Tag Archive for: travel

BLACK MOUNTAIN, NC: BEST LITTLE BEER TOWN

Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 11/9/22

The majestic mountains roll up and down in front of us with a checkered pattern of red, orange, and green. As we move north, they grow larger and more vibrant.  The roads wind, twisting and turning towards the sky. As we round the corner, a cozy, small town with small shops and eateries line streets, while music can be heard from the brewery down the street. This is Black Mountain, NC. The Best Little Beer Town stuffed with live music, friendly locals, stellar restaurants, and of course, beer! Let’s explore.

Stay: Monte Vista Hotel:

Near the town square, the red brick historic Monte Vista hotel’s large lobby warms your cold hands as the crackling fire illuminates the entire room with warmth and light. Relax on the cozy couches or check out the elbow room art gallery filled with local art. Tables from Southern Proper Hospitality’s Milton’s dots the lobby and adjacent rooms, and a large bar opens to the beautiful outdoor patio with a lounge and fireplace area! Upstairs, the beautiful hardwoods stretch into each room. Inside the room, beautiful wood pieces, original hardwood floors, and comfy bed invites you to stay the night. The beautifully renovated bathroom is bright and light! 

This historic hotel dates back to 1917 when a school was converted into the hotel with 33 rooms. In 1937 the building added the brick, while in 1950 a new wing was added. As a staple of the community, it has been renovated over the years, but the touches and charm are still there to see! The most striking of the 1917 originals are the beautiful, original hardwood floors. Then, in 1975 a new building was built. So, the Monte Vista with its crackling fire and beauty has been housing and holding people since 1917! That’s over 100 years!

Best Little Beer Town:

From breweries to ale houses to garden parties to ale trails, this town is all about the beer! Starting with the Black Mountain Ale Trail, where you can explore three local breweries with tastings at each. It is a great way to explore the area and the local beer. Our first stop is at Black Mountain Brewing for a fantastic boozy Two-Way Mirror Bourbon Barrel Oktoberfest and their regular tasty Oktoberfest Marzen. Both are outstanding and paired well with the fall foliage and weather! We learned some fun facts about the brewery like it was an old wash building that was only open until 1963 and had been empty until they moved in. They also have a beautiful mural of Roberta Flack. She lived in Black Mountain until the age of 7 before she moved to Virginia Beach. If you don’t know who she is, this singer is one of the only people to have back-to-back record of the year.

The second stop is Lookout Brewing where we went hoppy with the Mountain Hopshine IPA, that John really liked and a crisp Schatz Lager that was refreshing. The final stop down the mountain in Old Fort, is Hillman Beer. There we got a boozy Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout that was Liz’s favorite of the day and two other great beers, the Old Fort Original Lager and a malty Festbier. Their space is pretty amazing, it is along the river and is bright and light with patio seating. Inside is a beautiful taproom that even serves food. For this sleepy town, we were impressed.

Back in Black Mountain, there are other spots you can grab a cold one, like The Lowdown. We stopped by around sunset, and we’re greeted by a garden of flower and plants with a cute little outdoor courtyard. The courtyard was filled with plants in the middle, tables dotted the perimeter, and a STUNNING view of the mountains is to the left. We grabbed a few local brews from the GROW building and relaxed out in the courtyard. While listening to Dirty Dog, a Grateful Dead tribute, we sipped on the hoppy Dissolvr Bones and Waves, a dry-hopped IPA, the malty Darwin’s Forehead Salty Brown Porter from Fona Flora Brew in Nebo, NC that was Liz’s favorite. After that, we tried the crisp Shadowclock Pilsner from Burial Beer that was John’s favorite and the lip puckering Tart Berry Berliner Weiss with blackberry, raspberry, and blueberry from Green Man Brewery.

