Weekender: Fort Myers to West Asheville, NC

Fort Myers has lots to offer, but sometimes you need to just get away.

But who has the cash to be forking over for expensive plane tickets? Yeah, nobody.

With Allegiant Air flying out of the Punta Gorda Airport, tickets are around $100 round trip to Asheville. It’s the perfect destination to get a little autumn chill and mountainous scenes.

We visited Asheville for the first time at the beginning of October and absolutely loved it. We’ve always heard that it’s a fun mountain town, a haven for foodies and craft beer junkies. It did not disappoint.

But one thing was a welcome surprise: our location.

We rented an adorable Airbnb in West Asheville. I was the one who picked it out, and I

airbnb

The view from our Airbnb. Seriously, how awesome is that? #NotInFloridaAnymore

chose it both because it was close to downtown but also perfectly located near some of the major highways. We’d planned to spend some days hiking too, not just day-drinking our way through every microbrewery.

So, I had no expectations that West Asheville’s own unique neighborhood scene would end up being our favorite part of the town’s urban attractions.

We learned from locals that as hipster as Asheville is, it’s now West Asheville where the cool kids hang out.

Haywood Road is the center of the action in West Asheville; the street is lined with trendy restaurants, locally-owned shops and fun bars and breweries. But it still has that residential feeling, too —You don’t really feel like a tourist when you’re hanging out in this area.

So, where should you go in West Asheville? Here are some of the places we hit up.

Breakfast:

Okay… we have to be honest. We only went to one place for breakfast the entire time we were there. Biscuit Head, 733 Haywood Road, is where it’s at for breakfast, brunch, or lunch. Obviously, their thing is biscuits. But, these are awesome biscuits and the breakfast sandwich options are fantastic. You can go for a healthy(ish) choice with the Asheville Benedict, an open-faced biscuit with scallion cream cheese, tomatoes, roasted red peppers and a kale salad topped by two poached eggs, or you can go all in for vacation breakfast and get something like the Pulled Pork Biscuit, which is a biscuit topped with pulled pork, jalapeño pimento cheese, bacon, poached eggs and maple syrup. Their sandwiches kept us fueled all day long.

Want to savor and not smother your biscuit? Don’t miss the pick-your-own butter and

BiscuitHead3

Try the apple jam.

homemade jam cart. 

Okay, we’ll shut up about Biscuit Head now.

Side note: apparently, pimento cheese must be the new quinoa. We seriously saw it on almost every menu during our stay.

Lunch:

To save money and time, we packed lunches to take on our hikes with us. But we heard that Pizza Mind and Universal Café were great spots for a bite to eat.

Dinner:

urbanorchard

Delicious small plates and a cider sampler are the way to experience Urban Orchard.

We loved sharing tapas at Urban Orchard Cider Co. while drinking a crisp cider made from a local apple orchard. With options like smoked trout dip, a Caprese salad with killer basil aioli, and a towering turkey sandwich, there’s something for everyone and lots to try. Also, I’m not a huge cider fan, but their brews were delicious. They were also serving up a hot cider, which was a perfect match for the chill evening air.

We also went to Nine Mile, an eatery and pub. The inside is casual but the fare is delicious with a Caribbean twist, like jerk chicken and curried fish. Um, yum. The portions were huge and we had enough to take home for lunch the next day.

Beers:

Beer is Asheville’s claim to fame, having been named Beer City USA four times since 2009 because of its breweries-per-capita ratio. We tried Wicked Weed (which was recently bought by Budweiser) and its second location, The Funkatorium, where they play with a whole list of sour beers. We also tasted Twin Leaf Brewery — all three of these are in downtown Asheville but just a short drive from our place. In West Asheville, we tasted Oyster House Brewing Company. I personally loved the Funkatorium because sour beers are my favorite (I have to say, though, Fort Myers’ own Point Ybel does sours much better).

We also went to my personal favorite, The Brew Pump. This is a tiny craft beer bar inside of a Shell gas station, quite the unique experience. It serves local beers and has one TV, or you can buy a six pack from the fridge to take home while you fill up on gas.

Drinks:

Odditoirum2

Inside, it’s a freakshow of crazy circus memorabilia and mad scientist collections, and outside the whimsy continues.

This place deserves to be in the spotlight on its very own. Just a few blocks from our Airbnb was The Odditorium. We could tell from the outside that it was going to be awesome, and it was.

This casual, funky bar is themed after circus side shows, and is filled top to bottom with

Odditorium3

Like we said… quirky!

collections of freakish items and memorabilia. The bar itself is no-frills, serving up a few local beers and cocktails. It’s got beautiful murals in its outdoor seating area.

We happened to go during an open mic comedy night, which only added to the overall wonderful experience we had here. They also have live music most nights. If you like the strange and weird, definitely give this place a try. It’s a little further north on Haywood than everything else, but worth the extra 50 cents for the Uber.

Odditorium1

Open mic comedy night 

To Do:

There are a plethora of shops and stores to poke your head into and check out local art in West Asheville. From a denim store to an artist collective and a yoga-themed variety shop, you can entertain yourself day and night on Haywood Road. You can also visit the famed Biltmore Estate just 15 minutes south of Asheville.

We chose to enjoy the breath taking views in the nearby Pisgah National Forest within _DSC5393the Appalachian Mountains.
If you’re renting a car during your stay, spending a few hours driving the Blue Ridge Parkway is a must. This winding, twisting road through the mountains is meant to be taken at a slow, leisurely pace. It’s got overlooks strategically placed, so don’t snap photos out of the window — pull off in one of these designated areas to get some Instagram proof of your awesome weekender.

We hiked two trails while we were there. The Craggy Pinnacle is an easy one. It’s about 20-30 minutes drive from Asheville (not including photo op stops) and only about a mile and a half to the peak of a little mountain for gorgeous 360 views. If you want to get some awesome photos but don’t want to spend the whole day on the trail, this is the way

IMG_5578

Craggy Pinnacle Trail is an easy hike that won’t take all day to get to those beautiful views.

to go.

We also hiked the Big Butt trail — yeah, a major part of our decision was because the name is funny. This is a much more strenuous hike; it was described as a “roller coaster” as you spend a lot of time going up steep inclines and carefully descending the wooden stair steps. We walked right along the ridge, which had steep drop-offs to either side. This trail doesn’t have the same viewing pleasure, but we picked it for the challenge and because it was reported, accurately, to be less populated. We packed a lunch, and snacks, and spent two or three hours hiking to get to the Little Butt overlook, rested an hour, and trekked back for an all-day experience. Talk about a glute workout!

_DSC5619

Big Butt will kick your butt for real if you’re not ready for a strenuous hike. Definitely pack a lunch, snacks and plenty of water for this one!

 

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