With only ~7 weeks to go before Baby Tamburo makes his or her appearance, we decided to enjoy one last mini-getaway in the Highlands, North Carolina. Driving anywhere much further than 2 hours gets uncomfortable pretty quickly. The only other time I had spent significant time in the Highlands was on a wedding weekend and ever since, I’ve been dying to go back to explore more. We packed up our car (pregnancy pillow and all) and made the trek to the most charming mountain town for a laidback weekend complete with good food and beautiful views.
How to Get There:
Highlands is a quick 2 – 3 hour drive from Metro Atlanta making it the perfect quick weekend getaway. (This of coarse depends on when you leave; Hello ATL traffic, rush hour, accidents, etc)
It’s an easy drive with beautiful views as you get closer and closer to the final mountain destination.
If you are not coming from Atlanta then the closest airports would be either Asheville (AVL – 58 miles) or Charlotte (135 miles).
Where to Stay in Highlands:
The Wells Hotel ($-$$):
This boutique hotel was absolutely perfect for our quick ~ 48 hour getaway in the Highlands. Conveniently located less than a mile from the downtown strip; we were able to easily walk into town while also enjoying the peace and quiet of our own little retreat. Previously known as the “Chandler Inn”; this small 14-room hotel was recently completely renovated and is now known as Wells Hotel.
A majority of the rooms come equipped with gas fireplaces, and every single room comes with a Nespresso machine, smart TV’s, wifi, modern Mountain interior design and the MOST comfortable Brooklinen bedding. Seriously, I don’t usually rave about a hotels bedding necessarily and maybe it was because we spent extra time in the room ( being pretty dang pregnant, tired and cold ) but we didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning. There is also a coffee bar on-site in the main check-in lobby where you can treat yourself to a latte in the AM!
200 Main ($$$):
A sister property of OEI, we stayed at 200 Main a few years back for our friends wedding. This hotel is located super convenient to downtown and is “mountain chic” luxury without quite the same price tag as Old Edwards main hotel. I was barely in the room with wedding festivities but it was comfortable, convenient and relatively affordable.
Old Edwards Inn ($$$$):
I can’t speak much about staying here because I’ve only ever attended a wedding at OEI. However, I have heard nothing but rave reviews from anyone and everyone who has stayed here. It is luxury and you can tell from just walking by the gorgeous hotel right on Main Street.
Even if you are not staying at Old Edwards Inn and you are looking to splurge, 100% check out their spa services and/or one of their renowned restaurants. Madisons is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner but take note – they are only open for breakfast and dinner to club members and hotel guests (at least as of right now 4/2021). There is also the Hummingbird Lounge (have heard this is a good spot for a cocktail before dinner) , the Grill Room, Art’s at the Lodge (morning coffee and PM cocktail bar) and the Spa Cafe.
What to do During your Stay in Highlands:
You can’t come to the Highlands and not get out to enjoy the outdoors. With hikes ranging from mild strolls to strenuous long hikes; there are sure to be trails for just about everyone.
Besides the obvious activities like shopping downtown, eating and grabbing a cocktail at one of the many delicious restaurants; there is also golf, spa services, and trails.
- Sunset Rock (easy): Roughly 1.2 miles roundtrip, this hike can be done by just about anyone. It’s a walk up a gravel road but once you make it to the top, the views are absolutely stunning overlooking the NC mountains
- Whiteside Mountain (moderate): 2 miles round trip. This hike takes you up to 4900′ elevation and once again provides gorgeous views.
- Glen Falls (easy- moderate): There are multiple “sets” of waterfalls as you go down the Glen Falls trail. It is relatively short round-trip but it does get a little steep at times and there are parts that are made up of a lot of steps. This could be more difficult for some especially if it recently rained as it could get slippery.
Eat & Drink:
Four65 Woodfire Bistro & Bar:
Four65 Bistro was our first stop after getting in to the Highlands. We were both craving pizza and after asking our hotel for a recommendation, she pointed us in the direction of Four65. The atmosphere and the food were both spot on and we would both recommend this spot to any Italian lovers. It’s essentially like an upscale sports bar with 2 big TVs (hello March Madness fans), super tasty Neapolitan pizza, salads, meatballs and more. Don’t forget to ask about their gelato flavor-of-the-day! (We had the cookie dough gelato + it was delicious).
Ugly Dog Pub
Don’t go to Highlands and NOT go to the Ugly Dog Pub 😉 Ugly Dog is just a classic pub filled with photos of sweet pups on all the walls. However, in my opinion the food is actually better than the typical pub fare.
Try out their Ugly Dog DIp and start with some pretzels and queso while you’re at it.
Supposedly this spot gets pretty crowded and rowdy on big game days so go early or be prepared to wait depending when you’re visiting!
Wild Thyme Gourmet Cafe:
I had been eyeing Wild Thyme Cafe since we visited Highlands several years back and we finally made it there. They are open for lunch and dinner (make reservations for dinner). We decided on lunch for a more casual menu and when the weather is nice, their outdoor patio downtown is the perfect place to enjoy a meal.
Mountain Fresh Grocery:
MFG is the place to go for groceries, wine AND surprisingly the hot food selection. From a delicious breakfast complete with omelettes and breakfast sandwiches, to their Neapolitan and NY Pizzas, and lastly their lunch grill menu (burgers, paninis, salads and more).
It’s a fun little grocery market to explore and located conveniently right downtown.
This is a chain but if you’ve never been, treat yourself! Just walking inside and the smell of fresh fudge will make your mouth water. Here you’ll find Ice cream, chocolates, fudge, and more.
Calders Coffee Cafe:
Coffee, specialty lattes, and pastries. Calders is located right downtown. Order for pick-up or grab a latte to enjoy in their ‘downstairs’ cafe.
Blue Bike Cafe:
Casual breakfast spot on the way downtown from Wells Hotel. Dine-in or take out. We indulged pretty heavily here… omelettes, “the john candy” stacked pancakes, banana bread + pecan french toast and more.
For more local to Atlanta travel inspiration, check out my guide to Chattanooga TN, Asheville NC, or Nashville TN.