Another spot is the Black Mountain Kitchen and Ale House, which we will talk about more later, but has a great selection of Black Mountain Brewery and other local brews from around the region. Liz’s favorite was the IFFY Pumpkin Ale from Hillman Old Fort. Plus, we stumbled upon their Oktoberfest so we got to enjoy live Polka band and stein holding competition! It was a nailbiter.

Note, North Carolina Beer Month is October!

Places to Eat:

Go wild and make sure to put Bush Farmhouse on your Black Mountain, NC Journey. Little did we know we would be enjoying a South African restaurant when we started our trip, but here we were with an incredible meal stuffed with African-inspired plates and cocktails. Tempting dishes like the sensational rack of lamb that is fall off the bone tender with the best seasonings paired with earthy and hearty UMNGQHUSHU or the fantastic peri peri spiced chicken wings that were tender and juicy. A good selection of beef jerky and Droerwors to start and a tender, seasoned, perfectly cooked grilled octopus. If you’re looking for curries or meatloaf, they have that too! Wash that down with a Bushveld Porch gin drink that’s easy drinking or go Durban Poison that’s smoky! On top of the food, they have a large patio and bar area, then beyond are the farm animals like chickens, goats, and pigs!

The spot for brunch in Black Mountain, NC is this brunch heaven called Open Oven Café. The two-story spot with plenty of outdoor seating has a little bit of everything from an amazing chicken and waffles that’s sweet, nutty and savory to omelets, avocado toast, sandwiches, and more. Benedicts your thing? The Hog Heaven Benedict is a bacon fat drenched biscuit with a gooey egg and thick cut bacon on top. It really is hog heaven. The locals tell us this is THE brunch spot for the town; we agree.

This is the spot for you to unwind with a beer, watch a little football, or catch live music is at Black Mountain Kitchen & Ale House! Beyond the local and regional beers, the food is outstanding like their tender, crispy, and juicy fried chicken sandwich enveloped in creamy mayo and crunchy pickles. They also have a selection of burgers and appetizers like the tender and delicious chicken wings, as well as sides like crunchy tots. We watched Tennessee beat Alabama here and listened to a singer song-writer after.

The Town & Lake Tomahawk

The cozy little town is bright with outdoor and scenic activities. Being near the mountains, it is definitely a spot to check out the fall foliage, take a hike, sit by the lake, or stroll around the small shops in town. Strolling the streets of Black Mountain, there are several small shops with everything you can imagine from souvenirs to hiking gear to hardware to coffee. And only minutes from the Appalachian Trail and down the road from Asheville, it is a destination! One of the highlights of the town is Lake Tomahawk. An easy stroll around the lake while taking in the changing leaves was breathtaking. On the other side of town is the town green where they have a beautiful clock and views of the mountains! You really can’t get away from the mountain views here!

We really enjoyed our time in Black Mountain, NC.

ACTIVITIES ABOUND AT SANDESTIN, FL

Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 5/6/21

Activities Abound at Sandestin, FL

As the sunsets over the luxurious rooftop bar, the rays hit the beautiful bay water throwing up shades of purple, orange and pink, enveloping all spectators in the final moments of the day’s light. Down below a large stream interconnects with lakes, rivers, and eventually into the ocean where sunbathers sip cocktails under branded umbrellas. There’s also a walkway covered in palms and other lush trees where a couple walk hand-in-hand pass a treehouse and a large bridge with marina views. The rows of boats bob up and down in the water as the blue and purple of the evening sky meet at the horizon. Did you feel that? That’s Sandestin.

Grounds

The gates opened to the Bayside of Sandestin, and we drove around the first traffic circle and exited to the first right. Just to the right is one of our favorite spots on all the grounds, what we call the long walkway! The entrance to the wooden walkway and pier is wrapped in palms and other greenery and as you pass through, the long walkway opens into a breathtaking view of the bay dotted with grasses and lone trees. Go to the end and take in the beauty of the entire space. When you’re done there, keep going toward the Lakeside area, you’ll notice that it’s lined with a canopy of arching trees that create a beautiful dance of contrasting light and dark. It’s worth just driving through it to enjoy the natural beauty. Beyond that, the golf grounds are pristine and lush, the beach is gorgeous, and everything is freshly landscaped. There is not a lack of beautiful spots in Sandestin, so find your favorite locale.

