Hello, Darlings! Today I am going to share my Weekend Trip To Highlands/Cashiers NC. My husband has retired and we now have the opportunity to go and visit. But, with COVID restrictions and travel problems, we have been reluctant. And to be honest, we are homebodies and don’t like the hassle factor. So, I decided to “make” us get out of our comfort zone and take an easy trip. My choice was the Highlands/Cashier North Carolina area in Western North Carolina.
In planning our first “Retirement Trip” we had a few boundaries. First, it had to be somewhere we could drive easily, next it had to be a short trip for our first one. Finally, we were going to challenge ourselves and go somewhere we have not been. Now, that sounds logical, but you have to understand, we do not like new places. The unknown stresses both of our type-A personalities.
Weekend Trip To Highlands/Cashiers NC
Why Highlands/Cashiers NC
I chose this area in Western North Carolina because it was an easy 4 1/2 trip from our home in Birmingham, Alabama. Long car rides are hard on both our backs, so we broke up this first driving part by leaving mid-day and driving to the far eastern side of Atlanta, arriving just before the worst of the Atlanta evening commute. I totally recommend the travel ap WAZE to help you navigate traffic problems and find the quickest way to your destination.
On our first night, we stayed in Spring Hill Comfort Suites by Marriot next to the Mall of Georgia. The room was fine and I could use my Marriot points. The area was perfect for finding food and gas. My sister lives in Sugar Hill so we enjoyed a reunion and dinner with her family at Long Horn Steak House, across the street from the hotel.
The Winding Mountain Road To Highlands NC
The next day we got up early, gassing up the car, and picked up Chick Fil A, then heading up the interstate towards Highlands NC. The interstate 985 is easy to travel and then turns into Hwy 23 heading up to the mountains of Georgia. I suggest a bathroom break in the town of Clayton at one of the many fast-food restaurants. The trip from Atlanta to Highlands NC is only 2 hours but once you get into North Carolina the road becomes extremely curvy and mountainous. WARNING!!! Not for those who get car sick. Plus, there is nowhere to stop or go to the bathroom once you are on the curvy road, it is “10 and 2 all the way”.
Quaint Mountain Town Of Highlands NC
We were so excited to FINALLY get to Highlands NC and get off the curvy road. The last 10 miles seem to take an hour and we were getting a wee bit car sick. Due to the elevations, this area is cool during the summer months and a favorite escape from the heat. The mountainous area is quite lush which makes it a perfect area for golfing/hiking/exploring. The town of Highlands NC is known as a second home community with lots of VRBO houses and cabins and a few hotels. We stayed at 200 Main right on Main Street which was walkable to the shops and dining.
I absolutely love this location and our room. I reserved a King room with a fireplace and balcony. Our balcony overlooked a nice wooded area which helps to keep out the traffic noise. Just steps away from our room was a fire pit area that they light every evening for guests to hang out, drink a glass of wine, or just sit and enjoy. We decided to enjoy the firepit area after dinner. The hotel is owned by Old Edwards Inn which is down the road with a great spa, dining, and golf club.
The hotel is an older hotel that has been updated with high-end finishes and “Mountain Chic” decor. This hotel also has a few dog-friendly rooms. The room itself was spacious and bedding comfortable.
Bridal Veil Falls- A Roadside Attraction
This area of Western NC is known for getting lots of rain and has many amazing waterfalls and hiking areas to explore. Because we were only here a short time and not really “hiking/outdoor people”, I chose an easy hike for our first day. Our first waterfall of the day was right on the roadside. Bridal Veil Falls used to be known as a waterfall you could drive behind, but loose soil and rockslides have made it a hazard. You can easily, and safely pull off the side of the road and experience the falls.
Dry Falls- A Must Do In Highlands/Cashiers NC
Dry Falls is located just a few miles from downtown Highlands. The area has a designated parking area ($3 parking fee)and a paved walking trail with steps. Okay, this waterfall is AMAZING. Easy walk for all ages with handicap viewing area, this is a must-see. Oh, and you can walk around the backside of the waterfall. If your camera has slow-mo mode you will want to take a pic.
Easy walk down designated steps and paved pathways, this waterfall is easily accessible for all ages.
Who goes down, must go up! The walk up the path was not bad and there were railings. The stone path can get very slick so go slow and watch your step. The good news is when you get to the top, you will find that this area has a restroom (just don’t look too closely).
On To Cashiers NC
The two towns of Highlands and Cashiers are only about 10 miles apart but… it is another curvy road so it takes about 20 minutes. On the way, you get just a glimpse of gated neighborhoods and golfing communities. There are several places to stop and take in the gorgeous mountain views, but this road is so narrow and dangerous, we did not even attempt.
