Laughing Seed: Asheville, North Carolina

I didn’t just randomly walk into The Laughing Seed in Asheville, North Carolina. I was invited by the bar manager, a friend I grew up with in Marietta, Ohio. I kept that in mind as I searched the winding streets of downtown for the restaurant. This could be a hole in the wall or this could be fine dining—in which case I’m under-dressed… I meandered between these thoughts inside my head and out loud to Ben, who, bless his heart, often has to hear my inner ramblings when they’re haphazardly spoken.

Upon finally arriving at The Laughing Seed, I found it to be an immediate relief. People were parked outside under umbrella tables exorcising their happy hour-fed thoughts and the crowd was just as politely lively inside the restaurant. I took a seat at the bar and, after catching up with my friend, another Ben, began to order what would soon be categorized as one of the most non-obvious vegan meals I have ever had. Crab cakes, a burger, curly fries, an Asian Salad, a vegan cookie, and the best damn Bloody Mary I ever had later, I was thanking my lucky travel-writing stars that out of all of the places Ben II could have worked in Asheville—it was this place. This delicious place with vegan food I swear to G_D you wouldn’t know was vegan if you didn’t hear it from me. And if you didn’t read the website or menu carefully before ordering. Not that there’s anything at all wrong with vegan food that doesn’t convincingly taste like meat, but this is the kind of place you could bring your “Salad is what meat eats” father to and probably get away with it.

By: Elizabeth Seward, Photos By: Ben Britz


Beaufort House: A Gem in Asheville

I’ll start this piece out by just getting to the point: I love Beaufort House. There. I said it. This B&B in Asheville, North Carolina deserves awards.

I pulled up to Beaufort House, a coral-colored Queen Anne Victorian style building shaded on the edges by draping tree limbs and crawling ivy, in the middle of the afternoon. Shown three rooms for the picking, I chose a newer room downstairs, which is an extension on the home’s old food pantry, but not without taking with me an imprint of one of the other rooms I was shown.

The Rose Room not only includes a bathroom bigger than bedrooms I’ve seen in New York City, but Charlton Heston, who used to own and live in Beaufort House with his wife, used to sleep in the Rose Room. Folklore has it that marks from his burning cigar ashes have scarred the wooden floors near the teal tile framed fireplace. It would have been a nice room to stay in, but the room I eventually chose, the Arbor Room, had a jacuzzi bathtub and a private deck. Jaccuzi bathtub and private deck trumped history for me. I was hot and exhausted. You can’t blame me.

The room was great, but the entire inn is really what’s great…the inn in its entirety. Social hour each late afternoon is accompanied by wine-pourings. Too many glasses of red wine later, I retired to my room to just skip dinner and sleep after having chatted for hours with a fun music-loving mom from Nashville. This is how wine socials at inns should be. You should meet new people. You should drink with them. You should trade email addresses with them at breakfast the next morning after you’re served Morning Cake, sweet and delicious Citrus Crepes (topped with orange zest sugar), juice, coffee, and tea.

And Beaufort House is how B&Bs should be. You should feel comfortable in someone else’s home. You should get to know that person who owns that home—you should want to get to know them. You should feel full, clean, welcomed, and liked. And that’s how I felt at Beaufort House. And I’m guessing that’s how you’ll feel too when you stay there during your next Asheville visit.

By: Elizabeth Seward, Photos By: Ben Britz

13 Summer Travel Ideas: USA

It’s too early for me to be awake. I was watching my nephew shoot off bottle rockets next to a raging bonfire in BackWoods, USA last night (Greensboro, Pennsylvania). To nobody’s surprise, that lasted all night. But I’m up and I’m happy it’s July 4th. I’m in Morgantown, West Virginia for it, getting ready to embark on an afternoon of one of the most American things out there: a BBQ. I’m either feeling groggy or generous or both, but I want to help you plan your travels this summer across the USA if you haven’t already done some planning. Here are some summer travel ideas, straight to you from The Anti Tourist.

1. Spokane, Washington

Go biking, kayaking, wine-tasting, live-music-watching, or out to eat in this city that surprised me last summer. I had a blast in the blazing heat and you will, too. The Davenport is the main hotel downtown and I swear on my life that it’s haunted.

2. California (Santa Cruz and farther north)

SoCal is gorgeous in its own right, but during the summer, head north–preferably on a road trip up the 101. Between Santa Cruz, The Redwoods, and all that is offered in San Francisco and San Mateo County, you’ll keep yourself busy and wonder why you hadn’t explored more thoroughly before now.

3. Maine

Maine makes for a great summer getaway. You’ll hit a lot of cities on the east coast, but once you hit Maine, you’ll get some much-needed peace and quiet. Try out The Cliffhouse for top-of-the-line oceanside rooms and a rockin’ spa. HINT: you can also bring your dog(s).

