Travel - August 12, 2016

Highlands, NC City Guide

Highlands, NC City Guide - What to do, where to eat, where to stay

Hey y’all! I’m officially back in Dallas and to the grind. I’d been away for a week or so, and one of the places I visited was Highlands, North Carolina. I went with my family and fully embraced vacation and this beautiful town.

Highlands is a popular summer spot – especially for people from Atlanta and Louisiana – and a welcomed break from the Texas heat. Like, refreshing to be outside?! Where am I?? Mmm, bring me back! It’s a fairly small town, but blows up in the summer as a lot people spend their entire summer here. The dream, right?

Highlands, NC City Guide

It’s up in the mountains of NC which is crazy because you hop in the car from Atlanta, drive 2.5 hours, then land in the middle of this magical tree-filled mountain town. I was shocked that a place like this existed so close to big cities. Also, I learned that it’s one of the two RAINFORESTS in North America. I mean, that’s pretty darn cool, right?

We took full advantage of the outdoors, did a lot of mind clearing, and completely recharged. OK and we drank a lot of wine, fine.

This is the ideal place for a family trip, a romantic getaway, a girl’s weekend…or just to spend the rest of your life, ya know?

Where to Stay in Highlands, NC

Highlands, NC City Guide - Old Edwards Inn Bedroom

Old Edward’s Inn

Old Edward’s Inn is literally reason enough to visit Highlands. It has a very European feel and looks like an chateau, but  modernized. Each room has a historic feel, and the design of the walls – most of it is stone throughout – is unique. And YOU GUYS – the Spa there.

Highlands, NC City Guide - Old Edwards Inn Spa Cozy Fire Place Seating
Highlands, NC City Guide - Old Edwards Inn Spa Cozy in Robe by the fire

I can’t even explain how AH-mazzzzing it is!! It’s probably my favorite spa I’ve ever been to. I love the relaxation room – I’m pretty sure I could spend an entire week in the spa alone (wait, actually I’m confident I could!) Definitely one of the nicest I’ve been too. There’s a golf course too, which I was able to visit during my stay and oh em gee – it’s PRETTY.

The Park on Main

The Park On Main is in the perfect location for anyone wanting to stroll around town for shopping or eating/drinking (just like Old Edward’s). A lot of the rooms are recently renovated, so it’s very clean – plus rooms are huge. It’s dog friendly (but you’d never know) so this is ideal for anyone with a pup. It’s a very cute spot.

Highlands, NC City Guide - Half Mile Farm
Highlands, NC City Guide - Half Mile Farm

Half Maile Farm

Half Mile Farm (owned by the same people as Old Edwards) is a gorgeous country-style inn. It’s built on a big piece of land – all rolling hills – and there’s a lake (Apple Lake) where you can canoe and relax. A lot of the rooms have fireplaces and this is definitely where I’d stay if I was there on a romantic vacay or wanted R&R. It’d also be a cozy spot for a fall or winter trip!

Other great places to stay: The Main Street Inn (boutique style downtown), Highlands Inn Lodge (affordable downtown option), and The Chandler Inn (bed and breakfast).

What To Do in Highlands, NC

There’s so much to do in Highlands – especially if you’re into doing outdoorsy things :) Imagine just about ANYTHING you’d want to do outside and odds are you can do it in or around Highlands, NC. Let’s talk about a few!


Remember how I talked about needing to get outside in this post? There were SO many hiking options in Highlands; it was an excellent place to be for outdoor workouts. Here are some trails to check out:

  • Glen Falls – This leads to an unreal waterfall and you walk through huge old trees – pines & hardwoods. It took us a few hours. The hike is a little more than a mile, but it’s pretty steep so it takes longer than you’d think. Plus, we took a lot of breaks to stare at the views when the trees opened up. It a somewhat tough hike, so I wouldn’t suggest this for young kids or elders.
  • Whiteside Mountain – This is the hike for ALL THE VIEWS. You go through woods but end up at the top of the mountain. Definitely bring your phone or camera for this one. This wasn’t as hard as Glen Falls (not as steep – just steep right at first), but you do go through hills. It’s 2.5 miles long and what I thought was the perfect distance.
  • Sunset Rock – This is a fairly easy and quick one. It’s about half a mile and takes a little over half an hour. It’s best for – you guessed it – sunsets! The views in the evening are really pretty from this spot. Maybe bring a bottle of wine?!
  • Chattooga Cliffs Trail – If you want to walk along the river, this is your spot. It’s a few miles long but not that hard of a hike.
highlands NC hiking
glen falls hike in highlands, NC

Zip Lining – Oh my gosh, so much fun! My family and I zip lined and had a blast. It was not only stunning – you’re swinging over these huge lush trees – but something different and just silly. I felt really safe and loved this company. They didn’t let me take my phone with me as a zipped – you know I tried – but I got a picture of us getting ready!

Golf – Most of the courses around here are for club members, but some allow you to try the course before signing up. Highlands Country Club course is a famous course and really beautiful, and has been around since the ’20s!

Swimming holes – Y’all, we heard about this place just out of town called – ready for it? – ‘Bust Your Butt Falls‘! It had us cracking up. It’s a fun (and maybe slightly intense) natural water slide you ride down over rocks. There’s a big swimming hole at the end that you can get in – even without attempting to bust your bum – and big rocks to sit and tan on.

Where To Eat in Highlands, NC

dinner at on the verandah wearing a halter swing dress + block heel sandal

On the Verandah – Tons of delicious seafood and different kinds of meat (think wild boar which comes out in the fall) + just all-around great meals. This overlooks Lake Sequoyah and is very calming – perfect for dinner. There’s live piano which adds to the atmosphere and the wine list was to die for. OH, and do yourself a favor and ask for the hot sauce(s)!

Madison’s at Old Edward’s Inn – Perfect spot for lunch at this gorg hotel. It’s farm-to-table, so the ingredients are fresh and you can get a good, healthy meal here. It overlooks a wine garden – I could eat here every day of life.

Wild Thyme – One word: YUM. I got the roasted chicken this time and it was damn good. Definitely make a res here because it gets packed – and for good reason.

Bucks Coffee Cafe – Started our mornings here with tasty coffee. Good spot to grab-and-go or relax into your day. They have some breakfast and lunch sandwiches + sweet treats.

Other recommended places: Paoletti’s (Italian), Cyprus (never been but heard it’s great and they have a patio), Wolfgangs, and Mountain Fresh Grocery (perfect for grabbing sandwiches to take on a hike and they have a cute coffee bar). Oh, and DRINKS – can’t forget drinks. Ugly Dog Pub is a good spot for beverages + lunch – and they have live music, like Bluegrass Wednesdays – so fun.


When to go

This is an ideal place in the summer because like I mentioned, it’s a nice change from crazy summer heat. The temps were mid 70s the whole time we were there, and it even cooled down to sweater weather at night.

I also can’t WAIT to come back in the fall. With the amount of trees Highlands has, plus the fresh air, I think it’s probably the best place on earth for the change of season. The trees are already somewhat fall-ish during summer, so I can’t even imagine what they look like once it’s in full swing.

Winter would be cute and cozy too, especially for a couple’s getaway. Basically, this place is freaking fantastic all year.

Highlands, thank you for being just what I was craving. I’m coming for you again real soon!