North Carolina bleg

We will be in a cottage near Asheville for the week. Blogging with be infrequent at best. Reader recommendations for sites, food or other activities? When not lazing about the cottage, we will be looking for day trips or (while siblings take care of the little stinker) date nights.

12 thoughts on “North Carolina bleg

  1. Visit Biltmore, both the house itself and the gardens. I was expecting something gaudy and garish, but I ended up being very positively surprised. And make sure you sample their wines. They make a few decent reds. If I recall correctly, their red zinfandel and their cabernet sauvignon is worth it.

  2. Check out Black Mountain like 20 minutes outside Asheville. Great little town for day trip with art galleries

  3. Food suggestions from a native Ashevillian recently transplanted to NYC:

    -The Admiral (in West Asheville) – Funky atmosphere, phenomenal upscale Southern/Soul food. Reservations tend to book up so call a few days before you plan on going.

    -Early Girl and Tupelo Honey in downtown Asheville are both solid breakfast and brunch spots (Early Girl especially has great grits, they come from a local mill). Both are kid-friendly, especially Early Girl.

    -If you do a day trip to near Bryson City (a good option for tubing down the river or riding the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad), consider stopping for dinner at the Jarret House ( in Dillsboro. It’s a boarding house that’s been around since the late 19th century and they still serve dinner family style.

    -If you end up having a date downtown, consider having a drink on the top of the Flat Iron building (yes, Asheville has one too) at The Sky Bar. Great view of the city at sunset.

    Hope these suggestions are helpful, enjoy your time in the mountains!

  4. I recently took a trip there with my wife. Here’s the thing to know: it’s a beer and barbecue town. All fine and good, but we wanted variety after awhile, so we tried to explore some other stuff. We were on a grad school budget, so perhaps you could do better, but some impressions:

    1. If you like beer, check out Thirsty Monk. The upstairs bar features a lot of American craft beers, mostly IPAs. Not really my thing. But the downstairs is dedicated to Belgian style beers. Excellent draft and bottle selection, very reasonable prices, and the atmosphere is phenomenal: dark, moody, a nice big bar plus sofas and stuffed chairs. The food was pretty good as well, for pub fare. They know what they’re doing. It’s right across the street from Tupelo Honey and some other places of possible interest, so the location is good for combining with other destinations.

    2. The Sky Bar did have a nice view, but the “bar” isn’t really a bar. By that I mean there is no bar. You pretty much have to wait for service, which was pretty slow, and the drinks were both over-priced (for the town) and poorly made. E.g., they screwed up my Manhattan, badly, and then charged me 10 bucks for it. I don’t know how you screw up a Manhattan, but they managed it. Poor selection of spirits too. If you want a watery and over-priced gin and tonic to go along with a view, then fine. Otherwise I’d skip it.

    3. Sazerac, on the other hand, knows how to make a cocktail. It’s a bit more of a “downtown” place… there’s a bit of swank in it, which doesn’t seem to be too common in Asheville. It’s a multistory place, but not very large, and has an outdoor deck upstairs which has a nice view of the city. I didn’t have the food, but their drinks — especially one of their signatures, Polyhymnia — were good.

    4. We heard that Curate was excellent, but it was out of our price range so we went to Limones instead. I can recommend it. It won’t blow you away, but they have some nice tweaks on both their food and drink menus. (The blood orange margarita was nice.)

    5. On our last night, looking for something totally different, we went to Bouchon. Not sure why we decided on French food in Asheville, but it was surprisingly good! The staff was friendly, they did the classics — mussels Parisienne, steak au poivre, la bouillabaisse — well, and it was neither as pricy nor pretentious as nearly every other French restaurant in America. We had a nice table outside, and enjoyed it a lot.

    6. If you find yourself in West Asheville, consider Sunny Point for breakfast. It’s just a diner, but pretty good food and great humor. Packed on weekends. For a quick snack or beer in W Asheville, you could hit up WALK. Decent beer list, decent sandwiches, and within walking distance to The Admiral (but not much else). We also hit up a dive bar in W Asheville called Desoto, which was fine.

    We wanted to hit up The Magnetic Field, but didn’t have time. The barbecue at Bones was good, but having grown up in the Midwest and now living in N Carolina I’m used to excellent barbecue so it didn’t blow me away. There are bunches of breweries around, if that’s your thing, and plenty of good bookstores and craft shops. My recommendation is to just park somewhere in the city (there are garages scattered around… I believe they cost about a dollar an hour) and get lost.

  5. Love Asheville! I grew up going to camp in Black Mountain every summer. It’s a cute town, lots of shops and restaurants and galleries and such downtown, good for walking around.

    In Asheville, go to Tupelo Honey Cafe for breakfast and/or dinner. The shrimp and grits and the sweet potato pancakes are to die for. Drinks on the terrace at the Grove Park Inn for the lovely view and old-school atmosphere. Walking around downtown Asheville to shop is also fun; there’s a bookstore with a great kids’ section. Just outside Asheville to the south off 26 is the J. Crew clearance center, where you can score really good deals, sometimes on suits. Also close to Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway is the Folk Art Center, an interesting place if you want to learn about Appalachian art.

    Out and about, if you’re outdoorsy, you can hike sections of the Appalachian Trail; not too hard in that part of NC. You can also drive the Blue Ridge Parkway; it’s beautiful. Take a picnic. I recommend taking the parkway up to Blowing Rock, where you can see a cool natural phenomenon involving wind and a cliff.

    Another good day trip is Chimney Rock and Lake Lure (Your wife will care more than you that this is where they filmed the lake scenes in Dirty Dancing.). That’s a good kid-friendly activity as well.

  6. If you like good beer and an unforgettable ambiance, head over to the wedge brewery. Kid friendly (as long as you keep them with you).

  7. Dear Chris,

    One possibility for a day trip is a hike along part of the Appalachian Trail beginning at Carver’s Gap on Roan Mountain at the North Carolina-Tennessee line. Carver’s Gap is approximately approximately 1 3/4 hour drive from Asheville. It is an easy walk up from Carver’s Gap up the trail to beautiful views of rows of mountain ridges on either side of the trail – Tennessee on one side and North Carolina on the other. Here is a link describing the area.

    Best wishes for a good vacation.

  8. Sunny Point Cafe for breakfast/lunch and The Hop for ice cream in West Asheville (there’s also a Hop in town somewhere, but I haven’t been there). Morning Glory for breakfast in Black Mountain (which is full of other great spots, as some have mentioned). 12 Bones for barbecue. The Wedge or Barley’s for great brewpub beer and food. Malaprop’s for (something different!) book browsing. And that Roan Mtn hike is gorgeous. Love Asheville; hope you’re enjoying it!