Statesville of Mind
Hi y’all! This past weekend, Katie and I visited Statesville down in North Carolina. Let me just begin to tell you how welcoming the locals were, exhilarating the experiences we had, and delicious the food and drinks were. The Christmas spirit truly comes alive in Statesville with carriage rides, live music, gift shops, parades, and more! After the streetscape renovations in 2013, the downtown scene of Statesville is on the come up and I can’t wait to share with you all that we did!
I met Katie in Statesville around 5pm on Friday at Tower View Suites (our AirBNB) right in the heart of downtown district. This location was perfect for easy travel to all of our activities and the room was just absolutely adorable. If you saw our stories, we promise it looked cute prior to our suitcases exploding with all of our clothes for the weekend!
Our first stop of the night was at Sky Mountain where we learned all about the owner’s passion for coffee & the town! I had a white chocolate mocha and snagged a few bags of their coffee beans for home. Katie of course, had a beer — or two — which she LOVED! We sat and chatted with the owner and a few of the locals there while listening to the live band! Sky Mountains website is filled with information on health benefits, tips, and the science behind coffee. Needless to say, they were the prime coffee stop for the rest of the trip!
WAME 92.9 Country Folk station
We walked down to WAME 92.9 because we heard that if you come to Statesville, you can’t leave without meeting the legendary “chillbillies.” Just some characters who love their town, entertainment, and some good ‘ol country music. We could not stop laughing, they cracked one joke right after another. We had the opportunity of being LIVE on the radio Friday night to share who we were and why we were here in Statesville. We invited the town to follow along on our journey through Statesville on our social media. I may or may not have butchered their station name a time…. or two… oops! BUT, it made for a good laugh and I eventually got it right!
Shop & Stroll
Katie and I just had to see what all the shopping was about this weekend at their annual “Shop & Stroll” event. Our favorite shop was GG’s where they had the cutest decorations, apparel, collectables, live music and baked goods! I met a young lady in there by the name of Martha Dobson that wrote a book called “Be Encouraged” that’s about women empowering women. There were so many hidden gems and unique shops on the strip. We even stopped by a few carolers where they had snow and s’mores — YUM!
We had been waiting all night to go on this magical carriage ride through Downtown Statesville and it was everything we could have imagined and more! The horses were beautiful and they had blankets for you so you weren't freezing. The tickets sell out within minutes so if you're thinking of a carriage ride be sure to get there when the ticket office opens to secure your spot.
Dinner at 220 Cafe:
After all the festivities, we popped into 220 Cafe for dinner! The locals were ranting and raving about how flawless this restaurant is, and boy did they roll out the red carpet for us. Spoiled us with wine, fried goat cheese and scallops to start. We of course just HAD to get the Shrimp & Grits cause it is my most favorite meal of all time, and we also ordered the house favorite Filet w/ sweet potato fries. This meal was out of this world! The filet melted in your mouth, and the cheesy grits landed an A+ from me! Grand finale: the warm Apple fritter with vanilla ice cream… WOW! 220 is open for lunch and dinner, and they have two separate menus with plenty of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. The owner and head chef are a husband and wife team and they both were a joy to talk to and hear their story about 220 Cafe! The Executive chef is known for his fresh seafood specials, and his main priority in the kitchen is creativity and presentation. Trust me, it showed! They are huge supporters of local farms and local music, with 2020 being their 10th year in business! This restaurant is a MUST when in Statesville.
Red Buffalo Brewing
We shuffled right over to Red Buffalo Brewing cause we heard it is one of the hotspots on Friday night! The owner, Joe, helped us the second we walked in the door. Here we met some amazing and very welcoming locals. The owners fiance, Val, even offered us to come over one night for a home cooked meal. When I say they treated us like family, I wasn’t kidding! Everyone was dancing to the live music, having a drink, and just enjoying life. These were my kind of people! If you're passing through Statesville on a Friday night, make a pit stop at Red Buffalo!
