Asheville is known for its art and eclectic nature, nestled in the blue ridge mountains of North Carolina. This town is the perfect weekend getaway destination for couples and families alike.
Downtown Asheville still has a small town feel, and the highlights we visited were all easy walking distance to each other. As you walk the streets you take in the history on offer, the architecture and old brick buildings add to the town's charm. There are small eateries and gift art shops on every corner and you can see that the people visiting are having just as much fun as you are.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better
Although relatively small Asheville still has lots to see, and downtown Asheville is perfect for foodies and craft beer lovers! There are the beautiful blue ridge mountains which offer many hiking trips for all levels. And then there is the Biltmore.
We have actually visited Asheville three times in the last 6 months once to visit Biltmore Estate and two times to explore downtown Asheville. We’ll no doubt head back and I’d love to spend more time exploring the hiking trails on offer.
Biltmore Estate is the largest privately owned home in America, built between 1889 and 1895. It has 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms and is set on roughly 8,000 acres of land. It is set in well-manicured gardens and has a fantastic outlook. Although we didn't undertake the audio tour, I'd highly recommend it, as you are walking around for roughly two hours, winding through different rooms and wings. There is so much history and information to take in, it's amazing to think that people lived this way. Let alone in the 18th century, I mean, they had a heated pool, a bowling lane, and an intercom.
If you are a fan of wine you should definitely stop by the Biltmore Estate winery. It is located on the Biltmore Estate property and offers complimentary tastings from among 20 varieties. A winery tour and gift items can be purchased separately. We found the help-staff to be professional, friendly and generous with the pours!
There is even onsite accommodation available if you want to really take your time experiencing everything the Biltmore estate has to offer.
To say that this place is impressive is an understatement, and I'd definitely suggest visiting if you have the chance. You can find all the information you need on their site.
If you are a lover of craft beer, you will find yourself in luck whilst visiting Asheville. We visited multiple breweries during our most recent visit, and there were many we didn't get to see. If you are fortunate to visit during good weather you can enjoy the sunshine whilst sampling some delicious beer.
On this visit, we discovered the New Belgium Brewing Company which has a great large outdoor area and a number of fine craft beers on tap. This brewery is both pet and family friendly, there were many dogs sitting around with owners during our visit.
Sierra Nevada is such an experience, this place is huge, the restaurant has fantastic food (Vegetarian-friendly) and it has heaps of beer on tap. They offer multiple brewery tours including a free one, but you need to book in advance as they fill up fast. If you miss out on the official tour you can take a self-guided tour and still see this place in all its glory.
Greenman offers great beer with a friendly relaxed atmosphere. It has both a ground floor and a third floor with seating and taps. You can oversee the brewing and production equipment in the large open area. This place is the perfect hang out on a cold fall day, fitted with an outdoor bar and heaters to keep you warm
Burial is best described as a strange unit, it has random pictures of Magnum Pi and sloth dotted around the establishment, but it has delicious beer (try the coffee saison). This place gets busy, so if you are set for an afternoon of drinking be prepared to line up for both beer and a seat alike, but you won't be disappointed if you do.
Hi-Wire Brewing is a cool place, there concept and marketing are fun and their beer is tasty. Their brewery is well sized with plenty of cover and an outdoor beer garden. It’s a great place to sit back, relax whilst playing your favorite board game, check out the huge Jenga!
EAT: Salsas: Mexican & Caribbean staples with tequila & rum cocktails in a simple storefront setting. Caters for all spice levels, our food was delicious and spicy!
Tupelo Honey: An all-day menu of Southern comfort food with a creative twist, plus craft beers & cocktails. The biscuits and jam are amazing! Expect to wait for a table, especially during peak times. Our wait was 30 minutes for breakfast on a Sunday morning.
TIPS: Visit the drum circle located in downtown Pritchard Park. This cool gathering of free-spirited souls occurs every Friday night (April-October). Lose yourself to the beat of the drum and dance like nobody's watching or bring along your own drum and play into the night.
If you've never been to Huntsville, you may have preconceived notions of what Alabama is all about. I'll be honest, being from the south, I grew up thinking Alabama was just full of backwater rednecks. However, during my recent trip, I was pleasantly surprised to find there was MUCH more to 'Bama!