Need more ideas? OK. Here you go. 10 more USA summer travel ideas:

4. Pamper yourself at NYC Spas.

5. Visit Asheville. Stay in a B&B in Asheville.

6. Go ghost hunting in Texas, stay here, eat at the Mighty Cone (serious about that last one–FRIED FOOD in ICE CREAM cones, what??).

7. Speaking of ghosts, go to Dudleytown in Connecticut.

8. Colorado is good for more than its slopes. Check out the state in the summertime. Stay at the Boulder Canyon Inn, check out the Bat Cave!

9. Hit the streets of DC. From cool clubs with caves for basements to bed and breakfasts that will give you way too much wine, DC is a sweet city that comes alive in a way we like during the summer. Worship both Jehovah and the Gods of Rock and Roll at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue/Music venue!

10. Go zip-lining in Hocking Hills, Ohio. While you’re there, go Hot-Air Ballooning too, because, why the hell not? How about a Lunchbox Museum? How about flying lessons from a crazy (crazy AWESOME) man?

11. Hike, ride horses, and do other country thaaangs while staying at a B&B in Pennsylvania.

12. Turn off your phone and check into a cottage in Oregon.

13. Go caving. Anywhere. The caves will keep you cool during the hot summer months. Tennesee and Kentucky are full of ’em, but check out a full list of USA Caves to map out your underground route.

Now quit talkin’ about getting away this summer and just do it.

By: Elizabeth Seward

ASIA Bed and Spa – Asheville, NC

It’s not everyday you find a bed and breakfast that is also a spa. ASIA Bed & Spa in Asheville, North Carolina manages to successfully be both of these things. The thing about B&B’s is that you’re entering someone’s home—and you’re staying the night there,  luxuriating, stretching out on the beds, peering out the windows, and sitting on the porch. You need to make yourself completely at home, first and foremost, for the bed and breakfast to prevail. ASIA, though, blows mere prevailing out of the water and goes straight to “exceeds expectations”.

The Java Suite at ASIA Bed & Spa is the room I called home while visiting Asheville. The ceiling is bamboo, and vaguely Asian accents like this give the whole place an exotic feel while still remaining comfortingly homey. Bamboo curtains hide the sunlight which will fill your room corner to corner during summer afternoons. Intricately sewn fabrics hang from the walls and delicately carved wood frames a mirror that runs horizontally across the two person Jacuzzi—which sits at the foot of the king size bed.

The wood carving and threaded patterns come together for the bed’s headboard, which is made of a little bit of both.  A (gas) fireplace sections off a corner of the suite as the sitting and working area. The bathroom’s shower is enclosed with transparent glass walls and a stream of turquoise, white, brown, and clay red tiles snakes its way from the shower wall onto the shower floor, across the bathroom floor and it climbs up the opposing wall (a small detail I plan on recreating in my own home eventually).

Tom Dredge is not the inn owner, but he is certainly the innkeeper. Formerly owner of a bed and breakfast in Hawaii, he came to settle in Asheville and felt at home with ASIA (A Spa-Inn Asheville). He explains the amenities of the inn room by room (and room theme by room theme) in enough detail that we don’t need to ask any further questions. He does us completely unnecessary and in no way expected favors like highlight on a map of Asheville where we should dine, leave breakfast out late so we can sleep in, and even throw a load of our post-Bonnaroo laundry in for us. We really owe him for that one.

The sauna out back is first-come, first-served, as is the steam shower downstairs. A homemade well-water shower hangs outside the sauna, which is built next to the on-site massage room. A sun room stretches along the street side of the inn, but all you see are flowers and leaves of lively trees. All you hear are birds. The postman says hello and wishes you a good day while you’re eating Tom’s breakfast:

Frittata filled with cherry tomatoes, Gouda, and perhaps a million other awesome ingredients that make it so delicious; and homemade honey yogurt mix, cherry orange bread, fruit, coffee, tea, and juice make breakfast the best part of the day at ASIA.

To say ASIA Bed and Spa is the perfect relaxation getaway is somehow not saying enough. Asheville is a small town with big city flavor and astonishing wilderness. And ASIA, decorated by Tom (who is actually a talented spatial designer, which really comes through in the grace and beauty of the place) and with a spa to boot, is the dream house you’ve always wanted. This inn gets a gold star for doing everything an inn should do (and a lot more). Nothing can help you so completely forget the trials and tribulations of the City like unwinding by candlelight in a jacuzzi tub you don’t even have to leave your bedroom for.

Story By: Elizabeth Seward

Photos by: Ben Britz