08/07/14

Return to Asheville

Asheville.

The very name when mentioned in casual conversation can elicit a little bounce in my heart and bring a smile to my face.

People mention it in casual conversation, and I just can’t help but chime in.

It just might be my favorite place in the entire world.

And if not the most very favorite, it’s definitely towards the top.

Mom and I usually make our way there 3-5 times per year, but this year, we have fallen behind. I haven’t been to Asheville since early January of this year and I couldn’t wait to return.

Usually it’s just mom and I, but this time, we coerced Dad into joining us- promising him that we would keep the girly stuff (A.K.A- tours & shopping) to a minimum. And we did.

Mostly.

But, boy oh boy, did we have fun! I always have fun with these 2.

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We took a 3 day weekend, arriving early on a Friday morning and returning home Sunday afternoon. We couldn’t wait to show Dad all Asheville had to offer. {I secretly think he agreed to join us on this trip so that he could see for himself why we must go back multiple times in one calendar year.}

Gotta see what all the fuss is about.

I’m about to give all my Asheville trade secrets away.

Are ya ready? ….

How-to: Weekend Getaway to Asheville, NC 

Mom & Dad has always instilled in me a sense of adventure and spontaneity.

When I was growing up, Dad used to wake Mom & I up, tell us to pack an overnight bag, and get in the car for a road trip. Often, he didn’t even know where we were going. We would simply pick a direction and start driving. We have found some pretty fun destinations that way. And that is sort of how it has been with my Asheville love affair. It has happened gradually over time & lots of my discoveries were purely accidental and unplanned.

So, first things first…

Hotels! 

There are lots of places to stay in Asheville, but my favorite location is Biltmore Village right outside Biltmore Estate’s main entrance. The Village is home to great restaurants with local flare, gift shops, clothing retailers, and historic All Souls Episcopal Church, the Church George Vanderbilt built in 1896.

In and around Biltmore Village, there are numerous places to stay: The Guesthouse Inn, The Baymont Inn, Doubletree, & the prestigious Grand Bohemian Hotel by Marriott.

It’s like a French Chateau.

Or, if you are more interested in staying downtown Asheville, my pick would be the Hotel Indigo.

It’s centrally located to all downtown has to offer and is best known for its modern flare.

Looking for a last-minute reservation? Hotel Tonight is a great travel app detailing hotel’s unsold rooms in every city imaginable! With a few quick swipes on your phone or ipad, you can easily secure a room, pack your bags, and be at your destination come nightfall.

Restaurants! 

Easily one of my favorite things about Asheville– it is such a funky foodie town!

About this time last year, I discovered a blogger who calls Asheville home. She posted a series on places to stay in Asheville, things to do, and most importantly- where to eat! I took a few of her suggestions, and suggestions of others who are also native Ashevillians and gave them a shot!

But, as with many things, I do play favorites.

Breakfast:

For breakfast, it’s all about Early Girl Eatery.

Eclectic, folksy, unique and oh so good! Best coffee & stack of pancakes around! It is the absolute essence of Asheville perfectly captured.

{Sorry I didn’t get a picture of my plate before I devoured it.}

Breakfast Honorable Mentions: Tupelo Honey Cafe, The Corner Kitchen, & Sunny Point Cafe.

Lunch:

For lunch, I have to say I have 2 favorites.

12 Bones Smokehouse is what I would call a classic NC BBQ joint with a rebellious twist.

The Blueberry Chipotle or Pineapple Habanero Ribs are to die for! Oh, and don’t forget about their corn puddin’.

It’s a total experience.

They will peg you from the very start that you are an out-of-towner. It’s okay. Own it!

One of my life’s ambitions is that there will finally come a day where I “fit in” at 12 Bones and they don’t ask me when I come up to the counter, “Ya new here?!?”

When you are thinking Mexican, think Pappa’s & Beer.

Located on Tunnel Road near the Asheville Mall (where there is a fabulous Barnes & Noble), Pappa’s is known for their family atmosphere and out-of-this-world Mexican favorites.

Be sure to sample several different types of salsa from their Salsa Bar. My favorite? Pumpkin salsa! Who’d have thought? And get a nice tall glass of horchata, a Mexican non-alcoholic beverage made with rice water, sweetened condensed milk, and spices. It’s absolutely delicious.

Dinner:

And finally, for dinner, we love Bouchon!

It is this quaint little French bistro in the heart of downtown Asheville and it is delicious! The steak au poivre might just change your life.

And every entree comes with your very own cone of perfectly fried french fries or ‘pommes frite’ with garlic aioli.

Delicious!

Dinner Honorable Mentions: The Bistro on Biltmore Estate & Apollo’s Flame Greek Bistro (for cheap eats + the best Greek salad and tzatziki sauce. Like ever. In life.)

Dessert:

And you can’t forget about dessert?!? It would be a tragedy to leave Asheville without a visit to the French Broad Chocolate Lounge.

lounge in spring

Awesome assorted chocolates and truffles…. although, the lavender honey & fresh raspberry are probably my favorites.

choco

And the most heavenly chocolate macarons around!

Mmmmmm……

*Check out of all Sommer’s foodie recommendations on her blog, A Spicy Perspective. You will not be disappointed.

Not sure where to eat? Ask a local! It is handsdown the best advice I receive at almost any destination. Those little unsung restaurants where the locals eat, are usually the best!

Or another tip? Blast a post on Facebook or other social media platforms… “Hey! I am in Chicago tonight… where should I eat?!?” You will be surprised what sort of responses you will receive.

Things to do! 

Sometimes the obvious answer is also the best one.

Tour Biltmore House of course!

Walk, ride, tour, shop, dine, walk some more. It is absolutely breathtakingly beautiful in all seasons.

Once you tire of the estate (can’t imagine), try out other areas of town– Downtown, the River Arts District, and close-by Biltmore Village for more fun & adventures. The River Arts district is where all the local artists congregate. Mom & I have had great fun touring their galleries and meeting them personally. One of those artists is Bee Sieburg. We just love Bee! Her spirit is infectious and she has such passion around her artwork.

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Her scenes range from indoor to outdoor, but I have to say, her farm & country scapes take my breath away.

Especially her cows.

What can I say? I am partial to them. Isn’t he cute?

And her?

Looking for adventure? Why not zip-lining? Or fly fishing lesson? Dad really enjoyed his one-on-one fly fishing & casting lesson. And next on my list is a segway tour through downtown Asheville. Sounds like something I just have to do!

Want a more relaxing day? Go soak in all the wonders of the Grove Park Inn & Spa, consistently rates one of the best in the country.

There is no such thing as a bad day at the spa.

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Maybe a great Southern town is calling your name? Maybe Asheville?  Wherever it is, I hope this inspires you to pack your bags, embrace your aptitude for adventure, get out there, and travel!!!

Maybe this weekend???

Happy trails.

xoxo….

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