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!