Bristol Cafe and Catering
The next morning we took a nice run around downtown before our busy day! For brunch we went to Bristol Cafe and Catering. The food is all “Charleston inspired” and boy was it the best brunch we had ever had. We got Chicken and Waffles, Charleston Shrimp Omelet, and Crab cake Benedict. Their portion sizes were outrageous, so much detail was put into the presentation, and the taste was obviously outstanding. Jeff and Joanie, the owners, opened up this cafe in a vacant building off of Court St. in May of 2017. Court street was known as “Whiskey Shoot Alley” in the early 1900’s and the cafe was known as the Bristol Hotel which later inspired the name “Bristol Cafe.” There is so much history in this one section of town and it is honored throughout the cafe.
Southern Distilling was our next stop of the day. This distillery was a dream conceived on a family farm where they walked us through every step of the process all the way from the corn, to the barreled whiskey. I had never seen a true distillery before, so seeing this entire process first hand was so interesting. We got a grand tour of the entire location and even was lucky enough to try their 135 proof whiskey — YIKES! It was so clean and easy, but it definitely got your lips buzzing! The most interesting fact to me was learning how whiskey gets it dark color… it comes from the oak of the barrel that it’s stored in! The people of Statesville love coming to their local distillery for tastings, shopping the store, and touring the process. We even got to hang out with their adorable daughters who hope to take over the family business some day! This family truly enjoys crafting their premium bourbons, rye whiskey, fruit brandies and more! They are located right off of the interstate on I-77, so if you’re every passing through, stop in!
We crossed right over to Fort Dobbs to learn about this landmark and the history of it. After protecting the site in 1909, the Daughters of the American Revolution saw the need to reconstruct the blockhouse to educate and tell the story. It was the only North Carolina fort for soldiers to live and refugees to come. The well is the staple throughout this fort -- it is 40 feet deep made of strictly North Carolina red clay. There was a battle held on the outside of Fort Dobbs in 1760 where 8 soldiers and 2 officers were faced with 60-70 Cherokee warriors. The history is endless at this landmark and is so interesting to hear about it while being at the exact spot that it took place in hundreds of years ago. You can book tours and learn more about the reconstruction process on their website!
For a mid-day pick me up, we stopped into Grouchos for a late lunch. It is owned by two of our favorite locals, Cindy and Brandon! Katie had the Mid East Sandwich (which was HUGE!) and I got the Tomato Bisque soup. This tomato bisque soared above my expectations and I can’t wait to pop in for another bowl when I come back. This deli is located on the corner in downtown district. It seemed to be a hotspot for young adults and college students. The staff was so sweet and came back very frequently to check on us! This was the perfect spot for us to rejuvenate for the long night ahead.
A local hotspot for wine is the Wine Maestro! They're a dog friendly wine boutique that has an extensive menu and the most cozy seating area. They also carry hundreds of craft and imported brews, a vast selection of cheeses and many more snacks! The Wine Maestro is also a popular place to host events and parties as well as being the local hang out for wine lovers.
A Christmas Carol: Theatre Statesville
Katie and I were so excited to experience A Christmas Carol throughout Statesville, both indoor and outdoor scenes. It was a guided walking tour all around town to tell Dicken’s story of Scrooge! Surprisingly, I had never seen the play before! The story was so cute and the actors/actresses made it just come to life. It’s a perfect way for the town to spice up their holiday spirit!
Twisted Oak American Bar and Grill
After the play, we walked across the street to Twisted Oak for dinner! We started with the pimento cheese dip as an appetizer and Moscow Mules! For our main dishes, we got the Harvest Pear Salad, Pesto Chicken, and famous Shrimp and Grits! This Shrimp & Grits dish was amazing in it’s own way. The grits were fried and it was smothered in a cajun sauce — so very different from 220. They were actually honored in Paula Deen’s magazine as top 10 shrimp & grits in the south — how cool! I loved them both and they were so unique in their own way. My salad was just what I needed. Very refreshing and added a twist with the pears! Twisted Oak hosts several banquets and group gatherings. You can choose to sit at their cozy bar or their outdoor seating by the fire.
Fourth Creek Brewing
There was so much talk throughout the town about the new brewery, Fourth Creek! It was Statesville’s first brewery since prohibition. So we stopped by there to see what they were all about. We toured all around the brewery, listened to the live band, and even got to sneak in the back room to see where the magic happens. The owner chatted with us for a while about how he started this business, his story of where he came from, and why the vibe of Fourth Creek is just so attracting to the townies and tourists.
