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Travel Guide to Asheville, NC


I still cant believe I’ve lived in NC my entire life and have never visited Asheville. This past weekend, we experienced this beautiful town during 60 degree weather that hit us out of nowhere! Needless to say, we soaked in all the mountain air and explored this city the best we could in 3 days. We Started the trip by checking into The Grand Bohemian Asheville. You can book directly with them here.
They greeted us with champagne, and the scent of their candles at check in had me already feeling at home. I asked about the candles (you can purchase them) and each hotel has their own unique scent!

The Grand Bohemian is centrally located to every part of Asheville you want to explore! The Biltmore Estate is located directly across the street (though you still have to drive) and we took the kids one morning to check it all out! The Kids loved the “Antler Village” section of the Biltmore estate. There was a park, animals, winery, and ice cream shop all together.
The Hotel provided us with a fun brochure for family activities I am providing below, and I got several recommendations for kid friendly activities we weren’t able to check out!

Kid Friendly Places to Check out:
Mountain Play Lodge
Asheville Museum of Science
Well Played Board Cafe
Pinball Museum
Moogseum (Opens April 1st)
Navitat Zipline Canopy Tours
Breweries kid friendly: Funkatorium, Sierra Nevada
For more info, see list above or visit ExploreAsheville.com
  • Dining out in Asheville (All the above images are from the Red Stag restaurant, conveniently located beside the lobby of the Grand bohemian Asheville)  Also the places below were recommended several times:
  • Curate: This was Spanish Cuisine Tapa Style dishes, Get the Paella De Verduras- our favorite by far, it takes 40 mins so order as soon as you sit down.
  • NightBell (same owner as Curate)
  • Limones
  • Chai Pani
  • Breakfast: Biscuit Head, Tupelo Honey (but this is a chain), Holes Donuts & Vortex Donuts, Early Girl Eatery, Underground Cafe Donuts
  • Dessert: French Broad Chocolate Factory (prepare to wait on weekends)
  • Breweries: Sierra Nevada, Wicked Weed, Funkatorium

We loved our room at The Grand Bohemian, in fact the Bellman told us Kevin Hart had just stayed in this exact room! We had the One bedroom Suite, you can book it here. I felt like this was the perfect size for a family of four. The living area had a pull out couch that felt like a regular queen, and our king size bed was very cozy. The kids would have stayed in the jet jacuzzi all day if I let them! (see pics). The staff was amazing, food was great, and we really felt like they treated us like family after such a short time!

My dress is from Vici Dolls– was perfect for the 50-60 degree weather.

We wrapped up the weekend & Headed to the Omni Grove Park Inn! I had heard such amazing things about this place and the spa. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint. I had the best facial/spa service of my life at this place!  This picture was taken on their sunset terrace. Grab a glass of wine from the bar and just sit out here for sunset (or sunrise if you’re an early bird!) to take in 
the mountain views.  In the warmer months, they open this area for dining.

The kids loved the Indoor Pool at the Omni Grove! It isn’t connected to the hotel, but they have a shuttle that takes you to the “Sports complex” which has air hockey, ping-pong, the pool, and several other activities. Located behind that is a playground too! If I had to explain the two hotels, I would say the Grand Bohemian had a chic, hip small luxury boutique hotel vibe easy for exploring Asheville. The Omni Grove is a huge property, that felt historic with a very well known spa. If you go to Asheville, I would put both on your hit list!

We will be back Asheville! The kids matching swim suits are from Piccoli Principi Swimwear, shop them here!

north carolina,travel

Travel Guide: Blowing Rock NC, Chetola Resort & Spa

I have been visiting Blowing Rock, NC since I was little so this post might be all over the place!  My parents have owned a Condo at Chetola Resort for 20+years, so its safe to say we have been to the area a lot.  Most of my travel guides on here have been to places I’ve had to research nonstop beforehand and we hit up every single hot spot during a short period.  Growing up visiting Blowing Rock, I find myself going to the same usual places we love and not exploring the city like we do other places.  But isn’t that usually the case in your own home-town?
I’ll tell you all our favorite spots below we hit up when in town, but you probably will find more on google too that I dont know about!