ONCE IN A WHILE IT REALLY HITS PEOPLE THAT THEY DON’T HAVE TO EXPERIENCE THE WORLD IN THE WAY THEY HAVE BEEN TOLD TO. – ALAN KEIGHTLEY
Huntsville, the third largest city in Alabama, is full of culture. The food, music and sites make it the perfect introduction to the state and a great place to explore! Follow our tips below on how to make the most out of your experience.
Holiday Inn Research Park - Situated in a central area, the Holiday Inn makes you feel right at home. With a selection of reasonably priced rooms available, an in/outdoor pool and a fitness center, you're sure to enjoy your time here. They offer a complimentary shuttle which makes seeing the sites a breeze! Also home to the infamous Hopper's Bar and Grill, you can eat breakfast, lunch or dinner here and take in the action happening at the bar every weekend. Everyone is welcome!
With so much to see and so little time, follow our guide on how to maximize your long weekend finding fun things to do in North Alabama!
Experience the artistic side of Alabama and see where art and culture meet!
THE WHOLE OBJECT OF TRAVEL IS NOT TO SET FOOT ON FOREIGN LAND, IT IS AT LAST TO SET FOOT ON ONE'S OWN COUNTRY AS A FOREIGN LAND - G. K. CHESTERTON
Get outdoors and enjoy the natural beauty Northern Alabama has to offer. Soak in the greenest of the greens, the bluest of the blues, and the best nature has. And then, with so much to see, you’re bound to work up an appetite. So make sure you treat yourself along the way!
If you like art, history and the cutest couple going around, this is the place for you. Meet Sandra and Ray, gallery owners and operators. Locals of Mentone and married for over 50 years, they have a wealth of stories and experiences to share. Kamama is the Cherokee word for "butterfly" so come spread your wings and enjoy your time at one of Metone's classics! Grab a cup of coffee from the café and take your time exploring the gallery. Reservations are appreciated, but not required.
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Meet Belinda Miracle, potter extraordinaire. When life threw her lemons, she decided to throw pots. Explore the magic of Miracle Pottery and hear about Belinda’s story. Be sure to ask about “Breaking Free.” A true inspiration, it is absolutely worth your time to stop by and check it out! And while you’re there, why not pick something up as a gift for someone back home.
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Depending on the amount of time you have on your hands to explore this 3,500-acre State Park, prepare yourself for an adventure. Stop by the visitors center to get an overview of the Park, pick up a map and watch a video showing the highlights the Park has to offer. The rest is up to you! Explore the waterfall, take it all in by the canyon, or see what kind of plant and wildlife you discover in the area. Camp, hike, fish, golf, eat and stay – they have it all! We loved our time exploring!
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Park at the top and enjoy a short stroll down to the falls. Soak up the serenity of the falls. Listen to the crashing waters and witness the beauty of the area. Restrooms and picnic areas available, so plan some time to really experience it. If you’re feeling more adventurous, check out the trail that’s leads you to Martha’s Falls.
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With a sign out front saying, “All you need is love,” you know you’re in for a treat! Voted the best restaurant in Alabama and one of the 100 places you have to eat before you die, Wildflower Café is not to be missed. The food is fresh and made with lots of love. Something to suit everyone at a price you can not beat. After you’ve finished eating, browse throughout the store. Find a mixture of handmade jewelry to soy candles to original souvenirs from the area. Reservations are appreciated, but not required, though be prepared to wait if you are not booked in.
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Stop in for some good Southern home style cooking! Take advantage of the Friday night seafood buffet April-November. Saturday & Sunday, load up on the breakfast buffet or stick around for the lunch buffet offered each Sunday.
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Have you ever lost your baggage? Wondering what happens to it if it goes unclaimed? Well, come explore the only place of its kind – the Unclaimed Baggage Center. Welcoming over a million visitors a year from all 50 states and over 40 countries, this is truly a once in a lifetime experience. Be prepared to hunt to find the best deals. However, unlike thrift stores, remember, these are things people wanted but lost, not things they freely gave away! They make giving back and important part of their culture, so come experience it for yourself. Plan to be around at 2pm daily when they do the Baggage Experience. Get involved for your chance to win a gift card for your shopping pleasure. Stop by Cups Café and grab a coffee to sip on while you shop, or take a break from the deals and enjoy a delicious bite to eat. This was THE most fun thing to do in North Alabama! Get ready to shop til you drop!
