See Asheville for under $500

Head down South for good music, good beer, and good vibes.

I could gush all day about how much I love Asheville, NC. Growing up, I had visited a few times and fondly remembered visiting the Biltmore, the pretty scenery, and nice people. Recently, when my friend was performing in Banner Elk, NC, I took the opportunity to visit him and see his show and then continue for a few days of solo adventures in Asheville, NC. I love planning quick, inexpensive getaways. There's something so special about waking up in a new place. There's something really empowering about being able to travel all by yourself. I get a sense of accomplishment from picking a hotel and booking a car and choosing what to fill my days with.

When I visited Asheville this time around I couldn't stop smiling. The weather was beautiful, the air was fresh, and there were so many nooks and crannies to explore. A local told me it wasn't a coincidence that I couldn't stop smiling. They said that it's because Asheville is located on top of the largest white quartz deposit in the state. It is said that the energy from the quartz makes Asheville an especially soothing place- and I see why. From the live music, to the endless cute bistros and eateries, to the eclectic antique shops, the town posses a certain charm most other places lack. Check out how I went there for under $500.

How to get there (and get around)...

I flew from NYC on United for only $112 round trip. Most flights into Asheville are fairly inexpensive. The airport itself is small and quaint. It took me about three minutes to get through security and most of that time was spent chatting with the TSA employees (seriously, people are so nice there). You can check out cheap flights here. If you live on the East Coast and have a car, it may suit you better to drive since you need a car to get around Asheville.

If you don't have a car or are coming from farther fear not! Being a Manhattanite, I don't have access to my car, so I opted to rent a car. I went in the middle of summer which is presumably tourist season for most places and my car only cost me $25/day. For that price, I expected to be driving their most basic economy car, but I was pleasantly surprised when Hertz had reserved me a shiny new Infinity sports car.

In total, your flight and car rental should run you about $200.

Where to stay...

My trip to Asheville was also my very first hostel experience. I always shyed away from hostels because of the unpredictability of who you'd be staying with, but I had the best time at Bon Paul & Sharky's Hostel in Asheville. I found it pointless to spend a lot on a hotel when it was just me and just two days, so I opted for this hostel at only $26 a night. The staff there is really cool and laid back. They have clean towels and sheets and each of their rooms lock with a passcode so only you and your co-dwellers can get in. It's located in West Asheville where there are plenty of fun bars and food spots and it's just a short drive from downtown.

Bon Paul & Sharky's


Housing should run you about $60.

What to bring + what to do...

You don't need much! Most things you'll do in Asheville are casual, so I'd say just come dressed for a good time. In the summer, you'll want shorts and tanks with a light sweater for night time because of the elevation. If you're visiting in the fall or winter keep an eye on the weather because they can get some random cold spells.

A must visit burger join is Farm burger. A brewery and a farm to table style burger joint they have sweet tea on tap of course combining traditional southern culture with hip, modern dining. If you're a beer lover, you could easily spend your entire time in Asheville hopping from brewery to brewery (pun intended) another great one is Asheville Brewing Company. They have a few spots, but I recommend going to their unified Asheville Pizza & Brewing location. My flight got cancelled so I had an extra night in Asheville and stopped by there for pizza and it was incredible.

If you are dying to see the Biltmore Estate then I say go for it, but if you're on the fence, better to skip it. It's $60 entry, so be prepared to spend most of your day there. As an alternative, I walked around the shops near the Biltmore to get a similar essence. After that, I recommend driving over to the River Arts District which is nearby and which is nearby French Broad River Park and outdoor fun. At River Arts you can browse local artists' work and possibly even see them in action. It's a great spot for conversation too! French Broad Park is gorgeous. I went and watched the people tubing down the river for a little while.

I'd recommend winding down your day in Downtown Asheville again. Spend the late afternoon antiquing and the evening bar hopping and listening to local musicians.

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If you've googled one thing during this pandemic, it is definitely: "Thai food near me."

Thai food has remained one of the most delicious and sought after takeout gems; and in New York City, specifically, there are so many delicious options that it can be overwhelming. Often unlike Chinese food, Thai food offers fresher ingredients and versatile cuisine options. Whether you want some Pad Thai or Pad See Ew, or some coconut milk-infused curry or even just some soup, Thai food is good for any occasion. But with so many options, how do you know you're getting the freshest ingredients at the best price? Here are the best spots to order take-out from, and we even broke it up by borough for you.

Manhattan: Fish Cheeks

Fish Cheeks

Reviewed by The Times as "fresh, vivid and intense," Fish Cheeks offers solid takes on traditional Thai Cuisine. Their speciality remains seafood, so their Crab Friend Rice and Coconut Crab Curry are delicious highlights. Their Tum Yum is also to die for, made with fresh galanagal, lime leaves and lemongrass.

The version [of tum yum] here hums with fresh galangal, lime leaves and lemongrass. Shrimp and knobby mushrooms simmer in a broth that gets extra body from milk, a twist I've never seen before but one I approve of. It could be spicier, but the use of bird's-eye chiles is far from shy.

Manhattan: Lan Larb

thia food

Arguably some of the best Pad Thai in the city, Lan Larb is focused mainly on the food of Thailand's northeast region. As a result, there is often a combo of meat and seafood involved in most dishes, such as the Lao Chicken Soup, which combines fresh chicken with pickled fish and a steamy brown broth. The menu will make your tastebuds whirl if you're one for experimentation, if not, their Pad Thai is iconic and filling enough on its own.

