Travel

Cozy in Cashiers, N.C.

As I was slowly lulled to consciousness by the cool mountain breeze drifting across my face, I snuggled deeper in my soft pile of bedding and my first thought was, “Is that bacon I smell?” Much to my delight, it was indeed.

I felt like a kid again waking to the comforting smells of my mother in the kitchen. In fact, a stay at the 86-year-old High Hampton Inn in Cashiers, N.C., brought back some of the best memories from summers in my childhood — delicious meals were prepared for me, most of my day was spent outdoors, and the biggest decision of my day was whether I wanted chocolate or strawberry ice cream.

There are plenty of ways to spend your time here: swimming in the 350-acre mountain lake, hiking around the various trails, golfing, playing tennis, fishing, enjoying spa treatments or just settin' a spell in an old rocker on the front porch. If you're looking for flat-screen TVs, room service and bath butlers — look elsewhere. There are no TVs in the rooms, all meals are served buffet-style in the large dining room, and guests are expected to dress for dinner, with jackets required for men.

Speaking of the food, we found it vastly improved from a visit here a few years ago. We dined on entrees such as rainbow trout, fried chicken, herb-crusted prime rib and sides that include locally grown vegetables. The friendly waitstaff, mostly international college students, stand ready to bring you coffee, tea or your alcoholic beverage of choice.

Generations of families return here year after year to enjoy this rustic mountain resort in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Families can gather to play games together in the evenings, while couples and other groups adjourn to the bar downstairs, which is a lively spot with live entertainment and a beautifully landscaped outdoor terrace.

The inn offers several options for accommodations — guest rooms and suites in the main lodge, additional rooms closer to the lake, cottages or rental homes. For a truly romantic getaway, try the Honeymoon Cottage, set away from the main action on its own private lake.

Details: High Hampton Inn, 800-334-2551, www.highhamptoninn.com; open from April through November; rates start at $177/night for a single room and $244 for a double, which includes three meals a day.

— Jan Butsch Schroder

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SAN FRANCISCO TEA PARTY

If you love tea, then start planning your next girlfriend getaway for San Francisco! “The Way to Tea” by Jennifer Leigh Sauer describes all the coolest places to learn about and enjoy tea in San Francisco, the city she calls “the epicenter of an exploding American tea culture.” From traditional Chinese teahouses to Japanese gardens to British salons, you can find it all and more in the Bay Area — there's even a tea nightclub!

Whether you're a tea novice who just wants to know more or a tea enthusiast who wants to learn traditional Chinese tea ceremony, “The Way to Tea” will tell you where to go. Sauer portrays the uniqueness of each spot with vivid descriptions and gorgeous photographs — just flipping through the pages will inspire you to brew a pot and pack a bag.

Details: “The Way to Tea: Your Adventure Guide to San Francisco Tea Culture,” $21.95 at waytotea.com and on Amazon.com. Books ordered from “The Way to Tea” Web site will be signed by the author.

— Jillian Clark

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(For more savvy travel info, pick up the latest issue of travelgirl magazine or visit www.travelgirlinc.com.)

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© 2008, travelgirl magazine, www.travelinc.com

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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PHOTOS (from MCT Photo Service, 202-383-6099): AMX-2008-08-26T15:03:00-04:00

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