Asheville, NC Recap

It seems like forever ago now, but Jody and I (semi) recently made a trip down to Asheville, North Carolina! We had planned for most of last year to take an extended weekend getaway over New Years weekend and ultimately decided to go to Asheville. We mentioned our plans to one of our best friends, Matt and Olivia, and decided it would be an even better idea for all of us to go together!

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We stayed in an Air bnb just outside the city, which gave us all of the cozy mountain vibes. After our long drive to North Carolina, we met up at our Air bnb and headed downtown. Our first stop was at Asheville Pizza & Brewing Co. but we ended up not staying since it was so crowded. We walked a couple of blocks down the street and stopped for a drink at High-Wire Brewing, which had such a cute, rustic vibe. After we popped into Catawba Brewing Company before going to find something to eat.

We walked towards what seemed like a busier street and found Farm Burger, a rustic-chic restaurant that serves upscale grass-fed beef burgers. I forgot to snap any pictures, mostly because we were all starving by the time we got there, but it was such a unique spot. You order in line, similar to grabbing fast-food, and then your order is delivered to your countertop table. It was kind of hectic when we first arrived, which made us a little worried about finding counter space for four, but a few tables cleared out as we made our way through the line.  I got the farm burger and fries, all of which were delicious!

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The following morning, we were ready for a day of exploring Asheville! When we got downtown, I popped into High Five Coffee Bar for a taste of local coffee (it was good!). We strolled through some of the stores on the same street before heading to our first destination of the day — White Duck Taco Shop. Olivia and I had both seen the reviews for this taco shop and we were so excited to try it out!

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We ordered a round of drinks and chips and salsa while we waited for our tacos — the margs were delicious! As for the tacos, we all ordered something different. I got the Crispy Pork Belly and Bangkok Shrimp and Jody got the BBQ Carnitas and Mole Roasted Duck. Honestly, the ones I had were good, but if we would go back, I would order the BBQ Carnitas and the Black Bean and Cheese. Overall, it was super good, and I would definitely eat there again. It was the perfect way to kick off our first day!

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Next, we headed over to the Asheville Pinball Museum. When my parents visited Asheville the previous summer, they told us we had to go to the all you can play arcade featuring over 70 pinball machines. Unfortunately, they do get extremely busy since they only allow 80 people to play at a time.  The wait time was over three hours by the time that we got there. We put our name on the waiting list and came up with a new game plan.

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We decided to drive out to the North Carolina Arboretum to look at the holiday decor. On the way to the car, we passed the Asheville Bee Charmer shop. I’m a sucker for all things honey so we popped in for a minute. This was the cutest store filled with all things honey related from jars of honey to hand balm. There even was a tasting bar, where you could sample all of the different flavors. I loved the Sourwood Honey and Lavender-Infused Honey, so I bought two jars to bring home!

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After our quick visit to the Arboretum, we stopped at New Belgium Brewing. Matt and Olivia had spent some time here the day prior, while they were waiting for us to arrive to town. Lucky for them, they knew which brews they liked! Jody and I split a flight, as I am not a huge beer drinker. Out of the four we tried, I liked the Blueberry Cider and Jody’s favorite was the Oakspice. We enjoyed a relaxing afternoon overlooking the river and following the scores of the last regular season football games.

Y%VqYzJ6TJWUQcfh5Aw8DQ6mMv3DGfRcud36STnLllowIMG_5363IMG_5369That evening, we headed to one more brewery, Wedge Brewing Company, on the other side of the river before heading in for a relaxing night at our Air bnb. I didn’t get anything to drink, but I did have the best grilled cheese I had ever had in my life. Think melted brie, sliced apples, honey, and walnuts. YUM! Food trucks at breweries are always a good idea.

Prior to arriving in Asheville, we had purchased tickets for the home tour of Biltmore Estate. This was the number one thing I was looking forward to visiting after years of seeing the beautiful images of this estate in a number of wedding magazines. We decided that New Year’s Eve was the best day to go so we could have the entire day to explore the home and have quality time in Biltmore Village (and at the winery!).