Accommodations:  Chetola Resort
Like I mentioned above, this is where we typically stay when in town because my family owns one of the condos.  The entire property is decorated & lights up during the holidays, so we are always there after Thanksgiving.  They also have big events in the summer for 4th of July, and Parades for both seasons.  The grounds are beautiful- So many people get married on the lawn overlooking the pond.
3 Types of Accommodations to choose from on property:
1. The Chetola Lodge- Which is just like your standard hotel rooms
2. The Bob Timberlake Inn- a Bed & Breakfast with 8 rooms that connects to the Lodge, above the main restaurant.
3. Condominiums- Which is where we stay- great for families!  They range from 1- 4 bedrooms!

Amenities on site:

  • Indoor Pool & Jacuzzi- My kids live here, so great during the winter months.
  • Spa on Site
  • Dining on Site
  • Play Ground & Kid Recreation Center
  • Outdoor Recreation:
    Sunbathing Deck
    Maintained Hiking Trails and Guided Hikes
    Horseshoe Pit
    Tennis & Pickle Ball
    Fishing Clinics
    Fully Stocked Lake
    Fishing Rods
    Paddle Boats/Kayaks/Paddle Boards
    Playground
    12-Hole Disc Golf

Things to do Around the area:

  • Explore Downtown Blowing Rock: go to the shops, park, tennis courts and basketball courts less than a mile from Chetola.
  • Visit The Blowing Rock– This is one of my favorite scenic spots that’s very close by.
  • Visit Tweetsie Railroad– If your visiting BR more than twice and have kids, get the season pass.  Its the same amount if you were to go twice, and you can go year round.  They just started doing Tweetsie Christmas, so its pretty much open on weekends year round now too!
  • GrandFather Mountain– Its about a 30 minute drive, cross the high bridge and hike the trails to see all the animals onsite at the zoo.
  • Skiing/Snowboarding: For beginners, or a short drive- just go to Appalachian Mountain.  For more advanced go to Beech or Sugar.  My personal favorite is Sugar for snowboarding.
  • Hike a Waterfall: We’ve done Laurel Creek Falls, but follow the directions online to a tee.  There are no signs.
  • Visit Rough Ridge for amazing views/pictures:  We did our family pictures here last year, you will see them below- its a hike up and then you can stand on the rocks overlooking the mountains.  Peak time is in October/November when its fall foliage!
  • Spa– for another beautiful spa off property, check out Westglow resort & Spa.  Breathtaking!
    (This is the path to Rough Ridge where these photos were taken)

Dining:

  • Bistro Roco– we make sure to always get a reservation here in advance during holidays!  Favorite date night spot.  It feels like you are in a cave/mountain kind of and I love there MacnCheese!
  • Mellow Mushroom– I know a chain, but its right in Downtown Blowing Rock and I crave their “esperanza” dipping pizza sauce.
  • Twigs– Go here for lunch on a nice day and sit outside, grab a draft beer.
  • Kilwins– Another chain, but go here for Ice cream & Lemonade when walking around Downtown 🙂
    (Our dresses are from Ivy City Co)

    (these photos were taken on the grounds of chetola)

*I love our tradition of getting family photos done during the holidays every year there! All photos were taken by the lovely- Sydney Gail, if you’re local to Blowing Rock area, and are looking for a photographer that knows the area well + takes amazing photos, book her here!

lifestyle,north carolina,travel

North Carolina Travel Stay-Cations

I was born & raised in North Carolina.  I went to school in North Carolina (except for a semester in Hawaii), and I now live in North Carolina with my family!  When it comes to traveling around the state, I find myself doing the same things I am so use to and grew up to know.  I wanted to break out of the ordinary and start traveling my own state like I do other cities.  These next couple months I am so excited to do several “Stay-Cations” in North Carolina and see some sides of these towns I haven’t before!  We have some upcoming trips to the mountains (Blowing Rock & Asheville) over these winter months so keep an eye out for those travel guides.