Brunch at D’Laneys
We woke up the next day and went on another run before brunch! We stopped into D’Laney’s , a locally owned sports bar and grill by Dave Laney. They serve lunch, dinner, in addition to brunch on Sundays. They also come to life with live music on the weekendare located right downtown to try out their new brunch menu. I got (yes, again) Egg’s Benedict… hehe I am obsessed. Katie got the most hot item on the menu, The Boxty, which were potato cakes! After our brunch we walked around downtown to take some photos before heading to our next spot!
Key to Escape
THIS PLACE IS A MUST! I honestly could not rant and rave about the Key to Escape more. Katie and I went into the “Under Pressure” room and we MADE IT!!!! We literally had about 10 seconds to spare but it was so much fun, challenging, and really made us put our minds together and figure it out. We wanted to try them all! People from all around the world travel to this specific Key to Escape because their set ups are just out of this world and so realistic. This was one of our favorite spots of the entire trip! We can’t wait to head back their soon and try out another room.
Katie and I stopped by the Christmas parade downtown on our way back from the Escape room. It was so adorable seeing how excited the locals and their kids were to see the marching bands and Santa. This town truly loves the Christmas season and this parade is definitely a Holiday favorite.
This little family owned restaurant was TRUE Italian food! They were such a sweet couple and very welcoming. We each had a salad, then I got the stuffed shells and Katie got the Carbonara. Then, Katie had been craving Tiramisu so of course we had to get their homemade special. I had never tried it before but it was so light, chocolatey, and full of flavor. Vesuvio's was so yummy and exactly what we needed to fuel up for our night at Zootastic Park.
Zootastic Wonderland of Lights
OKAY YALL…. Zootastic was MAGICAL! We drove through the most beautiful set up of lights, into the reindeer forrest, animals feedings and s’mores, listening to their remix of baby shark in Christmas form, all to find a surprise at the end… WE GOT TO HOLD A BABY LEOPARD!!!!! Yes, I am being dead serious. Katie and I had no idea we were getting to experience this, we just thought we were checking out the animals at the zoo. This was something that we will never forget. They were so cute and cuddly, yet very playful and exotic. They actually treated us like we were leopards too. All they wanted was to check us out, play with us, and be loved. Now, Katie and I are thinking of adopting a baby leopard…. But in all seriousness, if you want the experience of a lifetime and love animals, they have several types of encounters to choose from. You can hang out with Tigers, Kangaroos, Sloths, or even Armadillos. However, I highly recommend the baby leopards! Zootastic Park is a MUST in this town!
Breakfast at RX Grill
Our trip was sadly coming to an end, but before we could go we had to stop into a restaurant that has so much history in Statesville. The RX Grill is not only has breakfast but is also inside a pharmacy, and has been for many many years. It is a staple for this town and locals love it! The breakfast was phenomenal and we were able to sit down and talk about our trip to the “Visit Statesville” team! Let’s also not forget the warm cobbler they brought over to us… WOW! If you can’t tell, I have a major sweet tooth!
After breakfast we went to the Rescue Ranch to see the animals and meet the ambassadors! This ranch is owned by Krissie and Ryan Newman, the NASCAR driver! The animals here all have their own story of how they ended up at the Ranch and it is just beautiful to see how much they are loved by the ambassadors. They all have their own personalities and love people (well most of them!). We got to hold several types of animals and learn about them. My favorites were Graham Cracker (the bunny), Lover boy (the Cockatoo), and one that I am not allowed to mention yet because he has not been announced. But he was SO DANG CUTE so I suggest keeping a close eye to see when they announce who the new animal is! Rescue Ranch’s mission is to promote through it’s education and respect for the animals as well as conservation, rehabilitation, and responsible pet ownership.
Statesville is a proudly growing community with 53 unique shops and stores. They have the most kind and welcoming crowd that I have ever came across. They treated us like family the second we arrived and kept up with us throughout our time there. I highly suggest making a trip here for your next family and friends getaway! Thank you so much, Visit Statesville, for having us! We loved your beautiful town so much and can’t wait to visit again!
A special thank you to Downtown Statesville, the City, the Tourism board, and the business's and restaurants for having us and treating us like family during our stay! We can't wait to come back and visit soon!