If you travel with a toddler, you end up focusing a lot on eating and sleeping. We like to sight-see during the intervals between naps, find fun restaurants, and make sure we get enough down time so we don't get burnt out.
You are going to laugh about this, but my son's favorite restaurant right now is Jimmy John's. He loves watching the sandwiches being made, loves sitting in a booth like a big boy, and eats an entire turkey slim. So, we made sure to kick off the trip with a stop at the Jimmy John's in Chattanooga. Not twee or photogenic, but so be it!
|My son wants Jimmy John's...who am I to deprive him??!|
|Watching the counter like a hawk.|
We actually hit a bit of a snag with travel when we got stuck behind a horrible wreck outside of Chattanooga. There was no traffic flow for more than two hours! No one was seriously hurt, but a tractor and trailer were completely destroyed, and we were very frustrated.
|He didn't see me take this.|
So, when we finally arrived at our hotel it was close to 9 pm and restaurants were closing. Nate and I both decided that we didn't have it in us to go downtown, so we drove a short distance to a Mexican place called Papa's and Beer (extraneous apostrophe? NOT SURE!) that had lights blazing and a huge crowd. Best decision ever. Mexican restaurants are sometimes the perfect place to take small children. They are generally noisy, full of other kids, and happy to accommodate you with a kids' menu and high chair.
By this point, W was starving and starting to freak out about all the food we saw on other people's tables. I honestly don't know how he had stayed so calm on the trip thus far. He ate about twenty chips, and then polished off an adult quesadilla with sides of rice and beans. I got a super pimp vegetable burrito and it was perfect.
|I could probably write a whole blog about burritos.|
|First of many vacation fried foods.|
The next day was a little stormy, but we made the most of it by heading downtown to the Appalachian Folk Art Center. I wanted so many beautiful wood carvings and quilts and house wares, but finally settled on a few pieces of pottery. They have a gorgeous black crackled glaze. I might consider getting up off my butt and photographing them eventually.
|See, we can all get dressed at the same time!|
We went out to a gorgeous gastropub in Biltmore Village, Village Wayside Grille, which we picked mostly for its beer menu. Again, I would totally recommend this place for families with small children. They were so nice to us, and W was really comfortable and happy the whole time. Plus, how cute is this mini burger on the kids' menu?
|You can steal fries from a toddler very, very easily.|
Anyway, I got a BLT with a Caesar salad on the side, because I like to maximize my opportunities for eating saturated fat. Nate had a classic Reuben, and then last-minute added on some Asian red cabbage slaw and everything was fantastic. We tried a variety of beers from Pisgah Brewery and Asheville Brewery, and my favorite was the Pisgah Stout.
When we travel, we usually eat lunches out of the hotel. It's just a more economical use of time and money, and we can get exactly the food we want. We usually hit up a local Whole Foods (or Earth Fare, which is also in Asheville, yay!) for fruit and sandwich stuff.
|PB and orange slices.|
|The view from the hotel window wasn't too bad, either.|
On Saturday, the weather cleared up, so we drove some of the Blue Ridge Parkway. We hopped out of the car at Craggy Gardens trailhead, and let W practice walking on some of the trails.
Now, here are way too many pictures of the mountains:
|A nice tourist from Boston took this one.|
Back in town, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that the Catholic basilica in Asheville is named for Saint Lawrence, who is very special to my family.
|Basilica of Saint Lawrence.|
|There he is.|
On Saturday night, we tried a vegetarian restaurant called Laughing Seed. Nate and I have each heard separate, awesome word-of-mouth recommendations for this place. The menu is incredible...raw, vegan, grain free, and traditional vegetarian dishes for everyone, and a huge menu of clever cocktails and unique wines. It was hard to get an idea in advance of whether this place is kid friendly, but they surprised us with a great kids' menu and a cool coloring sheet with a sloth and some toucans.
|My two lefties.|
W was even able to get his favorite food, tofu (or as he calls it, "toe-tuet"). We make a real effort to limit the animal foods in our diet at home, so I love finding creative vegetarian chefs when we travel. I can't stress this enough...if meat-centric chefs learned to use herbs, spices, and subtle and unusual plant foods the way vegetable-centric ones do, the food world would be a much more interesting place!
|The beans were loaded with cayenne and cumin, and he loved them.|
|My meal...crispy tofu and eight vegetable green curry.|
On Sunday morning, I ran the Asheville half marathon at Biltmore Estate. Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel so everyone could rest and regroup. I spent a few hours enjoying a hot bath, some soft sheep cheese, and a massive kale salad. After W woke up and I felt normal again, we went back downtown for a stroll.
We actually stumbled into a local book store, Malaprops, where there was a reading and book signing underway. It was really ear-catching fantastical fiction with some humor, so we stayed and listened. Unfortunately, I couldn't see the author's name through the crowd, and felt a bit self conscious edging closer with a baby stroller. Enjoyable, none the less.
After that, I begged Nate for drinks. First, we went to Thirsty Monk, which was crowded but fun. If you go there with a small child, I recommend the downstairs "Belgium Bar" because it is much more laid back. Then, we found an Irish pub, Jack of the Wood, where there was a circle of musicians playing reels and singing in Gaelic. I had my favorite beer of the entire trip...their house made Green Man Porter. I wish they sold in package stores!
|W loved the music.|
After that, we found the most amazing restaurant, and probably my favorite of the trip. Farmburger has a build-you-own burger menu with grass fed beef burgers. Everything is fresh and local, and they have a carefully curated menu of beer, wine, and cocktails, and real ice cream milkshakes. This is another great place for kids.
|Beer battered onion rings to share, and a loaded burger.|
I know I just said above that we try to limit animal foods, but this is a great splurge, especially for after a race. Everything is thoughtfully prepared and full of flavor. It was a great way to end the trip.