It took me a while to break out of the weekend coma that Jackson County had put me in. After writing this blog post, I was put into a serious state of self-inflicted FOMO. I wish I was still there riding horses, drinking coffee on the large porch listening to the rain, exploring the local shops, and eating the most delicious meals.
I was invited by Jackson County Tourism to explore their breathtaking and adventurous county. They even let me bring my best friend! I mean, what’s a weekend getaway without your partner in crime? The weekend was unbelievable! I’m so excited to share my photos with you!
Grab some tea and coffee, and enjoy! Have a great Friday, everyone! (P.S. there is an impromptu video with a collage of our insta stories/snap chats included)
Becca and I drove up to Sylva, NC and arrived at the Balsam Mountain Inn. This is where we stayed for the weekend, and it was like something out of a movie! The drive from Charlotte only took two and a half hours, so it’s an ideal weekend getaway. Coat Details ♥
We arrived at a perfect time. All of the fall foliage was in full force, and it couldn’t have been any more inviting.
We walked around exploring the inn and our room. It was adorable! I fell in love with the decor, and I plan on decorating my room with some of the inspiration I pulled. After our little exploring adventure, we headed down to the hotel lobby to meet the group we’d be hanging out with all weekend.
We all introduced ourselves, and I instantly knew this was going to be a fun trip! We left the Inn around noon and headed out to grab lunch at Lee’s at the Depot.
Lee’s at the Depot is a great spot for lunch or dinner in downtown Dillsboro, N.C. It’s located right on the railroad tracks. When the weather is nice, you can sit outside on their outdoor patio, or find plenty of space in their dining room, or around the bar. This was a great place to start my Jackson County trip. Our waiter set the bar high for friendliness. I’ve never been to a place with kinder people. Jackson County left me in a good mood.
They had so much on the menu! I thought their hummus wrap sounded so good, so I went with that and a side of quinoa. The hummus wrap had mixed greens, carrots, cucumbers, red onion, tomato & a spicy dipping sauce.
After lunch, we made our way to the Smokemont Riding Stables! It was kind of funny because we were sitting around the table talking about how you had no excuse to be late in the mountains because there is never any traffic, but on the way to the stables, we got caught in a traffic jam. The traffic was caused by the field of elk. Everyone was stopping to take photos! Not going to lie, the elk were very beautiful.
Left: Melissa (Pineapple PR) Emily-Sarah Lineback (Writer & a beautiful person with the sweetest soul!), Jeff Barganier (retired lawyer & writer), Becca (Best friend, Photographer, and annoyingly cool), ME!!, and Haley (Pineapple PR)
We all instantly became friends!
We had a two hour horseback ride on the trails. We passed beautiful creeks, experienced the changing of the leaves, and enjoyed the gorgeous waterfall views. Becca and I took about a billion photos.
The stables impressed me. Our guides took a lot of photos, filled us with facts about the trails, and totally took all of my “dad jokes.” It was a really fun environment, and I highly recommend visiting their stables.
Outfit Details: •Steve Madden Boots (I bought them last year for $120 & now they are $29.99)• H&M Sweater• AE Dark Wash Jeans/Jeggings • My coat is out of stock everywhere, but I found a similar one that I may end up buying because it’s so cute. Here is a similar one.
On our way back from the stables, we decided to stop and take photos of the beautiful elk. It was perfect with the moon shining above them in the field. Everywhere you go in Jackson County is picture-perfect, and I can see why a lot of movies are filmed in the area.
We headed to the cute little town in Sylva, N.C. for dinner. This quaint downtown area was like a dream. Families were walking around eating ice cream cones, sipping coffees, and browsing shops. This is the type of town you dream about, but think they only exist in movies.
We stopped into Lulu’s Cafe for dinner. It was the cutest little place with a ton of fall decor. I always appreciate good fall decor. Everyone was very welcoming, and we were seated right away. We were in for a real treat…
I was not expecting our food to come out the way it did. I’ve been to high-end restaurants in Charlotte, and they don’t stand a chance against the food at Lulu’s. There was so much on the menu to choose from and food for almost any lifestyle/diet. Lulu’s Cafe is known for fresh seafood, hormone-free, humanely raised proteins, farm-to-table and fresh local foods. There is one talented chef in that kitchen.
