Trip planning: Asheville, Nashville, Pisgah/Nantahala…

Bugsy and Elvis in Nashville

hiking lookout mountain

In my opinion, trip planning is almost as exciting as trip taking! We’re starting to think about our biannual Asheville Airstreaming pilgrimage, and wondering what other explorations we can cram in while we’re out and about. Right now, we’re leaning toward a few days in Nashville in our favorite parking lot campsite, a couple days in Western NC (not in the Smokies, since the National Park is not dog-friendly. SAD FACE), and several days in Asheville.

Here is a snapshot of our ever-growing list of to-dos in those places. Let us know in the comments if you have any recommendations!

Nashville

Bugsy and Elvis in Nashville

Restaurants

There’s so much good food in Nashville! We’ll want to return to some favorites, and try new restaurants:

  • We ate at Husk both times we camped in Nashville previously, and it’s on our calendar for next trip too.
  • I reserved our anniversary dinner at Henrietta Red, based on a recommendation from a friend who is a Nashville local… but then was scared by how bright the dining room looks in the photos on the website. So I changed the reservation to…
  • Rolf & Daughters, another recommendation from the same Nashville friend.
  • I saw Etch listed in an article about the best Nashville dining, but it looks pretty fancy and we already have higher-priority fancy places on our list. Maybe for lunch, or maybe for another visit.
  • Another article mentioned fish taco steam buns (!!!) at Fort Louise. Those buns are not on the Spring 2018 menu on the website, but maybe they’ll come back? The rest of the menu is appealing and the space looks cozy and interesting.

Bars

Of course, we’ll need to pre-game and/or wash down our fancy food with some cocktails:

  • J would appreciate a visit to the whiskey bar downstairs at The 404 Kitchen, and if he’s going to follow me on my never-ending quest for the best fish tacos, I will feed him whiskey.
  • I read that at Treehouse you sip your cocktails IN A TREEHOUSE out back, but clicking around their website I see that they feature local ingredients, including from their own farm 50 miles west of Nashville, and they’ve won a bunch of best-of awards–so maybe Treehouse needs to go on the Restaurants to-do list also.
  • And breweries, of course. We’ll want to return to our favorite Nashville brewery, Bearded Iris, for sure.

Running/exploring

  • This list was going to include taking Bugsy for a trail run in Radnor Lake State Park, 20 minutes south of downtown, until I saw that both running and dogs are not allowed on the trails. BOO. Other doggy trail runners, be warned.
  • I got a quick glimpse of quirky, colorful, close-by Berry Hill when picking up takeout last trip, and want to take the family back and explore.

Asheville

bugsy relaxing in the airstream yard

Restaurants

SO much to eat:

  • We’ll definitely return to our favorite Asheville restaurant, Limones. Just made a reservation!
  • And we’re super excited to try En La Calle, Limones’ sister bar/restaurant. No reservations there!
  • Rhubarb has been on our list since the last visit, when we couldn’t try it because it was closed for vacation. We have a reservation for next visit!
  • Nightbell is the sister restaurant of another of our Asheville favorites, Cúrate, so we have to try it out. It’s also tapas, but with an Appalachian focus.
  • Our fabulous cousin lives in Atlanta and on birthdays and Mother’s Day she always requests dinner at Bartaco. Asheville has a Bartaco, and we like bars and we like tacos, so we need to go there.
  • A Lyft driver last trip told us to eat at the bar at The Admiral, a funky retro restaurant in West Asheville with stellar ratings on Google.
  • MG Road Bar & Lounge is a quirky basement bar specializing in cocktails and Indian food. No need to tell me more.
  • I am fascinating by the conversion of shipping containers into structures, and Smoky Park Supper Club is the largest shipping container restaurant in the US! In addition to architecture, they feature wood-fired comfort food, a beautiful yard on the river, and we can bike there from our campground!

Bars, music, entertainment

In addition to drinking all the beer, we’ll try to visit these new-to-us drinking establishments for cocktails, live music, and retro games.
  • Sly Grog Lounge has all sorts of vintage toys and games including Atari and Nintendo. I’ve been trying and failing to get my hands on an NES Classic (I refuse to pay more than MSRP) so could scratch that itch at Sly Grog. They also have live music and alcohol.
  • Everyone (i.e., J and I) wins at Crow and Quill: “fine seasonal cocktails,” live music, and a million types of whiskey in a super cool-looking speakeasy/classy grandma’s sitting room.
  • 5 Walnut was recommended to us for the live music, but it’s a wine bar, and we’re not currently wine drinkers. We’ll keep it on the radar, though.

Hiking

I have hikes planned in Pisgah National Forest, just east of Asheville, and Nantahala National Forest, a bit farther west. We’re planning to camp in the Airstream for a couple nights at Moonshine Creek Campground for easier access to the Nantahala hikes.

  • Uncle Jim is dismayed that we’ve been to Asheville a hundred times and haven’t visited Mt Mitchell. Well, we’re scared of the crowds there, but I found this hike that starts at Mt Mitchell, so we can take in the vista from the highest point east of the Mississippi, but then proceed down the less-trafficked east side.
  • From Moonshine Creek, we’ll do two 12-mile hikes in two days. That means Bugsy will do two 35-mile hikes in two days. She covers a lot of ground on hikes. The first hike is in Shining Rock Wilderness, and is rated as a 6 difficulty on a scale of 1-5. Whee! But, more importantly, it gets a 6 for views too.
  • The second 12-miler is described as “one of the most scenic hikes in North Carolina.” It’s also a 6-out-of-5 for views.

Can’t wait!

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