A Weekend in Charlotte and Asheville, NC - Things to Do and Places to Eat

With limited time off from work, we picked July 4 weekend to get away just the two of us while the kids are away at sleepaway camp for the summer. We wanted a destination that had an easy, short flight, so we flew direct in and out of Charlotte. From there it was a 2 hour drive to Asheville, which allowed us to see Charlotte, and also works out to be about the same, by the time you add in the time of a layover. We always love exploring new places. I’ve also learned to experience food more as part of travel, so I’m also sharing where we ate. I’m gluten sensitive (not celiac), and my husband is pescatarian away from home, so these restaurants are friendly to those dietary needs. Here’s what we discovered.

Night 1 - Charlotte - NODA

Growlers Pour House and Abari
We arrived at around 9 pm. The car rental building and view into the city were nice sights along the way from the airport. I’d done some research before our trip and wanted to check out Abari, a retro arcade for our evening activity, so I called to see if they served food, since we were a bit hungry from our travels. They did not, but were able to recommend a few places in the NODA (North Davidson) district up the street. We ended up at Growlers, where they had a mix of bar fare with some healthier options as well.

Day 2 - Charlotte - Exploring Uptown

Brunch at Famous Toastery
After our late night out, we slept in a bit on Thursday, and started our day with brunch. The place we were headed to was closed, but we found a lovely place nearby and enjoyed our meal at Famous Toastery instead. They had gluten free pancakes, which is always a treat.

Romare Bearden Park, The Green, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
After that, we explored Romare Bearden park, which is an urban green space. I wanted to see the Mint Museum, but since it was July 4, it was closed. We explored The Green park across the street, which has some cute literary and Charlotte public art. We made our way back across the street to explore the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. It was small and didn’t take us long to see it, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. I’ve never met an art museum I didn’t enjoy. I appreciate creativity.

Discovery Place Science Museum
The weather was looking ominous, so we took advantage of our Frost Science Museum Membership from Miami and explored the Discovery Place science museum. We checked out the lego buildings exhibit, where it was neat to see buildings that exist in different parts of the world co-located in the same room. We had a snack downstairs, I touched a millipede, and we enjoyed watching an octopus swim.

Little Sugar Creek Greenway - Charlotte
The highlight of our trip to Charlotte, for me, was biking along the Little Sugar Creek Greenway. We had to download the B Cycle app and get a day membership for $8 each, but then we had 2 hours with bikes, which we rented from the rack near Elizabeth Park and rode to Freedom Park and back. The bike trail weaves its way on either side of the creek, and the shade from the trees and breeze from our bikes made this activity a lot of fun.

NODA - Dinner at Cabo Fish Taco and Desert at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream
We returned to NODA for dinner. This fish taco place was amazing and they had all sorts of combinations of fish tacos. I got a teriyaki salmon taco and an ahi tuna taco, served on corn tortillas, and both were amazing. We were going to head downtown for fireworks, but instead headed up to the light rail station where were able to see some pyrotechnics on the horizon in the distance. We finished the night at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, which we discovered in Nashville on our trip there 2 years earlier.

Day 3 - Asheville Downtown

Morning in Charlotte - Breakfast at 7th Street Public Market, The Bag Lady for Crystals
Before leaving Charlotte, we had breakfast as 7th Street Public Market, which is like a food court. I really enjoyed my gluten free crepe from Hazelnuts Creperie, and hubby had eggs and grits from Uptown Yolk. I’ve discovered crystals over the past year, and it’s fun to explore shops in different cities. We stopped by The Bag Lady on our way out of town to check out their selection.

Downtown Asheville - Lunch at White Duck Taco Shop
Our first stop downtown was lunch at White Duck Taco Shop. Their menu is extensive, and fun.

Downtown Asheville - Urban Hiking
We explored a few more shops, including a kitschy souvenir store (LOFT), a mineral store (Cornerstone Minerals), a used book store (Downtown Books and News), an art gallery (Momentum Gallery), and a stationery shop (Write On). I refer to this day as our urban hiking day since I logged over 14,000 steps! I especially loved the secret books at the book store. They were wrapped with brown paper, and a short description of the plot. I selected the one on the left. Any guesses what it might be? I haven’t opened it yet!

Downtown Asheville - Lexington Park Antiques
This antique store was practically a history museum, with some piece of nostalgia around every corner!

North Carolina Arboretum, Dinner at All Souls Pizza, Asheville Friday Night Drum Circle
We headed out to the Arboretum for some nature, had pizza for dinner at All Souls Pizza where they had an incredible gluten free polenta crust, and were able to check out the Friday Night Drum Circle. We only caught the last few minutes, but the energy was palpable, and I’m so glad we made it!

