By Vanessa Infanzon
Imagine winter nights spent in front of a roaring fire after a full day of exploring a small town. Banner Elk, Greenwood, Camden and Sevierville, give visitors a treat during the cold months.
Indulge in a get-away for romance or plan a weekend away with friends. Adrenaline junkies find adventure in these small towns too. Which of these three will become your winter wonderland?
Banner Elk, N.C. | Outdoor activities and holiday merriment
Banner Elk is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains between two ski resorts. The size of this tiny town is deceiving; it’s packed with restaurants, coffeeshops and comfy accommodations.
Snow bunnies hop on the slopes at Sugar Mountain Resort and Beech Mountain Resort. The two largest ski resorts in North Carolina offer packages for ski and equipment rental and lessons for first timers. Snow tube or zipline at Hawksnest Snow Tubing in Seven Devils, N.C. Downhill thrills are also available at Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster, which operates throughout winter, even on snowy days.
Grandfather Mountain in nearby Linville features the Mile High Swinging Bridge. It’s 228-feet across at more than a one-mile elevation. Hike one of 11 trails with varying degrees of difficulty. Check out the Nature Museum exhibits and films, plus the eco-friendly fudge shop.
If “relax” is on your to-do list, grab a table at Mountain Grounds for coffee, tea and pastries. Book an appointment for a spa day filled with massage, facial treatments and a mani/pedi at Eseeola Lodge. Make time for a wine tasting at Banner Elk Winery with views of crisp skies and grape vines.
Stay at the Perry House Bed & Breakfast, Banner Elk Mountain Cabins or Little Main Street Inn & Suites. Many accommodations feature birthday, anniversary and choose & cut Christmas tree pack-ages. Make your reservations for dinner at Sorrento’s Italian Bistro, Chef’s Table, Stonewalls Restaurant or LP on Main.
Recommended 2022 event: Woolly Worm Festival, Fall
Camden, S.C. | Art, recreation and military history
Tour downtown Camden with the Boykin Spaniel Invasion. Follow clues to these Boykin Spaniels, bronze statues created by Mary Deas Boykin Wortley to honor her great great grandfather and the breed’s founder, Whit Boykin. Download a map or pick one up at the Camden Archives & Museum.
Learn about the Southern Campaign of the American Revolution in the permanent exhibit at the newly opened Revolutionary War Visitor Center at Camden. Find out about historic sites and other activities in the area.
Visit Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site, the headquarters for Lord Cornwallis of the British Army during the Southern American. Take a self-guided tour to understand Camden’s involvement in the war during 1780 and 1781. Living history events are planned throughout the year.
Head to Goodale State Park for outdoor adventure. Rent a canoe or kayak and explore the three-mile water trail through the Cypress trees.
Bike or walk on Camden’s Sweet Gum Trail, an accessible paved path connecting Scott Park to Woodward Park. The trail is .67 mile and 10-feet wide.
Get decorating ideas from the 45th Candlelight Tour of Homes on Dec. 11. Proceeds from the tour support Camden Junior Welfare League youth grants and scholarships.
Find the perfect gifts for family and friends at the Camden Holiday Market at the Kershaw County Farmer’s Market on Dec. 11. Over 100 vendors will be selling linens, wreaths, decorations, jewelry, stocking stuffers and more.
Recommended 2022 event: The Carolina Cup Races, Spring
Greenwood, S.C. | Art, history, shopping and pampering
Bring your sweetie or a gaggle of girlfriends to enjoy this small town’s variety of activities. Uptown Greenwood’s Inn on the Square offers a selection of room styles. Each room includes a complimentary full breakfast in its Carriage House Restaurant.
Shop at Thayer’s Furniture and Fine Gifts or Main and Maxwell for locally crafted artisan pottery, paintings and furniture. Find the latest women’s clothing at the Sugar Boutique. Prep for winter with massage, manicure and pedicure at The Spa on Maxwell or Wade’s on Waller.
History and art enthusiasts enjoy The Arts Center of Greenwood, Greenwood Railroad Historical Center and Ben Mays Historic Site. The Museum shares and celebrates Greenwood’s history with hands-on exhibits about history, natural history and science.
Drink and dine at one of Greenwood’s restaurants. Buenavista Latin Café’s menu features Cuban sandwiches, chorizo Cuban burgers and empanadas. Order a specialty pizza and craft beer at The Mill House Brick Oven Pizza and Good Times Brewing. Grab a homemade breakfast or lunch from family-owned West End Café.
Recommended 2022 event: South Carolina Festival of Flowers, Spring
Sevierville, T.N. | Winter festivals, resorts and cider
This mountain town promises to make the winter magical with Sevierville’s Smoky Mountain Winterfest Celebration from November 12 through February 21. Visit Santa’s Village and drive through Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland with light displays and synchronized music. Check dates for specific Winterfest programs; each run varying lengths.
Take the grandkids ice skating at Wilderness at the Smokies Hotel and Waterpark Resort’s outdoor rink. Race your own kids down the 55-foot water tunnel at the resort’s 66,000 square foot Wild Waterdome Indoor Waterpark. Beat them to the Firefly Bar & Grill, a family friendly restaurant with full bar, desserts and a kid’s menu.
Snuggle by the fireplace in a luxury cabin with a hot tub. Hidden Mountain’s cozy log cabins and cottages and villas fit for couples, groups and the whole family. Oak Haven Resort’s onsite spa features couple’s packages for massages, facials and pedicures.
Sevierville visitors enjoy Five Oaks Farm Kitchen for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The dinner menu includes prime rib, smoked chicken and pork ribs. Wine and dine at the Apple Barn Winery where the traditional tasting is free. Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant and the Applewood Grill are right next door. Pickup treats – jellies, jams, apple butter and honey – at the Apple Barn Cider Mill & General Store for a cozy indoor picnic.
Impress the locals with the correct pronunciation: “severe-vul”
Plan ahead: Spring Break travel
For more information about these cozy towns, call your AAA representative for travel ideas.
(Go Magazine Holiday Nov-Dec 2021)
(Photos: Banner Elk Tourism, Todd Bush, Sevierville CVB, Beech Mountain Resort, Kershaw County Tourism)