Friday, November 1, 2013

Help from readers on how to hide away from it all (erm, in North Carolina)?

Hello ESB

I'd appreciate some last minute advice from your lovely readers about hanging out in North Carolina/Smoky Mtns.

You've helped me before when me and my now Mr were planning marriage. I got stressed. It all worked out (we got married at City Hall and then went bowling)

Anyway, as life moves on, so your problems change. I am getting over a miscarriage and we want to just bunk off somewhere a bit different to help us pick up the pieces of my slightly bruised and crappy uterus.

We've booked a cabin in Smoky Mtns and are flying into Charlotte so any advice for around them thar hills would be aces

Have a great weekend lady


Help a lady out,  you guys

♥ ♥ ♥

(No idea if this is a photo of the Smoky Mountains. Also: No idea who took the photo. Pls let me know if you know.)


  1. There's this thing called the blue ridge parkway, and it's a massive trail all through the Appalachian mountains. It 's really pretty and you could walk/bike part of it.
    There's also things in downtown Asheville (music, art, food) if your cabin is near by.

  2. Where are you headed? I was just in Bryson City, staying at Nantahala Village. Not sure how much mobility you have, but there's a lot of great hikes, zip lining, river activities, etc.

    Asheville is about two hours from Charlotte with lots to do, including seeing the Biltmore mansion. Some lovely gardens and grounds.

  3. ESB hit the best highlights of Asheville. You'll love it there. Vera is also right, you want to check out the Blue Ridge Parkway. My favorite section is from the Folk Center to Cherokee. If you don't have a half a day, I'd suggest picking it up at the Balsam entrance outside of Waynesville and driving to Cherokee from there. Cherokee is also the entrance to the Great Smoky MOuntains National Park. If you're into gorgeous art, architecture, and landscaping from the Gilded Age, the Biltmore is worth the ticket.

    Lastly, there's a little hole in the wall Jamaican restaurant called Nine Mile that is amazing. Best BBQ is at 12 Bones. Enjoy!

  4. Asheville is fantastic, and you could spend all your time there. I would also recommend Blowing Rock if you're up for a beautiful drive- great restaurants and views there as well.

  5. My husband and I honeymooned in Hot Springs, NC. (If you feel like getting an outdoor naked hot tub filled with natural hot mineral water overlooking a babbling brook, go there!) If you're out by Asheville and feeling adventurous, there is an awesome zipline tour (Navitat. Worth it, even when it rained.)

    Have fun!!

  6. Some other places that are nearby worth might be worth checking out:
    - The closest thing to Bryson City (as far as I recall - my husband and I stayed in a tiny bungalow there once) is the NC entrance of Smokey Mountain National Park - it is beautiful just to drive into and see the vistas, they'll also give you a trail map at the entrance so you can pick out some walks
    - I recommend visiting Fontana Lake and Fontana Dam which is nearby. It's very beautiful! There is also a somewhat strenuous hike to a water tower overlooking Lake Fontana that has been recommended to me but I've never done it.
    - When we went to Bryson City, we actually never went into Asheville - it's about an hour and the roads are kinda crazy to do at night. We mostly just cooked and sat on the balcony with hot cocoa. It was amazing! Bryson City is a beautiful place to do nothing, if that is your jam, and I remember there is a (not great but acceptable) Ingles supermarket in town for supplies. For other people who might be interested We stayed here) (sorry about the crazy website) and it was the *perfect* place to get away from it all.

  7. I will second Hot Springs NC, the natural hot springs are awesome and we have stayed a few times in these cabins in the woods that have their own personal hot tubs, kitchens, etc. They are super private, both times we went we didn't see anyone - not even the owners - because they just leave you a key!

    1. Ohmygod we stayed there too! Loved that some were dog-friendly!

  8. If you're into craft beer, Asheville is the place. Breweries and tap rooms of all kinds. Asheville Brewing Company (or Brew 'n View) on Merrimon shows movies and serves cheap, cheap pizza and beer. The building is nuts in a great way. Early Girl Eatery is delicious. Lexington Ave Brewery is the trendy destination, but super crowded on Friday and Saturday nights. The beer is pretty good, but I go for the sliders. Nearby Chimney Rock Park has a gorgeous waterfall... and a lot of stairs. I think my boyfriend's quad is still fucked from that particular detour.

    If you do stop by Bryson City—not quite a city, to be clear—Nantahala Brewing Company is one of my favorite places. The front patio is adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, and I like to sit out there for as long as possible. The Nantahala Outdoor Center is about 20 minutes away, if you feel like kayaking/rafting/people-watching. The open-air BBQ restaurant is pretty good, but you may want to avoid River's End Restaurant on the other side of the bridge. Nantahala Lake is about a half hour up Hwy 19 and Wayah Road, and it's really beautiful.

