Asheville has had my attention for a while.  To the point that I jokingly mentioned I would retire there. Realizing my obsession, I figured it was high time I made a trek there. Local breweries, art deco architecture, and the great outdoors.  What more could you ask for? Well, you may not ask for more, but you’ll get it. Asheville also brings us George Vanderbilt’s Biltmore estate, amazing food, art, and an active street music scene.

I love street music

This unique mountain town sits on the Blue Ridge Parkway, a fantastic scenic byway that runs north-south through the Blue Ridge mountains. One thing I love about the parkway is that commercial traffic is prohibited. Imagine driving through scenic mountains with no cars, trucks, buildings, or crossroads in sight. This is the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Take the Blue Ridge Parkway south from Asheville, then pick up scenic Route 276 south into Transylvania County, aka Land of Waterfalls. Stop at Looking Glass Falls and Sliding Rock. They are both on the edge of the road as you head south on 276 towards Brevard. If you bring your swimsuit, you can actually take a ride on Sliding Rock. There are handrails and a walkway for getting to the top, and a lifeguard on duty in the summer. Continue past Brevard and head to the Dupont State Forest. It’s home to many waterfalls, including my favorite from this trip, Triple Falls. What I really like about Triple Falls is that you can walk down into the falls and stand on large flat boulders at the bottom of the 2nd fall. I felt so small! Miniscule, in fact. The pictures don’t do it justice.

Triple Falls in Dupont State Forest (my favorite)

High Falls in Dupont State Forest

Sliding Rock - the water's low today

Back in Asheville, head to The Thirsty Monk for dinner and a beer. This multistory brewpub boasts a Belgian bar downstairs, and American beers on tap upstairs. With the kitchen in full view, you may feel like you’re in a Waffle House. But the food is definitely not Waffle House fare. Pomme frites (fries) with blue cheese and gravy, a side of perfectly sauteed mixed veggies, and a nice porter. Not exactly a balanced meal, but it works for me.

In the morning, check out Early Girl Eatery for a late breakfast. How about some shrimp and grits? Or a local sausage and sweet potato omelet? They have lots of creative dishes made with local and organic ingredients. They even have raw sugar, my favorite. Seriously! I’m a sugar snob….to the point that I even carry single serving packs of raw sugar in my purse.

Eat at Early Girl

Check out all the interesting architecture

Early Girl is in the downtown historic area, a compact area full of art deco buildings and boutiques offering unique shopping experiences. Be sure to check out the old Woolworth building, where the original soda fountain still operates, and the rest of the building has been converted to stands where local artisans sell their unique creations. Ceramics, hand-made wooden cutting boards, hand-blown glass, and more. There’s also the Grove Arcade, an elaborate indoor mall built in the 1920s in Tudoresque style.

The old Woolworth building - filled with artisans' stands

The view from inside the Grove Arcade

Love Asheville

Before leaving Asheville, check out the Biltmore Estate, the French chateau built by George Vanderbilt during his bachelor days. One of its claims to fame is being the largest home in the United States: 250 rooms. Admission is a bit steep ($55), but it’s such a unique place, I bit the bullet. Here are a few highlights: the swimming pool in the basement, the laundry area that’s as big as my house, the winter garden with its glass and carved wood ceiling, Maria’s feminine bedroom, and the chess set that once belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte.

A little corner of the Biltmore

Asheville was definitely worth the wait. It’s a great weekend adventure, and definitely offers enough to keep you busy for a few days more. I’m not sure it’s my chosen city for retirement, but there’s still time to decide.

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4 Comments on Asheville, North Carolina and surrounds

  1. Daniel says:

    great post, thanks for sharing

  2. Mary says:

    I’ve heard about the sliding rock in Arizona. I wasn’t able to fit it in on my road trip in Northern Arizona. Well…that just gives me one more reason to go back someday!

  3. Lucie says:

    I just loved the picture from Triple Falls. Did you know there is another “sliding rocks” in Arizona. I bet the water is as cold as in Arizona.

    I did no know you carried raw sugar in your purse.

    Great pictures and blog!

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