In NC, fall/Winter blend together for the most part. I wanted to show you my basic travel packing list for the kids when going on short one night stays in the area!
Here’s whats in their suitcase:

  •  Jackets: These Merrimane Jackets have been a life saver, not too hot, not too cold, perfect over the clothes jacket that’s so soft.  It also has a chic look too it, so we rock these jackets to church too :). * Fun Giveaway happening on my Instagram page, head over there for a chance to win a Merrimane Jacket!
  • Basic Tees/Leggings: My go to is H&M/ Carters for basic black/white tees for layering
  • Pajamas: Babybreez– I always try to put the kids in jammies when traveling for comfort.
  • Toboggans: Loving Love your Melon kid line right now!
  • Shoes: Uggs- so easy & Warm, I think im going to get black for both of them for christmas.
  • Essentials: Babybum products, from lotion to shampoo!
  • Packing Cubes: These making packing so much easier, got them on amazon here!

Below are some stays we recently did and Holiday events going on around the Triangle this month (Raleigh/Durham).  You can see my first Christmas post on events around NC here.

Winston Salem, NC
Where we stayed: The Kimpton Cardinal Hotel

  •  Proximity: We chose this hotel due to its convenience to downtown and tons of restaurants within walking distance.
  • Kid Friendly:  If you saw my stories on my Instagram, they didn’t do it justice.  This hotel comes with a complete underground basement with a basketball court, Bowling Alley, Slide, ping pong tables, and so on.  Anyone from kids to adults could spend hours in this area having a blast.
  • Pet Friendly:  This hotel allows dogs.  Its rare that I am at a nice hotel that also allows pets, so bring your fur babies!
  • Rooms:  We stayed in a large king room, the showers were amazing with kids- double sided no fights!
  • Buffet Breakfast: Starts at 8am, I would have preferred earlier because my kids are early birds but nonetheless it was delicious and easy!

    Raleigh, NC
    Where we Stayed: Hilton North Hills

  • Amenities: Their Indoor Pool & Whirlpool was the hit of our stay with the kids.  I love when a hotel has a pool indoors because you can keep the kids entertained no matter what time of year it is!  The place was huge and stocked with towels.
  • Restaurant on site:  Their new restaurant 88 Oaks was an easy choice for dinner & Breakfast.
  • Service:  Everything was perfect from check in to check out, to getting us anything we needed quickly.
  • Rooms: We had a king bed room and the bed was very comfortable, I usually toss and turn not sleeping in my own bed and didn’t wake up at all here.  The bed felt like a cloud.
  • Proximity: This location is within a mile from North Hills shopping, and we happened to stay the night of the Tree Lighting at North Hills!  A lot of fun action happening around this area for kids to be entertained.

We went to the Christmas parade in downtown Raleigh yesterday and then scooted over to the North Hills Hilton! There seemed to be a ton of events going on.  A tree lighting at North Hills Shopping center with a ton of vendors/events going on, and at the same time they had one in Lafayette Village we didn’t get a chance to check out.

The Kids are wearing their Merrimane Jackets in these pictures I mentioned above- giveaway happening on my instagram page!

Upcoming Events I am excited to check out and share with you, check them out if you’re in the area!

