My roadtrip adventure continues to Asheville, North Carolina. So far, we’d flown to Chattanooga, TN then drove to Blue Ridge, GA on our way to Asheville. I’d never been to the vibrant bohemian artist town with a reputation as ‘Beer City’. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is probably still best known as the home of George Vanderbilt’s Estate, Biltmore, the largest privately owned house in the US.
The drive from Blue Ridge to Asheville is delightful, traveling through the Nanahala National Forest. I recommend you stop at the Nanahala Outdoor Center for lunch on the river, not quite halfway to Asheville. We came upon the place suddenly—a serendipitous find! Once we got to Asheville we checked in at the Cambria Hotel Downtown [15 Page Avenue], parked the car and set out to explore the city!
The city center is very walkable and we enjoyed discovering what there was on our own. These are some of my recommendations.
Eating and Drinking
- Red Ginger [82 Patton Avenue] – Delish!
- Blue Dream Curry House [81 Patton Avenue] – Double Delish!
- Isa’s Bistro [1 Battery Park Avenue] – So French, we enjoyed breakfast here
- Woolworth Walk [25 Haywood Street] – Department store turned gallery with multiple artists, spread out on two levels, it’s a wonderful place to browse local art.
- Element Tree Essentials [18 Wall Street and 101 Cherry Street in Black Mountain] – Unique locally handcrafted lotion candles.
- Check out the shops and eateries in Grove Arcade [1 Page Avenue]
River Arts District
Worth checking out is the The River Arts District, where many local artists make their home and produce their works in the former industrial buildings located near the French Broad River. Two fun places to get some of that famous local brew and a bite to eat are Asheville Guitar Bar and Wedge Brewing Company.
Visiting Biltmore takes you back to the late 19th century in America, where few lived the lavish lifestyle of George W. Vanderbilt, who created the estate as an escape from every day life for his friends and family. We pre-booked our audio tour (Biltmore Enhanced Experience), which I highly recommend, with timed admission to the house, gardens, complimentary parking and access to the Antler Hill Village and Winery.
The family frequently entertained and evidence of their legendary hospitality is everywhere. Sadly, George died at age 51 after complications from an appendectomy, but his wife Edith assumed the running of the estate and managing its huge staff.
[PRO TIP: There are a few shops and dining options at the house itself. We were there in the fall, just two months before the holiday season and enjoyed shopping for memorable gifts and souvenirs in the pop up shops which occupy the former stables and carriage house. You don’t need to be a horticulturalist to appreciate the gardens and the shop on the lower level of the conservatory.]