Asheville City Guide
What to see
Despite being nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is quite the bustling city. Downtown is lined with countless great shops, restaurants, and public art.
If you have the time, walk Asheville’s Urban Trail. It’s a 1.7 mile walking tour with about 30 different stops that illustrate Asheville’s history through public sculptures.
If you’re in Asheville, you need to stop by the Biltmore Estate — the largest privately owned house in the United States. The entire estate totals 4 acres of floor space, including 33 family and guest rooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces. Other highlights include original art by Renoir, 16th century floor-to-ceiling tapestries, a Library with 10,000 volumes, a Banquet Hall with a 70-foot ceiling, an indoor pool, and a bowling alley. Still owned by George Vanderbilt’s descendants, it stands today as one of the most prominent remaining examples of the Gilded Age. If you’re planning a trip, check to see if you need to reserve a time slot ahead of time.
Equally impressive are the Biltmore Grounds and Gardens. The 30+ acres of formal and informal gardens were designed by none other than, Frederick Law Olmsted. The Walled Garden features a seasonal rotation of blooms, while the Rose Garden contains over 250 varieties. A little further from the house is Bass Lake, which has a ½ mile trail around it and views of the boat house.
Speaking of things you absolutely have to do — ride the Blue Ridge Parkway. We drove a 30 mile stretch of the parkway from the Devil’s Courthouse Overlook up into downtown Asheville and every single overlook was absolutely gorgeous. We also did the 20 minute hike to the peak of Devil’s Courthouse, which had a stunning view of the surrounding mountains.
A tip from one of the visitor center rangers: drive at a slower pace because the route does have sharp turns and cops often hide to catch speeding vehicles. Wildlife has also been known to cross the road unexpectedly — we had 2 different encounters with black bears! And most importantly, take your time to enjoy the incredible views.
Where to eat
If you’re visiting the Biltmore Estate during a heatwave like we were, why not have milkshakes for lunch?? I tried the salted caramel truffle, TJ the mint chocolate chip. The interior of the Creamery was also a fun nod to the history of the Biltmore Dairy Farms, which dated back to the 1890’s.
With our admission to the Biltmore Estate, we received a complimentary wine tasting. Our sommelier provided an extensive list of wine available and was very knowledgeable and friendly. From the list, we each selected six different wines to sample and wrote notes on what elements we liked best. We actually ended up purchasing a bottle of Muscat Canelli to bring home with us.
Although Mellow Mushroom is technically a chain restaurant, this one had more of a local feel with mix-matched furniture and quirky decor. We sat outside on the patio and had fun guessing answers to the Quizzo questions read over the speakers.
The Lobster Trap
A lovely restaurant with great food and a comfortable atmosphere. We enjoyed the subtle nautical decor and live guitarist playing light music in the background.