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Asheville: Five Days of Adventure
Our family usually takes a winter holiday to see snow and mountains (something we don’t get in South Florida). Previously, we would head to either Park City or Colorado for our winter ski trip. Typically, we travel with my sister and her kids. But with a pandemic happening, we did not want to fly for our winter getaway. It was our intention to find a place that was within driving distance and where we could be outdoors. Asheville is the perfect place to hike and enjoy some fresh and colder mountain air.
By September, we had booked a house on VRBO that seemed perfect for our two families – it had plenty of bedrooms and a home theatre room, pool table, air hockey game, corn hole, a fire pit, fireplaces, a grill outdoors – it was the perfect house to chill, hang, play games and ring in the new year.
We had dinner delivered one of the nights and for New Year’s, my sister and I did the meal prep, made a cheese charcuterie board as an appetizer and our kids grilled dinner- steak, shrimp, and vegetables. We played Cards Against Humanity (our version was definitely not PG) and B.S. (well, you get the point- I’ve abbreviated the name 😉 )
Aside from the “road” (I don’t think it really qualifies as a road) that was basically one pothole after another, we had an amazing time. And, I will say that Asheville takes the pandemic seriously; masks were required everywhere we went, restaurants and breweries had limited capacity and, unless you were actively eating or drinking, you were expected to wear your mask at the table.
Things to Do (During a Pandemic)
Visit the Biltmore Estate – we booked our package (with the audio) months in advance knowing they had limited capacity. Make sure if the ages of your group are over 21, that you book the wine tasting. I did not know that Biltmore has its own vineyard. We were unable to take a tour due to the pandemic, but after the wine-tasting, I did join the Biltmore Wine Club (free to join) which gives me 20% off my quarterly shipment of three bottles of wine. I chose the Red Wine Club.
Photo by Biltmore Estate
We could not get into any of their restaurants which was disappointing but we did enjoy the audio tour of the estate and learning about the history of the Vanderbilt family. The Christmas decor is exquisite and I would strongly recommend purchasing your ticket as early in advance as possible. We were unable to get the evening tour. Unfortunately, it was rainy and cold that day so we did not get to see the stables or the gardens. You should make your restaurant reservations when you arrive as they were not allowing them in advance.
Explore Downtown Asheville – We did go to the River Arts District one of the days but many of the studios were closed. Downtown Asheville was really fun to explore- we especially liked the Mast General Store and Woolworth Walk which is not only a large gallery filled with local artisans work but here you will be transported back in time to a restored soda fountain built to resemble the original Woolworth’s (which my 92-year-old aunt worked at as a young teen)
Photo by Mast General Store
Go for a hike – We used Asheville Hiking Tours to take us on a private Waterfalls and Blue Ridge Parkway Tour in Pisgah National Park. My thinking was not so much that we would not be able to hike on our own, but more we were unfamiliar with the various mountain trails so one day of having a guide would make us feel more comfortable. We chose the waterfall hike which was a moderate 2.5-mile scenic hike.
Visit the breweries – Asheville has a very vibrant beer scene. Since everyone in our family is over the age of 21, we actually love visiting breweries and vineyards, and wineries. It was a little challenging visiting many of them due to COVID and the limited number of guests allowed inside but we did make it to Hi-Wire Brewing, Bhramari Brewing Co., Burial Beer Co., Green Man, and Wicked Weed which is more known for their sours. We were unable to get into their sister brewery, Funkatorium.
Photo by Wicked Weed Funkatorium
Other Restaurant Recommendations
There were some others we would have liked to try that were highly recommended but time and COVID restrictions did not allow for that:
The one downside was the 10 1/2 hour drive for us. On our way up, we stopped overnight in Savannah just to split up our drive and be able to make it to Asheville before dark without having to leave at dawn. Going home, we were all anxious to sleep in and not have to wake up and drive. Overall, if you are looking to get away to the mountains and be able to go on hikes and enjoy the outdoors in a city that requires masks and limits the number of guests in restaurants, then you should definitely consider Asheville.