Road Trip: the Carolinas!

After a history and museum heavy trip to Washington DC, we decided that it was time to get going on our food tour through the South, starting with the Carolinas!  Here is the route:2015-11-23_1023Our first stop was in Durham, NC at a beautiful Airbnb with really lovely hosts, Alice and Jeff who made our stay super warm and welcome along with their ol’ lady dog Betty!2015-11-23_10293 2015-11-23_1029 2015-11-23_10303

Durham is a quaint little town with a growing real estate market, nice downtown which we were lucky enough to see during their big end of the summer fair.KD-CAROLINAS - 8 KD-CAROLINAS - 4

Great food, fun breweries and the home to the Duke University campus.   FullSizeRender-5 FullSizeRender-6

Naturally, a lot of our time was spent planning out our next meal/brewery, so here are a few must stops while in Durham:

Dames Chicken and Waffles: Chicken and waffles with Nutella butter – need I say more?FullSizeRender-1

Toast Paninoteca: Another tasty casual spot where we randomly bumped into Kieran’s friend Kelly and her boyfriend from San Francisco.  Talk about it being a small world!KD-CAROLINAS - 7Cocoa Cinnamon: For a little afternoon or morning “pick-me up”, this spot makes delicious coffee and yummy desserts!  Tons of outdoor seating and great wifi for our blogging needs.  I may have gotten addicted to their cold brews.2015-11-23_1059 2015-11-23_11002015-11-23_1102

Parts and Labor: A fun spot for some cheap beer and snacks, along with live music!KD-CAROLINAS - 6 2015-11-23_1104

Full steam brewery: Another great stop to cool down with a nice cold beer!KD-CAROLINAS - 52015-11-23_1117After Durham, we set off towards Marion, NC.  While driving, we took a quick break in the town of Winston-Salem, NC which incidentally had their annual food festival also known as fried chicken and biscuits galore! KD-CAROLINAS - 12KD-CAROLINAS - 11

We had lunch at Sweet Potatoes; they had the most delicious sweet potato biscuits and gravy. YUM! And fried chicken, of course!FullSizeRender-2 FullSizeRender-3

Once we arrived in Marion, we were welcomed by Joyce and Fred (friends of my sister) who allowed us to crash at their house for a few days while we explored the nearby towns.  Here is our home for the next few days – with a fishing pond and chickens!KD-CAROLINAS - 21We made a few day trips out of Marion.  First stop, was in Asheville, a fairly big town (population of 85,000) surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. The town has cute restaurants and cafes and has a very “hippie vibe”.  The surrounding areas are known for the Biltmore Estate which is the largest privately owned house in US, at 178,926 square feet.  It is open for tours at $55/person – we obviously skipped that!   So, instead, we did what we tend to do best – eat and hike!

Here I am, learning what to do in case I spot a bear on the hike. Hint: try not to pass out!


We then checked out the town with cute little coffee shops. . .


and artsy sculptures.


We then had a delicious lunch at 12 Bones Smokehouse which was soooo sinfully good!KD-CAROLINAS - 15FullSizeRender-8 FullSizeRender-9

And I took my first and likely last bathroom selfie, only because I really loved the sign and the skinny mirror!


And of course, there is always room for dessert (especially after the skinny mirror):KD-CAROLINAS - 18On our way back to Marion, we stopped by the WholeFoods Market which had a brewery on one level and games on another; so, here I am, being an embarrassing thrower! KD-CAROLINAS - 19The food in Asheville was great, but the town (after tons of recommendations) was less than impressive.  It was just ok!  Maybe our expectations were too high!

The next day we took a day trip to Boone, a smaller version of Asheville with a beautiful drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains where we actually got to experience a bit of the fall foliage.FullSizeRenderWe walked, ate and checked out the law firm below . . . how many Eggers can there be?KD-CAROLINAS - 20

On our way back to Marion, we committed a crime by eating dinner at Hardee’s aka Carl’s Junior – and it was deeeeeeeeeelicious!


After a lovely few days stay in NC, we decided to make our way to South Carolina.  We learned about the town of Beaufort from our Airbnb hosts in Cape Cod.  They told us that it is a beautiful, water front city with great restaurants, pretty nature and lovely people – they were right!