We decided to share some appetizers.
First up, the portabello mushrooms! You all know I don’t eat mushrooms, but these were tasty, and I had no problem downing one. They are grilled and marinated in citrus and served with crispy bread, gorgonzola dressing and lemon oil.
Our waitress recommended fried green tomatoes for our next starter, and who in their right mind says no to a fried green tomato? These were out of this world! The fried green tomatoes were topped with crab meat creole remoulade. How fancy and unique is that!?
I want to drive back to Sylva just to have dinner with my boyfriend here. I know he’d love it. I know anyone would love it!
And the grand finale, my entre. I ordered the cedar plank salmon! This was one of the best tasting salmons I have ever had. It’s way up there on my salmon scale. The grilled Atlantic salmon was topped with grilled strawberries, onions, basil compote, and served with rice pilaf and buttery brussels sprouts. I thought I’d only eat half and take the rest back with me, but after the first bite, I knew it didn’t stand a chance. GONE! All of it. Becca ordered their grilled chicken Greek salad, and she said it was probably one of the best Greek salads she has ever eaten.
Please write this place down and make it a MUST on your places to eat. I wish I would have had room for dessert because I bet that is out of this world too.
We were all zonked, so we headed back to the Inn for a good night’s sleep. Of course, Becca and I stayed up late reading up on the history of the inn and trying to figure out if it was haunted or not. We are both obsessed with that kind of stuff, and we do it everywhere we go.
I fell asleep around midnight and slept like a baby throughout the night. I was excited for Saturday’s adventures.
We woke up at 6 am to have coffee and get ready before we headed out to go fly fishing! The Inn offered fresh coffee in the library for the early risers. We sat in the library for a while chatting with some visitors, who had been coming to the inn for years. I talked with a man named, Russ. He was also an early riser who loved free coffee. He was a jokester and I appreciated that. He gave me tons of tips on what to do in the area, and some fly fishing tips! He said it was OK to fly fish in the rain because the fish and the water were already wet. So I felt better about that 🙂 He has been coming to the Inn for the past thirty years for his anniversary with his wife.
I wasn’t expecting this place when we pulled up. When I think of a “coffee shop,” I think of espresso machines, wifi, and scones sitting in a glass case on the counter. When I heard we were going to The Coffee Shop for breakfast, I didn’t think any differently.
We pulled up to a diner-like restaurant that had the aroma of fresh coffee and cooked bacon floating up through their vents into the sky. You could wake up an entire county with smells like that. The cozy decor, the staff, and the comforting vibe made us feel so welcomed. All of the meals on the menu are homecooked and less than $10. That’s hard to find nowadays. I think one of the coolest parts of this place is that they opened in 1926 and the menu hasn’t changed much since. I’m just going to say this again “1926.” Just wow, but I’m not surprised at its success. It was cool seeing the locals enjoy coffee and breakfast in the early hours on Saturday morning. You can tell these are the people that have been coming every Saturday since they were little. Even though they knew we weren’t from around there, they were quick to say “hello” and offer us a friendly conversation. Who needs wifi when you can have real people to chat with?
I ordered bacon, two over-easy eggs, and oats! All fantastic! I can see why people return there and why they are still thriving after all of these years. This breakfast experience couldn’t have been any better. What a great way to start the day! Oh, and before I forget…They get five stars on their coffee!
I was excited to go fly fishing. I had been talking about it for weeks before the trip. I had never been before, but it looked like so much fun. And what better place to go fly fishing than in the home of the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail!
The Western North Carolina fly fishing trail maps out fifteen prime spots in the crystal clear streams of the Smoky Mountains to catch brown, rainbow, and brook trout! (You can find more about the fishing scene on the Discover Jackson County Website!)
We went fishing with the Tuckaseegee Fly Shop! They were so fun, and we had the best guide ever!
When we got there, they geared us up, we headed out with our guide, and we got straight to the fishing. They wasted no time getting us out there.
