If you weren’t already excited about our upcoming trip to Asheville, you should be. Today’s edition of the Wall Street Journal highlighted the beautiful city in it’s “Off The Beaten Track” section. Here’s what they had to say:
Crafts and Rafts in Asheville, N.C.
What to do: Visit the 250-room Biltmore House, constructed in the style of a French chateau for George Vanderbilt—an heir of the industrialist millionaire Cornelius Vanderbilt—more than a century ago. The house is surrounded by an 8,000-acre estate that includes a village, working farm, winery and vineyards. Take a behind-the-scenes tour that points out technology rare at the time the house was built, including indoor plumbing, electrical wiring and refrigeration. Have a look at the room where, during a 1920s soirée, guests decorated the walls with Halloween-themed murals (1 Approach Rd.; 800-411-3812; biltmore.com).
Lace up your hiking boots, or ready your rod and reel. The hills and valleys around Asheville abound in opportunities for outdoor sport: hiking, climbing, fishing, rafting. The Nantahala Outdoor Center organizes whitewater rafting expeditions on Section IV of the Chattooga River—made notorious as the fictional Cahulawassee River in John Boorman’s 1972 movie “Deliverance.” This outfitter will also plan rafting trips suitable for families with small children. Many of the excursions cost less than $100 per person and there are departure points on seven rivers in the area (888-905-7238; noc.com). ClimbMax Mountain Guides will lead you on an Appalachian rock-climbing adventure. Full-day, multi-pitch climbs for a party of two cost $275, including equipment (43 Wall St.; 828-252-9996; climbmaxnc.com).
If you take pleasure in arts and crafts, don’t miss the Folk Art Center. It houses the Southern Highland Craft Guild’s galleries and shop, where more than 200 craftspeople display their work, including baskets, quilts, pottery and jewelry. The guild also sponsors live craft-making demonstrations (Milepost 382, Blue Ridge Parkway; 828-298-7928; southernhighlandguild.org). Venture downtown to the arts-and-crafts galleries and shops in the Grove Arcade, which opened in 1929 (1 Page Ave.; 828-252-7799; grovearcade.com). Then hit Woolworth Walk, a former store turned gallery, which has more than 150 exhibiting artists and a 1950s-style lunch counter (25 Haywood St.; 828-254-9234;woolworthwalk.com).
Make a literary pilgrimage to the Thomas Wolfe Memorial, the Old Kentucky Home boarding house depicted as “Dixieland” in the Asheville native’s novel “Look Homeward, Angel” (52 North Market St.; 828-253-8304; wolfememorial.com). Visit the Riverside Cemetery in the Montford neighborhood to see Wolfe’s grave and that of the short-story writer William Sydney Porter, better known by his pen name, O. Henry (53 Birch St.; 828-350-2066; nps.gov/nr/travel/asheville/riv.htm).
What to eat: For a casual dinner of comfort food, starting with fluffy biscuits and fried green tomatoes, head to Tupelo Honey Café (12 College St.; 828-255-4863; tupelohoneycafe.com). Another local favorite is Early Girl Eatery, where you can indulge in shrimp and grits, or a vegan tofu scramble (8 Wall St.; 828-259-9292; earlygirleatery.com). Corner Kitchen, in Biltmore Village, has earned a loyal following—and a visit last spring from President Obama, whose party sampled fried-oyster appetizers, corn and crab chowder, mahi mahi, lobster tacos and pork chops, according to the restaurant’s blog (3 Boston Way; 828-274-2439; thecornerkitchen.com). Swing by 12 Bones Smokehouse, which offers two to three flavors of baby back ribs daily (5 Riverside Dr.; 828-253-4499; 12bones.com).
Where to stay: The granddaddy of all hotels in Western North Carolina is Asheville’s Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa, which opened in 1913. The hotel has a golf course, a 43,000-square-foot spa with mountain views and a pool built into a grotto with thousands of fiber-optic lights meant to resemble stars twinkling overhead. The hotel even has a legendary ghost—the Pink Lady. If you don’t stay here, you still might want to visit the hotel’s Great Hall, grab a drink from the bar and pull up a chair by one of the huge stone fireplaces (290 Macon Ave.; 828-252-2711;groveparkinn.com; rooms start at about $200 a night).
The Inn on Biltmore Estate offers a luxurious way to stay on the grounds overnight (1 Antler Hill Rd.; 800-411-3812; biltmore.com/stay; rooms begin at $299 a night). The Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville, nearby in Biltmore Village, is a Tudor-inspired boutique establishment (11 Boston Way; 828-505-2949; bohemianhotelasheville.com; rooms start at around $250). A comfortable option is the DoubleTree Biltmore Hotel (115 Hendersonville Rd.; 828-274-1800; biltmorefarmshotels.com/doubletree; rooms from around $150 a night). Hotel Indigo Asheville Downtown is a contemporary alternative (151 Haywood St.; 828-239-0239; hotelindigo.com; rates start at around $150 a night).