What to say about Asheville? I always love when a city lives up to my expectations and this Southern jewel was no different — from the hazy blue views of the Smoky Mountains to a revitalized downtown with its (local!) shops, art galleries and outdoor eateries, there was much for us to see and do during our four days there (for a refresher, here’s where I wrote about the catalyst for this trip). Since pictures always tell the story of one’s travels better than words ever could, let’s begin with a whirlwind recap, shall we? :)
As we checked in for our stay, the sweet gal who was our concierge welcomed us to Asheville, adding “You know this is a town known for its food, right?” Did we ever! I told my mom I planned to stuff myself on this vacation and I might have packed on a pound or two as a result. ALL worth it to indulge in culinary creations like these!
Our first night we ate at a yummy Mediterranean restaurant, Rezaz. My mom had a delicious fish entree (grouper with sweet potatos and avocado and corn relish) and I had African lamb with a yogurt mint sauce served over polenta) I’m already drooling again over this meal!
Touring the Biltmore can bring on a voracious appetite! My mom and I had lunch together in Antler Hill Village and went nuts for this pizza topped with BBQ pulled pork, pineapple and mozzarella cheese. My friends, Nate and Amanda, told us we had to eat at The Laughing Seed Cafe, a vegetarian restaurant in downtown Asheville. I LOVE eating some place where you feel like the food could have been grown in a garden right behind the restaurant. Everything we ate for lunch — from the artichoke dip appetizer to the giant signature salad with ginger dressing — was so fresh and SO good! A cafe latte and tiramisu pick-me-up at Old Europe downtown. I’m getting a sugar high just looking again at the delectable sweets to be found at a place like this! Speaking of treats, there is a booming business downtown called The Chocolate Fetish. Mom and I stopped in there to get high off the scent of chocolate and to agonize over select a few treats to bring back with us to share over wine back at the B&B.
OUR BED AND BREAKFAST
It’s always hard to pick a place to stay based on what you see and read on the Internet, so I had high hopes for the Cedar Crest Inn. And I must admit, it did NOT disappoint! As we pulled up the steep drive, we oohed and aawed at how beautiful this place was. The staff was incredibly friendly, the inn was centrally located between downtown and Biltmore Village and the rooms were sparkling clean. If you’re ever headed Asheville’s way, I highly recommend staying here for a night or two!
Ahhhhhh…..the second floor veranda. Mom and I spent a lot of time out here, reading books, chatting, enjoying the complimentary wine, iced tea and cookies. I wish every day could start with breakfast at one of those tables! THE BILTMORE
When they say this is America’s largest home, they are NOT kidding! When it comes to visiting historical landmarks like this, I turn into the biggest nerd. Like, I get the audio guide and everything. I couldn’t believe the size of this place—over 200 rooms and 40 bathrooms (opened at a time, 1895, when no one had an indoor bathroom!) Turn-of-the-century history is particularly fascinating to me so I really enjoyed this trip and learning more about the Vanderbilt family. Visitors couldn’t take photos inside, but I did snap a few of what we saw outside, including the jaw-dropping view of the front of the mansion.
The view out the back of the property. The lands surrounding the Biltmore were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (the founder of landscape architecture who also designed Central Park). I think we were told Olmsted and his crew planted more than 1 million trees on the Biltmore property. Olmsted had a vision for this place and it’s visitors like us who are reaping the benefits of it. GORGEOUS! The gardens at the Biltmore are spectacular. My mom has the ultimate green thumb, so I think she was in heaven. (And Ellen, if you read this and see that print on the left and want a copy, let me know. When I took it, I thought of you and your love of all things Monet ;) ) Geraniums in a suitcase (at right)? HOW CLEVER!!
We also spent a portion of an afternoon at a few of Asheville’s antique shops. This is a town that LOVES its antiques and you could pretty much throw a dart on the map and hit a shop specializing in the trinkets and furniture of the past. Good thing we didn’t have room for anything in the Subaru (except an old globe I bought) or I would have been in trouble!
Inside the Antique Tobacco Barn — this place was 70,000 square feet FILLED with antiques!
The only downtown shop I could find that was a chain was a lone Urban Outfitters. And, as you can see from the graffitti, the locals don’t want you to shop there! The posters on the left were EVERYWHERE downtown. Ashevillians take their shopping local seriously!
The Grove Arcade was one of the historic buildings downtown that’s been renovated to house apartments and more local shops. My mom found some neat prints in one of them!
A friend of mine who’s a fellow book lover had told me years ago that if I ever went to Asheville, I HAD to stop at Malaprop’s. By far, one of the best locally owned bookstores I’ve ever been in. We spent an hour just browsing books and all the fun gifts you can find only in a place like this. I both a) wished it was a shop in my town and b) that I could work there (or at least write book reviews for them!) A MUST visit if you make it to this town!
MOM AND I
We made it a point to take some photos of the two of us enjoying one another’s company back at the B&B. I am SO glad we took the time to do this. Sometimes I think we remember trips and moments in our lives not by what actually happened, but by what we’ve captured behind the lens. These photos will be forever how I remember this special trip with my mom. Who, if you might notice, is an exceptionally beautiful woman.
Mom, you look beautiful here and this photo of you is a new favorite of mine. So proud to be your daughter.
Much love, G
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