April 3 – 7, 2016: I had really been looking forward to visiting Asheville, North Carolina because I have it on my list of potential future places to live. It did not disappoint. It was just the right mix of outdoorsy, hippie, artsy, and foodie for my taste.
Here’s an overview of of our Asheville experience:
The transportation we used from our first accommodation to downtown was the public bus system, ART. Their website refers you to Google Maps for the bus schedule so that was super easy to navigate. Others staying at our RV park recommended driving to the Asheville Visitor Center and then using the hop-on hop-off trolley tour as transport. Since we knew we’d be drinking we opted for the bus to eliminate all driving.
Once downtown we walked everywhere so I could get a sense of the atmosphere of the city and so Michael could be transported from brewery to brewery (Asheville vies for the title of craft beer capital).
Our last night in Asheville we switched accommodation to something outside the city and drove the 15 minutes to visit the Biltmore Estate (see below).
We stayed, for three nights, just outside downtown Asheville at Taps RV Park selected solely for its location on the bus route. I wouldn’t recommend this park other than for its location on the bus route. It was an easy 35 minute ride downtown and short 15 minute return trip.
As mentioned above, we switched accommodation our last night and stayed at the Asheville West KOA in Candler, North Carolina.
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- We walked all throughout the downtown area. Although we didn’t witness it, Pack Square Park is known for its Friday night drum circles. We did see plenty of street musicians all throughout Asheville and there’s a great music culture overall.
- The Mast General Store is one of many, many places to shop downtown. I wasn’t interested in shopping but there’s tons of interesting looking shops and stores scattered about. Shop local.
- I thoroughly enjoyed spending a day in the River Arts District where you can find streets lined with galleries and working studios. Some of my favorite artists included:
- Akira Satake Ceramics (love the vessels as vases)
- Daniel McClendon (super my style)
- Studio A (I have a fascination with Ukrainian pysanka eggs)
- Julie Ann Bell (I bought a wire tree in Spain years ago that I no longer have; still think they’re cool)
- Stephen Lange (claims to be the best sticker and tape artist in the world)
- We had just come from the Blue Ridge Parkway but if your destination is Asheville be sure to also get outside the city. Enjoy the surrounding mountains and other outdoor pursuits.
- Also just outside the city, you can gape at the extravagance of the Biltmore Estate. Vanderbilt constructed the estate for his wife and daughter between 1889 and 1895 and today it remains the largest privately owned estate in the country. The home is 178,926 square feet and is situated on 8,000 acres. Tickets are pricey ($60 per person) and include a self-guided tour of the home and gardens as well as a tour and tastings at the winery located on the estate. Michael and I were comparing the estate to Hearst Castle which we visited on our 2014 road trip. In my opinion, Vanderbilt had more European tastes whilst Hearst had tastes influenced by Asia and Africa. Both interesting in their own right and complete with extravagant indoor pools but, come on, Hearst had zebras on his property! I like the kooky. Vanderbilt does get points for having Olmsted as his landscape artist as he’s the same gentleman that designed Central Park in New York and the Capitol area in Washington D.C.. In the end, I think I’ll stick with my desire to build a tiny house.
- I know we’ll be adding more to this list in the future!
Coffee, Brunch, Tacos, and BBQ
- High Five Coffee. Great spot to enjoy a cup of gourmet coffee downtown.
- Clingmans Cafe. Cute establishment in the River Arts district for a cup of coffee or quick bite.
- Early Girl Eatery. This place was recommended multiple times for brunch. It was indeed delicious!
- White Duck Taco. This joint was also recommended repeatedly and we know why; their eclectic tacos were delicious. We arrived at the River Arts location at 11:30am, opening time, and there was a line already.
- 12 Bones Smokehouse. Enjoy ribs in the River Arts district. Also, made further famous because Obama ate here on a 2010 trip to Asheville.
- Cedric’s Tavern. Restaurant and tavern on-site at the Biltmore Estate to enjoy an expensive shepherd’s pie or a bison burger.
Because we visited so many breweries, it seems worthy of a separate dedicated section. Note that the descriptions are my opinion, and not those of Michael the Beer Snob.
- Lexington Avenue Brewery. Larger established brewery that seemed almost like a chain restaurant.
- Hi-Wire Brewing. Cool newer brewery; good spot and good beer.
- One World Brewing. Check out this hidden underground location to view this decor:
- Funkatorium. This Wicked Weed Brewing offshoot is a sour beer mecca. It was definitely our favorite brewery/taproom and had a fantastic cheese plate.
- Twin Leaf Brewery. Nothing to write home about.
- Wedge Brewing Company. Located in the River Arts district; funky outdoor sculptures and large outdoor seating areas.
- Burial Beer Co. Good mix of indoor and outdoor areas but wasn’t overly impressed with the beer.
- Green Man Brewery. Nothing much to say. I must have been getting bored (or tipsy) by this point.
- Wicked Weed Brewing. This large brewery has great beers, including a selection of some of the sour beers from Funkatorium, but also has a full-featured food menu.
So, there you have it. Asheville will remain on the ‘future places to live’ list. Well, maybe only if North Carolina gets its head out of its ass regarding sexual orientation legislation.