    If you get restless, there are cheap flea markets, thrift stores, and antique shops all over the place, but you may want to avoid Santa's Land in Cherokee. Unless you're a collector of Nazi memorabilia. I like Deckers and Foster's Flea Markets in Murphy, where I've gotten furniture for no more than $5/piece. Murphy also has Henn Theater, which I've been meaning to visit, only because it's adorable from the outside.

    Have a wonderful trip.

  9. Have been to Chimney Rock twice, looooved the drive in on Rt. 9 from Asheville...windy and rural. Also have been to the Biltmore like 4 times, I love it more each time--the gardens are amazing, and it's easy to forget about real life while you are there. Have a good time!

  10. I lived in Asheville for a couple of years and was a part of the Navitat crew, I can vouch for that being a fun adventure and a top notch crew.

    If you're looking for something a little quieter to sooth the soul, I second (third? fourth?) Hot Springs. I've gone out to soak there a ton. There's also a long walk you can do along Laurel River off the highway that's awesome. In the summer it's the best spot for swimming holes.

    One of my favorite spots on the Blue Ridge Hwy is Black Balsam. It's not a long hike for your recovering body, but still beautiful views and a place to feel some peace. For me, getting outside is better than just driving around in a car. If you go here, park at the Art Loeb Trail and hike up. Beauty Spot is another spot around the area and less hiking. There's a ton of beautiful spots to explore. One note on these outdoor adventures, if there's any weather coming in or any chance of a thunderstorm it's best to book it back the cozy indoors. There's been some freak accidents of lightning strikes.

    All of these spots are a few hours from Charlotte, but they're worth it if you make it to the area.

  11. If you're going this time of year, everywhere will be beautiful.

    Go to the Grove Park Inn in Asheville and have a drink or an appetizer at the bar. Gorgeous views of the mountains and the inn is lovely as well--F. Scott Fitzgerald stayed there in the 30s/40s when Zelda was hospitalized nearby.

    The Thirsty Monk is a great bar. Malaprop's for books, lots of antique shops in town or nearby. Definitely check out the Biltmore (gardens if not the house itself) but skip the winery (everything they give you to sample is actually produced elsewhere). Biltmore Village has a lot of cute shops & places to walk around--the Corner Kitchen is a great place to eat.

    Black Mountain is a cute town with lots of little shops and things; Waynesville has a cute little downtown also.

  12. Beware the deer at dusk on Blue Ridge Parkway (my Toyota has been re-christened "Natty Bumpoo" aka "The Deerslayer" after a fateful road trip down the BRP), but it is seriously worth your time to take a cruise along it. Makes you understand why there's a song called "America, the Beautiful".

  13. i know nothing about NC, but the trip sounds lovely and i hope you have a wonderful time. i just wanted to say how sorry i am for your loss.

  14. sure to be some good tips on the Garden and Gun site ...

  15. Not a recommendation, but I'm pretty sure that photo is by Katch Silva

  16. Oh Darling. So so sorry for your loss and if ever there was a place to soothe you, Western North Carolina is it.
    The few comments above about BRP *and especially* Black Balsam are spot on.
    If hiking isn't even your thing, there's something about being in those amazingly old and beautiful mountains that can be a balm for anything.
    Graveyard Fields (mile marker 420 on the BRP) is quite touristy, but one of the more spectacular views/light hikes without putting your body through any stress at all.
    Also at mm 418 there's a secret swimming hole if you enter the trail opposite the viewing area. Though too cold for swimming this time of year, it's a quick walk to a truly meditative spot above the waterfall.
    I know the Blue Ridge Mountains have healed me many times, but if that's not your thing, the comments above about the Grove Park Inn are true, but really their Spa is world class, so if you want to be pampered it's the place to go. Skip the overpriced meals and drinks and just pick up groceries/snacks/a meal at Earth Fare, local organic grocery close by of HWY240.

    I can't believe I missed the Asheville post before. There's so much to do there, but it seems like you don't need stuff to do as much as gentle distractions. Also, Lake Lure is great, part of Dirty Dancing was filmed there.
    If you do need any Charlotte info: The Common Market is a great sandwich spot/small grocery, the Central, North Davidson, and South End neighborhoods are where you'll find most of the good food/culture without Manhattan prices.
    any other questions about the areas around Charlotte & AVL, feel free to email me (archetypographia[at]gmail). I can't imagine what you're going through, but if there's anything I can do to assist you.. reach out.

  17. Don't go to Hot Springs, it's weird and unreasonably spendy.