We stayed in an Airbnb, hosted by Deborah and her husband (whom we never got a chance to meet as he was traveling in San Francisco at the time).  2015-11-23_1043 2015-11-23_1044Deborah is an awesome host who is an avid traveler herself.  We loved sharing our travel stories with her and hearing all about her adventures as well.

A little biking/running trail right by our Airbnb . . .KD-CAROLINAS - 29

Beaufort is the second oldest city in SC (after Charleston) with the population of about 13,000 and it is known for its scenic location right on the waterfront. Unfortunately, we did not get to catch any sun here, but it was nonetheless a beautiful and relaxing town.KD-CAROLINAS - 28KD-CAROLINAS - 30

If you are ever here, stop by The Old Bull Tavern which has a daily changing menu of local organic cuisine.  Great atmosphere and delicious food.Downtown-Beaufort-Old-Bull-TavernThe next day we went down to the Hunting Island State Park. Thanks to Deborah’s yearly pass, we were able to visit it for free and got to enjoy the lighthouse (which Kieran climbed) and checked out the beach.  The park is actually a 5,000 acre secluded Island that was established as a state park in 1935.FullSizeRender-12 KD-CAROLINAS - 23 KD-CAROLINAS - 24 KD-CAROLINAS - 25We both thought that the park was totally worth the visit and so is Beaufort if you are ever in S. Carolina!

On the way back from the park, we grabbed a sandwich at Alvin Ord’s Sandwich Shop and man, was it delicious!   The sandwiches do not look like much, but they were delicious with bread freshly baked right there on the spot!KD-CAROLINAS - 27KD-CAROLINAS - 26 Next, we traveled just one hour north to Charleston, SC.  We got to our Airbnb, and for the first time in all of our travels, we were greatly disappointed.  The place was nothing like advertised and ended up feeling like we were living in a frat house.  After much back and forth, Airbnb quickly reimbursed us.  KD-CAROLINAS - 45

Even with this little snafu, we really LOVED Charleston.

First stop was lunch at Swig and Swine – a meal that Kieran will be talking about for at least the next 6 months.  It was SOOOO GOOOD!  BBQ and the most amazing coconut cream pie (and I don’t even care that much for coconut)!KD-CAROLINAS - 32 KD-CAROLINAS - 33 FullSizeRender-13Followed by a walk through Charleston downtown which consists of a very long shopping and dining street with great people watching opportunities at each corner!KD-CAROLINAS - 37

We then went to Kudu, a coffee and a craft beer shop with live music and a nice outdoor patio.Kudu-2

Hers and his . . .1175594_10151670877289682_532993617_n

And his again . . .KD-CAROLINAS - 38

We spent the next day going on a few free walking tours Free Tours By Foot – a company that we have been using all through out our US travels.  Kieran went on the Civil War tour and I later joined him for the Historic Tour of the city.  It is a gorgeous city with nice architecture, beautiful old mansions, cobbled streets and a pretty waterfront.FullSizeRender-14KD-CAROLINAS - 41 KD-CAROLINAS - 39 IMG_3029 FullSizeRender-11KD-CAROLINAS - 34 KD-CAROLINAS - 35

And if you are in the mood for some more history, check out the Old Slave Mart Museum – very informative.KD-CAROLINAS - 40We ended our Carolinas trip with dinner at the Early Bird Diner, which is located right off the Savannah highway and is a legendary spot for its shrimp and grits as well as biscuits and gravy.  This was my first try at the shrimp and grits thing and maaaan was it legendary! I shall be day dreaming of it on daily basis until I return.early-bird-diner-1-700x933KD-CAROLINAS - 44 KD-CAROLINAS - 43

Overall, we LOVED LOVED LOVED the Carolinas!  Lovely people, beautiful towns and delicious food.  What’s not to love!?

And as with any road trip, many stops were made that looked like this . . .FullSizeRender-7

Next stop: Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee!

  • Dina

    Eating and hiking are our favorite activities too! Along with coffee and beer 😃

    • Alina Basina

      A girl that totally gets me!