Last year’s holiday vacation was to an unseasonably warm Carolina Beach, North Carolina. Great trip; we saw dolphins, played football on the beach, and returned home with just mild covid infections. This holiday season, the sun took a week off for Christmas. The temperature reached a “feels like” low of negative 33. We had ice on the walls of our Central Ohio home and our yorkie had to be thawed after trying to boo-boo outside.
Fortunately, mild temperatures returned and we squeezed in a New Year’s Eve trip with the kids to Asheville, North Carolina. This after five years of repeatedly saying, “We gotta check out Asheville!”
My surface-level impressions after just three nights in the area: 1) For a city that ain’t really that big, there are a lot of breweries and drinking holes. And they’re unpretentious. Bring your dog! Bring your kids! Dressed like you’re in a Patagonia ad? Even better! 2) Locals seem welcoming, and there’s no anti-tourist vibe that you feel in other cities that have blown up in popularity. 3) It’s the ultimate city if you enjoy living in nature, yet also appreciate modern necessities like tacos with kimchi. 4) Asheville is sorely missing recreational marijuana.
We went on a muddy 90-minute hike in Moore Cove Falls Trail, about 20 minutes outside of Asheville. We took a picture near a waterfall (Looking Glass Falls) that generated a lot of Instagram likes. If our social media popularity continues to increase we may get a TV commercial deal portraying an affable biracial family that uses environmentally-friendly household products. There was also a giant boulder that looks like a troll/Marvel Comics’ The Thing if you stare at it from a certain angle.
Our little ones aren’t the biggest beer drinkers, but we brought them to two of the more kid-friendly breweries in the Asheville area: New Belgium Brewing and Whistle Hop Brewing. There’s a big ol’ outdoor space at New Belgium. The boys played soccer with other junior drinkers and scarfed down the smallest $25 pizza (from a nearby food truck) I’ve seen. Man, you can’t beat Domino’s large one-topping for $7.99 deal.
If you stop by New Belgium Brewing, or find it at your local store, try the Honey Orange Tripel. As for Whistle Hop, they had mini-golf, an actual train car for the kids to run around in, and some other activities that we didn’t do because it was raining.
We didn’t get the full Downtown Asheville experience. Our middle child was “middle-childing” and the youngest gave up on walking and just sat down in the middle of the sidewalk. Downtown’s mostly for larger humans (bars and restaurants galore), but the kids enjoyed playing board games at Well Played Cafe and asking to buy everything they saw at the little shops.
We spent New Year’s Eve at the North Carolina Arboretum’s Winter Lights. It was “epic,” as the kids say, and featured half a million lights. Of great controversy was the mushroom below, which Amber insisted was a jellyfish…in a gnome garden?
We stayed in a bungalow in Hendersonville, about 25 minutes outside of Downtown Asheville. It was one of those rare Airbnb homes that doesn’t charge you crazy cleaning fees while also requiring that you do the cleaning. “The Sweet Retreat” was stocked with free wine, snacks, tea tree shampoo and conditioner(!), and seasoning to make sure our New Year’s seafood buffet was Negro-appropriate. We hope to abandon the kids and stay there again during our next trip to Asheville.