We started the weekend out by visiting the grand and glorious Biltmore Estate . This incredible mansion was built in1895 and was the home of George Vanderbilt. The home is the largest private estate in the US and is open to the public to tour.
While this place is incredible anytime of the year. At Christmas is become a magic wonderland and guests can take the Candlelight Tours in the evening and see the home is all is glory.
While here make time to visit the Biltmore Winery which is the largest wine producer in the country and the winery is the most visited in the US. Once your done looking around, stop in at the tasting room and then on to the massive gift shop and bring the Biltmore legacy home with you.
Even in the dead of winter, guests to the estate should stop by the beautiful Biltmore Gardens . The gardens were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park in NYC. In fact the gardens are listed in the book 1001 Gardens You Must See Before You Die . The greenhouse is awash with the colors and plants of the holidays.
But while you’re here make the time to visit downtown Asheville. This vibrant and eclectic city is a haven for artists and art lovers. The city has the second largest collection of art deco buildings outside of Miami. Just walking downtown is a treat for the eyes. While here stop in at the magnificent Grove Arcade for some one of a kind shopping.
One of the best ways to see the city is by trolley with the Gray Line Trolley Tours . The tour highlights some of the best of the city and you can hop on and hop off along the route.
That evening we took a tour of the more unearthly kind. We had fun listing to the stories of the souls who still haunt this city with Ghosts and Haunts Tours . We even got to hear about a well know ghost story that started in Asheville and ended in Florida.
Asheville is a place for food lovers. During our visit we stopped by The Early Girl which was a suggestion of several IGO writers. As always, I follow in the steps of Rachael Ray when I am in town by going to Tupelo Honey . Before going to the Biltmore House we made a stop at what is billed as the swankiest McDonalds at the McDonald’s at Biltmore Village . We ended our trip by stopping by The Burger Meister before heading home.
Our home away from home was the grand Homewood Suites which gave us great mountain views. This place is perfect for visiting families or those who will be staying a bit longer than vacation time. The elegantly decorated rooms feature a kitchenette and fridge. Which were greatly appreciated since it meant we could bring our leftovers back and have a way to reheat them.
My first is easy to guess. Start by going to www.exploreasheville.com and order your visitors guide or just explore the site. When in town stop by the visitors center located on Montford Dr. Where the have a wealth of information on this charming city and her neighbors.
Don’t just come here for the Biltmore House. I have to admit I have been here on several occasions to see the Biltmore Estate, but never took the time to explore Asheville. What a huge mistake. This place is seeped in history and beauty. Take the time to explore the downtown area which boasts the second largest collection of Art Deco buildings outside of Miami. There is truly something here for everyone.
This is a haven for artists and art lovers. You can find one of a kind galleries in the downtown area and on out into the River Arts District. It makes window shopping here a real treat.
Always check the forecast before you come and plan accordingly. I didn’t and had sweatshirts and long sleeve t’s. I woke up Saturday to find it 62 degrees at the end of December in the mountains!
Don’t leave anywhere without your camera. This gem is nestled within the eye popping Blue Ridge Mountains and beauty surrounds every of this place.
Asheville sits in the perfect location for mountain getaways. It is the place to day trip to or from. So if the mountains are your vacation destination, plan on spending some time in this gracious city.
Film fans will love this place as well. Numerous films have show cased this cities immense beauty including Hannibal, Patch Adams, My Fellow Americans, Forrest Gump, Ritchie Rich, The Last of the Mohicans, Mr. Destiny, and Bull Durham
Visitors to the city can arrive by flying into Asheville Regional (www.flyavl.com) which has dozens of flights daily and where you can pick up a rental car.
If you’re not driving in then you will need a rental car. This place is spread out and even if you’re simply going to stay in the Biltmore Village and go to the Biltmore House, you need a car. Distances between locations on the massive estate are measured in miles not feet!
Driving here from I40 is a pure delight for the senses. You can see our famous Blue Ridge Maintains as they loom closer as you get into the city.
Like most other major cities, parking downtown can be a nightmare. Take advantage of the parking garages rather than wasting time trying to find a parking meter. While we were here, parking was $2 for the whole day.
While here take the time to drive the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway. Millions of people come every year to see part of this 469 mile scenic wonders that is become one of American’s favorite drives.
Once you’re here there are lots of fun ways to get around. You can get around by trolley, bus, Segway, bike, raft, 4 wheel, and the best way..by foot. This is certianly a walking city.