The Open Road

Seven drivable destinations to consider this fall

Compiled by Jodi Werner Greenwald

Posted October 20, 2020

With gas prices low and a change of scenery beckoning, we revisit seven drivable destinations from our magazine. These getaways, from the mountains to the coast, would be perfect for fall or whenever the opportunity strikes.

Cashiers-Highlands Plateau

Distance from Ballantyne: 164 miles3 hours

At 3,500 feet, the Cashiers-Highlands Plateau is a high-altitude, high-end escape. The charming towns sit atop the Blue Ridge Mountains and are only 10 miles apart featuring fine dining, a world-renowned spa, top-notch shopping and of course, incredible hiking trails.

The area has been known as a wellness destination since the 1880s and continues to draw crowds looking for a mountain-chic destination. It is especially alluring in the fall when the leaves change and add even more reason to gasp at the already stunning mountain views.

Excerpted from article by Michelle Boudin, fall 2020

Historic Orchard at Altapass

Distance from Ballantyne: 123 miles – 2 hours, 20 minutes

Located between Linville and Little Switzerland at Milepost 328.3, The Historic Orchard at Altapass on the Blue Ridge Parkway offers visitors a window to the past as well as a snapshot of modern agricultural techniques. And autumn is when most people drop by.

Excerpted from article by Sean O’Connell, fall 2010

Kiawah Island

Distance from Ballantyne:  231 miles – 3 hours, 50 minutes

The lure of Kiawah Island has long been its 10 miles of pristine, secluded beaches that offer a respite for vacationers seeking to escape everyday life. Now this barrier island of South Carolina is capitalizing on plentiful recreational opportunities aforded by the Atlantic Ocean lapping its white sands, coupled with the maze of inland waterways lined in tropical foliage that make this resort an outdoor paradise.

Although a good beach read is still the goal for some visitors, families are discovering Kiawah is an ideal destination for the nonstop adventure it promises all ages — from fishing, kayaking, cycling and birding to golfng ’til the gators come home. Located approximately 20 miles south of Charleston, Kiawah is known for golf and tennis opportunities as well.

Excerpted from article by Nan Bauroth, summer 2015


Distance from Ballantyne: 75 miles – 2 hours

It’s the cradle of golf in this country, our native St. Andrews. Storied in golfing legend and lore for over a century, Pinehurst Resort embodies the heart and soul of the game. Situated only 75 miles east of Ballantyne in North Carolina’s Sandhills region, this fabled resort is perennially on the vacation wish list of serious duffers.

The good news for those not wedded to a set of clubs, however, is that the Pinehurst area offers a wide array of attractions, making it an ideal breakaway for one and all.

Excerpted from article by Nan Bauroth, winter 2011


Distance from Ballantyne: 103 miles – 1 hour, 52 minutes

As the leaves begin to change and the stifling heat gives way to a refreshing breeze, a small town that once was a stop on the road to stardom awaits your arrival. Prepare for barbecue, quaint shops, even a waterfall or two.

Leave behind the heavy traffic on Interstate 85 South and head west on U.S. 74 to the foothills of western North Carolina. There, you’ll find the tiny town of Saluda, whose brush with glamour about a century ago brought writers and other celebrities when their train stopped there. It was known as Pace’s Gap back then, after a family who owned multiple inns in the area.

Excerpted from article by Mary Elizabeth Robertson, fall 2011


Distance from Ballantyne: 144 miles – 2 hours, 15 minutes

It’s the hottest little town you’ve never heard of — Saxapahaw — pronounced with a lingering southern drawl, as in Sax-a-puh-HAW.

If you’re lucky, you might stumble across it while you’re moseying along a country road near Chapel Hill, thinking you missed something when you blinked, and turning back to see what, precisely, all the fuss is about on the other side of the river. That much ado about something turns out to be worth a visit. This once sleepy mill town on the banks of the Haw River in Alamance County is suddenly on the national map.

The New York Times and Washington Post have taken notice of Saxapahaw’s rural reincarnation, championing it as a model for transforming small American towns on the brink of extinction. Saxapahaw is a 21st century village that leverages historical preservation, local food sources, the beauty of nature and architectural sustainability all in one charming, highly livable package.

The heart and soul of this picturesque hamlet is the Saxapahaw Rivermill, a splendidly restored cotton mill and dye house perched beside the tumbling waters of the Haw River.

Excerpted from article by Nan Bauroth, winter 2011-2012

Seagrove Potteries

Distance from Ballantyne: 88 miles – 1 hour, 46 minutes

North Carolina’s hills, dales, rich mountains, sparkling streams and unblemished forests are renowned for their splendor, attracting year-round visitors and residents eager to capture the tranquility of rural life. And for hundreds of years, the hills east of the Uwharrie National Forest in the central part of the state have been a fertile setting for generations of potters.

More than 100 potters live and work in the famous Seagrove area, taking clay and firing it into utilitarian and decorative works of art. For centuries people have sought and collected the fruits of this creative region, pottery that can’t be found anywhere else.

Excerpted from article by Regan Michelle White, winter 2010