Asheville doesn’t need the NC behind its name….because there could be only one! There is no other place like it in the world. Asheville is a mix of history, lore, artistry, adventure, charm, and magic….all rolled into an eclectic mountain town that will keep you coming back again and again.
I have been going to Asheville ever since I was a young girl. My mother and father took us on many trips to the area to camp, explore The Biltmore Estate, and for scenic rides on the Blue Ridge Parkway. These trips instilled a love of Asheville and the North Carolina mountains in me that has lasted a lifetime.
Many of my friends ask me why I love Asheville so much. I try to explain that it’s like entering another world when you cross over into Buncombe County. An actual sphere or dome seems to encompass the area. All of your cares and busyness of life melt away and you dissolve into all that is Asheville.
Every time that I visit I discover something different, enjoy a new activity or introduce a friend/family to the wonders of Asheville. In 2016 I even married my sweet husband on an Asheville mountainside overlooking the picturesque Blue Ridge Parkway. Talk about a dream come true!
Asheville is so special to me and as I stated above I love introducing newbies to the area. I use social media and my blog to do this, as well as frequent trips to the town. Just a few weeks ago my sister and I planned a birthday trip to Asheville for my niece’s best friend. KC had never been to the area so she wanted us to immerse her in the sights, foods, and adventures of Asheville and we made her birthday wish come true!
We set out on a Friday morning and arrived there around midday. We rented an Airbnb and couldn’t check in until 3:00pm so the first stop on our itinerary was The Sierra Nevada Brewery. The brewery is located right outside of Asheville in Mills River. It’s new to the area and KC really likes beer so I knew that she’d love the place. First off, the facility is absolutely gorgeous! All of the rustic wood and copper is breathtaking and the architecture is so true to the mountain region. It’s a must-see, even if you don’t drink beer. They have countless beer selections on tap, offer beer flights to taste several different beers, have delicious food at their restaurant, and provide numerous tours to choose from. Some tours cost and require a reservation so be sure to schedule these ahead of time. However, they do have a free self-guided tour that you can take at any time. That is the tour that we chose. We toured at our own pace and enjoyed the displays, murals, timelines, and peeks inside the actual brewery process. Of course, there were many picture opportunities for us iPhone photographers lol! After our tour, we got a table on the patio and savored a flight of yummy beers, a warm pretzel with beer cheese, and a platter of duck confit fries….all so heavenly! The brewery has a great atmosphere. There was live music, cornhole games, and on-site gardens to meander through. We had a great time. Now on to event number two!
Through a little research, I discovered that Asheville has a self-guided Urban Trail Tour . We decided to take this tour through downtown and have dinner before we headed to our Airbnb later on. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes because this tour takes you on about a two-mile loop around downtown. There are 30 stations on this tour and along the way you will learn about the city’s eclectic and magical past, see beautiful architecture, and have opportunities to pop into charming shops and snag some tasty treats as you navigate the historic tour. We made a pit stop into French Broad Chocolates for a little snack as we strolled. May I highly recommend the Ginger Molasses Chocolate Dipped cookie!!! Calories don’t count when you are in Asheville! The local artisans crafted many of the pieces that adorn the stations..after all, Asheville is a spiritual draw for artist, both stateside and abroad. The artistry that you will see on the tour will be mind-blowing and make you want to tap into your creative side a little more. Some of the stations are harder to spot than others but if you download the map ahead of time or have the app of the trail on your phone it will be easy….a little scavenger hunt if you will.
We made it to all 30 stations, saw a lot, learned a lot, and burned a lot of calories! So now it was dinner time! Our dining choice for the night was The LAB! The LAB or Lexington Avenue Brewery is a craft beer brewery as well as a restaurant. They also offer an event space with a vast menu to suit all taste. The LAB hosted my wedding rehearsal dinner. The event space and the food were perfect. To my delight, they even had vegan options for my daughter and her family!
Since we had sampled several beers earlier we skipped beer with dinner and only had entrees. We dined on the most flavorful roasted chicken with crispy brussels sprouts, a pulled pork bbq sandwich, chips and beef queso, and The LAB burger! We were stuffed and fully satisfied!!
We rented an Airbnb that was convenient to all of our activities and eateries. The owner was super nice and she came out to introduce herself when we arrived. The guest suite we rented was on the same property as her home but it was detached and very private. We enjoyed our stay there. Airbnb is totally the way to go when you travel!
Day two was a full and wonderful day spent exploring The Biltmore Estate . We had lunch at one of their several on-site cafes/restaurants before we started our tour of the estate. Our lunch was delicious as usual and fueled us up to walk through this enormous house. Walking through the house never ceases to amaze me. The ornate beauty, the craftsmanship, the design, the ingenuity, and the sheer magnitude of this private home. To think that this was actually a home for a family in the gilded age…just wow! During this visit, Biltmore was hosting artifacts from the Titanic movie. The original costumes from the Titanic movie were positioned throughout the house as well as posted historical information about the actual Titanic. The displays change periodically which keeps visitors coming back again and again…myself included!
We spent several hours in the house before we went down to the conservatory area of Biltmore’s beautiful gardens. We were in for a special treat because the tulips were in peak bloom and oh how gorgeous they were. I can’t adequately describe how magnificent these manicured fields of tulips were. Stunning yellow, orange, red, and purple tulips adorned the gardens. Just simply breathtaking. We strolled along the rows and took many pictures….as a matter of fact, there were a lot of people using the tulips as a backdrop for their snapshots on this perfect Spring day. After a while we just sat in the lush grass and just soaked in the beauty.
We had one more stop before leaving the estate grounds…. THE WINERY!! Yes, Biltmore has it all…including a winery. William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil (George Vanderbilt’s grandson) had the forethought to change the estate’s dairy farm into a winery back in 1985 as a means of revenue. The winery has helped the estate to remain as George Vanderbilt wanted it, a self-sustaining farm.
We enjoyed the winery’s wine tasting which is included in the estate admission ticket. The sommelier who lead our tasting was great!! He had a great personality and was very knowledgeable. His jokes became funnier and funnier as the wine continued to be poured…and consumed!
It was another great day on the estate!
We decided to head downtown for cocktails and dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Tupelo Honey Cafe. The menu consists of the most scrumptious southern comfort food prepared with a creative flair. They also have local craft beers & tantalizing cocktails to wet your whistle. After you order your entrée the server will bring out a plate of mouth-watering biscuits served with Tupelo’s signature blueberry preserves. (You will hear the angels sing). We ate well, toasted the birthday girl, and fully enjoyed our last night in Asheville!
There was a light rain falling when we awoke the next morning but that only made Asheville look, smell, and feel beautiful in a different way. We packed up and checked out of our Airbnb but before we left for home we had one more yummy stop….. Biscuit Head! If you love huge, buttery, flaky, homestyle biscuits then this is definitely the restaurant for you. Be prepared to stand in a long line but it is so worth it! Biscuit Head serves these huge cathead biscuits with an array of fillings and toppings. They have a plethora of menu items to eat alongside your biscuits as well. Oh, and don’t forget to go to the butter and jam station to try 15 or so homemade delights to spread on your biscuit! Wash it all down with a grapefruit mimosa or a delicious cup of joe!
With our bellies and hearts full we headed back home after brunch.
See you soon Asheville!!
Group photos courtesy of @lifeisaphoto66