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Asheville in Winter with a Toddler - a Three Day Itinerary

Asheville in Winter with a Toddler - a Three Day Itinerary

I would love to live in Ashveille, NC for a while.  It ticks all of the boxes for me - lots of mountain adventures nearby, restaurants with delicious healthy food, a kickin live music scene, tons of good breweries, and quirkiness galore.  While a move to Asheville is not in the cards at the moment, Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend was a great chance for a long weekend getaway, even if it was below freezing most of the time we were there.  I did this trip while 24 weeks pregnant and with my husband, Jimmy, and our 15 month old son, Lewis. 

Day 1 - Catawba Falls and Asheville Street Art Tour

We drove to Asheville from Salem, VA which took about three and a half hours.  Our first stop was at Catawba Falls in Old Fort, NC which is only 30 minutes outside of Asheville.  It is an easy 1.5 mile hike to get to Catawba Falls and there are some fun sights along the way such as a couple of beautiful foot bridges, historical stone buildings, and an old dam.  

 Lovely historical stone building early in the hike.  Not sure where that halo came from - maybe it's haunted but in a nice ghost kind of way.  

Lovely historical stone building early in the hike.  Not sure where that halo came from - maybe it's haunted but in a nice ghost kind of way.  

 Another lovely footbridge on the Catawba Falls hike.  Pregnant ladies can't jump.  

Another lovely footbridge on the Catawba Falls hike.  Pregnant ladies can't jump.  

 The old breeched dam along the hike.  

The old breeched dam along the hike.  

 There was just one spot on the hike that involved a little bit of rock jumping.  Jimmy was wearing a red glove which created that rainbow effect at the top of the photo - pretty huh?

There was just one spot on the hike that involved a little bit of rock jumping.  Jimmy was wearing a red glove which created that rainbow effect at the top of the photo - pretty huh?

 Catawba Falls is about 90 ft. high - about 45x the size of Lewis.  

Catawba Falls is about 90 ft. high - about 45x the size of Lewis.  

 You kind of have to get in the water to get this view of the falls.  Luckily Jimmy wore his muck boots.  

You kind of have to get in the water to get this view of the falls.  Luckily Jimmy wore his muck boots.  

 If you hike a little ways up the side of the falls on a frigid day in January, you can see some spectacular icicles.  

If you hike a little ways up the side of the falls on a frigid day in January, you can see some spectacular icicles.  

This is an out and back hike - so another 1.5 miles back to the car.  We were actually the only people on the trail which was crazy to me.  It was such an easy hike with a pretty spectacular payoff.  I got a lot of inspiration for our Asheville hikes from Romantic Asheville including information on the Catawba Falls hike.  

It was a really cold day and windy too, so that probably explains why we had the trail to ourselves and why we found everyone huddled up in the breweries in Asheville.  Since I'm pregnant and can't drink, we decided to do a little Asheville street art tour.  This was not an official tour but rather something we made up ourselves.  I got some inspiration from this site and we then ended up exploring two neighborhoods that were featured there.  

 First, we parked outside of Taco Billy's where we found this fun mural.  

First, we parked outside of Taco Billy's where we found this fun mural.  

 Next door to Taco Billy's was this mural.  

Next door to Taco Billy's was this mural.  

Across the street was Urban Orchard Cider Co. which was a great spot to warm up for a bit.  They had a non-alcoholic hot cider for the pregnant lady and little one. 

Next we drove about 2 miles down the road and parked next to The Refinery Creator Space.  

 This is the mural by Lara Nguyen at the Refinery Creator Space.  

This is the mural by Lara Nguyen at the Refinery Creator Space.  

There are a lot of breweries in this area, and we saw lots of Brew Buses full of people.  If you love breweries, Asheville should be on your bucket list for sure.  This is also really close to the LaZoom bus tour company. While we didn't go on one of their tours, their City Comedy Tour had actually been recommended to me by a friend living in Asheville.  I don't think I've ever been recommended a bus tour by a local before, so I would have definitely considered this if we weren't travelling with a toddler (that tour is only for people age 13+).  Instead we walked up the street to check out Asheville Hardware.  Jimmy and I built two houses by ourselves, and Jimmy still has a keen interest in woodworking tools and supplies.  Their slab showroom also turned out to be a really fun place for a toddler to run off some energy on a frigid day.

 Asheville Hardware's slab showroom is an indoor playground for toddlers.  

Asheville Hardware's slab showroom is an indoor playground for toddlers.  

The French Broad Chocolate Factory was right across the street, so we had to stop in and get a box of fancy chocolates.  You can also take a free 20 minute tour to see how they concoct their bold truffle flavors such as strawberry balsamic and lemongrass ginger.  