We weren’t blessed with great weather on Saturday, but I think that made the adventure even more fun! The rain had been pouring all day, and the creek was high, but I loved the rush. I was also surprised at how comfortable the fly fishing suit (is that what you call them?) was. I would have been fine wearing it all day.
When you get out to the trail, you hop down into the water and walk to your perfect fishing spot. Fly fishing is incredibly relaxing. Listening to the rush of the water, being outdoors close to nature, and just “being” was really nice. If I lived closer, I’d be fly fishing weekly. I enjoyed myself so much that I forgot that it was pouring down rain and barely fifty degrees.
Even though I didn’t catch anything (other than my pant leg a couple of times and four big leaves), it was an amazing experience.
This was the road we fly fished off of. How beautiful! Everywhere we went in Jackson County was beautiful. Fall does it right there. We headed back to Tuckaseegee Fly Shop three hours later with zero fish, but with experience, we’d never forget.
We hopped into the bookstore next door to the Tuckaseegee Fly shop. We couldn’t help ourselves as we walked by the window. You know that feeling you get when you’re a kid, and you walk by a candy shop that you just really want to go into? That’s how we felt. The owner was very helpful. He knew exactly what Becca was looking for and had so much knowledge of different authors. Becca found several books she had been searching for for a while now. I couldn’t stop staring at the owner because he looked just like Josh Groban. He probably thought I was a weirdo(well, I kind of am.) Oh, and the name of the bookstore is Harry Alter Books!
After our fly fishing adventure, we headed to an adorable spot for lunch, The Well House!
The Well House has been open and serving gourmet deli sandwiches and delicious meals since 1977! When a place is open for that long, it’s because you know it’s good! The Well House makes homemade soups, wraps, and they even smoke their BBQ! And if you’re looking for a tasty prime rib dinner, Thursdays and Friday evenings are the time to go! It’s also a great spot if you want a quick grab and go meal! I know I keep repeating myself but…THE PEOPLE OF THIS COUNTY ARE SO STINKING NICE!! I ordered a chicken salad and split some chili with Becca.
But, you know how Becca and I roll. We roll on coffee, cameras, and little sleep when we are in exploration mode. We decided to hop in the jeep and explore the back roads until we were lost. And when you are lost, you’re literally lost. GPS isn’t a thing unless you have phone service, which we did not.
After getting lost four about forty-five minutes, we found a coffee shop! We stopped at Smokey Mountain Coffee Roasters for soy lattes and americanos. Hello, caffeine!
We enjoyed our coffee drinks and drove around a bit longer to take photos of all the fall foliage.
We may have stopped for a donut along the way…:)
We finally got back to the main road that we recognized and made our way back to the Inn. It was pouring outside, but the perfect weather for drinking coffee on the giant porch at the inn. We had about fifteen minutes to throw on dry clothes, brush our hair, teeth, and head downstairs to meet up for another adventure! I’m all for the non-stop activities.
Our first afternoon stop, Jackson County Green Energy Park. The Green Energy Park sits on top of an old landfill. They use the methane from the landfill to create energy. They use the energy from the methane to create beautiful art. The park has a studio for glassblowing, blacksmith forges, and pottery kilns. It’s so neat to see because they are one of the only art studios powered by renewable energy in the entire world. How incredible is that? The park also has a breathtaking art gallery that displays pieces by the talented artist that make magic at the Green Energy Park. We watched Emily, the girl above, make a gorgeous glass vase with glass flower details. You can see her gallery here! She was so sweet and explained the whole process to us. I highly recommend taking a tour of the GEP! Our tour guide was so knowledgeable and we learned so much. We visited some local pottery shops after leaving the Green Energy Park.
We headed to the Treehouse Pottery shop first. You can check out the map of pottery shops in Jackson County here. We met one of the owners and artist that works in the shop. Meet, Joe Frank! He is a very talented artist that holds a fine arts degree, is a member of Southern Highlands craft guild, and co-founded the Western North Carolina Pottery Festival. It’s held in Dillsboro each fall, and it’s a pretty big deal!
