and, well honestly, around when and where we could find hotel availability and be able to see the fall colors. I also searched for plenty of places to stop along our route and be able to get out, stretch our legs and journey into nature. Let me tell you though, Mother Nature had a different plan in mind. We had a lot of rain, wind and fog; it did however spare us for some of our time. We made the best of the time we had and saw some beautiful sites. Some of the sites, we will however be traveling back to at some point to see it in alls it glory!
Stop 1 – Greenville, South Carolina
We left home Friday around lunch time with our first stop planned for Greenville, South Carolina.
On our route, I saw a sign for a bridge that we decided to stop and check out. If you don’t slow down, you will miss it. Once you turn off the main highway, there is a trailer home and the drive down to the bridge is right past the trailer home. The driveway to the bridge seems to almost be in their front yard.
Cromer’s Mill Covered Bridge
The Cromer’s settled on Nails Creek in Franklin County in 1845. Prior to the Civil War, the family operated a woolen mill near this site. Subsequently, the area maintained a cotton gin, flour mill and saw mill, though all operations ceased in 1943. The current bridge was built in 1907 by James M Hunt. It is a 110 ft bridge constructed in the Town lattice design. The bridges’s web of planks crisscrossing at 45 and 60-degree angles are fastened at each intersection with wooden pegs. A descendent of the original family, Will Cromer built the stone abutments.
Greenville, South Carolina
I didn’t expect to see fall colors here, it was just logistically, the best idea as far as travel distance from home. The downtown hotels were also easy to come by. We stayed at Aloft – Downtown Greenville. We explored Falls Park at the Reedy and a light sprinkle started, so we decided to go for drinks and a snack.
Falls Park on the Reedy
Falls Park on the Reedy is located smack dab in downtown Greenville at the West end of Main Street. It has walking paths, Liberty Bridge (where we took the photos of the Falls from), and a beautiful garden area. There are no fees to visit. If you’re in Greenville, it is a must visit. If the weather is nice, you can picnic or explore the Swamp Rabbit trail (14 miles of trails).
We walked to dinner at On the Roof and then explored Falls Park again at night before we headed back to the room. The rain drizzled most of the night, but we managed to explore some anyway.
Stop 2 – Bristol, Virginia
We left Greenville, with our end stop of the day being in Bristol, Virginia. On the way, these are the places we stopped to enjoy.
Linville Falls Winery
Our first stop was wine and cheese tasting at Linville Falls Winery. The grounds were beautiful. My hubby and I had the wine flights and cheese. As usual, I tried the whites and hubby tried the reds. Here you could tell the falls colors were starting to visit! The winery opens daily at 1200. We arrived a little early and there were already people taking their seats, waiting on service to begin. There was a light rain at times and that did not stray visitors, as the inside was quite full (with social distancing in effect though). The was a short lull in the rain, so we decided to explore outside in the vineyards some. We made it back to the car just in time for the rain to pour down.
Grandfather Mountain requires that you reserve a time slot and pay for admission before you come. I had reserved the 2:00 pm time slot. We arrived a little early and they let us in, we were hoping that we would be able to see something once we got to the top. By this time, the rain was coming down. Admission is $22 a person, so by golly, I was going to see something. There is a mile high swinging bridge at the top of the mountain, so we headed up. We donned our rain coats, grabbed our cell phones and made a dart into the welcome center to see where to go. It was so foggy, we really couldn’t see more than 75-100 feet ahead. I didn’t dare bring my camera out in the rain, so our cell phone photos would have to do.
Linn Cove Viaduct
As luck would have you, the rain lightened to a drizzle as we drove away from Grandfather Mountain just in time to stop at the Linn Cove Viaduct. There is an area where you can pull off of the road with a path that leads down to where I took these photos. This is on the Blue Ridge Parkway and the entire time we were on the parkway, the colors were the most vibrant that we saw on the whole trip.
Blowing Rock, North Carolina
We stopped in Blowing Rock for some lunch and a break from the rain. Our plan was to go to The Blowing Rock, but with the weather, we decided just to head towards the hotel. As we passed through Tennessee, we found a lake with this beautiful green bridge on. The rain determined if I shot my photos from a moving car through the windshield or if I could actually get out of the car to take a photo. At the lake, we were able to get out of the car to stretch our legs and we even got to put the top down for a little while.
We stayed at The Sessions Hotel, Bristol, A Tribute Portfolio Hotel. The hotel has three buildings, all with different themes. We stayed in the building that the lobby is in; this building has a music theme. The room was nicely appointed and updated. If you are ever in Bristol, I would definitely recommend staying here. We had dinner and drinks at Southern Craft (conveniently located in one of the buildings of the hotel).
