As general travel is still on pause due to the pandemic, we have had to find different ways to seek ‘escape’-like adventures by visiting local cities nearby. Luckily for us here in Charlotte, we are perfectly situated so that a coastal or mountain getaway is just a short drive away. With enough pre-planning and research, we have been able to find AirBNBs that we have felt comfortable enough to stay in, as well as found local businesses to support that are following CDC guidelines. So, while the trips may be more dialed back than pre-COVID, we are enjoying ourselves and loving being able to have a change in scenery and get some R&R in. We plan to keep doing this throughout the year to also help prevent burnout from just the craziness that is COVID times in the pharmacy. And well, enough of that and on to the fun that we had that was Bryson City….
From our general research, Bryson City seems to be a more bustling little mountain town during warmer months when people can whitewater raft. With the Nantahala River, it’s the perfect place for those seeking the thrills of rapids! But in general, there are also lots of nature trails for nature lovers with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Appalachian Trail. We wanted a pretty low-key weekend in the mountains, so this guide is pretty simple! But we do have a few gems to share.
But first, here’s another plug for our favorite NC winery in Morganton, NC. If you’ve been following along, you’ve probably seen a trend that whenever we go out to Western NC, we always find a way to squeeze a pit stop at Silver Fork Winery. Whatever season it is, a day out in their picturesque patio is always perfection. They do allow you to bring your own picnic but they also sell a good selection of local Ashe County cheese and gourmet crackers for purchase. Depending on the day you visit, they sometimes offer tasting flights or service by the glass or bottle. We recommend picking a great bottle and just letting hours pass on by, just enjoying the serenity of the views!
We got to Bryson City before our check-in time so we decided to get in a “quick” hike at Deep Creek Trail. Well, we thought it would be a quick hike but we ended up on one of those–“are-we-there-yet-hike?” moments as the loop we chose wound and wound up hill before trekking us back down to the lower parts of the trail. It’s fairly easy but be prepared for some elevation changes. With that said, it really was a beautiful loop with THREE waterfalls. We were in awe at the crystal clear water that you could see all the way down to the river bed of pebbles. Despite it being longer than we “last minute planned”, it was exactly what the doc ordered!
We only had one full day in Bryson City so we had to make the most of it. Our first stop was a quick breakfast pit stop at Mountain Perks Espresso Bar & Cafe before we headed to the Nantahala Outdoor Center for more outdoor fun.
We needed to get caffeinated and fueled up as we checked out the NOC and took a mini hike on the Appalachian Trail–there are two access points at the NOC that you can explore! We didn’t go too far, but it was Kriska and Grayson’s first time on the AT!
Now, after some time outdoors, the best thing that we can recommend is finding where The Rice Wagon will be parked. If you’re lucky, they’ll be parked at Mountain Layers Brewing Co so you can enjoy some great brews to go with some amazing Hawaiian dishes! We could not have enjoyed this lunch more–it was literal ‘aloha’ in our plates! Make sure to order the katsu if you order only one thing! Literally drooling right now as I’m uploading the photos to this post. I mean, just look at it! Full disclosure: this food truck was THE ONLY thing on my list that we HAD to absolutely do in Bryson City. When we plan our trips, we usually end up with a Google maps of too many stops we know that we will never get to check out. I’m so glad that the experience lived up to the hype that I created in my tummy. LOL.
We love the rooftop at Mountain Layers. They had heaters on so we could enjoy overlooking the main street of BC and also look over the Tuckasegee River. This microbrewery had several beers on tap and each one we had went so well with all the food we demolished! After all that food and beer, all we could really muster to do was lounge around the AirBNB…and then, it SNOWED! It snowed and it snowed and it didn’t stop! It wasn’t just a Southern snow, a.k.a. “flurries” for Northerners. It was legitimate snow!
We worked up an appetite after our snowball fight and the boys braved it out to get some take-out from Iron Wok. We saw that they offered all sorts of food from different Asian cuisines–including a few Filipino dishes. We were so excited that we may have ordered quite the spread all because they had LUMPIA! Pro-tip: order the bacon fried rice. YUM!!!
We can’t recommend enough getting away–we know that everyone has their own comfort level. We know that things are still ever changing. We know that there are a lot of unknowns out there. But whatever getting away may mean for you–a change of scenery, a breath of fresh air, a moment away to unplug does the soul so much good!
If you’re not ready to take a mini trip, here are some ideas you can do within your own area–peruse the clickable links to Pinterest boards we’ve curated for some inspo to help you get started:
- Create your own private nook that you can escape to in your own home.
- Start your plant parenthood journey–just beware, it can get addicting! But caring for plants can be super therapeutic.
- Find an easy hobby to start (and finish–but if you don’t, it’s okay, too!)
- Search for local nearby greenways to explore–Charlotte is lucky to have a lot.
We hope this post inspires you to create your own mental escape! Let us know what you think about our Bryson City escape and our list of ideas–do you have any other ideas we should add to this list?