Summertime is the best time for long days filled with playing outside, soaking up the sunshine and enjoying the freshest of seasonal fare. Special times with family, summer vacations and memories to be made are all a part of bringing back the nostalgia of our own childhood summers.
We had the pleasure of visiting a truly special place as a family this summer as High Hampton Inn in Cashiers, North Carolina hosted us for a family vacation we won’t soon forget.
Growing up in Florida, I spent year after year traveling the roads to spend time up in North Carolina for the summer. The sweet smell of the blooms takes me back in an instant and the memories I have from those vacations are the ones I hold near and dear.
LOCAL AREA + PROPERTY DETAILS
Cashiers is a special little place, nestled so close to us in Atlanta, just beyond the town of Highlands and up a winding mountain road. The history that surrounds the Inn itself is truly what I live for and the wonderful staff had no problem sharing the rich stories with me during our stay.
Families have vacationed at the historic High Hampton Inn for generations, coming back the same week each summer year after year and staying in the very same room. Of course I asked if they still had any of the old hotel registries, which appeared just a few minutes later, a little dusty and filled with beautiful handwritten ledger names and dates. Imagine finding your great grandparents original check-in inside the pages of one of the old record books. We even heard a few ghost stories.
The beauty of the Inn took my breath away when we first pulled up and again when we explored. From the Lawn Inn you have a postcard-pretty setting, with the giant side of a bald mountain facing you, a picturesque lake at its base and blooms all around.
The flora + fauna were spectacular, with established blooming gardens and botanical signs around the trees, where we noted the largest pine tree on record. The dahlia gardens that surround the Inn have been cultivated and preserved from some of the original founders of the property. Each year the bulbs are stored and replanted for the season.
A great fire took many of the original buildings of High Hampton and a great deal of the historical decor and early family treasures. Back in the 1930’s the Inn Lodge was rebuilt as it stands today, improving on the original structure.
There is an old woodshed on property where each piece of furniture and the wooden shingles and railings were all made by hand by Inn workers at one time. The shingles, we learned, and much of the interior lobby wooden beams and columns are constructed by chestnut which is very hard and naturally repels bugs.
During the winter season the property still closes after Thanksgiving and the women of the Inn would get together and sew quilts during this time. These special quilts used to adorn each bed on the property and there is even a quilt shed where these pieces were stored. I didn’t get to lay my eyes on one of these but next time it’s on my must-do list.
Of course I made a little time during our road tripping to visit some of the wonderful local shops, like Francie Hargrove in Cashiers which has carried our line, and a few roadside antique stops where I found a few treasures (surprise, surprise) to restock the Vintage Goods on the site.
ACTIVITIES + ADVENTURES
I know most vacationing guests don’t dive into the history of the area or property, but I would so encourage you to do so on your next family trip. You never know what you may find out and it truly inspires a love for these stories in your children at an early age. I know it did for me, and I hope it does for my kids as well.
Our days will filled with special activities enjoying the gorgeous summer weather in the mountains. I grew up hiking the trails of North Carolina so daytime hikes were a must in my book. The gorgeous mountain laurels were in full bloom and Sawyer loved the pink blooms that decorated the trail floor, collecting pocketfuls as we hiked along. Fallen trees and little creeks kept things interesting for the kids and there were so many more trails we didn’t even get to explore right there on the property.
My personal favorite was the water activities, and I know Wyatt agrees with me here. Each morning we went down to the sweetest Boat House and we grabbed a canoe and paddled around with the whole family. There’s a little dam, a gorgeous view and lots of geese running around. There is even great fishing and fly fishing. Wyatt got his first chance by himself on a kayak, and we are now the proud owners of two kayaks for the kids thanks to the fun experience. Shane paddle boarded along with him and I’m afraid that might be our next purchase. The clear mountain water and the morning light was such a peaceful start to the day.
There’s a great golf course nestled among the property, tennis courts, a spa and a great little ropes course for the kids. We took a lot of downtime just rocking on the front porch of the Inn or at our little cabin.
There is even a Llama Hike, which makes for a great photo opportunity and the kids loved seeing them parade around. We played shuffleboard and bocce ball in the evenings, and they ran around and played on the Inn Lawn with the most gorgeous sunset against the bald mountain view. Perfect for us to enjoy a glass of wine and soak it all in.
FOOD + DINING
One of my favorite traditions of the rustic Inn is the proper dinner Dining Room rule that apply. Men are in coats, no jeans or cell phones allowed. The walls were filled with a collection of mismatched paintings and black and white historical photos, telling the story of the original founding families of the Inn.
I loved for the kids to be able to experience a great dining atmosphere where their cloth napkins sat in their laps among their little Southern smocked dresses and seersucker shorts. It reminded me of dining at my Grandmother’s house, an experience I hope families continue forward beyond just holiday time.
Oh, and the food was such a treat. Great food is a part of great experiences and memories, and this was no exception. I picked up a copy of the Cookbook from the Inn, where recipes from some of their long-time employees and guests have shared some of their family favorites.
Popular dishes from the Inn include the Sunday Fried Chicken, prepared by the same chef, JR Hayes, for over 30 years from a recipe he learned growing up in his own Grandmother’s kitchen. I can attest you must give this one a try and I was thankful they were kind enough to share the recipe with me!
The original smokehouse still stands at the back of the Inn and we heard stories of table after table of curing hams being laid out on the dining room tables during the winter months while they were closed, holding the perfect temperature for the curing process.
The dessert table was filled with options at each meal, but back in the 1920’s there was just one dessert on the menu. Sunny Silver Pie, a layered lemony treat is still served each day, and a close second favorite of Inn guests is their Black Bottom Pie. My little guy Waylon loved a classic ice cream in the cutest little silver cup just as much.
There were so many takeaways from our special little family vacation at this historic property. It made me realize that we rarely take trips with just our little family of five, as we travel a lot with our extended families and with friends too.
This was just what we needed and the trip has inspired us to tackle some of the other classic destinations around so we can expose the kids to these rich experiences full of tradition and history. I grew up taking road trips around the South and I love sharing the same experience with my kids.
I’d love your recommendations on where we should go next or places that your family loves to go! #HEIRLOOMED
heirloomed is a lifestyle brand with a mission of "keeping heirlooms around for another generation." Our blog features stories about family recipes, creating traditions with your family, interior design and entertaining by mixing new and vintage pieces, classic style, and small town + historic travel. Our shop features a collection of "goods inspired by the past, for generations to enjoy" with an array of products and meaningful gifts including linen aprons, tabletop linens, art, ceramics and beyond. Learn more at www.heirloomedcollection.com.