Day 4 - DuPont State Park - Triple Falls, High Falls, and Hooker Falls

For the next 2 days, we went to the market and bought ingredients for breakfast and lunch to save time and money on meals leaving more time and money for exploring. We drove about 50 minutes out to the park for this hike which would take us to 3 different waterfalls. It is a very popular hike, and parking extended out onto the highway, and there was a bit of foot traffic on the trail, but as a novice hiker, I always find comfort in the presence of other humans enjoying nature with me. It was a hot and humid day, but we were rewarded by a dip in the water at Hooker Falls. It was cold, but not too freezing for this Florida girl to enjoy.

West Asheville - Dinner at The Walk, Sunshine Sammie’s (Downtown), Retrocade
After our hike, we headed back for showers, then found dinner at The Walk in West Asheville. We met up with family who was also in town at Sunshine Sammie’s for desert, then headed back to Retrocade in West Asheville, where $10 each got us unlimited retro video games.

Day 5 - Biltmore Estates

On our final morning in Asheville, we headed to the Biltmore Estate. It was SUPER hot. There’s no AC in the house, but there are fans. Still, it was hot. I selected the kid’s audio tour, an idea I got when we visited The Breakers in Newport, Rhode Island a few years back, where the children’s audio tour is narrated from the perspective of the house. This tour is narrated from the perspective of the dog. I found the facts to be equally informative, and the delivery is a bit less dry. After that, it was back to the airport and home. We enjoyed the bonding that comes from exploring a new place, and this is some place that would be fun to return to explore further!

Lifestyle Family Photographer | Fuji X100F

Every summer before we travel, I look into adding a mirrorless camera body to supplement my DSLR and lighten my load. But to save 1 lb and some size, I can never justify it when I’m just going to add a bulky DSLR lens. This year, when I was reading reviews, one mentioned the Fuji X100F. I looked it up, since several photographers I know use small Fujis as travel cameras. The models I’d looked into prior also had larger interchangeable lenses, increasing the size and the investment. However, this model, had a 35f2 fixed lens. Which is what I take when I travel, anyway! I asked around for an endorsement and looked online for reviews, and, satisfied with my research, made the purchase.

The camera arrived this afternoon. Since my favorite muses, my kids, are at sleepaway camp for the summer, I contacted one of my clients who lives nearby to see if I could borrow her kids to try out my new equipment! I know it was a long day for this mama, and I hope the extra entertainment with the kids was just the extra fun they needed to blow off some steam!

It took some research for me to figure out what all of the buttons do, and which settings will be easiest for me to work with, but by the time I headed home, I felt like I had a pretty good handle on the equipment and would feel comfortable leaving my DSLR at home for our upcoming travel. I came home and edited a few images. Here are some of my favorites from my first time using this camera.

Pembroke Pines Birthday Photographer | Arya's 1st Birthday Party

This baby is magical. The photos from her first birthday party capture her magic. My career as a photographer has really honed my ability to sense and observe. And walking into her home, where she was celebrated by family and friends, I felt her energy. She had a near constant smile on her face and put a smile on the face of everyone she interacted with. The joy was palpable, and looking back through these photos, I can feel the buzz of joyful flow. I hope you feel it too!

South Florida Mitzvah Photographer | Ilan's Bar Mitzvah - Slice Weston

I have known this family since this young man was 2, and it’s been so special to watch all these kids grow into Jewish adulthood this year! Ilan read from the Torah on a Sunday morning of Rosh Chodesh, so I was able to capture photos at his service, which I always love. The images I’m able to create freezing those spiritual moments in time are always my favorite. Then his family and friends gathered later that evening to celebrate! They had a sports jersey theme, which always seems to go over well. Guests appreciate the relaxed and casual attire, and this photographer always loves the pops of color the jerseys add to the images!

Ft Lauderdale Beach Engagement Photographer | Yossi Proposes to Ellie

I got a phone call last week from one of my family clients asking if I photograph Engagements, and I said sure! I’m more in the mitzvah market, but it’s always a good time to capture the origins of that future family and the love story where it begins! Yossi lives in LA, and was going to be visiting Hollywood to surprise and propose to his girlfriend, Ellie, and wanted to capture her reaction (hint: guys looking to propose, this is an excellent idea!). We spent the week strategizing about the most photogenic and semi-private beach location at the most optimal time of day for the candlelit look he was going for, and earlier this evening, he asked her to marry him, and she said yes! They absolutely radiated love and joy, and I wish them a lifetime of happiness!