The Ideal Mountain Town Getaway

The Ideal Mountain Town Getaway

When planning your next vacation, Bryson City should be number one on your list.
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When trying to come up with your next vacation destination, consider Bryson City, North Carolina. Few know of this tiny mountain town nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains. This mountain town is the perfect relaxing getaway for any age.

Bryson City is a true gem. On the border of the Great Smoky National Forest, it has outstanding hiking, fishing, camping and many other outdoor activities. The city is about 20 minutes from The Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC), the nation’s largest outdoor recreation company. The Nantahala Outdoor Center offers white water rafting, zip-lining, mountain biking, guided hikes and more. The NOC also offers a wonderful outdoors store as well as several delicious restaurants. As the name suggests, the NOC is right on the Nantahala River; offering great fishing spots, kayaking and canoe areas, as well as shallow, rocky areas to play in the water. I guarantee that there is absolutely anything for every age at the NOC. Bryson City is about ten minutes from Lake Fontana and other swimming holes as well. On Lake Fontana, families can rent out pontoon boats hourly or daily, rent stand up paddle boards, swing into the lake from rope swings, jump off of rocky cliffs or simply enjoy a relaxing swim.

The city itself has many attractions as well. The most well known attraction is perhaps the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. This railroad offers year-round daily train rides with many different packages. During the Halloween season, the Railroad does a Halloween themed ride and all the passengers get to come in costume. During the Christmas season the Railroad and train becomes The Polar Express. All passengers ride in their pajamas, get to drink hot chocolate and sing along to the soundtrack – just like the movie! This is a tourist favorite.

In the city there are many amazing restaurants. A town favorite is The Cork & Bean Bistro. Originally a small, homey local wine and crepe restaurant, it expanded and grew its menu into a rustic, sustainable eatery. Another favorite restaurant is Mountain Perks Espresso Bar & Café. This hippie, welcoming, happy café offers a large selection of coffee daily along with wonderful food options. Other restaurants in town are: The Freymont Inn Restaurant & Bar, Water’s Edge Seafood & Grill, Great Smoky Mountains Winery, Nantahala Brewing Company, Inc., Everett Street Diner, Nate and Nick’s Pizza, Pasqualino's Italian Restaurant and many, many more. There really is something for every taste.

Other city attractions include The Charles Heath Gallery. Charles Heath, an East Carolina University graduate, is a well-known artist and photographer. His gallery is located right in the heart of downtown Bryson City. His works of art are outstanding. Deep Creek offers great hiking, fishing and tubing during the summer for families. The Appalachian Trail, also a popular hiking spot, runs adjacent to Bryson City. One of the things that Bryson City is most famous for is The Road to Nowhere. This road, promised to be finished by the Federal Government and paid for by the taxpayers of Bryson City in the 1930s and 1940s, was never finished and now serves as a popular tourist attraction and hiking trail access. Bryson City also offers wonderful places to shop. Shops include: Madison’s on Main Boutique, Friends of the Library Used Book Store, Calby’s Antiques and Gifts, Appalachian Mercantile, Humanité Boutique, Loose Moose Outdoors Store and many more.

The quaint downtown feel of Bryson City, North Carolina makes the city a family favorite. There are so many attractions in and near Bryson City, this article cannot do them all justice. I have been visiting Bryson City most of my life, in every season, and I highly suggest planning your next vacation in Bryson City. It truly is a mountain gem.

Cover Image Credit: Google Images

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If You Give A Girl A Little Brother

You've given her the world.
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I remember back to my childhood, standing at the top of the steps yelling down to my parents "Why did you decide to have another child?" I remember riding in the backseat yelling "Mom, was I not good enough for you?" as my brother threw snow at me .

I remember crying when my mom made us share our first cell phone. I remember playing in a pool at a waterpark, and my dad couldn't play with me because my brother couldn't swim and needed my dad to be with him. I played by myself, thinking "They must have not wanted a girl when they only pay attention to him."

But now, at almost 22, I realized that the best gift God has ever given me was my little brother.

Give a girl a little brother, and you give her a pain in her ass.

Oh, he'll be annoying. He'll get in the shower just because you said you were going to. He'll start talking every time you do. He'll pull stupid pranks, he'll make you listen to bogus music, he'll make you watch stupid tv shows, he'll smell up the bathroom (and probably smell himself.) and boy, I promise there will be day's you will resent him. But he's just training for living with your husband one day.

Give a girl a little brother, and you give her a role.

As a big sister, I had somebody copying all my moves. If I did something, so did he. If I didn't eat something, neither did he. If I didn't like somebody neither did he. He was like a little shadow that did everything I did, so I was always motivated to make good choices and make him proud of me.

Give a girl a little brother, and you give her a rough side.