Stop 3 – Cashiers, North Carolina
We left Bristol, with our end stop of the day being in Cashiers, North Carolina.
Before we headed out of Bristol, we drove through downtown and checked out the train station. The skies were blue in Bristol, but the forecast to where we were headed was looking a little grim.
On the way to Cashiers, these are the places we stopped to enjoy.
We headed towards Harrah’s Cherokee Casino to spend some time on the slot machines while the rain decided to keep pouring down. On the way, we saw a sign for a State Park (Lamar Alexander Rocky Fork State Park) in Tennessee, so we put it in Google Maps, so we detoured. We never found the State Park, but we did find this beautiful little road. It started as a normal two lane road, but soon turned into a one lane road. The colors were stunning and we were glad to have made a wrong turn somewhere.
Harrah’s Cherokee Casino
We stopped at Harrah’s to play a little while it rained until we waited to check in to our hotel and get ready for our dinner reservations. I found a penny slot where I kept winning, but it was time to go, so I let my unlucky Hubby sit down (he said he could lose it all quickly). He indeed, quickly lost all of my $16 in winnings…so we headed to Cashiers.
Cashiers, North Carolina
We checked in to Hotel Cashiers, a boutique hotel in Cashiers North Carolina. I would have rather stayed in Highlands for the walkability, but with this being a last minute trip, we had to stay a little ways from Highlands. The hotel was simple, but cute and trendy. We booked it through AirBnB.
We had early dinner reservations in Highlands at Wild Thyme. We have eaten at Wild Thyme before and its my hubby’s absolute favorite in Highlands. This trip and my meal made it my favorite in Highlands as well. We had the special appetizer, a lobster tail that was tempura battered and fried served with a Sweet Chili sauce on a bed of mixed greens. I have never, repeat never, liked the texture of lobster; my hubby and I were fighting over the last piece, so that says a lot about the preparation. It was to die for. I had trout for dinner and the compound butter that was on the fish, put it over the top!
Then we had lemon cake for dessert. The plan was to go get ice cream at Kilwins after dinner, but with a lemon cake being offered, I couldn’t pass it up; lemon desserts are one of my favorites. By this time, the rain had subsided, so we decided to go check out a few waterfalls before it got dark.
Bridal Veil Falls
With all the rain, the falls were rushing more than we’ve eve seen. Bridal Veils Falls are located right outside of Highlands on the roadside on Hwy 64. You cannot miss it, when headed to Dry Falls. You can compare the difference the rain makes by viewing my blog post from our visit to Highlands in June of 2020.
Dry Falls gets its name because you can walk behind the falls and stay dry. This trip, however, there was no staying dry. The water from the falls was being blown in on the path, but of course, we walked behind anyway to enjoy the view from all angles. It was a beautiful site, but a very different waterfall from when we saw it in June of this year.
We headed back to the hotel for an early night.
Stop 4 – Home
The next morning we woke up early and headed towards our house. We stopped at Upper Whitewater Falls on our route out of Cashiers. When we arrived, we were lucky and there was no rain, so camera and tripod in tow, we headed to the falls. It is a short walk to see the falls from the top, then a set of stairs to take you down to a better view point. Down we headed, but the fog was so thick, all we could see was the very bottom of the falls. There was a couple that walked up that we started talking to and the longer we talked, the fog started clearing. With the fog lifting, we decided to wait it out. We waited for about an hour, to actually be able to see the entire falls and it was an amazing view. To say the least, it was worth the wait!
To get an excellent view of Upper Whitewater Falls, follow the paved 1/4-mile walkway to the upper overlook. The walkway begins at the end of the parking lot and is accessible to wheelchairs. A lower overlook with an even better view (photos below) is located at the bottom of 154 wooden steps.
After seeing Upper Whitewater Falls, we backtracked some to check out Gorges State Park since the rain had, we thought, given us a break. We checked out the Visitors Center to see what the park had to offer. Rainbow Falls is located in the park, but the trail was marked as strenuous and we were not prepared; we didn’t have water to carry along, so we just drove through the park. While driving through, guess what…it started raining again, so we were glad we didn’t head down the trail.
Now it was time to hit the road to go home. We stopped for lunch and then our beloved Coke Icee and to stretch our legs. We made it home late afternoon. It always is great to get away, but at the end, it is even better to get home. Time to unpack, do laundry and get ready for the next adventure!