In Burnsville – the only town and the county seat of Yancey County – you won’t find high-rise buildings, gridlock traffic and honking horns. What you’ll get in and around this small, mountain town are great riches in nature and art. Yancey is the most mountainous county in North Carolina, holding five of the highest peaks in eastern America, including Mt. Mitchell, which at 6,684 feet is the highest point east of the Mississippi. Amid these peaks are forests, nationally protected land and a host of small communities – and a population that is thick with artists. Scattered around the county, you will see the work of woodworkers, glass blowers, potters, metal-smiths, weavers, quilters, basket makers, painters and more. You will delight in places such as the downtown Burnsville Toe River Arts Council Gallery (www.toeriverarts.org) . Stop in at One of a Kind Art Gallery in nearby Micaville (wwwooakartgallery .com).
Call ahead to visit artists in their studios/galleries. Many of them including potter Claudia Dunaway and mixed-media artist John Richards at Yummy Mud Puddle (www.yummymudpud dle.corn), as well as glass blower Rob Levin (www.robertlevin.com) – welcome visitors to enjoy a behind-the-scenes look and see their work. Plan ahead to take part in the Toe River Studio Tour held twice annually in June and December (www.toeriverarts.org/ studio-tour). Save a lazy afternoon to drive through the Mt. Mitchell Scenic Byway Quilt Trail (at www.quilttrailswnc. org, scroll down to “Trail Maps”).
Art takes the stage at the Parkway Playhouse (www.parkwayplay house.com) where the 2015 season is in full swing. Coming up are performances of “All Shook Up”, “Red” and “The Glass Menagerie.” Many artistic events and festivals take place in Burnsville’s town square.
Cooler summertime temperatures make Yancey County a perfect place for hiking, camping, mountain biking, gem hunting and, of course, cruising the Blue Ridge Parkway, which defines the county’s southeast border.
Burnsville’s B&Bs offer the comforts of home. Remarkable among them is the Terrell House Bed and Breakfast Inn (www.terrellhousebandb.com), where six individually decorated rooms- and a scrumptious breakfasts await -the homemade cinnamon bread makes every morning special. There is a history lesson in every room of the Nu Wray (www.nuwrayinn.com), North Carolina’s oldest operating inn. Its front porch rockers overlook the town square and on weekends family-style Southern meals are offered to guests and the public.