city guide: asheville, nc.

In July, my boyfriend and I visited Asheville, North Carolina. We spent a happy week hiking, swimming, wandering through the city, eating, and not checking email. (I think I could have a restful vacation anywhere as long as there were no email involved). In case you're thinking of a trip there, I wanted to share some of our favorite places, as well as some ways to avoid generating trash.

Do:

+Hike: Stop anywhere along the Blue Ridge Parkway, get out of your car or off your bike, find the trail, and go--it's so easy and because the trails are well-marked there's no need to plan a hiking route in advance. In July, look for wild blueberry, raspberry, and blackberry bushes. When you get to the top of a ridge, clamber on rocks for valley views like the one above. 

+Swim: Looking Glass Falls and Skinny Dip Falls are two favorites. Swimming in the cold, clear water and clambering over rocks made me feel like a kid again.

+Grocery Shop: The French Broad Food Co-op has one of the best selections of bulk dry goods and liquids that I've seen, including a whole wall of bulk teas. Bring your own bags and jars for produce, trail mix, dinner staples, and local honey.

+Compost: Throwing organic material in the garbage gives me the willies and is something I'll avoid at all costs. Traveling presents the challenge of being away from my familiar composting setup. A bit of exploring led us to the Greenlife Grocery, which has public compost bins.

Eat:

+Plant: I'm vegan and my boyfriend isn't, but we were both stunned by the food at this gem of a restaurant. It's entirely plant-based, and the artful, delicious dishes are something to slow down and savor. They use cloth napkins and serve reasonable portions, which makes it a trash-free option.

+Laughing Seed Cafe: This eatery serves inventive, tasty vegetarian dishes made with seasonal produce. I especially loved the locally brewed kombucha. Skip the paper napkin and your meal will be litterless (because I can't imagine that you'll have leftovers. If so, I want 'em).

+French Broad Chocolate Lounge: A much-visited Asheville classic. My boyfriend loved it for the affogato (espresso poured over ice cream) and other tasty desserts. I loved that they offer their wares on non-disposable plates and cups.