After traveling constantly in Europe from January until May, I certainly needed some time to simply enjoy being at home. But three months was just excessive, so last weekend I was finally able to escape the flatness of Florida for significantly-more-mountainous North Carolina.
My family and I have taken many trips to North Carolina to see our good friends who live in Greensboro, and I always look forward to those visits. However, I have never been to Asheville, so a girls trip to Beer City was in order.
Yes, you heard me right. Asheville is often referred to as Beer City because of its 20+ breweries, where you can taste more than 100 local beers. If beer isn't your thing, Asheville has plenty of other activities to offer. Read on to find out about some of my favorite restaurants and activities from my long weekend in Asheville!
LaZoom Comedy Tours
Whenever I go to a new city, I love to do a tour. Whether it is on foot, or by trolley, bus or boat, it's nice to have someone show you the key places in the city and talk about its history. LaZoom Comedy Tours does this in a way that is "hysterical and historical." The tour takes passengers around the city on a purple windowless bus while the guides talk about the city in a way that is funny and informational.
As an added bonus, passengers 21 and older can bring alcoholic beverages on the tour, and there's a stop at one of Asheville's many breweries. Do not bring children younger than 13. According to their website, even if you buy tickets for them online, they will not be allowed on the tour.
Pro tip: Check out LaZoom's other tours, including the Haunted Tour, Kids' Tour and the Band and Beer Tour.
Remember what I said about Beer City? If you are 21 or older and you like beer, visiting at least one of Asheville's many breweries is an absolute must! I went to Green Man Brewery, Catawba Brewing Co. and Wicked Weed Brewing Pub during my trip and enjoyed all three!
Each one had a fun atmosphere and great beer! From what I can tell, it seems like Wicked Weed is constantly busy, so expect a wait time.
The Biltmore Estate
The Biltmore Estate is one of those places that I have always wanted to see in person. There's something about an opulent mansion with fantastic gardens that just draws me in. The estate certainly did not disappoint! There is so much more to the estate than I previously thought, and it is definitely worth it to set aside half of your day (or even the full day) in order to see the whole thing.
As someone who started out photographing nature, and more specifically, flowers, I was obsessed with the garden and the conservatory. Both are absolutely magical. Keep an eye out for the hummingbirds, maybe you'll be lucky enough to catch one on camera!
Beyond the house and the surrounding grounds, there is so much more to see. Antler Hill Village is a fun place to wander around and shop, and it is a perfect place for a lunch pit stop. Be sure to check out the winery as well, where you can taste local wines! The village also has a farm and a play area for children.
If it's adventure you're looking for, check out Biltmore's outdoor activities, which include biking, hiking, horseback riding, land rover tours and river float trips.
Looking Glass Falls and Sliding Rock
Speaking of outdoor activities, North Carolina has plenty of natural beauty just waiting to be explored. The two I made time to see during my trip were Looking Glass Falls and Sliding Rock.
Looking Glass Falls is located about 45 minutes southwest of Asheville in the Pigsah National Forest. The waterfall is impressive and just a short walk down a flight of stairs from the road. Plus, you can swim at the base of the falls!
Just two miles up the road is yet another place to cool off from the summer heat: Sliding Rock. Sliding Rock is like a natural water park, where you can jump right in and do exactly as the name suggests, slide down the rock! Unfortunately, it was closed for swimming due to high water when I was there, so I didn't get to experience the fun, but it made for some great photos sans people! Be prepared to pay a small entrance fee when you enter the parking lot.
Bonus: The Blue Ridge Parkway is just down the road from Sliding Rock, so if you are not prone to carsickness and you enjoy a good view, I would definitely suggest taking that route back into Asheville.
Brunch - Posana
Who doesn't love a good brunch? It's the new ~trendy~ meal, and it has even become a verb! So naturally, brunch was the first stop in the lovely city of Asheville.
On Saturday, we ate at Posana, a super cute restaurant in the heart of downtown that offers brunch, lunch and dinner options. We had a reservation, which I would recommend if you plan to go on the weekend because it was quite busy.
I had the Southern Benedict with spinach and it was delicious. I can also vouch for the Brioche French Toast, the benedict with ham and the kale salad, which all had excellent reviews around the table.
Dinner - Tupelo Honey Cafe
Our dinner pick was Tupelo Honey Cafe, which has locations in North and South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee and Texas, and boasts "creative southern food that's good for the soul." We decided on an assortment of starters and sides, which allowed us to try a little bit of everything. These dishes included the Summer Salt-Roasted Beets, Appalachian Shrimp, Crispy Brussels, fried okra and baked mac-n-cheese. They also served complimentary biscuits with blueberry jam.
Pro tip: Be sure to sign up for the Shoo Mercy Email Club on their website to get a free pint glass with a $10 purchase along with other offers!
Lunch - Bistro at Antler Hill Village
During our visit to the Biltmore Estate, we decided to eat lunch at the bistro in Antler Hill Village. The restaurant is right by the winery, and had a nice selection of dishes to satisfy our hunger after a long morning of strolling through the Biltmore house and gardens. I highly recommend the Summer Risotto and the trout.
Dinner - Pack's Tavern
We decided on a more casual dinner at Pack's Tavern in the downtown area. They had a wide variety of dishes, from burgers and sandwiches to salads and a few signature entrees. I had the brie and bacon burger and it was an excellent choice!
Dessert - French Broad Chocolate Lounge
If you have a sweet tooth like I do, the French Broad Chocolate Lounge is an absolute must. Whether you want to eat your chocolate or drink it, they have something for you. Cakes, brownies, ice cream and truffles galore! If you have the option, go early on in your trip and then go again because their desserts are incredible and you'll want to try more than one. They're so good that I didn't even remember to take a picture! I recommend the chocolate crème brûlée, the olive oil chocolate cake and the mocha stout cake.
Be sure go to their website to read the adorable story of how the owners met and started their business!
Lunch - 12 Bones Smokehouse
Looking for some barbecue? Look no further than 12 Bones Smokehouse! Located in the River Arts District, this restaurant has excellent food and fast service. Their hours are limited to 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, but it's worth making time for it in your itinerary!
Overall, I loved Asheville. My only other advice is to make time to just walk around and enjoy the city. There are tons of little shops and boutiques, so if you have some money to spend, there's plenty of shopping to do around the city.
That's all I have for Asheville! Head on over to my portfolio page to see all of the photos from my trip to Asheville and keep an eye out for future posts about North Carolina, as well as lots of upcoming posts about my European travels. I can't wait to share!
Do you have any questions or suggestions for future posts? Please comment below or contact me here!