By TMoM Team Member Dani Luft

We are so lucky to live in the Triad area where it is a few hours to the beach and a few hours to the mountains. My husband and I recently celebrated a big milestone anniversary (15 years!) and to celebrate, we treated ourselves to a few days away.  We wanted to go somewhere we had never been before, but with COVID restrictions and the fact that we were only going to be gone for 3 days, we wanted somewhere within driving distance.

I googled ideas and “Highlands, North Carolina” came up in my searches.  Not Asheville, or Boone or Blowing Rock?!  Where and what IS Highlands and how fast can I get there? Turns out, it is a beautiful little town located on a plateau within the Nantahala National Forest. The hiking/camping looks amazing.  We are not campers (…maybe glampers…), but if that is your thing then definitely check out the various sites around this area.

We had a fantastic, relaxing, few days. Here are the top five reasons why you should go with your significant other or grab some girlfriends and make it a girls’ trip!  You won’t regret it!

In the middle of the town is one long strip of cute little shops. Clothing stores, toy stores for the kids, Kilwins Ice Cream, a coffee shop with pastries, and jewelry stores, are some of the things you will find.  The store owners are friendly and glad you have stopped by.

The drive there from the Triad is beautiful, especially in the Fall. The leaves are changing, the golden sun is shining, and the crisp mountain air lingers as you drive.  We stopped in Asheville for lunch both ways, but there are plenty of other places to stop on the way.  As you get closer, you can explore the little towns like Dillsboro, Sylva, Waynesville, and Franklin.

The waterfalls and natural beauty are abundant! My favorite waterfall was Bridal Veil falls because you could walk under it without getting wet!  Definitely make time to stop and see the various waterfalls—great photo ops too!

The food and restaurants are outstanding. Everyone recommended Madison’s which is the upscale restaurant attached to The Old Edwards Inn and Spa.  We couldn’t get reservations as they were only working at 30% capacity because of COVID, but we also weren’t comfortable yet eating inside a restaurant.  However, Madison’s has an outdoor restaurant and wine garden which was perfect.  Outdoor lights and heated lamps made it perfectly romantic and they serve from the same menu as Madison’s.  We chose to go early, get a good table, some cocktails and appetizers, and draw out our kid-free romantic dinner.  Another cute place to grab some food is Mountain Fresh Market.  This is not your typical market/grocery store.  It has homemade gourmet food to warm up back at your place or you can get sandwiches and pizza to go.  There is also a coffee bar and bakery too.

The Old Edwards Inn and Spa. This is the name of the hotel we stayed in and if you are looking for rest and relaxation, look no further. There are other places to stay in the area, but since this was a special occasion, we took full advantage.  We were greeted with a little bubbly and introduced to everything that the hotel has to offer.  Our suite had a living room area with a gas fireplace, couch, TV, and our own little veranda with comfortable furniture to sit outside.  Then, the bedroom was pretty standard, but the bathroom was beautiful.  With its own room for the toilet and a bathtub, a grand vanity area, a huge shower with 4 side jets and heated floors!  The hotel itself is spread out over a few blocks and seemed to have various room types.  Our block of rooms was right by the gated heated pool and hot tub area.  We treated ourselves to massages at the Spa and what a relaxing place!  From the moment you arrive, you are transported to a place and time of no worries, just relaxation.  Complimentary infused water or tea and multiple places for you to chill out in your robe until you are called for your service.  Afterwards, you are welcome to stay to submerge in the hot tub, sauna, or just read and relax by the fire.

I encourage you to do your own research if you are planning to visit Highlands.  There is so much to see and if you’re like me and just need a place to go to breathe and relax, this just might be your next vacation!  Enjoy!

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