Highlands, North Carolina, is what the South is all about: culture, coffee, and culinary comfort. It houses rushing waterfalls, rolling hills, and intense fall foliage, offering a perfect backdrop for the restaurants replete with southern comfort food. It’s also the destination of choice for a refreshing respite for Shelley Giglio and her husband Louie.
Shelley and Louie’s lives are far from boring. The two of them lead Passion City church in Atlanta, Georgia—a non-denominational and multi-ethnic mega church with a weekly attendance in the thousands, hosting multiple services each week and numerous events each year.
In addition, Shelley is a multi-Dove award winning music producer and chief strategist, director of label operations and artist management for sixstepsrecords, an Atlanta-based record label, where she leads and directs such powerhouses in the Christian entertainment industry such as David Crowder and Matt Redman.
Her ministry has taken her all over the world, and she’s been escaping to Highlands with Louie for the better part of twenty years to recover from the wear and tear and to re-establish their current of creativity.
“Our first trip to Highlands was soon after we moved to Atlanta in 1995,” says Shelley. “Someone told us about the beauty, and we went to enjoy the stunning awe of fall.”
Shelley says there’s a certain allure the mise en scene has for the two of them. “There is nothing better than a short drive to a massive escape,” she says. “Highlands offers stunning mountains, mountain lakes, great food, relaxing friends, and a breath of air!”
Shelley and Louie choose Highlands for the mutual appeal and the opportunity to get refreshed together. What do they do? “Chill. Talk. Catch up. Eat. Go for walks or hikes…boat rides. Oh, and there is a natural rock slide nearby that’s a must do!” She adds, humorously, “If you are sore from hitting rocks with your backside, don’t call me.”
Beyond the scenery, there’s also the activity, and the two of them are partial to one in particular. “There’s an auction downtown which has been a highlight for a couple of trips. Most of the items are estate items, and it’s amazing to see what other people’s treasures are. Such a fun environment as people bid on the items that for the most part seem funny to start with!” But that doesn’t stop them from participating, “That said, we tried to buy a set of glasses once. We were outbid! “
They also enjoy visiting Mountaintop Golf and Lake Club and take the opportunity to satisfy their sweet tooth. “Our latest trip last summer we enjoyed a nearby lake. Warm days and cool mountain air at night with a fire where roasting marshmallows and making s’mores makes life complete! “
However, you’re not from the South unless you do a certain something when you go anywhere: eat. Yes, Shelley and Louie have a favorite spot. “Madison’s at the Old Edwards Inn. It’s simply amazing.” They enjoy the chance to indulge and breath the fresh air, “In summer, the outdoor dining is superb and don’t forget the pimento cheese appetizer. It’s unreal!”
Shelley emphasizes the overall importance of picking a place to recoup and realign yourself with your calling. “Stepping out for a minute and catching your breath is not just necessary. It’s also good!”
And the Giglios continue to find their oasis in Highlands over and over again. “It’s sheer beauty, friendly people, and good food and coffee will keep you returning time after time.”