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So, we recently had the amazing opportunity to spend a few days outside of Asheville in the mountains of western North Carolina.  The trip wasn’t incredibly smooth.  You can read about the adventure that happened on our way here.  To add to our previous adventure, our CC got stolen, and the radiator in my car completely exploded.  Needless to say, this trip quickly became known as our “silver lining trip.”  But, those things aside, we had a really awesome trip.

The mountains are a majestic, calming place for me.  I love the beach with all my heart, but being in the forest, surrounded by nature is pretty incredible.  Looking for a trip for yourself, you and your spouse, or the whole family?  Here’s what we did, where we stayed, and of course…what we ate :).

Asheville, NC

Paisley loving the atmosphere and performers in downtown Asheville.

Enjoying some amazing dessert at Sunshine Sammies.

Our trip started in Asheville.  It’s been years since we had the opportunity to spend time in this city.  It has grown…A LOT.  It is diverse, eclectic, and full of energy.  The city is beautiful, and the food is nothing short of incredible.  Unfortunately, we only had a few hours in town {about 15 actually}, so we didn’t get much time to explore.  However, we had the chance to eat some really good food.  Here’s where we ate.


Chestnut is located downtown.  When looking at restaurants in Asheville, the choices are endless, and they all look delicious.  We ultimately decided on Chestnut due to the fact that they had a kids menu listed online.  I just can’t bear spending $20 on an adult meal for my kids to either not eat or tell me they don’t like it.

The hostess was incredibly nice, as she kindly offered to hold our table since we were delayed by a few hours with car issues in GA.  The food was delicious.  We took the opinion of our server {who was very great} and started with the charcuterie platter, which was amazing.  The cheese and meats were both local, and the spread was beautiful.  I opted for the trout, and Josh went with the Korean ribs.  Both kids ordered a cheeseburger.  Everything was delish.  I don’t think there was a morsel of food left for anyone.  We had a great experience and would totally go back.

Sunshine Sammies

Dessert was a no brainer for us on this trip.  We had been through a rough day, and I had read nothing but great reviews on this place.  Let me just tell you…it didn’t disappoint.

See, at Sunshine Sammies, they make their own ice cream, and they sandwich that between two delicious homemade cookies.  We aren’t talking thick, crunchy cookies.  These cookies are thin, soft, and a perfect vehicle for the ice cream.  We don’t eat dessert like this much, so we ordered two sandwiches to split.  FYI – it was more than enough.  Josh and I split the cheesecake sandwich which consisted of graham cracker cookies with almond cheesecake ice cream.  Holy cow…freaking amazing.  The kids went with the mint chocolate…also delicious, but I’m not a huge mint ice cream fan.  This place is worth the wait!

Biscuit Head

We had just enough time for one more meal in Asheville…breakfast.  More than a few people had recommended Tupelo Honey, but I had to go with my love of biscuits on this one.  Biscuit Head is a small operation located off the beaten path.  I knew it was good when we arrived and the line was out the door.  It’s counter service, and pretty much everything comes on a biscuit.

Josh chose the special which was a deconstructed biscuit with brisket, grits, poached eggs, and some other amazing stuff.  I went with the chicken biscuit.  I definitely couldn’t eat the whole thing, and I left a lot of the biscuit, but it came with a slaw and sweet potato butter.  Yum!  The kids ordered the classic bacon, egg, and cheese.   Oh, and for all the coffee lovers out there….the coffee was so, so good!

Brevard, NC

The water was roaring at High Falls in Dupont State Forest.

Josh rappelling at Cedar Rock.

My second attempt at rappelling.

Brevard is located in Transylvania County, also known as “the land of waterfalls.”  Seriously, this town is very, very cool.  It’s laid back, active, and home to some absolutely beautiful forests.  I wish we could have spent more time here.  It would have been easy to stay for 4-5 days!


I went out there for me on our lodging for this section of our trip.  I had read some good reviews about The Sunset Motel which is located within walking distance to downtown.  The claim was that the motel was a throwback to the motel experience in the 60s.  We gave it a shot, and I am so glad that we did.  The place was really great.  Don’t get me wrong…we aren’t talking a luxury hotel, but it was basic, met our needs, it was clean, and super cheap.  

The staff was so nice!  We have gotten used to walking into hotels, having the customer service person give you the rundown, and off you go.  Not at The Sunset Motel.  The guy working the desk when I checked in was energetic, happy to see us, and he actually made an effort to carry on a conversation.  He answered questions, gave recommendations, and went through all the “need to knows” for our stay.  

Thanks to car trouble….AGAIN….we stayed for two nights instead of one.  The staff gladly accommodated us.