Osprey Pointe – Accommodations

Near the Marina and Baytowne Wharf, the luxurious Osprey Pointe has 2, 3, and 4-bedroom condos that are great for couples, groups, and families. The second you enter the spacious condo, you feel right at home. With all the bells and whistles, the impeccably decorated kitchen has a full group of appliances and everything you’d need to make a meal! The kitchen is open to the living space and looks out onto the beautifully landscaped bay nearby. Out on the patio, you could sit all day and gaze at the bay view! This 2-bedroom has 2 bathrooms, and the master is spacious and has a huge, sparkling master bath with two showers! Beyond the beautiful condo, Osprey Pointe boasts a beautiful pool with a ton of seating, tables, and shade! So, take a dip in the pool, then take a bike ride or walk down to the Marina and Baytowne Wharf. It’s just minutes away. Even if Osprey Pointe isn’t for you, they have so many accommodation options from beachfront to bayfront.

Beach

Speaking of Beachfront, the wooden walkway maneuvers gracefully through the large sandy dunes and opens onto a spectacularly white and pristine beach. Dotted with blue, branded chairs, people lounge in the shade, build sandcastles, and play in the clear, blue-green water. Beyond relaxing and gazing at the beautiful water, there’s so much to do at Sandestin Beachside! You can grab a drink at the beach bar on the beach, lounge in a beach chair and umbrella with a good book, stay for lunch at The Beach House, get a sandcastle building lesson, or even take a ride on a jet ski or kayak.  We’d recommend a key lime daiquiri from The Beach House, then opt for a pair of chairs and an umbrella to enjoy the natural beauty of the beach!

Marina

Rows and rows of all types of boats bob up and down as the water ebbs and flows in the beautiful bay. Diners at the Marina Bar and Grill sip on cocktails and bite into tasty tacos, as they watch the sun set over the boats and disappears into the horizon. The Marina Bar and Grill is a chill little outdoor spot on the Marina with some serious eats like the grouper sandwich and fried fish tacos! Wash it down with a cocktail! Plus, they have a spot that you can bring your own fish, clean it, and they will cook it for you right there!! On one side of the restaurant is the resident Macaw, Mary Ann. She is out during the day when the Marina Bar and Grill is open and is a great photo op for you to catch. She was born in 2010, and did you know Macaws can live 50 years?

Next to the restaurant and set back from the water is the bike rental where a row of bikes are available for Sandestin guests and owners to use at their leisure. It’s so easy to bike around Sandestin, and beyond the golf cart parade we witnessed daily, is the preferred way to get around. On the other side of the lot is where you can rent kayaks and water toys to explore the bay even more.

Our favorite spot at the bay, is the wooden path between the Marina and Baytowne Wharf. Entering next to the Marina Bar and Grill, the thick trees feel like a jungle on one side with beautiful Marina and water views on the other. As you walk, the wooden path winds through the trees and views of the Marina and the boats are stunning. Stop off at the treehouse for the best top views of the entire area! As you find your way around from there, you’ll come upon a long wooden bridge where the marshy grounds turn into a beautiful stream and empties into the bay. It’s gorgeous. You’re reward is at the end with Baytowne Wharf upon you.

Baytowne Wharf

THE spot to shop, dine, and drink IS Baytowne Wharf. Taking a tour in a circle, your greeted with the sound of children laughing on the brightly lit carousel. Beyond that everything a child could want waits for them with an arcade, sweet shops, games, and a ton of activities! If you follow the circle around from there is where the dining and drinking options start. If you like bull riding or country music is your thing, they have it. If you want to sit with the view of the bay while you sip and nosh, they have that too at Hammerheads and Village Door. Village Door has a large 40 oz cocktail with a souvenir cup so you can remember your time there, plus they also have a great spot to eat on the bay. Hammerheads has a fantastic happy hour daily from 4 to 6 pm. We’d suggest grabbing a seat right at 4 pm on the water!

