For a romantic getaway or a girls’ weekend, Bryson City, North Carolina, brings a bit of Europe close to home.

Bryson City may not be the first thought for a close-to-home retreat, but there’s plenty of escapism to be found in this quaint mountain town. Just 2 – 2½ hours from Spartanburg and Greenville, outdoor adventure and more are available. But if you want a quiet, unplugged oasis, you’ll find that in a most unexpected spot.

At first glance, the cottages at Lakeview at Fontana look like they’ve been dropped in from a lakeside in Switzerland or a hillside in Tuscany. Owners Tetia McMichael and Tom Cassidy bought the property in 1995. It was built in the 1950s and was known as Vacation Land. For about 20 years, the property thrived, hosting families and honeymooners perched high above Fontana Lake, but Vacation Land fell into disrepair before McMichael and Cassidy reclaimed it as a quiet spa resort.

Serving as a home base for day trips or a secluded all-in-one stop, Lakeview guests are greeted by a friendly pup who sets the laid back tone for the resort. Cottages still retain their mid-century charm, but have been entirely remodeled with modern amenities. Rooms include Aveda bath products and luxury linens, but notably absent are TVs and in-room Wi-Fi. Guests must be ages 18 or older. This is a place for respite — an opportunity to unplug from technology and commune with nature and your traveling companion. For parents, it’s a chance to revive and relax.

Far from a cookie cutter design, accommodations vary from queen and king rooms to suites with kitchenettes. The resort is library quiet, even as guests mingle at the nightly wine and cheese offering or the European-style breakfast — complete with French press coffee — served each morning.

An on-site offers spa offers massages, facials and body treatments, while daily yoga classes are offered just a short walk up the hill from the resort’s café. New this year is a treetop soaking cabana that offers both privacy and an unobstructed view of the lake below. A soaking tub big enough for two is the perfect spot to watch the sunset.

Just 10 minutes from Lakeview, adventure awaits at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. The Appalachian Trail runs nearby, as do other trails available for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding.

Though Lakeview doesn’t offer meals, aside from breakfast and evening snacks, Bryson City has a variety of restaurant offerings and a charming downtown.

As a weekend parent retreat or a place for girlfriends to converge for a spa getaway, a European adventure is really just a short drive away.

Ready to go?

Keep these tips in mind:

  • You can easily spend the weekend at Lakeview. Plan ahead with a grocery stop in Bryson City if you don’t intend to leave the resort. Visit
  • Lakeview at Fontana closes for the winter season from Dec. 1 – April 1.
  • Whether for a romantic evening or a relaxing afternoon alone, the treetop cabana is a must. Bring a flashlight if you schedule an evening soak. Light pollution as well as noise are limited, so an extra light comes in handy on the paths. The cabana includes an iPhone music player if you want to bring your own music.
  • In Bryson City, try The Cork and Bean for a quick lunch in a rustic setting.
  • Take time to walk through Bryson City’s downtown. The local library shop, run by volunteers, is a treasure trove of used books at bargain prices.
  • Want to hike? Make sure you bring what you need to stay safe and healthy. Dress for the weather, bring water and wear comfortable, closed-toed shoes. Check out trail maps in advance online.
  • All levels of adventure are available at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. Try whitewater rafting, zip lining or just a riverside walk. For a hearty, casual meal with an incredible view, try dinner at the center’s River’s End Restaurant. Visit
  • From the Upstate, the trip home runs through Asheville. Plan an extra night in Bryson City, with a day stop in Asheville to extend your getaway by a few hours. Spend the day at Biltmore Estate or explore Asheville’s downtown with lunch at Rosetta’s Kitchen and dessert and coffee at French Broad Chocolate Lounge. Visit, and

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