What month is it again?!?! Man alive, it's almost time to break out Fancy and the Christmas tree!
I'm finally getting around to sharing my trip to Asheville, NC about a month ago! If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen a few of these photos. (And if you aren't following me on Instagram, please do!)
The boyfriend and I took the long weekend trip to Asheville for his birthday. Everyone I know that has been to Asheville loves it, and I wanted to learn what all the fuss was about. As a lover of all things grand and #fancy, I knew I wanted to tour the Biltmore Estate and roam the gardens and such. He'd been to Asheville before, but didn't get inside the Biltmore. Neither of us wanted to do a lot of running around this trip, so we planned some meals in downtown Asheville, and the rest of the time at the Biltmore. We had 4 days total, but we drove so days 1 and 4 were short. Asheville is only 4.5 hours away from Lexington.
Friday we drove down and checked into our hotel, the Inn at Biltmore Estate. Asheville hotels don't come cheap, and staying on the Biltmore property certainly wasn't a budget option but it was on par with some of the other hotels we were considering. Since it was a special occasion and we were both excited about spending time on the estate, we selected this hotel because it included grounds admission for the entire stay, and an awesome shuttle that ran constantly to take you anywhere on the grounds. The service and accommodations did not disappoint.
View from our standard room
I have a full review of the Inn on Biltmore Estate on TripAdvisor. If you're thinking of booking a stay there, I have some tips so you know what's included, and what you'll need to plan extra for. I found all the options (tours, parking options, room types, etc) when booking to be difficult to navigate, so hopefully this helps.
We wandered around the hotel a bit, and hung out on the back patio that overlooks the vineyard. We then gussied up in preparation for a fancy birthday dinner at the restaurant in the hotel, the Dining Room (click through to read a full review). The dinner was one of the best meals I've ever eaten. The service was outstanding (and TBH, should have been for the price!) and it was a real treat. If you're looking to celebrate a special occasion, this would be a great place to do it.
Saturday, we woke up and took the shuttle from the hotel to the Biltmore house itself. We purchased the audio tour, but none of the specialty tours. I'm glad we ended up getting the audio guides because while there was a lot to look at in the house, there wasn't a lot of context on display. The audio guides were really helpful in learning what was special about each room, and about the people who occupied the home.
This is Steve. He's pretty great 🙂 Photo taken on the loggia overlooking Pisgah National Forest
When we finished the house tour, we had lunch on the estate at Stable Cafe, which was tasty and had fast service, which we appreciated considering we were trying to get to the gardens. We then roamed around the Library and South Terraces area, the Walled Garden, Rose Garden, and the Conservatory. We were there at the first of October, which meant the mums hadn't bloomed yet and the fall colors weren't quite ready. Another 1-2 weeks and it would have been stunning!
Here's a small photo gallery of some of my favorite parts of the estate. I'd have to say my favorite room was the winter garden. Click to enlarge.
This view of Pisgah National Forest was amazing:
For dinner, we had reservations at Cucina 24 in downtown Asheville. It's such a foodie city that we had a hard time selecting a place. We came across this restaurant a couple of times in different Asheville articles and liked that it was billed as Italian fare with a local farm-to-table twist. I have a full review of the meal and experience here. Parking tip: Parking at the Wall Street garage was super convenient for this spot, and also Early Girl Eatery which is reviewed later in this post.
Sunday we went back to downtown Asheville for brunch at Curate – somewhere we had attempted to get dinner reservations to, but failed. I'd say if you want to hit up this tapas joint, get your reservation in 3 weeks early. It turns out that Alton Brown had dined there the night before. Steve loves tapas, and we heard these were the best around. The food was tasty but the service was pretty slow. I wouldn't hesitate to try them again though for dinner. My full review is here.
We then headed to Antique Tobacco Barn, which is a place a friend told me about. I'm not really into antiques, but I do love shopping and heard this place had some interesting things. It lived up to the hype! It's massive, and honestly a bit overwhelming if you don't usually dig through things at the store. We strolled through big things like old furniture, and tiny things like small letterpress blocks and old hat pins. We left empty-handed, but it was fun to browse.
Next up, we headed back to the Inn and took the shuttle for guests down the way to the Biltmore Winery. After the complimentary wine tasting, my favorite white was the Biltmore Estate Pinot Grigio and red was the Biltmore Estate Sangiovese. We brought home a lot of wine, ha.
We walked down the path from the winery to Antler Village, where we looked at the Fashionable Romance exhibit. It's very small (took about 10 minutes), but shows 60 years of Vanderbilt wedding fashion, including the display of the Lee family veil which was worn by Jacqueline Kennedy.
Next to the exhibit was Cedric's Tavern, where we had dinner. It was relaxed, casual, and had great service. They have a nice patio and the weather was perfect. See my review here.
Monday morning, we checked out of the hotel and stopped at Early Girl Eatery for brunch before heading home. Anytime I mentioned I was going to Asheville, I'd be met with the reply “you have to eat at Early Girl!!!” We were kind of disappointed in the food and service, but we could see why it would be popular. My review of Early Girl is here.
We really enjoyed our time in Asheville and can see why people go back again and again.
Are you a fan of Asheville? What are some of your favorite things to do there?