A few months back we visited our good friends in North Carolina. We had never been before but had heard it was a beautiful state. They weren’t lying, North Carolina is absolutely stunning! Not only is it beautiful with lush forest areas, beaches and history but it also has a killer up and coming craft beer scene. If you ever decide to take a trip out that way we would HIGHLY recommend checking out Asheville in particular.
Asheville will not disappoint you in the slightest. Here you can get your fill on fried comfort food, take brewery tours, chase waterfalls, hit up the art district, go on amazing hikes or just spend the day floating down the river.
Our friends live closer to Raleigh-Durham area by the university. To get to Asheville we took the scenic route through the Smokey Mountains. Every so often we would stop for a hike, take in the view or have a picnic. For those that get car sick on winding roads like I do, you’ll be happy to know that this is a gentle road. At least it was for me!
We stayed at a killer Airbnb close to the downtown area. If you still haven’t checked out Airbnb or Homeaway, you are missing out on something so great. Staying in homes as opposed to hotels means you are in the mix with locals while having the comforts of your own home. It is by far our most favorite way to stay while we travel.
Now, let me just brag on our super amazing friends for a minute. For one, these two aren’t even 30 and have PhDs. Nuts. Another thing about them is that they are serious travelers. These two plan, organize, schedule and adventure harder than anyone we have ever met. Their system and routine is everything we aspire to be. When we are with them we take the back seat because we know anything we have planned wouldn’t even compare to what they have planned. When we are with them our days start out with an amazing homemade breakfast, an amazing hike, followed by a tasty picnic lunch, followed by another hike that leads to swimming, then another hike and finally we kick back at a local brewery, play some games and eat good food. Pretty killer huh? I bet you wish they were your friends.
As far as hikes go, we highly recommend the Sam Knob Trail, Crabtree Falls,Looking Glass Falls and Catawba Falls. The Sam Knob Trail is not incredibly hard but it is a bit long. The views are absolutely incredible! Catawaba Falls can be about as easy or hard as you’d like. The first trail is pretty mellow and it leads to some beautiful falls. Off to the side though there is a sneaky little trail that require some endurance. We’re talking straight up, slippery and you’ll have to use ropes at certain points to pull yourself up. The second set of falls are totally worth the work! Glass falls really isn’t a hike. You can park on the side of the road and walk down some steps. It’s very beautiful and super popular. Crabtree Falls is a nice easy loop but be sure to bring water because you will want to hang out by the falls for a while.
And if you’re looking for a good brewery tour you MUST check out New Belgium. Our love for this company grew to new levels when we took their tour. they also have beers that they only brew on sight so if you’re currently a fan you’ll be excited to try some amazing things you can’t get anywhere else. Something we loved about this brewery is that they are employee owned, each employee is given a bike after 1 year of employment, they divert, recycle or reuse over 90% of their waste, use rainwater to water the surrounding area and built their facility using reclaimed materials from the site they bought! THEN we drank the beers and wanted to hug every employee around us.
Another incredible brewery is a little surprising. We went to the massive Sierra Nevada brewery and were blown away! You may be already be a fan, and not to say that we aren’t Sierra Nevada fans, but we live in San Diego where craft beers outnumber everything else. I can’t say we order or buy a Sierra Nevada beer often. However, this place is the balls. It’s so huge and has an incredible outdoor space with games and live music.