Asheville, NC This mountain town was right up our alley with a free spirited, hippy vibe and amazing (amazing!) food. Read on for our many restaurant recommendations, where we stayed and what we did while in the Blue Ridge Mountains plus where we ate during our pit stops in Louisville, Charleston, WV, Washington DC and Durham, NC!
Check out the first portion of our vacation HERE!
We left Wednesday and Thursday nights up in the air and didn’t have anything booked ahead of time, leaving us flexibility to stay in Raleigh Durham or go to Asheville early. We ended up doing the later and booked our first AirBnB rental at 2pm the day of our arrival.
We stayed in West Asheville, which was an easy drive into downtown and close to Sunny Point Cafe, where we dined twice. Our studio apartment rental had a small kitchen and private garden entrance and was pretty cute! It was in a basement (and had a little bit of a basement smell, which was easily remedied by lighting a candle the host had available) and we could hear a bit of the shuffle of the host’s family upstairs, but really no big deal. It was also really inexpensive (we paid $88/night) and far better than staying in a hotel. For a budget Asheville stay, we’d absolutely recommend it!
On the last night of our trip, we switched to a different AirBnB rental that I’d booked before we left and we really loved this place. It was a private two bedroom home (pictured above) in the River Arts District in an area called Chicken Hill (which lived up to it’s name with SUPER steep hills). Our host was so flexible (we arrived early) and had things like cereal, milk and coffee available to us. Plus the place was just cute! The home is located next to a highway (with a slim bank of trees between) but the window AC unit masked any sound at night.
Tupelo Honey Cafe This downtown spot came highly recommended and also ranks in my top restaurants of the trip. We went for a late lunch and sat on the patio without a wait. To start, we shared fried green tomatoes over grits and this dish might be the very best thing I ate all week. AHHH-MAAAAZZZ-ING. So so good. Adam had a crazy Bloody Mary that was like a salad and a drink that he enjoyed. For our meals, I had buttermilk coated and fried shrimp and Adam did a soup and salad. They also bring out biscuits before the meal and those were delicious too. I wish I had bought the cookbook when I was there because I can’t stop thinking about those grits (something I wasn’t raised on and don’t eat in Indiana). Man, oh man. Good stuff
Tupelo Honey Cafe 12 College Street Asheville, NC 28801 (828) 255-4863
Sunny Point Cafe We ate here twice during our visit and loved it both times. For our first meal, we both got the Huavos Ranchos, and (lucky us!) were there on donut day (Thursday!) so ordered a cinnamon sugar and maple glaze. Slammin all around.
The second visit I had carrot pancakes with cardamom butter (OMG) and Adam had a breakfast sandwich. I’d be in trouble if I lived close to a place like this!
Sunny Point Cafe 626 Haywood Rd, Asheville, NC 28806 (828) 252-0055
Mellow Mushroom For our first dinner we felt like salad and pizza and were really happy with our experience at Mellow Mushroom. We ate on the funky patio, listened to trivia night and had the pretzels, Enlightened Spinach Salad (large enough to share) and the Holy Shittaki Pie (from their site: Olive oil and garlic base, Shiitake, button and Portobello mushrooms, caramelized onions, mozzarella and MontAmoré cheeses. Drizzled with garlic aioli and black truffle oil. Garnished with fresh chives and shaved Parmesan). So so good. Also, great service, happy people and a wonderful welcome to Asheville!
Mellow Mushroom 50 Broadway Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801 (828) 236-9800
Farm Burger We kept things easy for dinner and went to Farm Burger, known for it’s grass fed beef burgers. You order your fixings a la cart and I had my burger with a fried egg, tomato, lettuce and mayo on top. Adam ordered sweet potato fries and chicken pot pie slides (warning: incredible!) and we really enjoyed the overall vibe and meal. You order at the counter and seat yourself (we sat on the patio outside). I could see myself eating there once a week if I lived in town!
Farm Burger 10 Patton Avenue Asheville, NC 28801 (828) 348-8540
Lexington Avenue Brewery We sat at the stone counter up against the sidewalk and I tried a Cheerwine (cherry soda) and Adam had a beer. We ordered the beef sliders and Lab Lox (from their site: Thyme-citrus cream cheese wrapped in house cured salmon with dill pretzel lavash, apricot coulis, smoky mustard, salmon mousse, pickled red onion and flash fried kale). Super super delicious.
LAB 39 N Lexington Ave, Asheville, NC 28801 (828) 252-0212
Corner Kitchen A part of the Biltmore village, this upscale spot is located in an 1895 home and has a menu that changes week to week. This was our last meal in town and by this time, we’d been eating a lot of filling, rich meals and ended up just getting an entree and calling it a night. I had the lamb and Adam had the meatloaf and both were really good. We were kind of tired and had a bit of the end of vacation blues so we were in and out in less than a hour. I’d love to go back with a really empty stomach (and after I have baby so I could enjoy a glass of wine!) Reservations Recommended.
