When we hopped on a plane from NY to Asheville, North Carolina, where my best friend Aly now resides in a cabin in the woods, I was expecting some serious chill time. I was not expecting it to be the coolest little city I may have ever been. And if New York was exhausting, Asheville was relaxing, but I was delightfully stunned by exactly how much there was to do and be inspired by. It’s certainly rural, home to lovely farmland, forests, and spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, but also serves up tons of local brewing, a big arts community, a big music scene, and really, really good food. There are no “bars” in North Carolina, which means the bars have to serve a certain percentage of other stuff–and local, organic tastiness abounds everywhere. Downtown, I had the smoothest martini of my life–the barkeep was an artist–at a cool lounge-y bar, drank champagne in a cozy book exchange, and got a $7 beer flight and yummy meal at a rad brewery. Without traffic or parking concerns! We also took in the Biltmore Estate, which is as close to an American castle as exists. (Picture Downton, but bigger and fancier). The gorgeous grounds, which were designed by the landscaper of Central Park, now include a little wine village, where we tasted everything–and Malbec twice. In the River Arts District, we had perfect BBQ and southern sides at 12 Bones, an apparent favorite of Obama’s, when he’s in town, and popped into some nearby artist studios to browse. I loved this artist who makes porcelain dining pieces using antique lace. Beyond our awesome exploration, our cabin time included learning to shoot a bow and arrow, hiking around, and playing Settlers of Catan. It was insanely hard to leave, and I can’t wait to get back there.