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  • Writer's pictureKelly Franz

A Weekend of Wine & Dine in Highlands, North Carolina

Whether or not you have the fortunate opportunity to visit the Highlands, North Carolina during the Autumn months, this gem of a town is a must-visit all year round. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains among the Nantahala National Forest, the Highlands offer a cozy, quaint atmosphere with modern day comforts. You will find plenty of dining options and shops along the sidewalk lined Main Street. There's even a hair salon, Ace Hardware, golf course and a pick of real estate agencies if you find yourself so in love that you never want to leave. Not to mention, plenty of walking trails leading to breathtaking waterfalls and panoramic views from the hilltops. After exploring nature, it is always a grand idea to reward yourself with wine, so here are a few spots we wined and dined during our stay:

Mountain Fresh Grocery & Wine Market:

We arrived to the Highlands on a rainy Thursday evening, so it was an easy decision to stop at the Mountain Fresh Grocery & Wine Market to grab a bottle of Cabernet and wood-fire pizza to bring back to our hotel room. However, you don't have to take your order to go, but rather, have the option to wine and dine inside. There's plenty of wine to choose from with their bottle-filled aisles of worldly selections and if you just prefer a glass or two, they offer that as well.. it's a win either way! Plus, there's a bakery, coffee bar, deli, artisan oil & vinegar and grocery items like marshmellows as that's a clear necessity when sitting fireside in the mountains!

Hummingbird Lounge at Old Edwards Inn & Spa While our hotel, 200 Main, does not have dining onsite, they are affiliated with the historic Old Edwards Inn & Spa just down the road, which has a variety of options that will suit your fancy. We decided on the Hummingbird Lounge for a drink before dinner. We sat at a small table facing the fireplace and next to the piano played by the hands of a highly talented Maestro. To awaken the senses and delight in feeling as though we were going back in time with the colorful drapery and upholstered chairs, a glass of sparkling was a must! If you're looking for a classic, authentic feel than this Lounge is right up your alley.

Ristorante Paoletti After our pre-drink, we walked across the street to the acclaimed,Ristorante Paoletti, for a true wine and dine experience. Before journeying here, my biggest tip to offer is to make sure you book reservations well in advance of your visit (like months before!) because this restaurant fills up as quick as your first glass of wine after a stressful day. It was to no surprise when discovering this restaurant was awarded ‘Award of Excellence’ by Wine Spectator year after year. If that's not reason enough to reserve your spot then perhaps their offering of over 40 wine-by-the-glass selections will surely do the trick. And don't worry, if this is a last minute decision, just put your name on the list to get a coveted first-come, first serve spot at the bar!

Highlands Wine Shoppee

After having breakfast at Bake My Day, which I highly recommend for a plate full of goodness, we made our way over to the Highlands Wine Shoppe to check out their extensive wine selection. I have no doubt that you will leave there with a bottle in hand, or at the least, a satisfied palate after experiencing the daily wine tasting menu poured from their Napa Technology wine dispensing system. The Wine Garden

For our last stop this trip, it was back to Old Edward's Inn & Spa to enjoy their charming Wine Garden. Here, we sipped on Champagne and toasted to the beautiful, sunny Autumn day in this picturesque town. While we did not have time to delight in their dining, the menu options looked quite tasty whether you are in the mood for small bites or a full-on meal. The Wine Garden has your name written all over it so be sure to put this on your Highland Experience Must-See List!

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