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We had tickets for our house entry at 11am. We were running a few minutes late due to traffic trying to get into Biltmore (plan to leave 15-20 minutes early to avoid being late — there is only one road into the Biltmore Estate!) to so we were a little worried that we wouldn’t have enough time in the house. However, the tour of the house is self-guided, and it is impossible to get lost since you basically just follow the flow of people.

We received informational booklets for our time at Biltmore when we picked up our tickets, which were incredibly helpful! In the booklet, each room had a detailed explanation of things to notice or how the Vanderbilt’s chose to use each room. Plus, it included more helpful information such as locations for gift shops and places to each to enhance our experience!

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Since we visited during Christmas season, the house was adorned with trees, ribbons, poinsettia, and garland — in fact, there were over 50 trees decorated just within the Biltmore House! I think I took a picture of almost all of them. This was actual holiday decorating goals. We kept saying that we thought the house was so much prettier with all of the Christmas decorations, although I’m sure it is still breathtaking without!

We also learned that all visits don’t follow the same path or visit the same rooms. We overheard a couple behind us mention that they hadn’t seen the nursery on their last visit to the house, which is one of the rooms that we visited. That was an encouraging factor when I was convincing Jody that it would be worth it to come back and visit again in the future!

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Although the weather wasn’t ideal, it wasn’t a huge deal because there wasn’t anything in bloom to see on the grounds of the estate. We decided we would love to come back during springtime to be able to see all of the blooming gardens in addition to another tour of the house.

After our tour, we made our way to Biltmore Village, which is a quaint collection of shops, dining, and lodging in the community designed for the estate workers. Included in our tickets was a free wine tasting, which obviously Olivia and I couldn’t pass up. While it didn’t occur to us that the line to enter to tasting room would be long (I think we waited about 45 minutes!), it did give us time to read some review on what we should or shouldn’t buy. Some of their wines can be bought in store across the country, however, there is a list of reserve wines that can only be purchased at Biltmore.

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The tasting was super laid back, plus we had such a nice server! We were able to pick which 8(ish) wines we would like to taste, and their pours were generous. The tasting took about 35-45 minutes, but I think that is partially due to the sheer number of people who were there. For reference, the tickets were completely sold out for the entire weekend!  I didn’t taste a wine I didn’t like, and it was a great way to kick off New Years Eve evening!

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After our tasting, we had some time to kill before our dinner reservations at Tupelo Honey. We decided to spend an hour or so at their wine bar where we shared some wine, champagne and snacked on a cheese board while we chatted. Once it was getting closer to the time for our dinner reservation, we slowly made our way back to our car, with a few brief stops in some of the shops. Our dinner reservations weren’t until 7:00pm or so, but we were amazed at how long we could spend experiencing Biltmore, but still feeling like we didn’t have time to do everything!

Tupelo Honey was one of the top restaurants that I read about online before arriving in Asheville. It is just your basic southern food cafe, but it was so good! We started with a round of drinks, and then we were served biscuits while we waited for our food. Y’all. These biscuits. Not only were they giant, but they are the biscuits that all southerners dream about. I was so full off of the one biscuits, I hardly had any rooms for my shrimp and grits!

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Since we had enough champagne and snacks at the Air bnb, we decided to ring in the New Year at the house with games and watching the ball drop. Especially considering we all had long drives ahead of us the next morning, it was the best way to be able to spend more time together!

The next morning, we packed up our things and headed to Biscuit Head for one last southern meal. Another popular place, Biscuit Head is named after their main menu item — biscuits the size of a cat’s head! They also feature local coffee and house-made jams, in addition to a number of other typical menu items. I sampled the strawberry, peach rosemary, and blackberry jams from the Jam Bar! SO. GOOD.

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All in all, our weekend getaway to Asheville was full of food, good sips and lots of laughs. Jody and I were so glad that Matt and Olivia were able to join us and we were able to spend some quality time together before they moved. We had time to squeeze in a lot of the main attractions in Asheville, but not enough to say we’d never go back. Which is a good thing, considering we loved our time there and can’t wait to visit and explore the Carolina mountains more.

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