When you’re from sunny Florida and you need a change of scenery, what do you do? Head to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina. That’s exactly what a group of 30-something friends from Miami did in early November.
A “Friendsgiving” Celebration
Four couples planned a festive “Friendsgiving” weekend and also celebrated an anniversary. The group decided to stay in a house in Balsam Mountain Preserve, a gorgeous neighborhood nestled in the mountains between Waynesville and Sylva, about 45 minutes west of Asheville. Nicole, the event planner in the group, called Leap Frog Tours and asked us to help her plan three days of activities that would enable them to immerse themselves in our beautiful “neck of the woods.”
Our tour designer extraordinaire, Kim Turpin, co-owner of Leap Frog Tours, created a weekend of custom tours that included some good food, local craft beer, and the great outdoors. Here’s how the group spent their weekend:
After the group got settled, we took them to Ten Acre Garden for a casual farm-to-table dinner around a camp fire. On the way to dinner, the friends noticed a momma bear and her cubs climbing up the side of a cliff. Our driver and marketing manager, Jen Brauer, stopped so the group could take pictures. The bears were quite a thrill for the South Florida friends.
Once at Ten Acre Garden, the group enjoyed a beautiful evening under the stars in comfy chairs with warm blankets noshing on wood-fired pizzas from the talented on-site chef, Matt Kuver.
This was their craft beer day. And, they certainly were in the right place to sample many of the great small-batch beers that have put Western North Carolina on the map as “Beer City USA.” The friends started their day with lunch at 12 Bones and a flight of beer at The Wedge. The group got to check out the funky, beautiful graffiti that makes The Foundation such a cool, new location for 12 Bones and The Wedge’s second tasting room.
Then, we took them to New Belgium’s east coast facility on the banks of the French Broad River. Everyone enjoyed the patio overlooking the river and the River Arts District while enjoying New Belgium’s popular beer.
Next, the group hopped on the Amazing Pubcycle to peddle around downtown Asheville. They had gorgeous, sunny weather to tour the town. The group ended their craft beer day with dinner at Sierra Nevada in Mills River.
The group started their day with a morning hike. They met our driver/guide, Ryan Robinson, at the Deep Creek Trailhead just north of Bryson City. On this moderate 4.5-mile hike, the group got to see several waterfalls and what remained of the summer wildflowers. Less than a mile into the hike, the group arrived at Toms Branch Falls to see the 80-foot cascade, followed by the Indian Creek Falls that’s more like a slide than a waterfall. Near the end of the hike, the group reached Juney Whank Falls with its 80-foot waterfall cascade. After the hike, everyone enjoyed a picnic lunch at the trailhead with boxed lunches from Waynesville’s Tailhead Café & Bakery.
That evening, we arranged a gourmet “Friendsgiving” dinner and anniversary celebration in their weekend home at Balsam Mountain Preserve. With Chef Matt, from Ten Acre Garden, in the kitchen, the group enjoyed cocktails and a charcuterie board followed by dinner featuring smoked apple-stuffed chicken and sage sorghum pork tenderloin.
To liven up the evening, the local bluegrass band “Ol’ Dirty Bathtub” entertained the group. Special guest, Darren Nicholson was the highlight of the night. He’s the mandolin player from Balsam Range, the award-winning band that hails from Haywood County. To give the friends a keepsake from the evening, we recommended that they take a group picture with the band and have the band members sign the framing mat.
Regardless of the season, if you’re spending a long-weekend in Western North Carolina with friends, family, or that special someone, give us a call. We’d love to plan an itinerary of activities that’s perfectly suited to your taste.