How to Spend 36-hours in Asheville (without kids!)
Updated: Oct 3, 2019
R: We all need a break, right?
It had been 7-months since we moved to North Carolina. And back in Maine, we benefited from four grandparents that lived within 10-minutes; four grandparents that would drop anything to watch Stephanie and I’s three children. It was something we took for granted and something we undoubtedly have missed since our life in North Carolina got started.
S: Even more so, it had also been 14-months since Ryan and I had the luxury of a kid-free getaway.
R: So, needless to say when we heard that her parents were coming into town for a long weekend, we IMMEDIATELY began scheming on how we would take advantage of the situation. Where would we go? What would we do?
Since our time in North Carolina, dozens had asked us, “have you been to there yet?”
“No we hadn’t.” But it didn’t take us long to decide. A short time later, we concluded that we were going somewhere that everyone here had said we needed to check out…
S: Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains with countless farm-to-table dining options and numerous unique experiences, Asheville, NC would be the perfect spot for our much needed couples getaway.
Read on to learn how to spend 36-hours in this vibrant mountain town (kid-free)!
Plant Vegan Restaurant
S: I’m always apprehensive bringing my carnivorous counterpart to vegan restaurants since he rarely wanders too far from steak and potatoes. However at Plant, they promise that you'll enjoy your experience whether you're vegan or not. And guess what? Ryan was delightfully pleased with his meal!
Ranked as 'one of the best vegan restaurants in the country', (and for good reason), Plant prides itself on creating 'scratch-made food using thoughtfully chosen ingredients from Earth'. It is a small, intimate space with only 13 tables so be sure to confirm reservations well in advance. Trust me, your taste buds will thank you. Our favorites? The Plant Cheese and Actually Crispy Potatoes.
Hiking in the Pisgah National Forest
S: After a solid 7-hour nights sleep (not co-sleeping with three kids), we jumped out of bed and headed out for our first adventure. And following a scenic 45-min drive and we arrived at Pisgah National Forest. We had originally planned to hike Looking Glass Rock, however, upon our arrival I ran into the ranger station to seek their expert opinions. And without hesitation both wardens highly recommended John Rock Loop.
The trail was approximately 4-miles in length and anyone in decent physical condition could easily complete this hike. The views from the lookout were break-taking; a beautiful collage of fall foliage decorated the mountainous landscape for as far as the eye could see.
But all most good things must come to an end, and after a quick snack we began our descent only to be pleasantly surprised to stumble upon the peaceful, calming sounds of a waterfall.
Quite simply, it was an adventure we will always remember and we’re already looking forward to our next hike!
Laughing Seed Cafe
S: High on life after our climb, we made our way to The Laughing Seed, 'Asheville's original downtown vegetarian restaurant'. (I may or may not have failed to tell Ryan that I had chose ANOTHER vegetarian restaurant for our next meal.)
For over 20-years, The Laughing Seed has been serving the highest quality, organic, local farm-to-table cuisine, and after browsing the menu I wanted EVERYTHING. All of the hearty options sounded sensational. And guess what? Ryan loved The Laughing Seed, too!
We enjoyed the outdoor seating as we basked in October sunshine while indulging in our fresh, wholesome salads and sipping on refreshing Kombucha. Laughing Seed definitely hit the spot.
Asheville Salt Cave
R: Invigorated from lunch, a short stroll downtown brought us to the Salt Caves that Stephanie had been talking nonstop about meditating in for several weeks. I had never sat in a Salt Cave and didn’t really know what to expect. But the first thing I noticed while I repeatedly dug my aching feet into the remarkably soothing salt was that Stephanie wasn’t doing any mediating. Reclined in a zero gravity chair with a blanket over her eyes, she instantly fell asleep. With 44 minutes to go of uninterrupted peace, I admired Stephanie’s decision and also took advantage of the situation.
Surrounded by 2,000 tons of living salt and the gentle trickling sounds of two natural waterfalls, the Salt Cave was everything I hoped it would be. For you parents out there seeking time to ‘meditate,’ read a book, or even a take a good nap like us, add this to your Asheville itinerary.
Double D's + downtown explorations
R: Feeling alive after our Salt Cave experience, Stephanie and I were anxious to explore more of what downtown Asheville has to offer. While there, we browsed several unique local stores, watched various street performers excel at their craft, and grabbed coffee at Double D’s - a double decker bus converted into a coffee shop.
One of our favorite stops was Mast General Store. This place has it all: Authentic candy, classic board games, high-quality outdoor clothing, kitchen goods, handmade furniture, NC souvenirs, you name it. There’s literally something there for everyone.
R: Following our window shopping escapade, we desperately tried to secure a table at the coveted Curate. Yet despite our efforts, we were unsuccessful and ended up settling upon an Italian cookery, Cucina 24. Ready for some beef, I ordered the flat iron steak. Though it wasn’t our favorite meal in Asheville, it sure as heck was better than the Kraft Mac n’ Cheese going on back home!
French Broad Chocolates
S: If you read my post on how to eat healthy on vacation (and NOT gain 10-lbs) you'll know a secret trick of mine, choosing one while out to eat: bread, wine, or dessert. Rarely do I drink and bread isn't really my thing, so for me, I'll consume my calories in dessert every single time. So when, French Broad chocolates was recommended to me time and time again, it was an easy decision.
Since 2008, French Broad has been crafting 'pure, beautiful, and delicious' chocolates in their small factory in the mountains. They stand behind their strong values focused on sustainability and connecting its consumers to its source. And it shows.
At 9 PM the line to enter this popular dessert spot wrapped around the building and halfway down the street. But that certainly didn't stop us. Because you know when you see a line like that, you get in it! From ice cream and cookies, to cakes, brownies and artisan truffles, there's something for everyone at French Broad. They also offer a wide array of vegan and gluten-free options, as well as an entire menu of sipping chocolates!
Definitely save room for dessert and make a visit to French Broad Chocolates a priority, it's truly a sensory experience like none other.
Sunny Point Cafe
S: Honestly I can't imagine a better ending to our couples getaway in Asheville than brunch at Sunny Point Cafe.
While waiting to experience another one of Asheville's 'made-from scratch and farm-to-table' restaurants we enjoyed UNLIMITED coffee in their cool, shaded outdoor waiting area. You can also take a stroll through their garden, located adjacent to the restaurant, before or after your meal to get an up-close look at the ingredients harvested for their specials.
Sunny Point delivered on all levels, from the vibrant decor, to the service, and of course, the food! Ryan and I agreed, Sunny Point Cafe receives two thumbs up. (We literally haven't stopped talking about it!) You can't go wrong with any of the menu items, but for us the Philly Cheese-steak Hash and the mushroom and gruyere omelette defined upscale comfort food.
** pro-tip: Arrive early! Even though we waited WELL over an hour for a table I would have waited longer.
R: Summing up Asheville is very easy: It was fun. It was different. It was full of life. It reminded me of Portland, Maine. Yet, it felt smaller; felt more intimate. It felt like the locals (though very welcoming) walked around knowing something that we didn’t. They know it is cool. They know it is special. And they don’t need to tell you that. It’s very easy to figure that out on your own. While we were standing in line Friday night at French Broad, Stephanie turned to me. Her big eyes were gleaming with excitement and her smile was spread wide across her face. She said, ‘I can tell you one thing I'm not doing tomorrow...’ ‘What’s that, dear?’
Yup. That pretty much sums up Asheville.
Have you visited Asheville? Did it leave an imprint on your heart too?
Steph and Ry