Square Root

Square Root is a quaint little spot located downtown.  The place was crowded, and we actually showed up on Wednesday which was 1/2 price wine.  Score!  Despite being out of a few wines {our poor waitress}, we ended up with a decent bottle.  

I ordered the bone in pork chop with greens and sweet potatoes.  It was topped with moonshine marinated peaches, and it was freaking delicious.  Josh went with the hangar steak, potatoes, and asparagus.  Both came with a salad, and both meals were really, really good.  

The table next to us ordered a really good looking dessert, so I went for it too.  I ordered the flourless chocolate cake.  Needless to say, every bite was gone.


Random pick on my part for breakfast on Thursday morning.  We were scheduled for a climbing trip, and not much was open before 8:00 am.  After driving around, we found Grammy’s in a shopping center.  Josh was an immediate “no” but he decided to just try it…it’s really tough to mess up breakfast.  Guys, this place was so good.  Country style omlets, really good breakfast potatoes, and the coffee was pretty good too.  Oh, and it was CHEAP.

Food Matters Market and Cafe

We took the suggestion of one of our climbing guides and stopped into this store for a quick to go lunch.  Think of a small, local Whole Foods and you have Food Matters Market.  They had premade meals to go, so we grabbed one.  The place was one of those grocery stores that you could browse all day.


I’m a sucker for Mexican food.  We weren’t super hungry, so we didn’t want an expensive, heavy meal.  I had read some reviews about Quixote, and they were all really good.  We ordered the fajitas, and believe it or not, they were loaded with veggies!  Not just peppers and onions on these fajitas….there was squash, zucchini, different types of peppers, and onions too.  

The food was really good.  Only complaint…you have to order chips and salsa :(.  It was probably actually a good thing since it kept us from eating way too many.


We came back to Brevard after picking the kids up from camp.  Before we were going to head to Bryson City, we stopped in this tiny burger joint.  I started getting a little aggravated because it took a while, but once we got the food, I understood why.  The Daggie’s burger was like a Five Guys burger on steroids.  We are all suckers for a good burger, and this one did not disappoint.  I believe you can order in advance, so I would highly recommend that.

Stuff to Do

We didn’t have nearly enough time to do everything I would have liked while in this cute little town.  However, we did get to do some really cool stuff.

Dupont State Forest

We actually stopped at Dupont State Forest on our way into town.  After eight hours in the car, a hike sounded really nice.  Within the park, you have easy access to 4 or 5 water falls.  We took the long hike to Bridal Veil Falls {Josh wanted to see it since there was a scene from Last of the Mohicans filmed at those falls}.  It was raining, so we couldn’t climb up to the top of the falls like we wanted to, but they were pretty breathtaking.  We also stopped at High Falls, which was roaring.    Thanks to the rain, the approaching sunset, and the fact that we had already hiked about 5 miles, we headed back to the car.  

This park is great, especially with kids.  The trails are maintained so well.  They have a loop that is around 2 miles that will take you to 3 waterfalls.  We also saw some picnic areas along the way that you could stop at if you have little ones in tow.

PuraVida Adventures

When we were planning our trip, we both really wanted to try out rappelling.  Knowing virtually nothing about climbing or rappelling, we knew we would need to pay for this adventure.  I booked a trip through PuraVida, and I would go back in a heartbeat.  The owner, Joe, as well as one of his guides, Daniel, took us to Cedar Rock in Pisgah National Forest for a few hours of climbing and rappelling.

We started with a beautiful, but fairly strenuous hike.  I laughed a little when Joe was explaining the adventure when he said “strenuous” hike.  He wasn’t lying.  We are in good shape, but we were definitely huffing a little.  Once we got to the rock, they did a short tutorial on rappelling for us, and we were able to practice a few times.  Once we had the practice down, they led us to the 130’ drop.  We had the opportunity to go down twice.  The second time was much better than the first.  Even if you know the equipment is safe, it’s a little tough to completely trust it when you are moving backwards down a cliff.

Josh and I both absolutely loved this trip.  I can’t recommend this company enough.  They were great, and we had a really, really great time. 

Brevard Brewing Company

 We had to make a stop into the local microbrewery downtown.  It was a quaint little place.  The beer was surprisingly inexpensive, but it tasted great.  We tried the ale as well as the pilsner.  This place is worth a stop if you are ever downtown.

Side Note

We had another car hiccup while in Brevard.  I would feel bad not mentioning the local auto repair shop, Total Auto Repair and Service.  See, if you read this post, you already know the issues that we had getting to NC a few days before.  This time, literally as we pulled into the parking lot of the repair shop and got out of the 4Runner, the radiator blew up.  The car didn’t just mess up, there was a pop and smoke coming out from the hood.  

