Friday, May 06, 2011

Visit Asheville: what to do

Happy Friday, friends!  Today is the final installment in my "Visit Asheville" series and I'll be sharing what to do while you're there. 

Our hands down favorite thing to do in Asheville is visit the Biltmore Estate.  The estate is HUGE and you can't really see the whole thing properly in one day, so here's how we do it.  First of all, we purchase tickets online ahead of time, because it is cheaper.  Then, here's the trick- if you arrive after 3pm, your tickets are still good for the following day as well.  The front gate closes at 5pm, but most of the restaurants and attractions are open until 6 or 7 and the grounds are always open.  So we show up right at three and spend the afternoon and evening there.  Then we get to rest up and get a good night's sleep and show back up in the morning, ready to go again.  It's great to not have to cram all the fun into one day. 

The obvious thing to do there is to tour the house.  I had very little interest in touring the house at first, but it is actually pretty cool.  Definitely worth doing once.  On busy weekends they do timed entry so that it doesn't get too crowded in there.  Warning: old house = no air conditioning, so be prepared for some heat in the summertime. 

The main attraction, for us, are the gardens.  There are acres of gardens.  They are lovely.  You can stroll around and feel like you're in a different world, it's so quiet and beautiful. 

It is especially nice to visit the gardens at dusk, when the heat and most of the people are gone. 

I love reading the names of all the roses.  And smelling them, of course.

There are lots of paths and secret places on the estate.  We found this cute little pond with a bench and some ducks. 

Touring the winery is also really fun, but I don't have any pictures of that because it's mostly underground.  They do free wine tastings and always have lots of great food samples out.  Try the key lime dip and then buy some to bring home.  Sometimes there are even cooking demonstrations. 

The estate has a farm with horses and sheep and chickens.  You can pet them and they even have a sink right there to wash your hands. 

I also love the kitchen garden, where they grow the food they use on the estate.  This is another great spot to visit if you are there after hours because it is always open. 

There is plenty to do in Asheville without visiting Biltmore Estate, though.  Downtown is the Grove Arcade, a fun indoor/outdoor mall with unique shops.  Be sure to check out the cheese store. 

Asheville has a great downtown for exploring, with lots of places you'll want to pop into.  There is also Pack Square park, that is a great place to rest after all your walking.   Pick up a map at the visitor's center on your way into town so that you don't miss anything. 

You may remember some of the fun we had downtown and at the Botanical Gardens last fall when we went for Steve's birthday. 

We also enjoy the farmer's market, which is a lot like ours at home.  The last time we were there, they had live music, which was fun. 

So now you're ready- armed with all the information you need for a great trip!  If you find any new favorite spots, I'd love to hear about them!

Anybody else excited about the Kentucky Derby this weekend?  My pick is Twice the Appeal.  Don't you love all the horses names? 

Happy racing- I'll meet you back here on Monday!

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