8 Ways to Relax
Picnic on Max Patch Bald
Take a long drive through beautiful country roads to reach the second highest spot in the county, Max Patch. This bald offers some of the most spectacular 360° views. It’s a great spot for a picnic or in the evening for stargazing. If you want to walk, there are hiking trails across the bald which are actually a part of the Appalachian Trail. You can choose a short trail that crosses the summit or a longer one that loops around.
Soak in the Hot Mineral Springs
There are only a few natural mineral springs east of the Mississippi River and one of them is located on the banks of the French Broad River in the town of Hot Springs. Whether you are tired after a long day of hiking–on the Appalachian Trail which runs right down the main street of the town or just one of the many other hiking trails in the area–or are just looking for a way to spend a hour relaxing, this is it! For hundreds of years these springs have attracted people looking for the healing qualities. The history of the resorts which preceded the current Spa and Resort surround you as you soak in a private tub filled with the healing waters.
Indulge in a Meal of Southern Comfort Food
Treat yourself to a meal in which you don’t feel guilty about the calories you are consuming. Just sit back and enjoy the aromas and the taste of biscuits that melt in your mouth or drown them in old-fashioned gravy. If you haven’t tried fried green tomatoes, this is the time to experience that traditional southern method of preparing tomatoes. But, don’t stop with entrees or side dishes, save room for one of the famous southern desserts.
Stay at a Cabin, Inn or B & B
What better way to relax than to get away from it all and fall asleep to the sound of silence in the midst of the beautiful mountains. Experience the true beauty of nature by staying at one of the secluded cabins. You can just sit on the porch or take a hike in the nearby woods. There are also some Bed and Breakfasts in rural settings where you can add the luxury of a wonderful meal to start your day.
Take a Dip in a Swimming Hole
In these modern times many have forgotten the joy of just jumping into a natural swimming hole. Madison County offers a beautiful hike on an old railroad bed along the Laurel River Trail. At one point, there is a natural spot where the water is deep enough and kids and adults alike over the years have designated it “the swimming hole.” So, take your swimsuit and set off for an afternoon of long-lost enjoyment or create some memories with your children.
Attend a Play at Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre
Each summer, SART offers plays that range from Broadway musicals to world premieres with subject matter about our local heritage. The plays are performed in the historic Owen Theatre on the Mars Hill College campus in an intimate setting where there are no “bad seats.” The actors come from all over to take part in the productions and draw audiences from all around the area. So, join them and sit back, relax and be entertained for the evening.
Take a Walk on Blannahassett Island
You couldn’t find a better setting for a walking path than an island in the middle of the French Broad River. It’s easily accessible across the bridge from downtown Marshall. The walking path is just one of the many ways that the community has transformed the island into a town park. Marshall High Studios (a former high school which is now studio space for artists) is the only structure on this beautiful tree-filled land. Bring a picnic lunch or a fishing pole to try your hand at catching a fish from the pier. However you spend your time on the Island, it is sure to be a peaceful, relaxing experience.
Enjoy a Meal in a Historic Building
The Unforgettable Dining room in the Mountain Magnolia Inn provides both a beautiful setting for your meal and a beautiful view of the surrounding valley of the French Broad River in Hot Springs. The Inn was the original estate of one of the important families in Hot Springs history–Colonel James H. Rumbough and his wife Carrie who owned and operated the Mountain Park Hotel in the late 1800s at the site of the current Hot Springs Resort and Spa. The Inn is a fully-restored 1868 Victorian home and the dining experience is one you won’t forget.