Image Courtesy of ExploreAsheville.com
I am North Carolina Tar Heel, born and bred, but, without being biased, I still have to say that my home state makes a great vacation destination. One of my absolute favorite cities in the western part of the state is Asheville. I am certainly not alone. Last year, it was named by “Good Morning America” as one of the “Most Beautiful Places in America.” We call it our “Paris of the South,” and the local North Carolinians, as well as tourists, can’t get enough of this place that is bursting with outdoor adventures and that features a booming art community, a flourishing culinary scene, and a thriving live-music scene. And best of all, it is surrounded by the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains.
The Biltmore Estate
A trip to Asheville is not complete without a stop at the regal and majestic Biltmore Estate. A visit to the 8,000-acre estate, which is the former home of George Vanderbilt, provides limitless fun for the entire family or for a couple seeking romance. Your admission includes self-guided tours of the breathtaking Biltmore House & Gardens and the Antler Hill Village—featuring the Winery, The Biltmore Legacy Exhibit about the Vanderbilts, Village Green, and the Farm. Every Friday until July 27, the Estate hosts Fridays after Five, with live music, Biltmore wine, local beers, and picnic-type cuisine in the Village Green area.
When I travel to Asheville, I love to stay at the Inn at Biltmore. During my last stay, I truly felt as if I was a guest of George Vanderbilt. My entire stay was top-notch and such a special memory for me. Right now is the perfect time to explore the splendor of this majestic estate. The Inn at Biltmore is offering special rates all summer, including the pay for two nights and stay for three nights special. Since my last stay, the Inn has added a gorgeous day spa to its amenities.
You can bet a spa treatment is on my list for my next trip, along with another dinner, al-fresco, at the winery. The Biltmore Estate is also very kid-friendly, and all summer kids get into the Estate for free. Take it from me, it’s very hard to leave the Estate, but there is much more to see in Asheville besides this glorious property.
Food in the City
Near the Biltmore Estate is the quaint and charming Biltmore Village, which is a must-see shopping area when visiting Asheville. The village is built around the train depot that supplied the Biltmore Estate materials during construction, and later supplied provisions for the Estate, as well as its guests. The tree-lined streets are home to Tudor-style buildings, housing boutiques, galleries, and dining delights. The quaint Corner Kitchen and Fig Bistro are two top-ranked restaurants in the historic village, and both are open for Sunday brunch.
Image courtesy of ExploreAsheville.com
Lively downtown Asheville is only a few miles away from the historic Biltmore Village. The downtown scene is bustling with live music, galleries, breweries, and restaurants. In the summer months, al-fresco dining reigns supreme. Asheville’s top chefs have traveled the world to learn their craft, and many have learned that the best ingredients are found right at home. Many chefs partner with local farmers in the area to bring the freshest ingredients from the farm right to the table. Three local favorites are Curate, Early Girl Eatery, and Tupuelo Honey Café. But with 250-plus restaurants serving up delicious cuisine, it’s hard to get to them all on one visit.
Dining in Asheville is so popular that the city has come up with a “Culinary Travel Adventure without the Consequences” itinerary that helps you burn calories through culinary tours, walking, and hiking. The entire tour will burn 2,030 calories during the four-day tour.
So Much To Do
Image courtesy of Del Holston via ExploreAsheville.com
A perfect afternoon for me in Asheville is exploring the Appalachian Craft Center, which pays tribute to the city’s Appalachian heritage with local artisans’ crafts, pottery, and jewelry. After browsing the local gems, I would hop aboard a motorcoach for the Asheville Brews Cruise. On this tour, you can find out why Asheville has been voted “Beer City USA” for the past three years. You will be transported in comfort to nine breweries and will also get a taste of North Carolina’s best brews along the way. That just sounds like a lot of fun!
For the adventure and outdoor lover, Asheville is an outdoor playground like none other. For a complete list of things to do in the area, visit Explore Asheville.com