Cozy up in the Mountains: Enjoy a Long Weekend in Highlands, NC

Cozy up in the Mountains: Enjoy a Long Weekend in Highlands, NC
Words by Ashley Hurst

November is the perfect time to head over to Highlands, North Carolina. Featuring music, food, wine, craft beer, cocktails, and community events, Highlands Food & Wine Festival is the can’t-miss event of the year, and we have the inside scoop for rounding out your festival experience. And on the off-chance you’ll miss this year’s festival, you can still enjoy a long weekend in Highlands, North Carolina, and hit all of these great spots! Nature-loving visitors will be dazzled by stunning views from a plethora of hiking trails, peaks, and waterfalls. A hike to Sunset Rock is the perfect way to start your morning—an easy 1.2 mile trip, the stunning fall views are worth every step. Or walk off brunch and get a glimpse of the Highlands plateau’s natural beauty and history with a hike through the Nantahala National Forest. Enjoy unique winter views of the area’s mountains and waterfalls. Whether you want to spend the day on a multi-mile hike, or just take a quick walk, there are plenty of options to choose from—but be sure to bundle up! And if the weather is a bit chiller than anticipated, pay a visit to Highland Hiker or TJ Bailey’s and find everything you need to stay warm and ‘mountain chic.’

If you’d prefer to stay closer to town, start your day with a relaxing spa service at Old Edwards Inn. They offer services ranging from massages to immersive bath rituals to hair, nail, and makeup treatments—all designed to recharge your body and spirit. After a morning at the spa, enjoy breakfast at the Blue Bike Café. The café is easily walkable from downtown (about a four-minute walk from the Old Edwards Inn) and has a great atmosphere—dine inside or on the outdoor patio. Stop in for a cup of coffee at Bucks’ Coffee and then stroll over to the Bascom, where you can see world class ceramics and art exhibitions. Before you leave, visit the Bascom Shop to find unique regional and local artistic treasures.

Get a bite at Ugly Dog Pub, which offers a casual menu with chef-created sandwiches, burgers, salads, and soups, or grab some snacks at Mountain Fresh Grocery. They have a variety of specialty products as well as incredible baked goods, pizza, sandwiches, and more. If you’re craving something with Asian flair, stop by Wild Thyme, or hit up Tug’s Proper for American contemporary dishes. If you’re a night owl, catch some late-night grooves at High Dive. However you decide to spend your weekend, be sure to make some time for our favorite thing to do in Highlands—snuggle up by the fireplace at your house or hotel, or cozy up with a cocktail at Hummingbird Lounge!


• Beginning at 11:00 A.M. Friday and Saturday, Sip & Shop along iconic Main Street with wine tastings and gourmet food pairings at all 15 retail locations, capped by a 4 p.m. reception at Park on Main Hotel.

• At 12:00 P.M. Friday, make your way over to the Truckin’ Event, part of the Highlands Food & Wine Festival, held outside the Bascom Center for Visual Arts. Enjoy beers from 10 different breweries, including Bell’s Brewery, Highland Brewing and Wicked Weed while grooving to the country-folk sound of The Wood Brothers.

• Head over to the Main Event at 12:00 P.M. Saturday to enjoy a live performance from Southern soul singer Anderson East, an oyster roast and raw bar, and culinary selections from more than 10 regional chefs, including from Crook’s Corner, Southern Baked Pie Company and more. Plus, wine, cocktails and craft beers.

• Staying for the wine dinner presented by the Highlands Food & Wine? Learn from two Master Sommeliers about wine-tasting, wine-making and the life of a sommelier.

• The Highlands Food & Wine Festival winds down with the Sunday Shindig at 12 noon, but the party’s not over. Grab a Bloody Mary and kick your boots to the Infamous Stringdusters. Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, Miller’s All Day and The Refuge are just the beginning of Sunday’s culinary lineup.