The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina have always been dear to my heart as the area brings back wonderful childhood memories of exploration and discovery. So when I began planning a couple’s get-a-way for my husband and I and friends from England, I decided we should make a trip to the mountains. I selected Asheville as our destination because it is such a diverse city with many activities in and around it. With the help of www.exploreasheville.com and the wonderful folks at the tourism bureau, I was able to plan 3 days worth of enjoyable experiences.
Day One: We arrived in Asheville about 1PM and headed straight for America’s largest home, the Biltmore House. After a quick stop in the visitor’s center to get tickets, we parked and walked a short distance to the home. The large historic home, built for George Vanderbilt in the late 1800s, is an ornate castle-like structure that’s beauty is complimented by its lush mountainous surroundings.
Upon entering the home, we picked up our headsets for the audio tour. I had been in the home before, as a child, but truly didn’t appreciate the workmanship of the home until seeing it now as an adult. The audio tour was a great idea because the information given was not only fascinating but also entertaining. The tour of the house took about an hour and a half and included interesting rooms such as the gymnasium, pool, bowling alley, grand ballroom, kitchen and lavishly decorated bedrooms.
After we explored the home, we had a delicious ice cream before taking a stroll through the grounds and gardens. The walled garden and Conservatory were filled with a variety of seasonal blooms, while the surrounding forest’s rich green hues resonated a lovely mountain feel. The landscape was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted whose efforts resulted in America’s first managed forests on the property.
Wine tasting was next on the agenda at the winery on site. There was a wide variety of wines available for tasting and the wine hosts were very knowledgeable about each selection. I was surprised, however, to find out that the grapes used to make the wines at the Biltmore Estate are not exclusively from NC. Many wines are made with a blend of grapes from vineyards off site.
Afterward, we were ready to head to dinner and leave the stunning Biltmore Estate behind. Taking a suggestion from a former resident of Asheville, we decided to try Luella’s Bar-B-Que Restaurant for dinner. We ordered a variety of food including wings and sweet potato chips for appetizers as well as pulled chicken, chopped pork BBQ and beef brisket for our entrees. A variety of homemade side dishes were also available and my favorite was Mac ‘N Hoop Cheese. The atmosphere was welcoming and the food was tasty.
To close out our day, we headed to the Princess Anne Luxury Suites located one block away from the Princess Anne Hotel in the heart of downtown Asheville. The suites offer all the amenities of the main hotel including complimentary gourmet breakfast and afternoon wine and hors d'oeuvres. The two bedroom suite that would be our home for 3 days had a modern feel but also contained elements of an old building such as original hardwood doors and flooring. We were pleased with our comfortable accommodations and settled in for the night.
Please check back next week for the continuation of our Asheville adventure.