Asheville, North Carolina with Kids
In November we were roadtripping from Florida to Virginia with our then 13 month and 2.5 year old. We knew we would be driving about half-way and then spending two nights in Asheville. I have had Asheville on my must-see list for about 3 years. I originally found a pin on Pinterest of an AMAZING overlook called Chimney Rock. That sealed the deal. Fast forward a few years and a couple kids later and the stars aligned. We were going.
Arrival Day: Check-In & Cornerstone
We arrived in Asheville in the late afternoon after about 8-9 hours of driving. We had a very easy time with check in and parking since we were staying in a hotel. We normally stay in an Airbnb, but this time we decided to stay at the Holiday Inn & Suites since we would only be staying 2 nights and we knew wouldn't be cooking since Asheville is a foodie paradise. Our room was a one bedroom suite and it was huge. The baby would sleep in our room in a pack-n-play and Charletta would sleep on the pull out couch in the living room with her DockATot.
The kids were tired, we were tired. We got everything unpacked and started scoping out what was around our hotel. The hotel has a small dining room & bar, but I wanted some authentic Asheville food, so we decided to walk down to a hipster looking restaurant called Cornerstone. The food was delicious & the local beer was definitely what the doctor ordered after a long day of driving with 2 toddlers. I recommend the Baby Back Ribs -- SO good. The meat fell off the bones and my mouth is watering thinking about it.
Full Day: Vortex Donuts, Chimney Rock State Park, Bearwallow Mountain, Funkatorium, Twin Leaf Brewery, & Asheville Brewing Co
The next day, I woke up earlier than everyone and headed straight out to Vortex Donuts. Social media has a way of influencing my travel decisions and after seeing pictures of these donuts, I had to get some. Downtown Asheville is a very short drive from the hotel and a cool drive too. The route takes you right under a rock tunnel which I loved. Anyway, back to the donuts. All of the donuts are made fresh and are absolutely worth the hype. I ended up buying 6 of them and some coffee; 2 Vortex, 2 Salted Caramel, 1 Maple Bacon, and 1 Chocolate Glazed. YUMMMMMMMMM. Jimmy and the kids were super impressed too. Yes, I did share.
After some delicious donuts, we loaded up the kids and started making our way out to Chimney Rock State Park. My excitement was palpable. The drive takes you about an hour outside Asheville, up and down some windy roads and into a tiny little mountain town where Chimney Rock State Park sits dead center. As we pulled up to the park's gate a man approached our window with some photos and let us know they had experienced a land slide and the park was temporarily closed. I was heartbroken and very frustrated. We drove all this way and wouldn't even get to experience what we came for.
After parking the car near by and letting myself pout for a bit, Latham and I rendezvoused with Jimmy and Charletta who had gone for a walk. We made the decision to explore the little town, then head down the mountain to a back up hike. The town is very small, but fun to walk through. It's based around a Broad River, so half the town is waterfront. We randomly chose to eat at the Riverwatch Bar & Grill. I was super skeptical because it looked like a biker bar, but once my food came out, I was a believer. I ordered the Hillbilly Dog; a hot dog topped with sweet and sour hickory pulled pork & bacon crumbles. It was fantastic. Jimmy was very jealous of my meal.
With full stomachs, we walked down to the river via the Chimney Rock Village Riverwalk path. They had a few bridges that zig zagged across the water. It was nice to let the kids down to run (or crawl) around and play. They both really liked throwing rocks and sticks into the water. We opted for a small photo shoot before heading back to the car.
After a short 20 minute drive back toward Asheville, we arrived at the foot of Bearwallow Mountain. This hike was an easy family hike full of switchbacks, crunchy fallen leaves and just enough exertion to tire out little legs. I was skeptical of the promised views, but once we reached the top....BOOM. Not only were there great views, but the top opened up into a meadow of grazing cows. Yes. There were cows everywhere! We stopped for a while, nursed the baby, gave the toddler snacks and, of course, opted for a photo shoot. Every single step of that little climb was worth all the hassle of the day. We may not have seen Chimney Rock, but everyone was happy with being outside and hiking around North Carolina.
We quickly made it down the mountain since I was wearing the baby and Charletta was riding in our hiking pack. We loaded up the kids and headed back to the hotel for a quick shower before heading out for downtown Asheville.
We had heard Asheville had a great Micro-Brewery scene, so that was on our list. We headed downtown to the South Slope Brewery District and started our mini-brewery crawl at The Funkatorium. The brews here are all from Wicked Weed Brewery. The atmosphere here reminded me of an old Celtic tavern with modern quirks. The area was very family friendly and they have a large outdoor patio. We ordered their Formaggio platter with our beer -- it was delicious. It was my first experience with Sour beer! & it was delicious. So good, in fact, that after our mini tour, I went back to the Funkatorium and bought more to take with us. We stocked up on the Brettaberry brew. I need more!
We walked across the street (literally) and into the Twin Leaf Brewery. This was a large open warehouse with big tables and a lively atmosphere. The staff were all so friendly and there were several families. They had a Foosball table in the corner and a big shelf of board games. We stuck with having a few brews before moving along. We tried the Wee Nipper and the Sweet English Cider. Both were great.
We walked from here up the street to the Asheville Brewing Company. We chose this as our third and final stop because PIZZA. This may be a micro brewery, but it's also a pizza joint. It was dinner time, our kids had been so good, but we were all starving. The pizza was delicous, but it was their Bold Rock Cider that made them stand out. If I could have bought growlers of this cider, I would have. I wanted to take it all home with me. It was the most delicious cider I have ever tried and I normally do not like or drink Cider. Definitely give this a go if you're in the area. The place was extremely kid friendly and some locations are even canine friendly!
After some good food & good brews we called it a night.
Departure Day: Tulepo Honey
The next morning we woke up, packed up and headed downtown to finish out our foodie tour with some Brunch. After seeking many many many recommendations, we decided on Tulepo Honey Cafe. However, once we arrived, it wasn't open for another hour. So bummed. We parked the car and walked around until we got to the Over Easy Cafe...and there was a long wait. At this point, we wouldn't get seated until Tulepo Opened, so we headed back that way and waited. WORTH. THE. WAIT. Oh dear, it was good. I had the Southwestern Omelet and Jimmy had the Shoo Mercy Sweet Potato Pancakes. BUT THE BISCUITS STOLE THE SHOW. If you don't eat anything but these biscuits, you will die a happy person.
With fully stomachs and a happy heart, we started the 9 hour drive to Virginia.
Recap & Other Recommendations
- Tulepo Honey
- Votex Donuts
- Riverwatch Grill & Bar this is located at Chimney Rock, not downtown Asheville
- Chimney Rock Don't make the mistake we did, CHECK THIS SITE BEFORE YOU VISIT
- Bearwallow Mountain
- Biltmore Estates (The Biltmore is on our list, but we did not have enough time on our stay for both hiking and the Biltmore. The price is steep to visit, so we decided to wait until our next stay when we could spend a whole day visiting)
- Blue Ridge Parkway
- Parks & Playgrounds in Asheville
- Holiday Inn & Suites Downtown Asheville: There is a really amazing pool, small dining room, bar, shuttle van (takes you anywhere within 2 miles which includes Downtown), laundry facilities, great internet & huge one bedroom suites for a great price.
Overall, Asheville was everything we hoped for. The setting in the Blue Ridge Mountains is fantastic, the hiking and outdoor actives are endless, the food is to die for, and the breweries leave nothing to be desired. There is truly something for every age group in this beautiful city. Whether you're heading there for a long weekend or a mid-roadtrip stopover, you won't be disappointed.
Get ready for your trip: