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Nearby escapes

November 11th, 2013 10:16 am by Jennifer Sprouse

Nearby escapes

Biltmore Estate Photo courtesy of

Even though summer’s come and gone, there are still plenty of things left to do and see this fall.
Whether it’s right in our region’s back yard or just a short drive over the state line, the shoppers, the foodies, the outdoor explorers and the cultural fanatics can plan easily plan the perfect day trip to fit their interests.

 Natural Tunnel State Park — In Scott County, Va., approximately 13 miles north of Gate City and 20 miles north of Kingsport, sits the Natural Tunnel State Park, a naturally created formation that William Jennings Bryan deemed as the Eighth Wonder of the World.
The nearly 1,000 acres at Natural Tunnel have many amenities for families and visitors, including 10 full-service cabins, hiking and biking trails, a conference center, two main campgrounds –– Cove Views and Lover’s Leap –– and picnic area.
For more information on Natural Tunnel State Park, visit

 Hungry Mother State Park — Located in Marion, Va., Hungry Mother State Park provides the perfect spot for a quick picnic or a hiking and biking day outside. According to the park website, Hungry Mother offers three shelters for rent.They can be rented from 8 a.m.-10 p.m., and the park amphitheater can also be rented. Shelters include charcoal grill, picnic tables, electrical outlets, fireplace, lights and restroom access.
The park also has more than 12 miles of trails open year-round, as well as wildlife, including white-tailed deer.
For more information, visit

 Asheville, N.C. — From shopping to scenic views, Asheville provides a variety of entertainment for locals looking to see something new.
According to, the western North Carolina town provides a vibrant downtown area with unique shops, pubs and eateries.
Located right along the Blue Ridge Parkway, the town offers places to hike and drive to see mountain views.
Visitors can also take in the historic home, Biltmore Estate, as well as the on-site winery.
Visit for more information.

 Blowing Rock, N.C. — One of the oldest attractions in North Carolina, Blowing Rock provides a scenic walk where visitors can snap a photo or two of Grandfather Mountain, Table Rock and Hawksbill.
The site’s trail is approximately 1,200 feet long and takes approximately 15-25 minutes to complete.
Visit or for more information.

 Blue Ridge Parkway — Whether you just want to drive through it, or are wanting to stop in for a day visit, the Blue Ridge Parkway has plenty to offer.
The parkway has blooms and wildlife watching, shopping, golf course and clubs, hiking trails, bicycling along the parkway, interpretive exhibits and programs and plenty of places to stop and view the leaves.
For more information, visit

 Buffalo Mountain — For a local getaway, Johnson City’s 725-acre Buffalo Mountain Park has numerous trails to weave in and out of for a day of exploring.
Picnic areas are available, as well as nature programs throughout the year. According to the Johnson City Parks and Recreation website, the park has steep topography and densely forested land.
For more information about Buffalo Mountain, visit
 Abingdon, Va. — Located in Washington County, Va., Abingdon, has plenty for the history buff and art enthusiast.
Visitors can hang out in the Historic District to see Fields-Penn 1860 House Museum, Cave House Craft Shop, Arts Depot and the Martha Washington Inn.
Abingdon also offers one of the few places in the region to take in a play or musical, at the Barter Theatre and the William King Regional Arts Center.
Visit for more information.

 Roan Mountain State Park — Approximately 16 miles south of Elizabethton, Roan Mountain State Park was created in the 1950s and features picnic shelters, tennis courts, children’s play area and more than 14 hiking trails.
Visit for more information.

 Cherokee, N.C. — From Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resorts to the Sequoyah National Golf Club, Cherokee offers a variety of entertainment for those wanting to explore the outdoors, as well as those wanting to take it easy.
The outdoors lover can find hiking, biking, bird watching, trout fishing and kayaking, as well as elk watching.
Authentic Cherokee culture is also available as visitors can explore the Oconaluftee Village, the Mountainside Theatre and The Museum of the Cherokee Indian.
For more information, visit

 Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium — From adventure courses, to wolves to an on-site planetarium, Bays Mountain Park in Kingsport has plenty to offer locals and out-of-towners.
According to the Bays Mountain website, the park has wildlife –– wolves, bobcats, raptors and reptiles –– as well as a 300-foot zipline and around 38 miles of trails for hiking, biking and sightseeing.
For more information, visit

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