Just south of the North Carolina border, the highway hamlet of Dillard (pop. 339) is a mini fiefdom of the Dillard family, whose name dates back to the 1700s in these parts. For generations, the Dillards have run a local hospitality empire based around the sprawling set of bungalows, lodges, and dining rooms all going by the name Dillard House (706/746-5348 or 800/541-0671, rooms around $70 and up), on a hill above US-441 at the south edge of town. Heading up the complex is the Dillard House restaurant, famous for its all-you-can-eat country cooking and its glass-walled patio, where diners can enjoy plates of classic country ham, fried chicken, pan-fried trout, vegetables, cornbread, and assorted relishes and desserts. The legendary institution may today impress you as more institution than legend—bus tours dominate the clientele—but you never leave hungry. Rooms are around back in low-slung lodges scattered near a swimming pool, tennis courts, and a petting zoo.
In addition to the rambling inn, the family oligarchy operates a row of roadside businesses off US-441, selling collectible and keepsake souvenirs.
Dillard House (768 Franklin St.)