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Well, I’ve been working. And by working, I mean traveling! This adventure took me on a road trip with my girlfriend Tiffany to Asheville, North Carolina. Tiffany and I have known each other for seven years now, but we live in different states, and this is the first trip we’ve taken together. Can our friendship survive it? What’s there to do in Asheville? How could we see a whole city in four days? Follow along with us to find out!
Day 1: Getting Our Bearings
The first day in any place should be a day spent exploring! Travel can be discombobulating, but if you have the time to spend the day getting to know your surroundings, the rest of your trip will be less stressful! Lucky for us, Tiffany has a friend in Asheville who offered to play tour guide for us our first day here, and he was a fountain of information! If you don’t have a friend in the area, do a little research on daytime walking tours, or plan to pay a visit to the local Visitors’ Center. Here’s an overview of our day:
- 9:30am: Breakfast at Early Girl Eatery. I recommend the Early Girl Benny!
- 10:30am: Walking tour of downtown with our friend Mike. Asheville was the vacation spot of the rich and even richer in the late 19th and early 20th centuries!
- 12:30pm: Lunch at the Grove Park Inn. I got the strawberry-rhubarb pie with strawberry shortcake ice cream–for lunch! And the views were amazing.
- 2:00pm: Driving tour of greater Asheville. We loved stopping in the adorable community of Hendersonville! We shopped, we drove out to DuPont State Recreational Forest and enjoyed some mountain view scenery.
Eventually we made it back to the hotel and went out for supper (that’s what we call it in the South; you may know it as “dinner”). Reza Mediterranean Cuisine hit the spot for us! Here are some of the sights:
Day 2: Hiking Day
Don’t get me wrong, the city can be tons of fun for days and days. But Asheville is a great place for a change of scenery, too! There are gobs of hiking trails to explore! But first, we needed to fuel up.
- 9:00am: Breakfast at Well-Bred Bakery. We got a bit lost finding it, but the meal was well worth the walking!
- 10:00am: Head for the hills! We drove just outside of town to the Blue Ridge Parkway, stopped at the Visitor Center for a couple of maps and some guidance from the Park Rangers there, and headed out! We were rewarded with stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains!
- 3:00pm: After a couple of quick showers at the hotel, we headed out to the Smith-McDowell House for some more history and exploring! It is the oldest mansion and first brick house built in Asheville! We got in just in time to tour the house before closing. If you’re at all interested in history or how people lived in the past, this is an excellent example!
After that we were pooped! Tiffany went to dinner with another friend in town, and I went back to the hotel to call my husband and start blogging about the trip. How would you spend your Saturday evening in Asheville?
Day 3: Sierra Nevada Brewery Tour
So, the ironic thing about this one is that I don’t even drink! The science of brewing and the history of moonshining in this area (now referred to as micro brewing!) is interesting to me. And it helps that my best friend Valarie is married to an executive at Sierra Nevada Brewing Company! Here’s how we spent our brewery day:
- 9:00am: Breakfast time in an apothecary from 1882!
- 10:30am: Church time; I love meeting church family in new places!
- 12:30pm: Lunch at the Sierra Nevada Taproom; they had me at bison sloppy joe sliders!
- 2:00pm: Brewery Tour–we saw how it all works. It’s a complicated process!
- 4:00pm: Exploring Biltmore Village and its adorable shops.
- 5:00pm: Back to the hotel for a workout and taking it easy the rest of the evening. It’s important to schedule some relaxation and self-care into your travel!
Day 4: Biltmore Estate
Wow! We easily could have spent multiple days exploring this tremendous estate. I feel we barely scratched the surface of all there is to know about the Vanderbilts and the Biltmore Estate. It was completed as a home in 1895 (took only 6 years to build), and it has been a museum since 1930! Right now there is an exhibit going on all about fashionable romances, including wedding dresses from movies set in a variety of eras from the 18th-20th centuries!
- 8:30am: Enter the Biltmore Estate Gates!
- 9:00am: 1.5 hour self-guided house tour.
- 10:30am: Coffee break at the Biltmore’s bakery and coffee shop by the old stables; window shopping at the stables’ shops, and exploring the gardens.
- 1:00pm: Lunch at the Bistro in Antler Village–best meal we had in Asheville!
- 2:30pm: Wine tasting (and grape juice offered to non-winos like myself), and exploring Antler Village.
- 6:30pm: Dinner at Tupelo Honey Cafe–Hooray for biscuits!
We LOVED the Biltmore! We could have easily spent several days exploring but alas, we had only one day! We were glad we chose to come on Monday instead of a weekend day so we could avoid the crowds. I also recommend getting your ticket online in advance, no matter what day you’re going. This will get you up to the house faster!
Overall, Asheville was a fantastic experience! It is definitely a recommended “girlfriend getaway” or even a “romantic getaway” experience. The people are friendly with that unspoiled Southern charm, the food we had was fresh and often locally grown or farmed, and the life pace is just more relaxed around here.
Where to Stay: In downtown Asheville or at the Biltmore. We wished we’d stayed downtown so we didn’t have to drive quite to much. We were only about 3-4 miles from town, but the convenience of staying in town would have been worth spending a bit more. Downtown Asheville is very walkable. If you stay even just a bit outside of town, you will be more dependent on your car.
Where to Eat: We did not have a bad meal. Our local friend said that restaurants here have to be good or they won’t last 30 days! Many local eateries have partnered with local farms to get their ingredients fresh from the source! The best meal we had was definitely at the Bistro in Antler Village on the Biltmore Estate grounds, but as long as you opt for local restaurants instead of chains, you will be pleased with your choice!
Where to Hike: Ask the locals! We chose a couple of hikes on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but DuPont State Park is also a popular place for longer hikes and beautiful waterfalls. We got do many suggestions from employees at local businesses and from Tiffany’s friend Mike, it was difficult to choose! Best advice: Ask around and let them know what you’re looking for–rough terrain, easy hike, views, waterfalls, swimming holes, etc.
Have you ever been to Asheville? What were your favorite things to do or places to go?