I am planning a weekend trip to Asheville in mid October. I arrive Thursday and need to be back in Asheville by late Friday afternoon to meet up with my group. I am looking for recommendations for a scenic drive to Boone/Blowing Rock area Thursday afternoon, returning Friday afternoon. I am interested in seeing the fall scenery, and maybe stopping for a short hike. I will be solo, so I would prefer a well-marked, easily accessible from the road, hiking trail. Also looking for cute downtown area with local shops and restaurants to visit before I drive back on Friday morning. Would you recommend Boone or Blowing Rock?
Thank you in advance for your guidance.