Brooklyn: Ugly Baby

Brooklyn has always been teeming with amazing Thai food joints, but Ugly Baby is the borough's most established success story. The Carrol Gardens sensation was preceded by two long gone Red Hook restaurants known for their authentic Northern Thai cuisine. With Ugly Baby, a name which comes from an ancient belief in Thailand that ugly children bring good fortune, chef Sirichai Sreparplarn had mastered his craft. The restaurant quickly gained glowing praise throughout Brooklyn and New York, and their take on Khao Soi Nuer and Kao Tod Nam Klook remain the stuff of legends.

Queens: Ayada

ayada thai

Ayada's cuisine is so good that it made a New York Times journalist cry at his table. Not out of emotion though, but out of spice. For those looking for a truly bold eating experience, this Queens Thai restaurant holds nothing back when crafting their drunken noodles or Pad Thai, but that spice is what makes it one of the best spots in the city.

Bronx: Ceetay

​While the Bronx isn't necessarily a buzzing Thai food borough, Ceetay's asian fusion cuisine is of the highest quality and will appeal to anyone desperately needing to nom on some noodles. Their sushi is amazing but their Pad Thai is packed with amazing flavor. Seasoned with onions, peppers, cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, peanuts, scallions and cilantro, this Pad Thai is packed with flavors and will slam your taste buds in the best possible way.


5 Countries to Visit This Fall

As the weather starts to chill out, we're just getting warmed up to travel

It's not winter yet!

So that means, we're all about that fall travel. It's a beautiful time of year to be outside in many countries, soaking up the colorful landscapes and fresh air. Here are our picks for the top places to visit this fall.

1. Germany


Burg Eltz Castle is a magical step back into the Middle Ages that's been here for more than 850 years.

2. Switzerland


The red leaves in Bern are absolutely striking.

3. Italy


Nothing like the sheer beauty of the formidable Italian alps.

4. Peru


Machu Picchu beckons visitors from near and far this fall.

5. Mexico


It's not too cold to skip the beach!

Everyone has heard of the murder-hotel where dark shadows creep at the edge of your vision, or the abandoned house where the furniture moves each time you leave the room.

But sometimes the places set up to capture the fun and fright of the Halloween season for paying customers can be far more horrifying than any ghost stories. These "fake" haunted houses will leave you genuinely haunted.

Pennhurst Haunted Asylum

So spoooky!

Thomas James Caldwell

Pennhurst Asylum was in operation from 1908-1987 in the small town of Spring City, Pennsylvania. While we don't have all the records of the residents' experiences there, it doesn't take much imagination to realize that this building was home to true horrors. In many ways, 1908 wasn't that long ago, but in terms of mental health treatment—especially in small-town Pennsylvania—it was absolutely the dark ages. This was the time of lobotomies, straight jackets, and shock therapy. Whatever the jump scares and fake blood contribute to the fear you will feel walking through Pennhurst Asylum's aging, echoing halls, they can't come close to the deep, sinking feeling caused by the deep history of torment that has left its imprint on the very fabric of the place. Four spooky skulls out of five.


Haunted Trap House

Like this, but less 90s

In Centreville, Maryand, in the year 1989, a group of visionaries were struck by a bolt of inspiration. What if—instead of zombies and werewolves and demons, and all the stuff out of children's nightmares—what if they filled their haunted house with the real-world nightmares that were actually infesting their city, killing their residents, and generally afflicting every corner of the entire nation. Thus, the Haunted Crack House was born. Since renamed the Haunted Trap House, it's ostensibly an educational experience on the dangers of drug use, it features simulations of overdoses, arrests, and shootings, as well as actual former convicts who are paid to draw on their real experiences to make your visit as terrifying as possible. This kind of fetishizing of human misery to capitalize on the Halloween season is as despicable as it is spooky. Four-and-a-half skulls out of five.


McKamey Manor

He technically consented to this

A $20,000 reward? A 40-page waiver? These figures have garnered a lot of attention in recent headlines. Supposedly this is the "scariest" haunted house experience in the country. Who could resist the temptation of that once-in-a-lifetime experience, combined with the chance to win a big cash prize? Unfortunately, that is exactly what Russ McKay wants. There's a reason he's put so much work into the legal side of his operation. Rather than gassing up neutered chainsaws and chasing you around in a hockey mask, McKay has opted for producing actual, real, straight-up torture. You may not find the decorations and costumes that scary, but you will absolutely fear for your life when you consent to be water-boarded with fake blood. For being operated by a man who is clearly an unhinged psychopath, McKamey Manor ties the Haunted Traphouse, with four-and-a-half spooky skulls.


Donald Vann's House of Horrors

Donald Vann murdered eleven people. Happens to the best of us, but it does present a problem. How do you dispose of all those bodies? Donald's solution was to open a haunted house and put his victims' decaying remains on display as props. Props to him. For eight months he prepared his fetid, malodorous horrors, before debuting on October 1st. Unfortunately, you won't be able to visit his house of horrors, because he has since landed in some legal trouble—board of health, maybe?—but I'm sure for the lucky few who were able to visit during its brief tenure, and witness Vann's "psychotic smirk," I'm sure the nightmares they're left with keep on spooking.


Every Hell House in America


In the same vein as the Haunted Traphouse, Hell Houses are church presentations intended as educational experiences that warn kids and teens away from the path of sin. Their methods for achieving this obviously vary, but according to The Washington Post, you can generally expect the following: "A devil ushers a gay man dying of AIDS into the fiery pit. A teenager who is raped at a drug-filled rave commits suicide and also goes to hell. A young girl hemorrhaging from an abortion repents at the last minute." Awful. Truly sickening. What kind of trauma are they inflicting on these children to prop up their outdated ideologies? Six spooky skulls. Where'd that extra skull come from?? Nobody knows…