Sandestin doesn’t have a lack of places to see the sunset, so you should stay for the sunset here and walk out to the Wharf Pier and watch the sun disappear into the watery horizon. For the kiddos, they have fish food you can purchase and feed the fish below.

Continuing the circle, there’s a street that mimics New Orleans! That’s our favorite spot in Baytowne Wharf with several food and drink spots like Hartell’s Diner and Fat Tuesday, as well as a row of cute shops! Fat Tuesdays has great deals on daiquiris for $8 bucks and a shot for $1 extra. We’d recommend the Miami Vice or 44 Magnum. Plus if you’re looking for a fun evening out? Start at Fat Tuesday, then head over to Rum Runners for a dueling piano experience. You can pick your favorite songs for the piano players to sing, take a seat, and sing along!

Our favorite restaurant in the Wharf has to be The Marlin Grill. We stopped by there for dinner our first night and we fell in love with the Roasted Duck and the Scottish Salmon appetizer. Please make sure to make a reservation because they’re always busy or cross your fingers for a spot at the bar.

Hotel Effie

Only steps from Baytowne Wharf, Upscale, modern, yet, inviting, Hotel Effie is THE SPOT to stay in Sandestin. She is adorned with Ara Rooftop Bar where a luxurious rooftop pool meets the sky, cabanas, and a stunning almost 360 view of the entire Sandestin grounds. Stop by for a fantastic Toasted Coconut daiquiri and catch the sunset from multiple views! Downstairs, you should also visit the newest and hands-down best restaurant in Sandestin, Ovide. From Atlanta Chef, Hugh Acheson, this lavish dining spot has wonderfully crafted cocktails like the grapefruit forward Sun Kissed or our favorite cocktail, Shore Leave. They have fantastic dishes like the stellar filet mignon, flavorful blackened mahi mahi, uniquely good farm egg, rich prime beef tartare. We’d recommend anything on this menu, it’s that good.

As the gates closed on our time at Sandestin, we reminisced about our favorite memories and thought about all the wonderful food, drinks, and sunsets we got to witness. We felt we actually needed more time to explore even more that Sandestin had to offer. We’d recommend at least 4 nights to get the full experience. What would you like to experience most?

Sandestin, FL is located in Miramar Beach, FL in between Destin and Santa Rosa Beach on the Emerald Coast.

Website: Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort | Your Place in the Sun

THE TRAVEL & ADVENTURE SHOW IS COMING TO ATLANTA

Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 2/16/20
Discover Hundreds of Vacation Destinations from Around the World and Meet With Travel Experts and More 
The nationally acclaimed Travel & Adventure Show is descending upon Atlanta this March for its first time ever at Cobb Galleria Centre on Saturday, February 29 and March 1, 2020.  Attendees will have an opportunity to explore endless vacation options, plan trips with travel experts, attend dozens of educational seminars with renowned experts, dive into faraway cultures at the Global Beats Stage, win trips and more.
Guests will also have the opportunity to meet travel celebrities including Samantha Brown, host of PBS’s “Samantha Brown’s Places to Love”, Peter Greenberg, Emmy Award-Winning Investigative Reporter, Producer, Josh Gates, host of Discover Channel’s “Expedition Unknown”, and many more.  Advanced pricing: $9 for a one-day adult ticket / $16 for a two-day adult ticket (promotion ends February 28, 2020 at 11:59pm ET) Tickets are available starting at $12 for a one-day pass and $20 for a two-day pass on site. Active men and women in the U.S. armed forces are invited to present a military identification prior to the event or at Will Call for free admission for up to four members of their family.  For more information or to purchase tickets, visit travelshows.com/shows/atlanta/.