We had the opportunity to watch him create this piece with feathers and horsehair. It was really neat to watch, and it smelled like toasted marshmallows 🙂
Our next stop was the wonderful Riverwood Pottery Shop & Studio. This family has been creating gorgeous art for years, and we were lucky enough to watch them in action. Their fire glazed stoneware and wood-fired salt ware were breathtaking. I’d love to fill my coffee mug collection with their work.
Brant Barnes and his wife, Karen, showed us just how they create their masterpieces. What I loved about watching them is how happy they were. You can tell how much they genuinely love what they do. They didn’t settle for the 9-5, they chose the lifestyle and job that made them happy. Their eyes lit up as they told us their story. You can tell they’ve told their life story many times, but I loved the pride that radiated from their faces as they were telling it. They were talented but even more inspirational.
We headed to Innovation Brewing for some afternoon beer flights, and to learn all about their brewery scene.
I’ve never been one to look at a brewery as impressive. I’m a coffee shop and the occasional wine bar type of girl. But, Innovation Brewing changed my entire perception of the brewery scene. It’s truly a craft. No pun intended.
We had the opportunity to tour Innovation brewing with the owner, Chip Owen. You can tell he had his hands full, literally. He was working an impressively packed brewery on a rainy Saturday while keeping an eye on his adorable one year old. Yup, that’s him crawling in my photo. Chip told us that he was once so broke after getting his engineering degree that he started brewing his beers at home. His passion turned into a living dream when he opened up Innovation Brewing. Opening up the brewery wasn’t easy. He did most of the building himself with the help of friends and family. He built all the tables, put together the design, and remained hands-on the entire time. All of that hard work paid off because the brewery is a huge success. It sits on the river and has beautiful views from the outdoor patio. Innovation Brewing was such a success that he’s turning the spot next door into a pizzeria. He walked us over to show us the progress and the brick oven sitting in the middle of the future restaurant was breathtaking. It was crafted with tile art. I can’t wait to visit once it’s open and have a slice of pizza from the giant oven!
And then the fun began! It was beer time!
We all had our own flight. I went with some fruity and hoppy choices. It was hard to choose flavors because they had so many on their menu. I went with the hoppy camper, cherry sour, peach apricot, mango guava, and noble apple cider. My favorite was the noble apple cider and hoppy camper! I liked them all though.
We walked in the pouring rain all the way (1 minute) to Balsams Falls Brewing. I sorta forgot it was Halloween weekend until we walked through the doors and the entire staff was decked out in costumes from head to toe. I think one of the guys working there was dressed up as a carrot. We aren’t for sure though! He had green spiked hair, an orange shirt, and orange pants. What else could he have been?
As soon as you walk in, you are blown away by the amazing aroma of fresh popcorn. We were also excited to see Jenga sitting on one of the tables. Get this. Sorry, Jeff, but I have to call you out. Jeff is a retired lawyer/book author and writer, who has never heard of Jenga. WHAT? We ordered a flight of Balsam Falls Brewing crafts and instantly turned this into a competitive Jenga drinking game. As a way to sample the beer, you took a sip and then pulled a block from the tower. We got around to almost every single beer flavor before the tour came toppling down on Jeff on the 26th turn. I guess beginners luck wasn’t in Jeff’s favor 😉
Of course, my favorite was the pumpkin beer!
Next stop, dinner at Soul Infusion. I declare that this county should officially be king of the casual restaurant atmospheres with five-star restaurant food. Seriously. The food at Soul Infusion was NO JOKE.
Soul Infusion is nestled within the Appalachian mountain in Sylva N.C. It’s surrounded by the Blue Ridge Parkway! It’s a friendly and adorable tea house that specializes in organic loose-leaf premium teas. What a perfect place to warm up in the winter.
The menu went on forever and personalizing your food; there is no problem because everything is made in-house. Soul Infusion offers vegan, vegetarian, and pretty much anything for any diet/lifestyle. There is a reason that this cute little gem has almost five stars on Yelp, and that is difficult to do when you’ve been open for so long.
The food was so so so fresh and colorful. I’ve been vocal on my blog about my non-existence love for blue cheese and buffalo sauce. I had one bite of their buffalo-style nachos, and then another, and another. It was THAT good. It just about converted me.
