136 miles NW of Charlotte
The village of Banner Elk used to be about the sleepiest place in the High Country until it was discovered by scenery hounds in summer and skiers in winter. Banner Elk is on N.C. 194, enclosed by mountains. In winter, skiers can head for Sugar Mountain or Ski Beech. The town also makes a good center for exploring Grandfather Mountain, just north of Linville, a wealthy enclave where many owners have summer homes.