The guys at the shop were so helpful.  They were professional, kind, and they did great work.  They even drove us 40 minutes to Hendersonville to get a rental car since the Enterprise in Brevard was out.  

Hopefully, you never have car trouble in Brevard.  But, if you do, pay these guys a visit.

Bryson City, NC

View along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Graveyard falls is a quick stop along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Graveyard Falls was a quick stop along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

After we picked up the kids in Ridgecrest and then drove back to Brevard to drop of the rental car and pick up the 4Runner, we headed to Bryson City.  If you haven’t been to Bryson City, it’s a great family destination.  It sits very close to the entrance of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, it’s quaint, and it’s home to the Great Smokey Mountain Railroad.  Bryson City is also close to the Nantahala River, so there are lots of options for active things to do in the summer.


We loved the view from the rocking chairs.

The Hemlock Inn – Bryson City, NC

Blaise may have beat me every single game…

I had read a blog years ago about The Hemlock Inn.  It looked completely charming, and I mentally filed it as a place to stay if we ever made it to NC.  I am so thankful that we found this place.  First of all, the grounds are stunning.  It’s a family run place with a few standard guest rooms and a few cottages.

Breakfast and dinner are served daily {except for Sunday dinner}, and they are included in your stay.  You sit family style in the dining room, and the food is out as soon as the bell rings.  Everything that we had was delicious.  The owner sat with us, and it was so neat to hear the history of the Inn.

While at the Inn, they have trails, tons of games, cornhole, ping pong, shuffleboard, and lots of beautiful red rocking chairs along the porch.  Since there are no TVs {halleighluah}, we stayed outside most of the time.  We really enjoyed just sitting and soaking in the view, watching the hummingbirds, exploring the property, and catching fireflys. 


We ate most of our meals at the Inn, but we did have lunch in downtown Bryson City one day.  We stopped in at The Filling Station, and it lived up to the reviews we read.  We don’t eat sandwiches often, but the Cuban was really, really good.  We also ordered the baked potato salad which was amazing.  We took the food to go and ate by the river.

Stuff to Do

Whitewater rafting was awesome!

You can find so many incredible, active adventures in this town.  We didn’t have nearly enough time to experience everything, but we will be back, kids in tow again next summer.  Here are a few things we did get to check out.

Blue Ridge Parkway

Our original plan was to hit the tourist attraction of Sliding Rock.  However, it was closed due to all the rain {Josh and I weren’t super disappointed not to wait in line for an hour}.  Since we weren’t in a hurry to get to Bryson City, so we took the Blue Ridge Parkway from Brevard.  

If you have not taken this drive, take it.  You pass tons of overlooks, and you can get in a few hikes along the way.  We did Graveyard Falls and Devil’s Courthouse which were both a lot of fun and easy to do with kids.

Whitewater Rafting

We went whitewater rafting for the first time while we were in Bryson City.  Thanks to the four days of straight rain, the Nantahala was MOVING!  Thankfully, we booked a guided trip with Nantahala Rafting.  Our guide was fantastic.  With the river so high, it made the rapids a lot more fun.  Our kids are 8 and 9, and they really enjoyed it.  I believe kids have to be at least 7 to go, but if your kids are over 7, I would highly recommend a guided trip.  We had so much fun.  The river was freezing, so it was really refreshing on a warm July day.

Deep Creek Recreation Area

We drove up to Deep Creek Recreation Area after lunch downtown.  It’s a short drive, so we wanted to check it out.  I really wanted to try the whitewater tubing, but the river was moving too fast for kids.  We actually saw tons of people flying out of their tubes.  It definitely looked like fun, but it’s probably better for older kids or adults.

We took two short hikes to Juney Whank Falls and Tom Branch Falls.  The short hike to Tom Branch Falls was along the river where the kids could stop and get in for a minute as we watched everyone holding on for dear life in their tubes.

This place was very clean.  It had some good hikes for kids, but it was crowded.  If you have a few hours to kill, or you want to go tubing, it could be a great option.  If you want quiet, I’d head into the National Park for some good hiking.

I Could Totally Move

After spending a few days in western NC, I could totally live there.  It was laid back, active, and absolutely beautiful.  Hopefully, our kids will be back at camp next year and we will have the opportunity for more adventures!

I hope this little breakdown is helpful if you are planning a trip.  If you are looking for somewhere to go that is active, beautiful, and completely kid friendly, head to western NC.  You’ll have a blast.

The mountains are calling…


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