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Take in the sounds of Mother Nature as you wake up on the Tennessee River. Stay in either a 4-bedroom private cottage, or set yourself up in a room in the lodge. Come play golf at one of their two 18-hole courses, go fishing, or just enjoy some quality time away from it all, soaking up nature. Enjoy a restful nights sleep before you prepare for the next leg of your journey!
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To extend your fun, head on over to Huntsville to experience more fun only an hour away!
Tell us, have we missed something – what’s your favorite thing about Northern Alabama?
Kauai has a magical feeling that hits you as soon as you arrive! Each area of the island has its own distinct environment and culture, it definitely lives up to the name, so make sure to check them all out. Here are our top picks:
Ke’e – The North Shore tends to get more rain than the rest of the island. When that happens, this treasure gets closed, but if you get a chance, definitely check it out. Walk along the beach whilst taking in the views of the Napali Coast – absolutely stunning! Hike one of the many lengthy trails in the vicinity or take a short trek down to the freshwater cave. Feel invigorated as you take a dip in the water and if you’re lucky enough to have the place to yourself, try a skinny dip!
Hanalei – At sunset, with a beer on the beach – a must! Dig your toes in the sand before heading out to the pier. Soak it all in because it is an absolutely beautiful place!
Sleeping Giant – Named for it’s resemblance to a Sleeping Giant, the aptly named mountain range is a great hike with breathtaking views. Choose from three separate trail heads depending on your energy levels. We hiked up the East side which was a great decision as it had been raining and the mud proved to be slippery. It took us about 2 hours round trip.
Tacos & Tandem – What a fun date! With a few Mexican venues to choose from, we were attracted to the food truck and boy was it yummy! After filling up on fresh fish & shrimp tacos, we decided to work off our calories. So we hired a bicycle built for two and took a beautiful ride along the Kapa’a bike path. Stunning views of the ocean all along this one-hour roundtrip ride!
Maha’ulepu Beach -Wow – the scenes were breathtaking – awe inspiring! We thought we had just stepped out of a scene from Lord of the Rings. Rigid cliffs softened by stunning seascapes made this the perfect place to go for a walk or just sit back and take it all in. Come by foot down down one the many paths meandering from the nearby Grand Hyatt Hotel or if you’ve got a sturdy ride, make the 30 min trek down the bumpy, sandy road full of potholes around every corner. However you get there, don’t miss it! The place is full of natural beauty – pictures don’t even begin to do it justice.
Humane Society – If you’re a dog person, stop by the Kauai Humane Society to visit the pups and choose one to take on a field trip! They give you everything you need (water bowl, treats, towel, lead and an adorable ‘Adopt Me’ vest). For us, it was love at first site with Mohe! This charming Chocolate Lab / Rottweiler mix was such a joy. We took him cruising down to Poi’pu for a walk along the beachfront. He absolutely loved the water and in fact, due to his hearty size, was quite entertaining for me to get him out. He joined us for lunch and made the car ride much more interesting with all his sloppy kisses! After our adventure, whilst it was sad to say goodbye, Mohe was happy to go back ‘home’ as the shelter really is a piece of paradise on the island 🙂 So go, have a doggy play date!
PS. And for anyone who might be wondering, yes, we are terribly missing our Cody & Mia back in Australia!
Waimea Canyon – Head to the last town on the West Side and then head straight up. We waited in anticipation as we continued to climb the Canyon as after all they do call it the ‘Baby Grand Canyon’. At the first lookout we jumped out to take a look and admire the serenity. As we continued to the top, we pulled over at another viewing point. This one had a number of trail options. The loop was a lovely overview of the top of the Canyon and then we decided to make our way down to the river. At 2.5 miles, we thought we could do it easy! Perhaps we were a bit ambitious as everyone we met on the path had only gone a portion of the way down. With loose rock, ensure your confident in your step and wearing sturdy shoes. We turned around at the 3/4 mile marker and then it was all uphill! Not one for the faint hearted but a good exercise regime indeed. And the fact that you’re surrounded by so much beauty in one place definitely makes it worth every step – enjoy!
Polihale State Park – Enjoy a night under the stars when you camp out on the west side of the Napali Coast.