Next we walked across the street to Burial Beer Co., not for a beer, but to take a picture of their fun Tom Selleck and Sloth Mural.  This place was packed with people, so I didn't feel so bad taking a free-loading shot of their mural.  Inside is a lot more Tom Selleck artwork, and it seems they have a big party for Tom Selleck's birthday every year too.  I love that places like this exist even when I can't enjoy them fully.  

 Tom Selleck and Sloth were bundled up for this frigid day as well.  I don't think they generally wear hats and scarves.  

Tom Selleck and Sloth were bundled up for this frigid day as well.  I don't think they generally wear hats and scarves.  

We were getting hungry at this point, so we drove about 2 miles north to the Historic Montford neighborhood to eat at Nine Mile.  Nine Mile is a Caribbean restaurant where you can order most any dish with your choice of fish, chicken, or jerk tempeh. 

 Empress Menen Salad at Nine Mile with toddler approved jerk tempeh and garlic bread.

Empress Menen Salad at Nine Mile with toddler approved jerk tempeh and garlic bread.

We finished off the day with a visit to the Asheville Mall so Lewis could play on their indoor playground.  As a travelling mom, I think sampling the local playgrounds is just as essential as sampling the local foods.  

Day 2 - Frozen Waterfalls in the Pisgah National Forest and the Urban Trail Walking Tour

After a hearty hotel breakfast, we headed about 45 minutes south to the Pisgah National Forest.  Note - GPS does not work here and there is practically no signage in this area.  A physical map of the forest is essential. 

We started at Looking Glass Falls which is a roadside pull-off, so is very popular.

 Just a short walk down some stairs to enjoy Looking Glass Falls.  Note those last stairs are slipper due to frozen waterfall spray.  

Just a short walk down some stairs to enjoy Looking Glass Falls.  Note those last stairs are slipper due to frozen waterfall spray.  

Frozen Looking Glass Falls - Pisgah National Forest
 There was an engagement photo shoot going on nearby, but I think we're the cuter couple.  

There was an engagement photo shoot going on nearby, but I think we're the cuter couple.  

Next we headed to Moore Cove Falls which is 10 minutes further down the road. It's an easy 3/4 mile hike out to the falls.

 Footbridge on the Moore Cove Falls Hike.  

Footbridge on the Moore Cove Falls Hike.  

 I love the icicles that shoot up from the ground.  They are pretty but also make the most satisfying crunching sound when you walk on them.  

I love the icicles that shoot up from the ground.  They are pretty but also make the most satisfying crunching sound when you walk on them.  

 Moore Cove Falls

Moore Cove Falls

It was another 3/4 mile hike back to our car and then we headed about another 10 minutes down the road to Daniel’s Ridge Falls.   It’s an easy one mile out and back hike to the falls which is what we did.  There’s also a four mile loop that will take you to the top of the falls.  

 Foot bridge on the Daniel’s Ridge hike

Foot bridge on the Daniel’s Ridge hike

 Daniel's Ridge Falls

Daniel's Ridge Falls

Our final falls of the day would be Slick Rock Falls.  The gate to the road leading up to the falls was closed, so we just parked at the gate and walked a mile up the road to get to the falls.  This would be a roadside stop if the gate wasn't closed.

 Slick Rock Falls

Slick Rock Falls

After our mile hike back to the car, we were ready to warm up and get some food.  There are plenty of lunch and brewery options in Brevard right outside of the Pisgah National Forest, but we chose to go back to Asheville and eat at the Laughing Seed Cafe.  

 We were all pleased with our choices but Jimmy's choice of the Raw Spinach Pesto Manicotti was the prettiest.

We were all pleased with our choices but Jimmy's choice of the Raw Spinach Pesto Manicotti was the prettiest.

Well Played Board Game Lounge is two doors down and looked like a fun spot to warm up with older kids.  We chose to go to the aSHEville museum instead which was also a short walk down the street.  This museum had several exhibits including a tribute to important Asheville women, a curtained off section with photos of naked people, and a collection of old sexist advertisements.  

Spanking advertisement - aSHEville museum

Lewis really enjoys running through museums,  and Jimmy and I take turns running after him so we both get a chance to actually look at the exhibits too.  Still we prefer small inexpensive museums in case a meltdown occurs and we need to flee.  aSHEville Museum fit the bill for us.  We realized we were on the Urban Trail Walking Tour, so we downloaded the pdf map and visited a couple more official stops before heading back to our hotel for the night.  

crossroads station pig sculpture - Asheville, nc
Flat Iron Sculpture - Asheville, NC

Day 3 - Great Smoky Mountains' Frozen Waterfalls, Museum of the Cherokee, and more Asheville Street Art

After a hearty hotel breakfast, we drove about an hour west to the Deep Creek Entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  We parked at the Deep Creek Falls parking area and set off on the 2.2 mile loop hike to see 3 waterfalls -  Juney Whank, Tom Branch, and Indian Creek.  

