Asheville, North Carolina

After visiting the Smoky Mountains we drove an hour to the KOA west of Asheville. We’ve heard that Asheville is a fun city, with good food and beer, and an artsy/hipster feel. We went downtown a few times and walked around and did some shopping. There are lots of cute shops. 

We knew we couldn’t visit every brewery in Asheville, so we chose one that looked like it had great food too. We went to Wicked Weed for dinner and beer. I got a flight and Brian tried a few of the sour beers from their Funkatorium. We really liked about half the beers we tried. The food was the highlight, at least for me. The candied brussel sprouts with bacon were some of the best I’ve had! Brian liked the beef tartare appetizer. For dinner I had mussels in green curry sauce and Brian had trout. It was all delicious!

After dinner we got coffee at Double D’s, which is a cafe inside a double decker bus! We were reminded that Brian is much taller than me, and we drank our coffee upstairs.

The main tourist attraction in the area is the Biltmore Estate. It is basically a castle. Built between 1889 and 1895 by George Vanderbilt II, it is the largest privately owned house in America. Members of the Vanderbilt family lived there until the 1950s. It is now owned by the Biltmore Company (which is privately held by descendants of George Vanderbilt II), and run as a tourist destination. 

We weren’t sure if we wanted to go, because tickets are pretty expensive. It’s a very popular spot to visit in the area, and all the Christmas decoration had just been put up, so we decided to check it out. We bought tickets at the KOA we stayed at, and the ones they were selling were two-day tickets (for $65 each!). It was nice to have two days to see it, because aside from the House, there are gardens, a conservatory, a winery, and shops on the site. 

The first day we walked through the whole house. I admired the architecture and the Christmas decor while Brian complained about the opulence of rich people. It is pretty over the top! The decor and style is “chateau-esque”, very European. Even the ceilings were adorned. 

The first floor has all the entertaining rooms, banquet hall, music room, library, and a big stone balcony looking out on the mountains. This was my favorite floor. The library has a painted ceiling, elaborate fireplace, and 10,000 books!

The second, third, and fourth floors have  bedrooms. There are 35 bedrooms in the house! The third and fourth floor weren’t open for the self-guided tour.

The basement has the kitchen, several pantries, servants’ quarters, and a gym, pool, and bowling alley.

After touring the house, we walked through the gardens to the conservatory. Brian liked this part better. I guess if he were super-rich he would have an exotic orchid collection. 

The second day we returned and walked through the first floor of the house again. It was much less crowded, which was nice. Afterward we went to the Biltmore Winery, which is the most visited winery in America, that’s how popular the Biltmore Estate is!

My cousin Jill lives in the area, and we met her for lunch at Root & Vine in Morganton, NC. The food was great, and so was the company! We took the long way home, which turned our hour drive into three hours on the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

The last day of our visit, we checked out the River Arts District. They were having a “studio stroll”, so the artists’ studios were open. It was like a blocks-long art fair. We bought some soy candles from Opal and Wonder and admired a lot of artists’ work. It is tough to buy art when we live in such a small space, we generally need things to be practical. The studio stroll was a really fun event and a great opportunity to see the artsy side of Asheville. 

Day 410 | Mile 44,059

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