We looooove Black Mountain, a little town outside of Asheville, North Carolina. Our dream is to have a spot down there eventually – we joke it will be a yurt with a view since we might be able to afford some land, but probably not anything to put on it. We try to go down there 2-3 times a year, and we’ve talked it up so much that now we have friends going down there too. I thought I would write up a post on some of our favorites. That way, I can just send this post when people ask me for tips. If it encourages others to visit, all the better!
We typically rent a house from VRBO, Greybeard, or Airbnb. We have had great luck with all of the Greybeard properties we’ve rented. The VRBO and Airbnb properties haven’t been as consistent, but the VRBO options are typically cheaper. Keep in mind that five miles in the mountains is very different than five miles on flat land. We like to alternate staying “up the mountain” with staying closer to town to get the best of both worlds. When we stay farther up in the mountains, it is more secluded with great views, but it takes at least 15-20 minutes of windy roads to get into town. Likewise, when we stay in town, we somewhat sacrifice the views and the seclusion for the sake of being super close to lots of fun stuff in town.
We always rent a place with a kitchen (more here on our vacation food tips), so we load up on groceries at The Artisan, Roots and Fruits Organic Market, and Hopey and Company. We always stop by the tailgate market if it is in season, and we get down there in time on Saturday. We tried to stop by the butcher shop last time we were in town, but they were closed when we stopped so we’ll be sure to check it out next time.
We joke that we used to have to leave the trunk empty on the way down to Black Mountain to fit all the beer that we inevitably brought home. These days, the Indy beer scene is so much better that we don’t feel like we have to hoard so much home, but Asheville is our favorite craft beer scene for a reason.
We buy growlers from our favorite breweries, and then bring them down with us to refill while we’re down there. We have growlers from French Broad, Wedge, Black Mountain Cider Works, Highland, Pisgah, and Green Man – all of which are worth visiting. We did the Asheville Brews Cruise, which we would highly recommend. We’ve always wanted to do one of these, but we haven’t been down without the kids to be able to swing it.
We looove Pisgah Brewing and typically plan 2-3 trips there on every visit (try to plan your visit around a concert night if you can). We typically stock up at Ingles – they have great prices and a decent selection of local stuff.
We love to eat and love going to Black Mountain/Asheville because there are SO many great spots. We have lots to try out in Asheville yet, but we have so many favorites around BMtn that it’s hard to venture out. One thing we love about most of the restaurants and breweries we’ve been to down in NC is how family friendly they are. The servers and fellow patrons are super welcoming of kids, often provide kid-specific areas or stuff for them to do, and are just generally happy to have kids around. It’s quite different from how things are around central Indiana, despite the Hoosier hospitality thing.
We like to go to many of the same places from year-to-year, but then try to find a new favorite each visit too. I’ll try to give a little recap on a few of our favorites though:
Trailhead: yummy burgers (try the vegetarian mushroom one – soo yummy), great draft list, and fun ambiance
Fresh: I am literally nearly drooling just thinking about this place’s pizza. We like to get the mushroom and ricotta one. Don’t forget to order the (full size) spring salad with their house dressing.
Louise’s Kitchen: we tend to go here twice when we’re in town, but it’s always our traditional last breakfast before heading out of town. Great atmosphere, delicious food, fun people. Get the grit cake.
Veranda Cafe: the soups are to-die-for. Seriously.
Berliner Kindl: This place has been here as long as we’ve been going to BMtn, and it never disappoints for hearty German homecooking.
Que Sera, Black Mountain Bistro, and Red Rocker Inn are all delicious, but we haven’t been to any of them in many years because they seem a little fancy when we have the kids along and are just rolling off the mountain from a hike.
Coach House: this place is a bit of a dive, but it has yummy fried trout, hush puppies, and a giant baked potato for about $7, which tastes awfully good after a big hike. And it’s always packed with (older) locals, so you know it’s good.
Our kiddos love the giant sandwiches at Gateway Eatery, so we like to get takeout from there for an afternoon hike. Straightaway Cafe has super fun vibe if you’re staying up the Hwy-9, as we often do. Red Radish is supposed to be amazing, as well, for takeout home cooked meals. We usually take a clear day to drive up to Mount Mitchell on the Blue Ridge Parkway and reward ourselves with lunch at Mountain View.
Our favorite way to start our vacation is with a breakfast at Tupelo Honey, unless we roll into town in time for dinner, in which case we love The Walk. We love taking the kids to either of the Asheville Pizza and Brewing locations – the Merrimon has a cheap movie theater, and the downtown one has a great biergarten with tons of games. Their pizza is delicious, and the beer is even better.
We have two little kiddos that we’re dragging on these hikes, so we typically like to keep them around five miles or under. If you don’t have small children, there are tons of better, longer hikes in the area. Stop by Take-a-Hike, Montreat’s visitor center, or ask a local (always super friendly) for suggestions. I like this website and plan to work through their favorites as the kids get older. We always love just driving on the Blue Ridge and stopping frequently for the amazing views too. But on with the hikes:
Lover’s Leap/AT in Hot Springs (stop and eat lunch in Hot Springs)
Lookout and Big Piney in Montreat are always must-dos for us (although Lookout is where Maeve broke her arm this year, so we may have to talk her back into it next time!). Here is a listing of the rest of the Montreat trails.
We aren’t big shoppers, but there are lots of cute spots downtown. We do always make a stop in at Take-A-Hike – they always have great sales on hiking gear, so we inevitably pick up something (they have great Black Mountain apparel too). I love stopping into Black Mountain Books if I have time to browse. I keep telling Grant that we need to commission something for Funky Farms from Black Mountain Iron Works, and one day I want a mountain dulcimer (and to learn how to play it!) from Song of the Wood. If shopping is your thing, there are plenty of great shops worth stopping for.
If you have some BMtn/western NC recommendations, send them our way!