My sister's been giving me the royal tour of her state. We've driven incredibly scenic highways (including the famous Blue Ridge Parkway) through the mountains where dogwoods nestled in the forest are in bloom.
We spent two days in Asheville, a city that clearly values its heritage buildings. We even found an old F.W.Woolworth store that's been converted to a kind of art emporium. Both upstairs and down serve as gallery space for painters, photographers, and assorted artisans. Best of all, they even preserved the old soda fountain, where my sister and I shared a chocolate soda.
We've eaten at some amazing restaurants -- my best meal to date was blackened catfish, served over grits with goat cheese -- an amazing combination where old Southern cooking meets new.
I can understand why Barack Obama would want to come here to take a holiday with his wife. It's a lovely spot that feels culturally rich while exuding a comfortably laid-back attitude. The touristical T-shirts said it well: "Asheville, where normal is weird."