I ordered their cobb salad, and it ended up being massive. My salad had bacon, turkey, chicken, avocado, onion, tomatoes, hardboiled eggs, and spring mix lettuce with a side of their herbed vinaigrette. I planned on only eating half. HA! Those plans were a joke. That salad stood no chance of survival.
They also had a coconut curry soup as a special that the group was raving about.
Stop at Soul Infusion if you can. It’s something you’ll want to experience. The owner was so friendly to us, and I’m not kidding when I say that. She hugged each one of us before leaving and sent us back with homemade chocolate cake. I’m about to put a for sale sign up in my yard and just move there already.
Becca and I woke up at 6 AM to grab a coffee and get dressed before having breakfast and going out on a morning hike. It was cold, and the first snowfall of the year! It was breathtaking though.
The Sunday morning at the Inn was so cozy and quiet. It’s a great place to have coffee and read a good book. Or, a great spot for Wifi access 😉 I don’t understand non-morning people. This is what you’re missing out on. I’m not a night person, so you could say the same about me.
I slept for about an hour or two on Saturday night. The storm and winds were loud, and our window kept slamming. I refused to get up because I was convinced it was a ghost and some weird haunted stuff was going on. The room was FREEZING! When I went to see what was slamming the window (when the sun came up obviously), I saw that we left it open the night before. That’s why it was so cold and why it kept slamming. It turns out it wasn’t a ghost at all. Becca somehow slept through the entire thing. She also slept through the part where I put my ice-cold feet on her back to warm up. Haha! This makes up for me bragging to her about how well I slept on Friday night when she had trouble sleeping.
Even though I had no sleep, I smiled through the bags under my eyes because I was so happy to be living in that moment. Coffee on the porch while watching the snowfall over the beautiful colored trees.
We headed down to the dining room at the Basalm Mountain Inn for a delicious breakfast.
The breakfast buffet was impressive. They had french toast, all kinds of cereals, bacon, biscuits and gravy, eggs, fresh fruit, yogurt, and more! I had about four cups of coffee to drink life back into me.
After breakfast, we sadly packed up our things, checked out, and headed up to the Blue Ridge Parkway to do the Richland Balsam Hike. When we got to the trailhead, a ranger told us that the trail was closed because of the snowy weather. I will make sure to do this hike next time!
We hit up the plan b. the Bridge Loop Trail in Sylva.
Jackson County is filled with places to raft, fish, see waterfalls, swim, hike, ziplining, horseback ride, and so much more! Check out the website for details on outdoor adventures! Ziplining and rafting are on my to-do list for the summer!
The hike was so beautiful. I think the snowfall made it even better.
Leggings // Asics // Hat <<–Dick’s Sporting Goods has the hat in like twenty different colors for $11.99
This was an incredible ending to the weekend together. It’s amazing what is out there waiting to be discovered right next to your backyard. I was so inspired by this trip to get out more. I am so grateful that Discover Jackson County and the wonderful ladies at Pineapple PR included me on this trip! They were such a fun group, and it just felt like a fun weekend away with friends.
After saying our goodbyes, Becca and I took off for Charlotte. We decided to make a few quick stops first.
We had to take photos at their awesome courthouse! I look ridiculous in the right photo and I love it! Thats a face of no sleep and happiness. Their courthouse overlooks the beautiful town of Sylva.
We agreed we’d be back as soon as we left.
We stopped at Dillsboro Chocolate Factory for coffee, fudge, and chocolates to take back with us! I also bought a bag of dog treats for the pups. Another great place for chocolates is Baxley’s Chocolates in Sylva.
Jackson County now holds a place dear to my heart. I loved every moment, and I can’t wait to bring my family back here to make memories all over again. To the people that live in Jackson County, you are incredibly lucky to be living in such a beautiful place. Your hospitality and love for your county will never be forgotten!
If you have any questions about our trip, please feel free to ask away! I’d be glad to answer any of them 🙂
Questions for you!
- What part of this trip looked like fun to you?
- Have you ever been fly fishing or horseback riding?
Disclosure! Some of the outfit links are affiliate! Thanks for keeping this blog alive. This post is not sponsored by Jackson County, but they did cover my cost for the trip!