Highlands, North Carolina’s Main Street is a gathering place for locals and a sweet escape for visitors
Situated on a mountain plateau in western North Carolina, some 4,000 feet above sea level, the four-stoplight town of Highlands is no secluded hamlet. Dubbed the Aspen of the East, it attracts 200,000 visitors a year.
I would start by kayaking on the French Broad River downtown with a six-pack of Asheville Brewing Company’s Perfect Day IPA. Then I’d go to South Slope, our unofficial brewery district with eleven breweries.
Since Southbound debuted in 2013, our staff and contributors have logged thousands of miles, consumed millions of calories, and taken countless notes and photos to showcase the very best destinations around the region. Although every place we’ve covered is special, some left a particularly powerful impression. Here, we give you the best of the very best, our favorite spots in the South.
Visitors traveling through the valley along US 601 from Yadkinville to Mount Airy will pass vineyards pocketed alongside fields of corn, soybeans, and the occasional chartreuse span of tobacco. They’ll also discover a number of attractions worth a stop, from a popcorn factory to a century-old general store to the childhood home of actor Andy Griffith.
In North Carolina, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians found a way to take care of their people: In 1997, they opened a casino on their lands. Now South Carolina’s Catawba tribe wants to do the same. But there is a problem.
"On that night, under that starlit sky, the sound of the water lapping against the dock, I felt a prescient sense of peace."
The highest cocktail bar in Durham is on the sixth-story rooftop of the Durham Hotel, a white-and-gold midcentury building. Like a few other classic structures in downtown Durham, it was once a bank, but it now trades in a different kind of currency: cool.
Eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina are home to some of the highest elevations in the eastern United States, rising more than 6,000 feet above sea level in some parts. It’s a favorite destination for outdoor enthusiasts who hike and bike its steep trails and brave its rushing rivers.
I was nineteen the first time I ever drove over the drawbridge into Beaufort, North Carolina. Good Southern girl that I was, I had arrived for a debutante party. One look, and I was absolutely smitten.