We just returned from a delightful mini-vacation in North Carolina, at the foot of Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi. (That surprises me - I would have thought that would be in New Hampshire, or somewhere up east.)
It was absolutely beautiful, serene, and isolated. Our house was in the middle of a "bear sanctuary, " but we only saw one bear up close, from the car.
Like many mountain communities in Tennessee and North Carolina, this area was loaded with artists' studios and galleries. It was very near the well-known Penland Art School, and a visit to their gallery was a highlight of the trip.
We visited many galleries, and did some Christmas shopping. This year, the people on my list will really get "one-of-a kind" gifts.
Also like many rural areas, this area had dozens of quilts painted on barns. Some were traditional, and some were just good graphics. There was even one on the Methodist church!
Another advantage was that we were just a scenic drive from Asheville. So while the men took a satisfying 5-mile hike in the mountains, we girls went in to Asheville for a nice visit to Waechter's silk shop. Also had lunch at the nearby Corner Kitchen, a delicious lunch spot that is a lot more sophisticated than the name sounds.
All in all, a very refreshing break, and my head is still spinning with all the images of quilts, pottery, glass, paintings, and regional art.