We took a week and a half off work for the holidays and spent Christmas and the weekend after with my family in Charlotte and Morgan’s family in the mountains at Lake Lure. While that was great, if we were going to use a bunch of vacation time from work, we wanted to spend some time having a vacation. Since we were going to Lake Lure anyways, we decided to head 45 minutes west to Asheville, North Carolina, and spend some time in a city that gets a well-deserved reputation as a tourist spot. Filled with mountains, breweries, history, good food and more, Asheville is the place to be.
We travelled on Sunday and went through Pisgah National Forest to do a little hiking before getting to Asheville. There is tons of hiking in the area and lots of scenic overlooks and waterfalls. We first stopped off at Looking Glass Falls, which is a beautiful waterfall that you can get up close and personal with. Lots of rock outcroppings let you climb up or down.
We headed up the road to the trail that takes you to Moore Cove Falls. The trail is maybe a mile each way along streams and secluded trees. When you get there, the waterfall isn’t amazingly tall, but it’s named for the cove that’s behind the falls. You can walk around behind the falls and watch the water fall from behind. You could take a picnic and have lunch behind a waterfall or stand in a shower of fresh mountain water in the summer.
We did a quick stop to look at Sliding Rock as well, but obviously in the winter (although it felt like a summer day!) you can’t use it. Sliding Rock is famous for people being able to slide down this natural waterslide and then climb back up to do it again. You can see the sliding rock here. The pool at the bottom is 8 feet deep (according to signage – it was closed for the winter) and the railings are for climbing back up.
From there, we headed to our first of many breweries on the trip. The Sierra Nevada Brewing Company is probably the most well-known brewery in the area, but is located a little bit outside of the main part of Asheville. It was on the way perfectly into town from Pisgah, so we stopped by and had two flights of beer tasters and a local cheese board. The beer was great and we even got a growler of their seasonal Celebration Ale to take with us!
That night, we went to Wicked Weed Brewing for dinner and beers. They had the absolute most amazing candied brussels sprouts for an appetizers. They were seriously melt in your mouth like candy and I can’t wait to try to make them here at home.
On Monday, we went to the Biltmore, but we’ll tell you about that tomorrow. Tuesday, we drove around in the mountains and walked around the campus of UNC Asheville before doing a self-guided brewery tour. We started at lunchtime at Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company. We didn’t know it, but during the week, they have a pizza buffet for lunch for only $7.99! It was a great deal. We got to try several different combinations of pizza as well as take advantage of their salad bar. Plus, they have really good beers, like their Rocket Girl Lager and their Shiva IPA. Their restaurant is and old auto shop, so the outdoor seating area was perfect for a cool day.
Now, we learned on this tour that basically if a brewery doesn’t serve food, they don’t open until 4 p.m., so we ran into a couple of breweries that were closed and had to go back later or didn’t make it back, but we persevered. We next spent some time at Catawba Brewing Company, where they have their small brewery right in their open warehouse type restaurant. It was pretty empty when we got there, but got full by the time we left. We had their White Zombie White Ale and their Mother Trucker Pale before having a flight of several more. This place had a great vibe and was fun to hang out at.
After Catawba, we had beers at Twin Leaf Brewery and Green Man Brewery. Green Man was a pub where everyone was engrossed in soccer, but they had a great area outside to sit under shade and enjoy our beers while playing with someone else’s dog. Their beers were very hoppy and specialized, so you have to like that. Twin Leaf was ok and I honestly can’t give a great review, but I can’t give it a bad review either. As the last stop on our day-long brewery tour, it kind of just melted together.
That night, we had dinner at The Noodle Shop and then had desserts at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge. They had cakes, truffles, macaroons and ice cream, but they had tons of dessert beverages that seemed to be what people wanted the most. We had a salted caramel hot chocolate with a coconut macaroon and peppermint brownie ice cream.
Our final morning there, we had brunch at the Tupelo Honey Cafe. It’s a famous spot and there is often a long line to get in, but we sat at the bar and were able to slide right in. This is an amazing breakfast spot, but they have lunch and dinner too. Morgan indulged in their blueberry french toast while I had an egg and cheese BLT with potato “cracklins,” which are essentially crispy fried potato chunks. They were delicious. They also give everyone a scratch-made biscuit with their homemade blueberry preserves and I would have been happy to just have five of those for breakfast.
Asheville is an awesome place to visit for hiking and breweries, so make sure it’s only your list of places to visit if you’re anything like us! Come back tomorrow to learn about the Biltmore Estate!