I love so many things about Asheville. Just four hours from Raleigh, NC, it’s a great little escape, no matter what time of year. We went in the winter, just a week before Christmas, and it is has all the Christmastime feels, especially in the charming Biltmore Village. The Biltmore Estate is decorated to the nines, and if you buy tickets in advance, you can do a full candlelit tour of the mansion. There are also horse and carriage rides for the romantic at heart, the Grove Park Inn has its famous Gingerbread House contenders on display, there are several beautiful spas where you can enjoy a cozy day of pampering, and there are some of the most warm and rustic spots to cozy up fireside (recommended spots listed below).
Asheville is also in close proximity to some really worthwhile day trips. There are several areas to enjoy a beautiful hike, like Three Waterfalls, where we explored (45 min ride from town). Bryson City (1 hour away) is home to the magical Polar Express, a train ride that transports you to the wonder of the famous children’s book and movie. It’s an amazing family experience complete with all the heartwarming details. Another wonderful family excursion can be experienced by heading over to Blowing Rock (1 hr 45 min) for the Santa Train at Tweetsie Railroad theme park. They also offer a Ghost Train in the Fall, which I’ve taken the kids to in the past, and we loved it so much, we would gladly plan a return trip to do it again. These day trip options are quite popular, so be sure to plan ahead with securing tickets.
Of course there are various ski slope options, as well as unique holiday shopping with all the talented artists who are local to the area, and countless haunts to enjoy whatever floats your boat. Asheville is known for its plethora of local breweries, talented musicians and of course local, fresh and often organic, sustainable foods. I could gladly eat my way through this city, which prides itself on a farm to table mentality, and there are so many wonderful spots I have on my list for future trips.
Where to Stay –
Hyatt Place Downtown Asheville – this is where we stayed. We booked the groom’s suite, which was not only a gorgeous and spacious room, but it also had 2 sofas and a massive closet, which would easily accommodate a family. The breakfast buffet was expansive and more in line with the farm to table mentality that I appreciate about this town, and it was also really great having the rooftop bar right there for their delicious partner brunch as an option. Because we were there at Christmastime, we enjoyed the decked out Montford bar and their Sippin’ Santa holiday festive cocktails, not to mention that breathtaking view. The hotel is a convenient 3-minute ride to all the great downtown restaurants.
Grand Bohemian – This hotel has an old world feel and is directly adjacent to the Biltmore Village. We spent a portion of our afternoon/evening here next to the stately fireplace. It was the perfect warm and comforting space to cozy up in on a wet and chilly evening.
Omni Grove Park Inn – a bit more removed from downtown, the Grove Park Inn is a historical spot, rich with history and character. The most expensive of the three mentioned here, this property is great for special occasion stays. They will sometimes allow spa treatments to those not staying on property, it just depends on the day of week and time of year.
Where to Eat-
- En La Calle was our favorite. The mussels were the best we’ve ever had, and their lobster nachos probably deserve their own post. Their sister restaurant, Limones, is also met with rave reviews.
- Curate – inventive Spanish tapas in an urban space, by one of the area’s most highly acclaimed chefs. We had reservations here but stuck around the Grand Bohemian, eating at the Red Stag Grill instead, a last minute change that we regretted 🙁
- The Bull and Beggar
What to Do-
Most suggested activities are listed above, but for specific spa recommendations, I would put Grove Park Inn, Biltmore Estate and the Shoji Spa at the top of my list. For lounges and breweries, the Social Lounge, Antidote and Burial Beer Co. are a worthwhile visit!