We just got back from the best vacation– a road trip that took us from Indiana through Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. We, of course, loved where we stayed, but had such a great time between the stops, too, as we were talking, listening to music, and watching the scenery go by as we drove. Tim is a southerner himself, having been born and raised in North Carolina and then living in Tennessee for a few years before we met in Nashville, and although I was born and raised here in Indiana, I have always had a strong affinity for the South– I love the friendly people, the food, and the slower pace, and I absolutely adored my time in Nashville during undergrad. So when it came time to choose a route for my 29 before 30 road trip, the South was a natural choice.
I’ve mentioned on here before that I plan vacations around food, and we ate like absolute kings on this trip. We also got to see both the mountains and the ocean, and we stayed in really residential areas in AirBnb’s the whole time (outside of a downtown hotel in Savannah) in order to both save money and get the experience of a local. So great.
Here a few highlights from each stop:
Midway, KY: Our very first vacation meal was breakfast in Midway on our way to Asheville. Midway is between Louisville and Lexington, right in the middle of bourbon and horse farm country. It was such a beautiful little place to make a pit stop, and we headed to the Midway School Bakery for country ham, egg, and cheese biscuits which were amazing. I can’t wait to go back!
Asheville, NC: This free-spirited, foodie-centric mountain town was right up our alley. Not only is Asheville totally gorgeous, but it has an unspoiled quality to it– it’s cool without trying too hard. The RAD (River Arts District) is full of great studios and co-ops where you can see artists working on new pieces while their other work is on display. We had the best time wandering around this area and poking in and out of various studios. The RAD was walkable from West Asheville, which was where we stayed and was a great home-base for us. We had so much great food in Asheville, but my favorites were probably our lunch at White Duck Taco Shop, a dinner at The Admiral, and the best donuts I’ve ever had in my life (no, seriously) at Hole Donuts. One of my favorite things we did in Asheville was drive a portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway. We drove up to Mount Pisgah, which was probably one of the most beautiful scenic drives I’ve ever experienced. We chose not to do the Biltmore on this trip because it’s pretty pricey and we also were only in town for two days, but I could definitely see us doing it on a return trip.
Durham and Chapel Hill, NC: Our next stop was a day trip through the campuses of Duke University and the University of North Carolina. My husband and I are both huge college basketball fans (with Tim being a die-hard Duke fan), so we wanted to take pictures by these famous basketball arenas. Tim got his picture in Krzyzewskiville and by Cameron Indoor, but unfortunately we were there on Memorial Day and couldn’t get into the museum/hall of fame there. Next, we visited the Dean Dome and wandered through UNC’s campus, which is the oldest state college in America. It’s probably the most beautiful college campus I’ve ever seen outside of IU. We had fantastic BBQ with Tim’s family in Chapel Hill at The Pig and stayed the night in Burlington, NC with Tim’s dad before heading out for more vacation the next day.
Charleston, SC: There are so many museums in Charleston, but all you have to do is walk around the downtown area and you are immediately surrounded by so much Revolutionary and Civil War history. We loved looking around the cemetery at St. Michael’s and reading the historical preservation signs on the houses from the 1700s. The gas lamps, breeze from the coast, and Spanish moss hanging from the southern live oaks make Charleston ridiculously romantic, too. We fully exploited the access to fresh seafood and had particularly memorable meals at The Ordinary and Leon’s Oyster Shop. Charleston is so perfectly situated with a handful of great beaches so close by, and we enjoyed two of them: we laid out and swam in the ocean at Folly Beach and had ridiculously great Italian fare at The Obstinate Daughter on Sullivan’s Island. We also loved the area we stayed in Charleston: near Hampton Park in a really pretty up-and-coming residential area that was about a mile walk to some great Upper King cafes, bars, and restaurants.
Savannah, GA: We had only planned our stays in Asheville and Charleston and decided to leave the rest of our itinerary up in the air so we could make decisions on the fly depending on how we felt. After two days in Charleston, we decided that Savannah being under 2 hours away was too tempting and we’d have to go see it. We took a really beautiful and scenic route down highway 17 and made stops at the Angel Oak (which is HUGE and estimated to be 300-500 years old) and Beaufort (the second oldest town in South Carolina) along the way. Savannah has that same charm from the Spanish moss and southern live oaks, but also has block after block of gorgeous squares. It may be the prettiest city I have ever seen in the US. We had great burgers at The Public, and enjoyed rooftop cocktails while overlooking the Savannah River at the Top Deck Bar. We also loved wandering around Savannah with drinks in hand due to it’s open container freedom a-la-New Orleans. One thing I’m dying to go back and do is a nighttime ghost tour. They were all sold out while we were there, but we did have the happy accident of wandering into the bar at 17Hundred90 which is supposedly haunted and was also just such a cool place that was filled with locals.
Nashville, TN: My love for this town is evident. I grew up traveling to Nashville often as a kid, and then jumped at the chance to go to college there. It’s the place where I met my husband and we had our wedding, so it will always hold a really special place in our hearts. Therefore, a road trip through the South wouldn’t be complete for us without a stop in Nashville. Even though we were only there one night, let it suffice to say we made the most of it!
List accomplishments as of last post:
- I made sauteed onions and peppers to go along with brats before we left on vacation last week– an Ina recipe, so you know it was good! Clearly, I cooked nothing while on our trip, so look for two recipes in next week’s post.
- Not only did I complete my road trip, but I also checked off ordering the most expensive bottle of bubbles at a restaurant! It was French, made exclusively of pinot noir, and paired with oysters, so let’s just say it was perfect.
- I wrote every day while on vacation and took a ton of pictures! Here are a few below:
The biscuit from Midway School Bakery
Climbing a tree over the French Broad River along the Blue Ridge Parkway
The spread at The Pig
Before dinner at The Ordinary
A square in Savannah
Driving into Nashville at sunset