The Best Places to See and Experience Fall On The Blue Ridge Parkway

The Best Places to See and Experience Fall On The Blue Ridge Parkway

A/N: This post is sponsored by Toyota & The Biltmore Estate, however, all thoughts and opinions about how amazing this vehicle and restaurant are, belong solely to me. 

 A few weeks ago we headed to the gorgeous Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina to catch the changing of the leaves. If you live in or around North Carolina, you know the Parkway is a hot spot during the fall months. This is because the Blue Ridge Parkway boasts some of the most scenic views and autumn colors in the South during the Fall and Spring months.

Since we're in such close proximity, we typically visit Asheville at least twice a year, and it never fails to disappoint. In that time, we've learned that there are some extraordinary places to take in the scenery. So if you're planning on heading that way anytime soon, here are some tips to help get you there safely, provide you with some gorgeous views and make sure your visit to The Blue Ridge Parkway is everything you expect, and more!

Creekside Mountain Camping

This time around, we decided to really immerse ourselves in the beauty that the Blue Ridge Parkway offers during Fall, and stayed at the Creekside Mountain Camp Ground. This was our first experience there, and we were pleasantly surprised. Nestled right at the base of the mountains, with several creeks running through it, Creekside Mountain Camp Ground is appropriately named.  The campground is located in a wooded setting and has much to offer.
In addition to campsites that all offer incredible views of the fall foliage, there are also rental cabins, and a main lodge that has any essentials you may need during your stay. We picked this location mainly because of it's vicinity to Bat Cave and Chimney Rock, two quaint towns with plenty of activities and dining options for visitors.
Of course when you're heading into the mountains, you have to have a vehicle that can handle the terrain.

The 2017 Toyota Highlander

The 2017 Toyota Highlander is smooth, capable, and comes equipped with tons of features that make it an excellent camping vehicle. If you're into the more technical side of things, the 2.7 cylinder engine reaches 185 horsepower and seemingly glides up the mountains. I admit, I've always been a bit afraid of driving through the mountains, but the Highlander handled curves and hills like an absolute boss and made our trip to the mountain an absolute breeze.

Fuel wise, it nearly outperformed my 2007 Suzuki Reno, which is incredibly if you consider the difference in size. The 2017 Toyota Highlander, offers a fuel economy rating of 27 highway MPG, and it comes equipped with a Start and Stop Engine System that shuts off when the Highlander has come to a complete stop. This feature typically kicks in at stop lights or signs and helps to conserve gas. Once you release the brakes, the engine immediately restarts. The whole process is so smooth, it actually took me a few drives before I even realized what was happening.
Lastly, the lane detection and blind spot monitoring were incredibly useful while navigating through the mountains. It's easy to accidentally cross lanes while you're cursing around sharp curves, but the lane detection feature kept me on the track. While the blind spot monitoring feature was most useful on the highway, it's still worth a mention because it really provides a extra level of security.

The Size

We're no strangers to camping, so we know it's always better to have and not need, than to need and not have. Which is why the Highlander was a very necessary part of our camping adventure. The Highlander is an 8-seater with plenty of cargo space in the back. We were able to easily fit all 3 of us, plus the pup, AND all of our camping equipment.

The Features

Now on to my favorite part, the features...

I admit, I am a big fan of the "little things." The little things quickly become the big things when you spend a significant amount of time in your vehicle. Like the heated seats. The 2017 Toyota Highlander comes equipped with both driver and passenger-side heated seats. A feature I found to be incredibly useful when trapped in a car with my husband who prefers sub zero temperatures.

All three of us agreed that the sun roof was the perfect for the trip because it provided an incredible angle to witness the kaleidoscope of colors in the mountains.

Little J seemed to especially enjoy the fact that she could easily control the temperature from the second row seats, so much so that we had to eventually lock the controls to keep her from making us experience all four seasons every time we got into the car.

Mom wise, I appreciated the collapsible side tray attached to the second row seats. I feel like I'm always cleaning juice and crumbs off our car seats, so having the collapsible side tray really came in handy for our road trip, and cut down on the mess. Like I said, it's always the small things.

Final Thoughts

This was definitely one of our most memorable camping trip. Cruising through the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway in the 2017 Toyota Highlander provided an extra layer of comfort we normally don't get to experience.
To find out more about the Toyota Highlander, including even more amazing features, visit the official Toyota website. From here you can check out all the specs and/or schedule an appointment to take the Highlander out for a spin so you can experience all it has to offer!

The Biltmore Estate

For the past few years, we've made it a point to visit the Biltmore Estate on a regular basis. So much so that a few years ago, we actually became season pass holders. Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter, there is always something to do at the Biltmore Estate, but our favorite time to visit, is in the fall months because it provides an extraordinary view Asheville bathed in fall colors.

If you've never visited, or heard of the Biltmore Estate, it is America's largest home. And that's a bit of an understatement. Last year we did the Christmas Candle Light Tour, and it took us nearly two hours view all four floors and 250 rooms. And did I mention that it has 65 fireplaces? (sidenote: The Christmas Candle light tour is worth every penny. We've paid out of pocket for the last two trips, and it has been well worth it!).

In addition to the 250 room, 178,926 square foot mansion, the Biltmore provides an incredible amount of amenities for guests, including horseback riding, biking, shooting clays, fly fishing, carriage rides, shopping, lodging, and of course, our favorite part, dining. Which brings me to the next topic...

The Village Social

While we were there, we were invited to dine at the fabulous Village Social Restaurant located inside the Village Hotel at The Biltmore Estate. Dining at the Biltmore is an incredible experience in it's own. Unlike a typical restaurant, the Biltmore owns a farm and operates on a field-to-table program with estate-grown greens, berries, eggs, beef, lamb and more. The result is an incredible dining experience with farm fresh foods and locally sourced trout, cheese, beef and pork.

If it's your first time at The Village Hotel, it can be easy to miss The Village Social. Though it's located in the main lobby, you enter the restaurant through a set of stair located next to the cafe.

Once you arrive at the top of the stairway, you're immediately greeted with a cozy sofa and fireplace. Because we arrived at night, I appreciated the low lighting and candles, it helped to set the mood and create a romantic ambiance.

Though The Village Social offers live music, we choose to sit outside and enjoy the cool evening. I opted for the Shrimp and Grits, while Mr. A chose the North Carolina Market Fish of the Day- Mahi, Mahi. Little J decided to keep it simple with the Chicken Tenders and fries.

For dessert, we decided to indulge in the Carrot Cake. As it turns out, that was potentially the most delicious carrot cake I've ever tasted, and I've tasted my fair share of carrot cake.

Blue Ridge Parkway Scenic Lookouts

We finished up our weekend by cruising along the Blue Ridge Parkways and visiting some of the most popular lookouts. Due to the Hurricane season, the colors weren't quite a vivid as they typically are, but the views were still stunning. If you're planning to visit this season, there are two spots in particular that you'll want to add to your itinerary:

Our final lookout of the day was the most spectacular-- Bearden Gap. At an elevation of 5,220 feet, it provided a senic view of the mountains, with tons of picnic areas available for those in need.

Want to read more about our Blue Ridge Parkway adventure? Check out this post here!

Until next time,

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