  •    Santa at Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock NC
  •    Tweetsie Christmas- Blowing Rock, NC
  •    Umstead Tea with Santa
  •    Pullen Park Holiday Express
  •    12 days of Shristmas at Carolina Inn
  •    Polar Express
  •     Museum of Natural Science, Durham NC
life,lifestyle,north carolina

Lainey’s So EXTRA – Beach Bash (4th bday)

I have always wanted to throw a beach party for Lainey since she has an August birthday and most of our friends live at the beach! This year worked out perfectly to do that on Labor day weekend!  I thought it would be fun to treat it like a mini “bachelorette” and get matching suits for all the girls!  We also told everyone to BYOF (bring your own float) and we floated outside by the dock the entire day.  Lainey’s favorite thing about the party was the Pelican Sno Balls we had unlimited, as was mine (it turned out genius to make alcohol drinks with the shaved ice too 🙂 )
Below are the vendors we used, and several images from the party.

*If you’re in Wrightsville/Wilmington area and are throwing any type of party, make sure to contact these vendors below!  Everyone was phenomenal, on time and very responsive.

  1. Photographer:  Visuals By Helen
    Helen came for about an hour and got all the photos I needed easily!  She even sent me 3 sneak peak ones that evening, super fast and loved all the images she got!
  2. Moana 2-layered Cake- One Belle Bakery
    I told them my vision, sent a few sample inspiration photos, and boom, they delivered an awesome cake that tasted just as good as it looked!
  3. Mermaid- FairyTales and Dreams by the Sea
    We booked for one hour, and felt like it was the perfect amount of time for her to interact with our small crowd of 8 kids!  They loved her reading to them during “Story time” and she danced and stayed right by the birthday girl!  It was the perfect something “Extra special” birthday treat I am glad I booked for all the kids.
  4. Pelican Sno Balls stationWe booked the starter package and I felt like we had more than enough extra shaved ice left, we invited all the neighbors over to even have some!
  5. Personalized Swim Suits & Tumblers:  Etsy: Parkerryandesigns
    One of our good friends Andrea has been running this etsy shop for awhile and I casually mentioned I was looking for personalized swim suits, and what do you know, she said she could easily make them!  She is one talented girl, if you need something personalized (from clothes to cups) shoot her a message on etsy!  
  6. Water trampoline/Slide O-zone Water bouncer:  Rave Sports
    We have been loving this all summer, but I got this Water Bouncer specifically for lainey’s birthday bash!  The kids and toddlers loved it!  You can see why we love it on this post I did awhile back here.
  7. Letter Board: Felt Like Sharing
    I love the pop of color their letter boards add to any event and photo!
  8. Hair:  I had my hair styled in braids by Set Blow Out Bar
    I always go by here when I am in wilmington to get a blowout, so figured I’d get a braid style for the party too.  Lainey was supposed to come, but she was already enjoying the festivities when it was time for our appointment so I went solo :).  They do Mommy and Me styles too!
  9. Balloons- I ordered all from amazon













lifestyle,north carolina

Carolina Holidays for the Kids

Can a Kid ever see Santa too many times or have too many cookies or wear enough Christmas jammies?? Answer still up for grabs, but we got close.

If you’re like me, the Holidays were jammed packed for the month of December and went by way too fast!  I think I might have slightly over done it this season, but I have serious FOMO (which I blame from my dad) and I didn’t want my kids to miss one bit of action going on in NC!  Most of these events I had to start planning back in the Summer, because moms are all over it when it comes to Christmas activities around here in the south apparently :).  Mark your calendars for next summer because you are going to want to get tickets for these events next year!

Events around NC that sell out in advance typically:
-Pullen Park Holiday Express
-Polar Express Train- I know there are two locations in NC.
-Tea with Santa (Umstead)
-12 days of Christmas Carolina Inn
-1870 Farm santa/animal hayrides
-MapleView farm icecream santa hayrides
-Chetola, Blowing rock NC -Santa & Carriage Rides
-Tweetsie Christmas (this was the first year they opened this!)
-Disney on Ice- PNC arena
-Feel free to let me know if i need to add any more high demand ones!

Some photos from the holidays of these events are below, and ill remind everyone when these tickets go back on sale!

Chetola Santa:

12 Days of Christmas Carolina inn (We did brunch with Santa and Sugar Plum Fairy afternoon tea):

&& that’s a wrap on the events!