 The hike is pretty flat throughout.  

The hike is pretty flat throughout.  

 The first falls you get to are the Juney Whank Falls

The first falls you get to are the Juney Whank Falls

 Rhododendrons everywhere!  I bet this is a really magical spot when they are in bloom in June.  

Rhododendrons everywhere!  I bet this is a really magical spot when they are in bloom in June.  

 The next falls is Tom's Branch Falls.  This is also a popular tubing spot in the summer.  There are benches all along the river which is a great spot to take everything in and enjoy a snack.  

The next falls is Tom's Branch Falls.  This is also a popular tubing spot in the summer.  There are benches all along the river which is a great spot to take everything in and enjoy a snack.  

 Foot Bridge to cross the river and get to the next Falls.  

Foot Bridge to cross the river and get to the next Falls.  

 Indian Creek Falls is the last Falls on the hike.  

Indian Creek Falls is the last Falls on the hike.  

Next we drove about 20 minutes east to Cherokee which is the prettiest Native American Reservation town I have ever visited.  I have been through some pretty sad reservation towns travelling through the US, but Cherokee is a vibrant town in general with a beautiful park and lots of community centers. 

 I thought it was so cool that all the road signs had Cherokee translations. 

I thought it was so cool that all the road signs had Cherokee translations. 

Cherokee is also home to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian which I highly recommend.  We spent about an hour and a half roaming through the museum and we could have spent a little longer if Lewis was a little older and had a little longer attention span.  Still Lewis found plenty of things to entertain him during that hour and a half period and we learned a lot too.  Jimmy has been working on a Western TV series script and so especially appreciated the character inspiration opportunity.  

 Lewis loved the baskets of corn and wanted to show them off to all the museum visitors.  So hard to get a clear shot of him when he is excited about corn.  

Lewis loved the baskets of corn and wanted to show them off to all the museum visitors.  So hard to get a clear shot of him when he is excited about corn.  

 One of the many interesting characters we learned about in this museum was Sequoyah.  He created the Cherokee syllabary despite not being able to read any language before embarking on that project. 

One of the many interesting characters we learned about in this museum was Sequoyah.  He created the Cherokee syllabary despite not being able to read any language before embarking on that project. 

 Lewis was especially in awe of this exhibit talking about the Cherokee removal in the 1830's.  

Lewis was especially in awe of this exhibit talking about the Cherokee removal in the 1830's.  

After our museum visit, we drove another 20 minutes east to Soco Falls in the Maggie Valley.  This is a roadside waterfall stop with just a quick walk down to the viewing platform.  

 Soco Falls, Maggie Valley, NC

Soco Falls, Maggie Valley, NC

From there it was about 35 minutes to drive back into downtown Asheville for some more mural photography, a visit to the Woolworth's Art Gallery, and dinner at Rosetta's Kitchen, another delicious vegan dining option.    

 We parked next to Forever Tattoo to capture this mural first.  

We parked next to Forever Tattoo to capture this mural first.  

 Right across the street from Forever Tattoo is the Chicken Alley Mural.

Right across the street from Forever Tattoo is the Chicken Alley Mural.

 Heading north on Woodfin St. is this mini staircase.  I bet there is an adorable hamster living on the other side of that door.  

Heading north on Woodfin St. is this mini staircase.  I bet there is an adorable hamster living on the other side of that door.  

 Just below the tiny staircase are these tiny houses.  

Just below the tiny staircase are these tiny houses.  

 Up one more block was this beautiful mural in a parking lot.  

Up one more block was this beautiful mural in a parking lot.  

The next day we were going to mosey on back to Southwest Virginia, but with a snowstorm coming, we decided to cut east and drive through Greensboro and then straight home.  A fun and free museum that helped us to break up the trip a little bit was the Greensboro History Museum .  

Budget

Food - $162.23 - breakfast was included with our hotel.  We tend to eat one meal at a restaurant a day and snack the rest of the day.  

Hotel - $131.33 - We stayed in the Comfort Inn Biltmore West which was about a 10 - 15 minute drive outside of the Asheville city center.  This was closer to the waterfall hikes we wanted to do, cheaper than staying in the city, and included a really good free breakfast, so it was a very good option for us.  I got one night free from Hotels.com too (buy 10 nights through them and get one night free).

Activities - $32 - Museum of the Cherokee Indian cost us $11 per adult.  The aSHEville museum just took donations and we made a $10 donation.  There were no entrance fees to any of the places that we hiked. 

Gas - $18.40- this is just what we spent driving around the Asheville area in our Prius. 

Total - $343.96 for our family of three for three full days in Asheville. 

Suggested soundtrack for this trip is the Carolina Chocolate Drops.    

Winter Hiking with a Baby

Winter Hiking with a Baby

Day trip to Lancaster PA with a Toddler

Day trip to Lancaster PA with a Toddler