What I thought would be entirely an outdoor getaway in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina ended up to be a foodie’s paradise. There weren’t enough meals in a day for me and my husband to explore all the restaurants, gastro pubs and bars in downtown Asheville.
It started with a quick stop in nearby Morganton for a wine tasting at Lake James Cellars. The winery opened in 2009 in a textile mill building (circa 1915) that manufactured cotton socks.
Asheville’s River Arts District was hosting its Second Saturday event, where every month artists give a closer look at their work and creative process. It’s amazing how many art studios can fit within four street blocks. Potters, painters, glass blowers and multimedia artists showcase their craft in working studios located within old factories and historical buildings along the French Broad River. The shops, studios, and even a brewery with upcycled metal decor, are bringing life back to the area.
The indulgences continued at Carolina Bed and Breakfast. The artful breakfast creations, hors d’oeuvres and sweets are highly regarded among guests. There was always an amazing spread for social hour. The house itself was built in 1901 by the same supervising architect of nearby Biltmore, Richard Sharp Smith.
Asheville was recently named one of the best beer towns in America by CNN. There are several microbreweries in the area, including French Broad Brewing Company. All of their beers are good, but Wes and I liked the Wee-Heavy-er Scotch Ale the most. Wicked Weed Brewing had some decent beers as well. I think I was more fascinated with their barrel stave decor and references to Henry VIII. “Hops are a wicked and pernicious weed.” – Henry VIII 1519.
A must stop during an evening walk in downtown Asheville is the Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar. It’s like a Barnes and Nobles you can drink at. It’s actually encouraged.
When we weren’t eating we found time to visit Biltmore, America’s largest home, and hike Graveyard Fields along the Blue Ridge Mountains. Which reminds me of another place we ate (seriously, you can’t get away from great food in this town) at the recommendation of a friend. In nearby Biltmore Town is this great barbecue place, Moe’s. They have several hot sauce flavors but only one BBQ sauce. As they say, “we got it right the first time.”
If you plan ahead when visiting the Biltmore, you can get the cheapest tickets off of their website. Buy seven days or more in advance to save $15. Then, I would highly recommend using that savings to do a specialty tour. We did the Butler’s Tour which included flipping through a recipe notebook dating back to 1901. It’s a great tour if you’re a fan of Downton Abbey. The prime of the Biltmore and Vanderbilt family is during the same era as Downton Abbey and the Crawley family.
As for hiking, there are plenty of trails to choose from. Waterfalls, valley viewpoints, strenuous and easy walking. We chose a shorter trail (4 mile loop) with two waterfalls. The name, Graveyard Fields, comes from the windblown and fire charred tree stumps. It’s a pretty easygoing trail with a short walk from the parking lot to the lower fall. The hike to the upper fall takes about 35 minutes at a steady pace. There are flat spots with bridges as well as some stone hopping spots. If the rocks are dry enough, climb up alongside the upper fall. As you come around the corner, the largest part of the waterfall is revealed.
And if you do make a trip to Asheville, stop by the The Soda Fountain at Woolworth Walk and let me know how the bacon milkshake tastes. We never timed our downtown walks with their operating hours. Bacon flavored milkshake dressed with a chocolate covered piece of bacon. Seriously.