In the 1890s, George Vanderbilt decided to build a country home in the mountains of North Carolina.
His grandfather, Cornelius, and his father, William Henry, had become wealthy industrialists in the early 19th century.
George, however, was more interested in books and travel, visiting Europe, Asia or Africa every year from the age of 10.
If you consider yourself a barbecue connoisseur, you might want to head to the hills this weekend.
The town of Dillard, Ga., in the north Georgia mountains will be the site of the 14th annual Dillard Bluegrass & Barbecue Festival on Friday and Saturday.
You can sample all the barbecue your heart desires.
Music begins at 2 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday.
Your taste buds aren’t limited to pulled pork. Competitors will submit their best grits, cabbage, chicken, pork, ribs, beef brisket and desserts for bragging rights and prizes.
Cool off in the north Georgia mountain town of Blairsville this weekend and check out the inaugural Green Bean Festival.
Expect green beans that have been home-canned, cooked, stuffed into a dessert and possibly even those that had been strung to dry and now resemble leather pants.
The festival begins at 10 a.m. Friday with a seminar on growing organic green beans.
A beauty pageant will begin at 5 p.m. to crown Little Miss Bean Sprout and Mister Leather Britches, followed by an outdoor square dance at 8:30 p.m.
Leave the pinstripes in the closet, the kids at a sitter and the laundry in the hamper.
Grab a couple of girlfriends and escape for a weekend to the Blue Ridge mountains for a girlfriend getaway at Barnsley Gardens Resort.
The Entitled Take a Walk on the Wild Side package features two-night accommodations, breakfast and dinner, a $100 spa credit and evening s'mores by the campfire.
You'll also spend an hour either horseback riding on guided tours or shooting clays with the girls.
The package starts at $295 per person per night.
If you've had enough of the beach for a while, cool off in a different kind of way at Carowinds in Charlotte, N.C.
The 122-acre theme park straddles the North Carolina-South Carolina line and offers more than a dozen coasters sure to provide a thrilling breeze.
The newest is the Intimidator. Inspired by NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt, the coaster features open air, sideless cars and seven drops in excess of 75 mph.
Or experience the thrill of moonshining aboard Thunder Road, a 3,819-foot twin roller coaster that gets its name from a 1958 Robert Mitchum movie.
Have a blast on Saturday celebrating the Fourth of July with Symphony Orchestra Augusta at Lake Oconee, Ga.
The Oconee Performing Arts Society will play host to the third annual BLAST!, which will feature the symphony performing Sondheim selections.
The orchestra will perform at Reynolds Plantation at 8 p.m. and will share the stage with Broadway performer Raul Esparsa, who has earned Tony nominations for his performances in Speed the Plow, The Homecoming, Company, and Taboo. Fireworks will begin at 9:30 p.m.
Life was hard for the first colonists, and those that landed at Albemarle Point in South Carolina in April 1670 were no exception.
They had to figure out quickly how to establish a food source, build homes and find a way to defend themselves from the Spanish and Native Americans.
The colony they established, Charles Towne, not only survived but flourished.
Charles Towne Landing, a living history park established in 1970 on the site of the original colony, teaches visitors about life in the 1600s.
If a secluded island sounds like the perfect vacation, look no further than Little St. Simons Island off the Georgia Coast.
The island is accessible only by boat, and its six cottages will accommodate no more than 32 guests.
Most of the 10,000-acre island is a wildlife preserve. Twenty acres have been developed to provide lodging and recreation.
If you're looking for an active vacation, try Callaway Gardens.
The 13,000-acre park in Pine Mountain, Ga., offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor fun.
You can ride along the gardens' 7.5 miles of biking trails, which leads to all of the popular attractions. Or, park the bike and walk on along nearly 17 miles of hiking trails.
Watch a Birds of Prey show and see eagles, falcons, hawks, owls and vultures at work, or check out the butterflies as they flit around in the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center.