Hey guys! Happy fall-ish? Jack and I booked this trip totally thinking we could engage in full on flannel, fall mode with hikes of changing leaves. That wasn’t the case – but we still had a blast.
We ventured down to the state of North Carolina for the week of September 23-28th.
Why? Well, it all started with a concert booking. We love the band Rainbow Kitten Surprise (strange name, right?!) and I randomly saw that they were playing in an outdoor amphitheater in Charlotte, NC back in the spring. Ever since attending Firefly, I often find the urge to see certain kinds of bands outside rather than inside – RKS was one of those bands.
With the tickets purchased, we started to think about what else we could do down there. My parents had raved about Asheville, NC which is about two hours from Charlotte when they had stopped there last year. Tons of hiking they said. When we researched, we also learned that it has more breweries per capita than anywhere else in the US!
Hiking and beer. Hmm…I like this. I like this a lot.
We started to picture a getaway week in the mountains. Europe was fun for us but man – it is so many decisions, so much to figure out and Asheville just seemed so – easy, for a true vacation.
We flew into Charlotte (since we were flying out of there at the end of the trip) and rented a car. Our Airbnb host told us that you can also fly into Asheville from NYC for about $200 a couple times a week, too, with Allegiant. With so much to explore outside of the actual city of Asheville – I would highly recommend renting a car for your time there!
Our flight roundtrip to and from Charlotte was $136.
Our rental car came out to be around $250 for the week.
We heard that it’s super expensive to stay in the actual town of Asheville so we booked an Airbnb – a small farm cottage with a view of the mountains and a pond! We opened our fridge to fresh eggs from our Airbnb hosts from their hens up on the top of the hill. I said this in my Instagram post but I don’t think I’ve ever eaten more local than that! And they tasted incredible.
Airbnbs around here should go for anywhere from $70-120 per night. I think ours fell in about the middle.
If you do end up looking for Airbnb’s don’t be too worried about staying outside of the city. Ours was and came to be about a $13 Uber into the city and an additional $13 home which wasn’t too bad. Only about 13-15 minute drive in as well.
Oh and if you’re looking to BALL OUT I would recommend the Omni Grove Park Inn is an amazing place to stay (at least for a night or two).
This is where it can get a little overwhelming. There are SO MANY HIKES IN THE AREA to do! We thought that they’d be a lot closer to where we were staying but most are about 45-1 hour away from Asheville. It was more than fine though. The views are beautiful and traffic = not a thing there.
When you Google hiking in Asheville, you will see about 30+ hikes load. We chose two (two days of hiking) and they were both A+ experiences. I’m sure all of them are though – it seems hard to go wrong when looking at the mountain range.
We knew that we wanted to do one that was more strenuous and longer, around 5-7 miles. I love the feeling of sweating on a hike and using my hands to climb, but that’s me. Just to feel so accomplished afterwards.
Our first hike was called Looking Glass Rock. I didn’t use my hands at all to climb (that came on the next day) but I sure did sweat. This one is a couple miles just pretty much up the mountain. It’s a bit teasing – so many times we kept thinking that we’ve GOTTA be at the top based on what you’re looking at but you kind of continue up and round the mountain to come out on the rock. Watch out for snakes! We saw a couple little baby ones.
Looking Glass Rock itself is kind of a flat-faced rock on the side of the mountain. Therefore when you come out from the trail onto the rock – it feels like you are right in the middle of the mountains. It’s incredible. It took my breath away. One of those things (as most beautiful views seem to be…) where pictures don’t even come close to doing it justice.
We had packed sandwiches and ate lunch up there looking out at the view. Drank lots of water. Everyone is so talkative – energy in the mountains is like no other.
The hike down was a breeze. Felt like it was no longer than 45 minutes – we were booking it. And it felt so good to be going down.