Another reason this area is so popular is that it is a great “jumping-off point” to explore Western NC. From Highlands NC it is only 1 1/2 to Asheville and the Biltmore Estates, one hour to Cherokee NC, a little over an hour to Clemson SC to grab a game, and many more communities, hiking, and natural wonders to explore (lots more waterfalls!)
Too Cute For Words- Farmer’s Market
We are driving around looking at the area when I yelled “STOP”. I love a good farmer’s market and this one is Instagram-worthy. The Farmer’s Market in Cashiers NC had lots of local produce, jams, jellies, and other goods that would make great take-home gifts. Because we were there in fall, they had pumpkins galore in all shapes, sizes, and colors. My husband grabs a package of fresh homemade double chunky chocolate chip cookies for a snack (they were amazing). In the back of the Farmer’s Market is a bbq/sandwich take-out. Many people were grabbing lunch. Just down from the market is a park with picnic tables.
We hit several of the local shops and then grabbed lunch at the Cashier Valley Smokehouse. The restaurant had a huge outdoor seating area so we dined “al fresco” to enjoy the early fall weather.
Back To Highlands For Shopping And Dinner
After driving around checking all the area and a big lunch (which was so good), we needed some downtime so we headed back to Highlands (a 20-minute curvy road drive) to our hotel. My husband took a short nap and I spent my time looking thru the local real estate books and information about activities in the area. I sat on my balcony and just breathed in the fresh air. Grabbing a glass of wine to help me decompress and relax.
We had about 2 hours before we needed to get dressed for dinner so a nice walk along the main street was the plan. The city of Highlands had a mask mandate due to increased cases of COVID in their area so all shops required masks which was not a problem. Most of the shops catered to outdoor activities or high-end boutiques. One store had Versace and furs. Many of the women’s boutiques seem a little “matronly” or extremely high prices (sweater for $750). Needless to say, did not spend any money but it was fun to walk and check out the stores.
Dining Choices In Highlands NC
Lucky I had read ahead of time and was aware of limited seating issues with local restaurants. Most all of the restaurants had reservation requirements for dinner. This was mostly due to the limited seating issue with COVID restrictions and the large popularity of dining in Highlands.
Because my husband is a wee bit of a picky eater, I research several menus and read reviews from other bloggers. We decided to dine early at Wild Thyme Gourmet. I made a reservation request online and received an email confirmation about a week before our trip. The service was excellent and the food did not disappoint. The in-restaurant menu had even more options and that evening they had 3 dinner specials that sounded amazing. My husband had the chicken parmesan (his favorite) and I had a portabello mushroom and red pepper dish in puff pastry. We will definitely go back because they had many other dishes we would like to try.
Other recommended restaurants in Highlands include Madisons, Wolfgang Pucks Restaurant, and Ristorante Paoletti. My friend Linda texted me her recommendation of Midpoint. Located on the top floor above several shops, it had a rooftop dining area that was hopping. I would like to try this restaurant for lunch. Price-wise, most of the restaurants were what I call resort pricing. Higher prices with farm-to-table menus and premium cuts of beef and seafood.
Just two doors down from our hotel is the Highlands Wine Shoppe. Many people were enjoying the late afternoon and early evening sitting outside enjoying a glass of wine. I would love to go back and check out this shop. It seems they have gift baskets and daily wine tastings.
Relaxing By The Fire Pit
After an afternoon glass of wine, evening cocktail, and warm fulfilling meal, we decided to relax outside next to the fire pit at our hotel. A perfect way to end our evening.
Breakfast In Highlands NC Then Off To Asheville NC
After a great night’s sleep and a hot shower, we were ready for some breakfast. On the way into Highlands NC, I discovered Mountain Fresh Grocery. It is not really your typical grocery store, it has a bit of everything. You can get a great selection of wines, cheese, bakery items, meats, and some fish for grilling out. It also has a pizza parlor which does a huge take-out. You can find “some” grocery items and travel-size sundries. But what interested us most was the hot bar area.
The Mountain Fresh Grocery does breakfast and lunch and has many tables for indoor seating. The menu includes a variety of hot breakfast options including omelet, french toast, and a traditional 2 egg breakfast. You can get to-go from here also. I chose a southwest omelet and my husband got the traditional 2 egg scramble with bacon, biscuit, and gravy. The food was good, and the price was very good, especially for a resort area. This is a hangout for locals, so you know it is good.
Review Of Highlands/Cashiers NC
We only had one day so this was our “taste” to see if this is an area we would return to. The answer is YES!!!! I would love to come and stay for a week to truly relax.
Join Me On My Trip To Asheville and Biltmore Estates
We are back on the road and traveling to Asheville NC and Biltmore Estates. From Highlands NC it is about 2 hours on another curvy road.