Experiencing the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains is only one of the reasons visitors flock to Asheville, North Carolina each year. The arts scene is thriving in Asheville, so there are several districts where artisans and craftspeople display their wares and house their studios and workshops. A James Beard award-winning chef showcases his creativity in a downtown restaurant, a music hall with an unforgettable name presents live music and great food, and bed and breakfast inns are conveniently scattered throughout the region. You’ll want to devote at least three days to exploring this fascinating city. A week would be even better. Here’s a travel guide to get the best of Asheville, NC.
Mountain grandeur lures creative people
Historic Grovewood Village teaches and showcases
Gallery of the Mountains showcases the work of more than 100 artists, and unique clothing, pottery, glass, jewelry items are offered for sale.
An Antique Car Museum is also on this 11-acre (4.45 hectares) property and is open for tours April through December of each year.
River Arts District is the hub for more than 220 working artists
Isis Music Hall & Kitchen 743 has a startling name but stellar music and food
Isis Music Hall and Kitchen 743 is located at 743 Haywood Road in West Asheville. It is closed on Monday but is open from 5:00 p.m. until midnight the other six days and for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Isis is primarily a music venue, but the restaurant serves a full menu ranging from appetizers, soup and sandwiches to full entrees such as steak, trout, chicken and pork tenderloin. The Deviled Egg Salad Bruschetta is a highly-recommended accompaniment for the great music.
In the main music hall, bluegrass is the theme on Tuesdays and jazz on Fridays. Isis offers a varied schedule from seated shows for 150 people in the main hall to a standing room only event for 450. In the balcony lounge, a more intimate concert and jam session is available for up to 50 people. Visitors should check the website for upcoming performers and for ticket information.
Parking is very limited on the street, but a lot behind the music hall has more space and is complimentary for Isis guests.
Rhubarb is Chef John Fleer's outstanding restaurant
Chef Fleer is devoted to serving produce that is fresh, locally-grown and seasonal. That means that the menu will change often to reflect those elements. Be sure to start your meal with the Goat Cheese Burrata with rhubarb jam and pickled strawberries. It is the perfect prelude. Then, be sure to save room for dessert. Pastry Chef Kaley Laird has an active culinary imagination and is an award winner in her own field.
Interestingly, Rhubarb is closed on Tuesday but is open for dinner Wednesday through Monday. Check the website to find when Rhubarb is open for lunch, brunch and their very popular Sunday Suppers.
Pinecrest is a delightful B & B near downtown
Guest rooms feature luxurious linens, a private bath, flat-screen TV, wireless Internet, fresh flowers and a gourmet chocolate. Guests may help themselves to a beverage refrigerator located on the sun porch. One suite is located on the first floor. The other four are upstairs.
Wildberry Lodge is nestled in the mountains
Pets are not allowed in the guest rooms at Wildberry Lodge, but guests are welcome to enjoy the owners’ pets, the goats in a nearby pen and the cows grazing out front.
Owners Ken and Glenda Cahill have a lot of perspiration and hard work invested in their elegantly rustic retreat. They personally chinked every one of the hand-crafted logs that were shipped in from Maple Island Log Homes in Michigan, and they camped out on their property every weekend for months as their dream took shape.
A four-course breakfast is served each morning at a time chosen by each guest between 8:00 and 9:30 a.m. Both savory and sweet afternoon snacks are also offered after check-in time begins.
Wildberry Lodge is located at 135 Potato Branch Road in Leicester, North Carolina, only twelve miles (19.3 km) from the Biltmore House which is arguably the most famous attraction in the area. The rural, meandering roads add to the woodsy, off-the-beaten-path atmosphere for guests of Wildberry.
If there are no available rooms at Wildberry Lodge or Pinecrest Bed and Breakfast, be sure to consult the Asheville Bed and Breakfast Association’s website for other possibilities.
Asheville has mountain grandeur and so much more
Asheville, North Carolina, has a population of less than 100,000 people, yet it is estimated that almost 30,000 visitors come to Asheville and Buncombe County EVERY DAY! The Biltmore and Smoky Mountains might lure them initially, but the artists, the great food, the music and the hospitality of area innkeepers pull them back again and again.
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