I visited my hometown, Tallahassee, last year for the first time in many years. I was visiting for an old friend from high school’s baby shower. While I was there I took photos of another friend and her new baby...
August 8, 2018
What a joy to be able to gather together to enjoy one another’s company all at once. It usually takes a wedding or a funeral to pull off something like this. Now that you’ve arrived, what should you do? Here are the 7 best things to do in Asheville, North Carolina for a family reunion.
The Western North Carolina Nature Center is open 7 days a week from 10am to 5pm closed only on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Years Eve. It is an excellent activity to do with all ages. They have a .6 nature trail along the river. There’s also indoor exhibits displaying reptiles, amphibians and small mammals and an educational tour of the world underground. They’re outdoor exhibits have everything from entertaining otters to intimidating grey wolves, black bears, red foxes and a farm. One of the most interesting animals at the center is the red wolf. This is the most endangered species in the world and the Western North Carolina nature center is one of 40 facilities in the world where you can see one.
If you’re looking for a place that is open every day of the year, rain, shine, snow, hurricane or blizzard, visit the Biltmore. The Biltmore closes for no one. In addition to having America’s largest home, there are acres of gardens, trails, horseback riding, the winery, shopping and dining available. Biltmore is truly a one stop shop. It also has some of the most beautiful views in the city.
Western North Carolina has some of the most beautiful hikes around. The great thing is, many of them are really accessible. Craggy Pinnacle is the hike we always recommend to out of town visitors because you get the most bang for your buck. The hike is really short and easy and you have 180 degree views of the mountains. At the summit, you can see lakes, the leaves changing, and miles and miles of mountains. You can view both sunrise and sunset from here and its only a 30 minute drive. In addition, this drive is on the Blue Ridge Parkway. So its almost as beautiful as the hike itself and has many overlooks. If you’re up for a longer drive, I recommend Black Balsam Knob. This is the other direction on the parkway and a longer drive, but its a beautiful hike. This is one of the area’s “balds.” A grassy mountain top with no trees. You have 360 degree views.
Maybe I’m biased because I live right near this charming town, but I think its one of the most worthwhile towns to visit. Theres many great little shops to visit such as Europa, the Town Hardware and General Store, Cherry Street Kids, and Song of the Wood. There’s also a splash pad and park which is great for sitting down while kids run free; Lake Tomahawk Park is another great place to visit with a paved trail around the lake, gorgeous mountain views, and a playground for kids. I love the Dripolator and Sassafras on Sutton for Coffee. There’s a market by the railroad on Saturdays and some great antique shops to visit on the same road. If you’re looking for the best playground in Western North Carolina, drive an extra 7 minutes up to Roberts Lake Park. This park is complete with a playground for 2 and under, a gazebo, a huge playground for older kids and a creek for everyone to enjoy splashing around in.
There’s two unique theater opportunities in the area. If you’re visiting in the summer and don’t mind a bit of a drive, I recommend you take a nostalgic trip to the drive in. Sunset Drive in Theater is located in Shelby, NC; its just $12 a carload. There’s two features an 8:30 and a 10:30 and they allow you to bring in outside food provided you’re clean. If you’re looking for a different theater experience, every month the Montford Park Players put on a different play. Hamlet, James and the Giant Peach, Robin Hood they do it all. Its held at an outdoor amphitheater completely free and held year round on weekends.
I don’t know if you’ve but Asheville’s got some great food. If I had only a weekend here, these are the places I would visit. Hole donuts has the best donuts I’ve ever had in my life. This is not a hyperbole. You will understand when you go there. They’re only open until 2pm though so make sure you visit in the morning.
For breakfast, I like Early Girl Eatery and Biscuit Head the best. Early Girl Eatery is your standard breakfast food done really well; its a sit down restaurant with southern flair. At Biscuit Head you order at the counter and take a seat. They specialize in extravagant biscuits with chicken, gravy, andouille sausage, grits, etc.
For lunch, I like White Duck Taco, 12 Bones Smokehouse or Foothills. White Duck Taco has everything from a steak and cheese to a korean beef or thai peanut taco. 12 Bones Smokehouse has great BBQ. White Duck Taco and 12 Bones Smokehouse are both order-at-the-counter and take a seat type places. Foothills is a butchery that is also a restaurant. It has amazing sandwiches and burgers.
For dinner, I recommend Wicked Week Brewery or Chai Pani. Wicked Weed is a Gastro Pub type place. They have outside seating and are good for large crowds. Chai Pani is an Indian restaurant. We have been here more than anywhere else in town combined. It is seriously so good. I’ve also seen them accommodate large groups.
For dessert, I recommend the Well Bred Bakery or the Hop. The Well Bred Bakery is almost as inspiring as the Great British Baking Show. They’ve got really fantastic well done selections. They have a location in Biltmore Park which gives you an opportunity to toodle around shops afterward or downtown Waynesville which is equally charming and also has shops for you to visit afterwards. The Hop has a couple locations as well. It has both usual and highly unusual ice cream options. Like Jalepeno Pecan.
If you’re looking for a place with good food, live music, outdoor activities like beach volleyball and toys for kids to play with, a bar, and a location in the middle of no where, I recommend the Straightaway Cafe. This place has a one of a kind feel and is just so practical for large groups. It really has something for everyone. It is so nice to have a space for your 2 year old to run around and play while you enjoy some live music.
One of the greatest things about Asheville is you really get to experience the seasons.
If you’re visiting in the summer I recommend you take a river adventure. A great one stop shop for adventures is the Asheville Outdoor Nature Center. They offer tubing, canoeing, kayaking, rafting, mining, and biking. After your adventure, you can enjoy the taproom with some corn hole, volleyball, basketball and ping pong.
If you’re visiting in the fall I recommend you go apple picking. North Carolina is home to some wonderful orchards. One great location with mountain views is Stepps Hillcrest Orchards. While you’re there you can enjoy a picnic lunch, apple cider and donuts.
For the winter, I recommend visiting the Omni Grove Park Inn Gingerbread Contest. This is truly a site to behold. These are not Gingerbread houses they are gingerbread masterpieces. Its the perfect, unique Christmas event to attend.
In the spring, visit some gardens! There’s the tulips at the Biltmore and the North Carolina Arboretum. Enjoy being outside. Asheville has some of the nicest weather year round.
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