I went on a couples getaway to Highlands, NC and I wanted to share a full Highlands travel guide on what we did over the weekend for those of you planning your next getaway to the mountains! I honestly didn’t expect to love Highlands as much as I did. It was the perfect weekend to unplug and relax, while also enjoying cooler weather and beautiful views. Here is a recap of our weekend, along with my recommendations on where to stay, eat, and do in Highlands!
The drive was so easy from Atlanta. Once you get on 85-N it’s pretty much a straight shot. The trip is just under 2 hours without traffic. We hit a little traffic on 85 around spaghetti junction (always!), but luckily we have a peach pass and got through quickly after that.
How to Spend a Relaxing Weekend Getaway in Highlands, NC: Travel Guide
Thursday: We arrived at our cottage rental and immediately got to take in the beauty of the mountains from our back porch. We stayed on a vineyard in Scaly Mountain, about 10 miles away from Highlands. Because of coronavirus, we felt more comfortable in a rental away from the city. FYI, the internet wasn’t great, but it was nice to unplug. Every night, we played cards against humanity and the meme game, which are both always entertaining.
Tim and I went into Highlands for dinner and ate a Midpoint Highlands then ice cream across the street. Parking in downtown Highlands was so easy, and it really clears out at night because the shops all close early, around 5PM.
Friday: We had an early lunch at Julep Kitchen and explored the property. We came back to the cottage and explored the vineyard property before a storm came through. We all took a nap during the storm, then got ready for dinner at Wild Thyme Gourmet. The food was SO fresh, definitely our favorite meal of the trip.
Saturday: While we waited for a table at Blue Bike Cafe we walked into some unique home decor shops and checked out the farmers market in the Founders Park. Then we drove into Cashiers to try Bucks Coffee. On our way back towards Highlands, we stopped at Reclamations, which is a cool antique shop to walk through, especially if you are feeling like Joanna Gaines. They have antique doors and windows, etc. It was also nice to get some fresh air on the drive, especially if you get car sick! I took a Dramamine both days because I can get so car sick, but was fine the whole weekend. We drove by Bridal Veil Falls and Callasaja Falls, two waterfalls you can see right off the road. Then we got ready for a late dinner at Ristorante Paoletti.
Sunday: We had a late breakfast at Julep Kitchen before heading back home! There aren’t a ton of options to eat along Highway from the cottage, so this was the easiest place for us to eat as a group before leaving.
Planning a Weekend Getaway to Highlands, NC
Where to eat in Highlands
Breakfast & Lunch
Blue Bike Cafe – popular spot in town for brunch and lunch
Julep Kitchen – cute farm to explore and dine in. We went twice and had different service experiences, but I will overall still recommend to check it out. I ordered the chicken salad croissant and fries both trips, so good! They only serve brunch on Sundays, and the menu is somewhat similar to their lunch menu.
Bucks Coffee – we drove to Cashiers (about 20 minutes) to explore a new area and grab a coffee. If you’re not in the mood for coffee, definitely try the apple cider!
I will say most of the restaurants in Highlands are on the nicer side, but there are a few places to eat on the patio or for a more casual dining experience.
Mountain Fresh Grocery This is a local grocery store in town that also serves casual breakfast and lunch. You can pick up wine, treats, and pizza. Great place to pick up a sandwich to pack with you on a hike.
The Pizza Place of Highlands – I ordered the jalapeno popper pizza. It was spicy but delicious! They have unique pizza toppings, next time I want to try the greek pizza.
Bistro on Main – currently closed for renovations but expected to open again in September. I plan to try this on our next trip.
Midpoint Highlands – Tim and I ate a light dinner of appetizers on the patio. I highly recommend grabbing the brussel sprouts!
Madisons – This place serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It has a mountain Ralf-Lauren Farmhouse type of vibe. Reserve a table early if you want to eat here, it’s a popular spot!
Wolfgang’s: We didn’t eat here, but it came highly recommended.
Wild Thyme Gourmet – This was everyone’s favorite meal of the trip. Great service and everything we tried was fresh and delicious. We ordered:
- Risotto Shrimp Fritter
- Caprese salad – we ordered two rounds, it was so fresh!
- Wedge Salad
- I split the Salmon with Vidalia Onion Crust
- Lemon cake for desert
Ristorante Paoletti – This is a fine-dining Italian restaurant across from Old Edwards Inn. I ordered:
- Oregon wine
- The bread was to die for. If you love olives it came with a side of olive tapenade
- Tortellini alla Panna con Piselli e Prosciutto
- Brownie dessert with Gelato
** I would recommend making dinner reservations ahead of time due to coronavirus and smaller seating capacity.
Drinks and Treats
Kilwins Highlands – we visited this place often to end the night with ice cream. We also picked up fudge, and it was delicious!
The Cake Bar – we didn’t visit here, but it has great reviews
The Wine Garden – On my list to try next time, located at Old Edwards Inn.
The Ugly Dog Pub – I also plan to try this place next time!
Four65 – this place is on our list to try next time. It looked like it had a really great vibe!
Can you tell my travel plans are mainly centered around food? 🙂
What to do in Highlands
Highlands Aerial Park: If you want some adventure, there’s a well known ziplining park right across from the cottage we rented.
Hiking and Waterfalls: There are plenty of trails to explore around Highlands. There are three lookout places along Highway 106 to stretch your legs and take in the views.
Most importantly, relax! This is the perfect place to unplug and de-stress. Book a spa appointment at Old Edwards and treat yourself to a nice dinner! You can also enjoy shopping in downtown Highlands. I loved browsing through some of the home decor shops down N 4th St. If you love antique shopping, there are plenty along the drive from Atlanta and hidden in the mountains.
Where to stay in Highlands
You can find so many cabin and cottage rentals in the area! Browse through VRBO or Airbnb to see what you can find, especially if you’re staying with a larger group. I find it’s more cost-effective that way. But if you’re wanting to stay in a hotel, here are my top recommendations.
Old Edwards Inn: This is a well-known historic inn right in the heart of downtown Highlands. It’s expensive, but it would be a great place to stay for an anniversary or romantic getaway.
Park on Main: a dog friendly hotel right in downtown Highlands.
Half-Mile Farm: If you’re looking for the ultimate place to relax, this is it! This is a few miles outside of downtown highlands and it’s owned by Old Edwards Inn. It’s for adults only, so guests must be 18 years or older.
200 Main: A little more affordable luxury. a block off the main strip of downtown Highlands.
What to pack
No matter when you visit, it’s always cooler in Highlands because the elevation is over 4,100 feet. We experienced weather in the 60’s to mid 70’s during August. It’s always a good idea to pack an umbrella and light jacket because you never know when a shower can pop up in the mountains and it gets a little cooler. During the day it’s casual attire. I would bring some exercise clothes if you plan to hike. Dinners tend to be a little more fine dining, so bring a nice dress. Tim wore button down tops and chino pants both nights at dinner.
I hope you enjoyed this Highlands travel guide! If you have any other recommendations for the area, comment below!