Corner Kitchen 3 Boston Way, Asheville, NC 28803 (828) 274-2439
The Biltmore One of the largest homes in America, built by George Vanderbilt in 1895, and is the perfect trifecta of history, nature (it’s set on 8000 acres) and fanciness. We bought out tickets online (which saved us $20) and also got valet parking (something we never do, but really came in handy for my tired, pregnant self). We also did a guided architecture tour which was $17/person and absolutely worth it (you get to go up on the roof and the views are stunning). Our 3 hour visit was a little tiring for me, but it was the only really touristy thing we did on this trip and we both enjoyed ourselves. If you’ve read Empty Mansions or watched Downton Abbey, you’d love it too! More photos to come!
The Biltmore 1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC 28803 (800) 411-3812
Hot Springs Adam really wanted to check out some natural hot springs while on our trip and found a little mountain spot that offered just that. Before I describe this place even further, you should know this was not fancy, but it was a lot of fun. If you love camping and being outdoors, you’ll enjoy it (but if you’re more of the luxury hotel spa kind of girl, I’d suggest finding something else). So here’s the set up: there are multiple spa style hot tubs that are re-filled with naturally heated mineral spring water for each guest (or set of guests). It’s between 100-102 degrees and overlooks a bubbling stream. The cost is $15/person for a hour and we had a lot of fun! We brought a cooler with ice (in case the water was too hot for me) and some drinks and really enjoyed just relaxing for the hour. I mainly soaked my feet but got in for a few minutes a couple of times. The 40 minute drive from Asheville was really pretty too and we enjoyed getting off the beaten path a bit.
Hot Springs For Reservations Call 828.622.7676
Shopping There are lots of cute shops throughout the downtown area and two I really liked were Nest Organics and Minx. I ended up buying a Boob Dress at Nest (it’s a brand cut so you can modestly nurse your baby and can be hard to find) plus a set of non toxic blocks, a hand carved baby rattle and a little finger puppet. Minx was such a cute shop too and if I weren’t pregnant I would have bought so many things! The price points vary widely (a lot of reasonable $100 and under dresses plus some fancy pieces upwards of $300). The store clerk was so friendly and I’d love to shop there again!
Nest Organics 51 N Lexington Ave, Asheville, NC 28801 (828) 258-1901
Minx 64 N Lexington Ave, Asheville, NC 28801 (828) 225-5680
Louisville, KY After an early (6:30am) start to our trip, we had our first stop in Louisville for breakfast and went to our favorite area - NuLu/Market Street. We had a quick breakfast at Toast on Market (and I don’t even remember what I had) but I do remember it was good and kept me full until lunch. So many good restaurants in that area (Harvest, The Garage). See my full post on 48 hours in Louisville here.
Toast on Market 620 E Market St, Louisville, KY 40202 (502) 569-4099
Charleston, WV For our first day lunch break, we stopped at Pies and Pints in downtown Charleston. We both had salads and split a small Grape, Rosemary and Gorgenzola pizza. So good!
Pies and Pints 222 Capitol St, Charleston, WV 25301 (304) 342-7437
Washington DC We actually booked an AirBnB room for Sunday night in DC, but after lunch decided to skip it and drive straight through to the beach, and we’re so glad we did. While in town we ate at Founding Farmers and had a mixed experience. We both loved our drinks (grapefruit soda for me, Bloody Mary for Adam) and my meal was awesome (crabby eggs benedict) but Adam’s plate was not so good (sausage gravy benendict). We sat at the bar to avoid the wait (it was Father’s Day) and Adam loved their set up. Compared to everything else we ate on our trip, I’d give it a B-, although I received lots of positive recommendations from friends.
Founding Farmers 1924 Pennsylvania Ave NW Washington, DC | (202) 822-8783
Because we were already on Pennsylvania Ave, we walked down the street and checked out the White House, which actually had me really excited. I’d visited DC for a class trip back in the late 90s but all I remember were protesters and only had a disposable camera at the time. We then took outfit photos across the street and then Adam suggested skipping town and I agreed!
Durham, NC We had also planned to spend a day or two in the Raleigh Durham area but realized the heat (mid 90s and humid) would be too much for my 7.5 month pregnant tail to bear. We did stop for a quick lunch at Watts Grocery, which came highly recommended. The food was pretty good (I had fried chicken on a biscuit, Adam had onion rings and deviled eggs) but the service wasn’t incredible. It was actually pretty bad, which unfortunately tarnished our experience. Let’s just hope our server was having a bad day and that’s the exception, not the norm.
Watt’s Grocery 1116 Broad St, Durham, NC 27705 (919) 416-5040