We had heard and seen signs for Sliding Rock down the road from the Looking Glass trailhead which was a natural water slide. It looked a lot less painful than the ones I would go down in Western Pennsylvania. The kick? The water was 55 degrees and we were told it was a shock when you dropped into the bottom pool.
Jack and I decided to do it and honestly felt like we were kids again. We were so tired after the hike but this was the perfect jolt to bring us back to life!
Okay afterwards we took the BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY home back to Asheville. Again – something I don’t even know if I can put into words or can be expressed in pictures how stunning this view was. Even just standing up there (there’s places to pull over and appreciate the views) with the quiet, you can hear the birds, peacefulness of nature, it was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. Yellow and cranberry colored wildflowers framed the mountain view with miles of clouds in the sky.
The next day we wanted something a bit closer and to see some water falls – we chose to go to Catawba Falls. This is a super light, easy, friendly hike (~3 miles round trip) if you only hike to the first set of falls (which a lot of people do). If you want a bit more of a challenge – for a view that’s worth the extra effort – continue on the hike for an additional mile or so to get to the Upper Falls.
This spot was just magical. I felt like I was in the movie Peter Pan (with the mermaids, remember?) looking up at the sun hitting the moss and hundreds of mini waterfalls flowing from the main ones. There was a little pool at the bottom that you could jump off of the flat rock into and we did just that. Not as cold as sliding rock though luckily!
We had packed sandwiches, chilled out on the rock under the sun and hiked back. This was definitely one of those hikes (the second part anyways) where you are using your full body to climb which I LOVED!
There are multiple breweries segments that you can do – all at different times in certain areas. Some are really close to each other, which I’ll group so you can hit them all at once. Make your own brewery tour so to say!!? which we definitely did. Jack was on the hunt for some pumpkin beers (his blog launching soon!) and he sure did find some. I
(not a brewery but they have a lot of live music here and you can sit outside)
This place is alllll for the sour lovers! Live music around 7/8ish pm.
Apparently a very local spot, felt like it
One of the most popular craft breweries there
Get the coffee beer that smells like coffee, looks like beer, and is invigoratingly GOOD!
LOVED their white ale + Pumpkin beer!
And one all out there on it’s own…
Our plan was to hit this on our way home from Looking Glass hike but we ended up taking the Blue Ridge Park way, which didn’t pass it.
It’s apparently really close to the Asheville airport so you can plan to hit this potentially on your way home if you end up flying out of there.
OTHER MUST-DO ACTIVITIES
Head to the Omni Grove Park Inn for the day!
- SPA SPA SPA. We weren’t allowed to use any electronics inside so I don’t have any pictures. However, it was amazing. And google can show it to you beforehand if interested.
- Treatments are definitely pricy but you truly get to spend the entire day there with access to all of the facilities – a contrast pool, eucalyptus steam room, dry heat sauna, gallon pools that dump 200 gallons per minute to massage your back, and just gaudi-like rock cave pools that change colors AND play classical music underneath the water.
You can also sit by the outside pool and enjoy a couple of drinks looking out at the mountain.
When you finish your tranquil day at the spa – you can head to a few restaurants. We chose their more casual one, Edison, on the corner overlooking the sunset for dinner – the other I believe is a steak house and was extra pricy.
I suggest going to dinner anytime from 5:30pm-6pm to beat the crowds if it’s a week night and to get a good seat for the sunset.
AND A FEW OTHER “MUST’S”
- Look at the stars at night.
- If you choose our Airbnb – make s’mores every night! We couldn’t resist and it was a perfect way to end the day.
- Enjoy a cup of coffee outside in the morning and listen to nature’s soundtrack.
- Simply stroll the streets of Asheville on your own time, with no agenda.
I just wanted to write about this little city in North Carolina because it was the BEST mountain getaway that we could have asked for. It is exactly what we had in mind for a trip before our concert. If you’re thinking of going – let me know and we can chat more! Or if you’re passing through – I would definitely recommend spending some time here if you can.