I wouldn't have done half the things I did if it wasn't for him. Play basketball in the drive way, spend hours on our bikes, spend the summer days in the pool, or down at the park. I wouldn't have learned that it's okay to get in the dirt and have some fun. I wouldn't have played half the made up, imaginary games we played every day. I wouldn't have played with Hot Wheels, or Lincoln Logs, or Leggo's. I would have played with Barbies by myself all day long, and what's the fun in that?

Give a girl a little brother, and you give her the best friend she'll ever have.

In the end, when our parent's both pass away, I won't be alone, because I will have my little brother. When the world gets tough, and everyone turns away from me, he will always be there. No matter where he end's up in life, I know he will drop everything and come running when I'm in need.

For Christmas this year, I bought my brother his first tattoo. We got matching tattoo's on our sides. Our lives our different now, because we're grown up and live on opposite sides of the state. But no matter where we go in life, if we look up, we will be looking at the same sun and moon. We are made up of the same matter, 'made' by the same people, and love each other more than I think we'd like to admit.

Alex is my true other-half.

Give a girl a little brother, and you made her whole.

Cover Image Credit: Abby Engel

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Solo Travel As An Extrovert Is Not Easy

Traveling alone, I can choose to view it as a difficult separation from other people or a journey of learning more about myself.

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Life has a funny way of revealing itself and after my mom ditched me on our mother-daughter trip to Taiwan, I found myself on a plane headed to a country I had never visited where I didn't know a soul. (Disclaimer: I have relatives in Taiwan but had never met them prior to the trip.) I was excited for the adventure that awaited, fear not setting in of how difficult it would be not to just travel in a foreign country where I didn't speak or read any Mandarin beyond the very, very basics (Literally my vocabulary consisted of 10 simple words/phrases, one of which was the word for "apple" which isn't that helpful for getting around. I have since picked up a few more phrases.), but also be alone with just myself for company.

So much of who we are is influenced by the people around us. A large part of our identity comes the communities we choose to be part of and how we interact with others. But who are we when no one's looking? Who am I without the pressure of other people around me?

I am an extrovert. I get my energy from being around other people. It's not that I can't spend time by myself; I just prefer to be in the company of others even if we aren't always interacting the entire time. My best friend and I will even do independent activities together. (Once when we were hanging out, she was knitting and I was doing a puzzle. I swear we don't act like grandmas all the time.)

Although an extrovert, I'm still a pretty independent person who doesn't like to rely on others for help. But traveling alone in Taiwan, I don't have much of a choice. I'm forced to learn to navigate public transport myself and somehow survive with the basic English that Taiwanese locals know.

Learning to travel alone has been an emotional and difficult journey as this is the first time I've been on my own for this long. Although lonely at times, I've realized that loneliness is a mental state of mind. There is the Sanskrit saying, "Mana eva manushyanam karanam bandha moksayoh" which translates to "As the mind, so the person; bondage or liberation are in your own mind." My mind determines my emotional state of being and perspective! Traveling alone, I can choose to view it as a difficult separation from other people or a journey of learning more about myself.

Through solo travel, I am slowly learning to be comfortable with my own company which has been the biggest challenge. I was never an only child, I've always had a roommate in college, and even when I study, I go to public spaces like coffee shops so I can be surrounded by people. I don't know what to do when it's just me and my thoughts all the time. (Especially during meals. Should I appear busy on my phone like all the other single people around me?)


Because when you're traveling alone, you're in charge. You have control. You can change the itinerary from moment to moment without anyone's approval. No one's holding you accountable. Spontaneity? Let's go. You can build barriers but you can also tear them down. It's fun, it's exhilarating. But it's also scary. And unpredictable.


Would I go on another solo expedition in the future? Preferably not as traveling is way more enjoyable when you have someone to share the experience with. It's the people, not the place who make all the difference on a vacation. Yet I do believe solo travel is an experience that everyone should embark on at some point in their life (to grow and learn more about yourself).


This trip has taught me to find spontaneity in the fear and excitement and I've learned to embrace discomfort and unpredictability. To travel with not just my mind and logic but my heart. There are so many unique experiences, if you overthink too much, you'll lose your chance.

I've found that when I am alone, I become more vulnerable and open to meeting new people and having more offbeat experiences. I say yes with zero hesitation. Certainly, there are friends I made, hikes I climbed, streets I meandered, and epiphanies I had that wouldn't have transpired had I been with my mom or a group of people.


Traveling alone, I am now more confident in myself and am ready for the next wave that life throws me. Because I've learned that once you overcome the fear of being by yourself, getting lost (which you will), or accidentally eating meat as a vegan because you didn't understand the signage (I'm sorry!), the world in all its vast infinity can be pretty great. And there are some things that you can only learn on solo travel.

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