Family Reunion Trips and Tales
I’ll admit I’m a bit biased, but I honestly don’t think there’s a better place for a friends or family reunion vacation than North Carolina. After all, when you go on a trip as a group, you’re bringing together people with a variety of interests, so a place with such a wide array of geography and attractions is a perfect meeting place. NC is easy to get to by road, air, and even rail, and has group accommodations that run the gamut of size and price, from one-room beach condos to expansive mountain homes that sleep 20.
In North Carolina, you can choose to “get away from it all” on isolated beaches or mountaintops, or put yourself in the heart of a bustling city or charming town. You can stay on the ocean in the summer or slopeside in the winter. You can rent a house with a boat slip on a Piedmont lake, or a cabin in the midst of a working Yadkin Valley vineyard. There’s a whole world of vacation options in North Carolina, so there’s bound to be something perfect for your particular group.
I became a bit of an expert on the topic ten years ago after my far-flung family decided to have a biennial family vacation, with each of the three siblings taking turns at selecting locations. As the youngest, I got first pick, and I chose a four-bedroom house just outside of Maggie Valley during the second week of October 2001. We still talk about the fabulous change of leaf color during our stay, the warm days and cool mornings, and amazing side trips on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Smoky Mountain Railroad, and into Asheville. We also fondly remember grilling on the deck, soaking in the hot tub, and playing pool and pinball in the basement into the wee hours of the morning.
Since then, I’ve enjoyed several trips with friends and family in places across North Carolina from Franklin to Figure Eight Island. I watched a three-year old start to ski at Beech Mountain, and listened to an O.A.R. concert from the balcony of a condo overlooking the Cape Fear River in Wilmington. I’ve organized birthday celebrations on the piazza at Raffaldini Vineyards, and tasted some great craft beer on Asheville’s Brews Cruise. I’ve seen the sun rise over the Outer Banks, and experienced total darkness in the depths of Linville Caverns.
In 2009, my sister from Texas used her pick to return our family to the mountains of NC, this time to a beautiful rental home outside of Black Mountain. We explored Chimney Rock, toured Biltmore, and ate lunch on a patio overlooking Lake Lure. We also played Mexican Train Dominoes until 1AM, and watched through windows in wary fascination as “Luigi the Bear” (so named because he seemed to really like lasagna) plowed through our garbage in the middle of the night.
When you vacation in a group, you create lifetimes of little memories just like these. In any “family and friends” trip, the location you select becomes the backdrop for stories and photographs that will be shared for decades. For my money, there’s no better backdrop than North Carolina.
added: March 30, 2010
updated: April 1, 2010