Our adventures on Kauai would not have been so amazing without our beautiful host – Martine!
She looked after of us giving us plenty of “tinder” loving care 😉 Martine showed us the local sites and ensure we were well fed with our daily supply of Mexican cuisine, protein bars & Big Wave beers! She prepared us for our Asian backpacking adventure, making sure the roosters woke us up nice and early & made sure we were welcomed with a cold shower each morning.
Thanks for having us Big Nasty – love you heaps! Until next time x
You’ve probably heard of these before as they’re pretty popular tourist attractions. Whist we enjoy getting off the beaten track, we were glad we took the time to check these places out – absolutely magnificent!
What a wonderful spot for snorkelling! Affordable tour options are available otherwise TheBus takes you right there. Get in early to enjoy the serenity of the place and the waters themselves. For beginners, you can stay inside the first reef and still see many beautiful creatures. For the more adventurous snorkelers, be sure to head out to the second reef where we were able to see large fish, huge schools of fish and even eels. Be aware of shallow reefs where you can get easily stuck or scraped up if your not careful. (I know from personal experience, OUCH!) We brought our own mask and snorkel but gear also available to rent on site (would suggest no need for fins as you can just use your natural buoyancy). At $7.50 entry/person, you can’t go wrong!
If you’re up for a challenge then definitely check out Diamond Head. Starting at the bottom of this magnificent crater you make your way up a deceivingly easy trail before it gets steeper and more challenging. Along the way you take in some beautiful scenery as you look back over the crater below. Before you take in the breathtaking views over Waikiki and surrounds you must overcome the multiple sets of stairs (nearly 300 in total). Allow 1-2 hours for this hike.
Ensure you take plenty of water and arrive early to beat the crowds. There are rest stops along the way if required and we observed multiple fitness levels completing this hike. Again you can organise a tour to this attraction, though we simply caught TheBus with a leisurely stroll to the entry. Tickets are $1 for walk ins and $5 per vehicle. We were definitely feeling the effects of the hike the following day, but it’s well worth the pain 🙂
Whilst we’re not history buffs, we found Pearl Harbor to be a moving and fascinating experience. Although there are multiple tours available (submarine, battleship, etc) we took in the Arizona Memorial tour which included a movie and boat ride out to the sunken remains of the Arizona battleship and it’s 1,177 men. The enormity of the attack and the memorial hits you as you stand over the site. Also check out the two free museums onsite along with the outside exhibits. Tickets are available for free on arrival (note, they are limited to 4,500 per day and the wait time increases as the day progresses), so to ensure you don’t miss out, we’d suggest pre-booking online for $3. No bags are allowed in this facility, so either pack light or use locker facilities onsite.
If you want to hire a car, do it! The North Shore is spread out with plenty to see and is easy to get around. If you prefer the public transport option, take TheBus which takes you all around the island. Depending on which part of the North Shore you’re headed to first, bus 52 & 55 are your best friends! Pickup a map on the way or download the Transit app to make it even easier (make sure you have exact change $2.50/person).
Acacia Bowls – yum, yum & more yum!! You’ll see almost as many of these as you will Shaved Ice stands. Take the healthy option and get your fill of acai topped with granola, fruit & coconut. Great for lunch or an afternoon snack! Did I say yum!?! 🙂
Start early and take this 2.5 hour round trip trek along the ocean to reach the Northwestern most part of the island – Ka’ena Point. Take in the beautiful panoramic views whilst you explore along the way. You’ll see rock-pools, an Albatross reserve & stunning mountain and ocean scenery on your journey!
Turn up behind Foodland to get to the Pu’u o Mahuka Heiau State Monument. The drive itself tests out your skills with steep hills and a sharp, hairpin turn. With sacred ground (where nothing grows!) and stunning views over the infamous Waimea Bay (epic waves!) you have to check it out!
You’ll hear about it, you’ll read about it and you’ll wonder if it’s worth the money. Trust us, the Polynesian Cultural Centre is an experience not to be missed! With the majority of the Centre staff made up of University Students, they do an incredible job of creating an informative, interactive space where you can immerse yourself in the local cultures of Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, Hawaii, New Zealand & Tahiti! PS. I’ve decided I’m moving to Samoa where the men cook and serve their women 😉