Travel Notes: Nov. 11, 2012
Christmas at Biltmore
ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Christmas at Biltmore is here and will continue through Jan. 1, with its evening candlelight tours of Biltmore House ending Dec. 31.
This year, the Christmas displays throughout Biltmore House, the gardens and grounds will follow an art motif, with inspiration coming from various art forms found in and around Biltmore House. Each of the 68 decorated trees and their complementing display pieces will be designed to accent a particular piece of art found in a room or composed around an expression of art, such as the literary arts or music.
Miles of fresh garlands and wreaths create a yuletide scent throughout the house, with around 1,000 red and white poinsettias in the Winter Garden and other areas.
Guests can pick up Biltmore decorating secrets during free holiday craft seminars offered at A Gardener's Place in the lower part of the Conservatory, near the Walled Garden. Classes are offered four times daily: "Wreath-Making" (11 a.m. and 2 p.m.); and "Tabletop Inspirations" (1 and 3 p.m.).
To learn more about Biltmore and for ticket prices, visit www.biltmore.com or call 877-BILTMORE.
LEWISBURG, W.Va. -- Ten of the harness racing barns that face U.S. 219 north at the West Virginia State Fairgrounds in Fairlea will be decorated for Christmas again this year.
Decorations will be finished by Dec. 3.
Charlotte holiday show
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Southern Christmas Show runs through Nov. 18 at the Park Exposition and Conference Center in Charlotte.
Show hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Nov. 18, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Tickets are $10 at the door; $3 for children ages 6-12, 6 and under free.
European holiday market
PITTSBURGH -- Downtown Pittsburgh's first European holiday market opens Nov. 24. Inspired by the original Christkindlmarkt created in 1545 in Nuremberg, Germany, the Peoples Gas Holiday Market features vendors displaying unique collectible and gift items in Alpine-style wooden chalets.
Also, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens will feature a new outdoor Winter Light Garden exhibit with scores of LED light forms. The public garden's seasonal displays will feature glowing orbs, "dripping" snowballs, luminous trees and a brilliant fountain of lights. The exhibit opens Nov. 25 and stays up through Jan. 6.
Smokies guide app
GATLINBURG, Tenn. -- Going to the Smokies? There's an economical app for that.
Knoxville, Tenn., travel writer Katy Koontz has issued the Smoky Mountain Travel Guide, which can be loaded onto iPhones and iPads through the App Store and Android devices through Google Play. The cost is $2.99 and periodic updates are then free.
There are more than 200 entries, including tourist stops in Smokies gateway cities as well as features in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Koontz says the app has turn-by-turn GPS directions and a photo gallery for each entry.
Koontz also wrote "Family Fun in the Smokies: A Family-Friendly Guide to the Great Smoky Mountains," which was published in February.
Holidays at The Greenbrier
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- "Tribute to the Virginias," The Greenbrier's popular winter package, returns over select dates in November, December and January. The Tribute offer can be booked only online, and a limited number of rooms are available at the package rates. Resort fees and taxes additional.
"I want everyone to be able to experience the magical Christmas experience that The Greenbrier offers," said Jim Justice, chairman and owner of The Greenbrier. "West Virginia is simply beautiful this time of year, and we want to offer the best way for people to discover just how magnificent this region and this resort really are."
For the dates of Nov. 25-29 and Dec. 16-19, midweek rates start at $59. Additional rates are available for upgraded accommodations. A two-night minimum stay and a nonrefundable deposit equal to the room rate and taxes for the full amount of the stay are required.
Morning coffee service, historic interior tours, wireless Internet, fitness center, indoor pool, afternoon tea and concert and nightly movies are all included with the "Tribute to the Virginias" package.
This year, The Greenbrier also will host five holiday shopping weekends in November and December. During these special weekends, which are open to the public, registered event attendees will receive a 25 percent discount on an item of their choice from select retail shops.
Further details on dates and rates can be found on The Greenbrier's Facebook page.
Blackwater Falls State Park is listed among 10 endangered state parks in the country in the Oct. 5 online edition of Budget Travel magazine.
The article by Valerie Rains said the falls in the 2,456-acre park in Tucker County is one of the most photographed places in West Virginia.
"But there's something potentially more serious darkening the future of West Virginia's state parks: hydraulic fracturing (aka "fracking") wells that could be built on ecologically significant public land."
The article points out that the mineral rights of about 40 percent of the state parks, including Blackwater, are privately held.
Logan State Park lost a court battle to stop natural gas drilling in the park, a process, the article said, which also includes building roads and clear-cutting trees. "A dozen or so other parks could soon fine themselves fighting for their rights."
Another state park cited as being endangered for the same reason is Ohiopyle State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania.