Our 2016 fall mountain vacation was incredible and I cannot help but feel a little sad that the vacation I’ve been looking forward to for months is over. Post vacation blues are reeeal! I am crossing my fingers that an autumn mountain vacation becomes a tradition in our family.
Ryan and I first got the idea to rent a big mountain house for a family vacation last year when Chase was just under three months old. A drivable location was key since, as first-time parents, we felt like we needed to bring ALL THE THINGS for our new baby (and we wanted to be able to include Sadie!) and we were thrilled when my parents, sister and brother-in-law said they were interested in joining us. Our 2015 vacation took us to Boone and Banner Elk and we loved it so much and knew we wanted to do something similar this year.
We decided to explore a new area during our 2016 mountain vacation and rented a home in Black Mountain, a small town located east of Asheville. We spent seven days exploring Black Mountain, Montreat and Asheville and Ryan and I left promising each other we’d make it back for a long weekend in the near future because we loved each of the beautiful mountain towns so much.
I tried to keep the blog hoppin’ last week and shared glimpses into a few days of our vacation, including a day trip to the Biltmore Estate, zip lining at Navitat and hiking Upper Catawba Falls but I wanted to share a roundup of a few of our vacation highlights that didn’t make the blog today!
Mountain Vacation Highlights
12 Bones came up time and time again when we asked around for Asheville-area restaurant recommendations. It’s a popular barbeque hot spot located in the River Arts District of Asheville and we knew we had to try their famous ribs during our visit. We were told to expect a line out the door, so we were pleasantly surprised to walk right up to the counter without a wait on Thursday afternoon. We ordered an assortment of ribs and sides and polished every bite off our plates. The brown sugar ribs, mashed sweet potatoes and collard greens were my favorite!
WNC Nature Center popped up on our radar thanks to positive Trip Advisor reviews. Chase is also a big-time animal lover, so we thought he’d really enjoy a trip to the Nature Center. It ended up being a home run with our little man (and my whole family)! The Nature Center was affordable ($10 a person and free for Chase) and shady pathways took us around the outdoor facility to see a variety of animals including the most playful and active otters I’ve ever seen, black bears, cougars, wolves, coyotes and more.
(Pic from my Instagram)
Another WNC Nature Center highlight? Gem mining!
Ryan purchased a bag of rocks and dirt as a joke for my sister to rummage through because Leslie used to be a big-time rock collector as a little girl. What started out as a bit of a joke ended up quite amusing! The bag was loaded with an assortment of gems and we all had way more fun than we imagined sifting through the rubble for the gems!
- Buxton Hall Barbeque
Buxton Hall Barbeque is a relatively new restaurant in Asheville that’s already making quite a name for itself! We loved the atmosphere of the restaurant and the food absolutely lived up to the hype (and so did the cocktails)! We also ordered one of their banana cream pies to go and it was wonderful! Bonus: This place is located right next to Vortex Doughnuts, so grabbing another box of fresh doughtnuts was a no-brainer after our visit to Buxton Hall!
- Hiking Lookout Mountain in Montreat
Our final day of vacation was the perfect mix of active and relaxing. We spent the evening at our mountain cabin but during the day we headed into Montreat, a small but beautiful town that is home to Montreat College. (Talk about a gorgeous college campus!) We parked our car at the base of the Lookout Trail which took us up, up, up to the top of Lookout Mountain. It was a short hike to the top but the incline had us huffing and puffing!
The top of Lookout Mountain offers the most incredible expansive mountain views and we all agreed this hike was a trip highlight. We ended up hiking a two mile loop that included Little Lookout and Big Lookout and loved soaking in the breathtaking scenery around us. (Big thank you to blog reader Kristen for recommending this hike and putting it on our radar!)
What a charming little coffeehouse! We popped into The Dripolator Coffeehouse in Black Mountain for a little pick-me-up on our way back home from our hike up Lookout Mountain and I only wish we would’ve discovered this hot spot sooner because it would’ve definitely been a daily staple for us during our vacation! We ordered an assortment of coffee drinks and smoothies and bought a bunch of their baked goods to enjoy later that evening for dessert that all received rave reviews from my family. (I loved the oatmeal cream pie the most but the carrot cake was also wonderful.) We also ordered a small cup of their Drinking Chocolate after one of the women working at the coffeehouse described it as a cross between hot chocolate and a “drinkable truffle” and it was incredible. A must-try if you’re ever in Black Mountain!
- Hiking Lower Catawba Falls
On Monday, we hiked to Upper Catawba Falls but Ryan and I also managed to sneak away and hike Lower Catawba Falls with the dogs before everyone was awake on Wednesday morning. It was another stunning hike with lots of mini waterfalls to see before we reached the giant waterfall at the end. Sadie and Kona had a blast running around as always and I loved the quiet start to the day with Ryan and two very energetic furry ladies!