In our last post, I talked about the first half of our vacation spent in NYC. You can read part 1 here. After 3 days in New York, we were at JFK International Airport at 5am for our 7:35am flight to Asheville. Once again, we were looking for coffee. Michael waited in a ridiculously long line at Dunkin’ Donuts for the worse coffee we have ever had. He had barely paid and made it to the gate as the other passengers were starting to board the plane. Once on the plane, we sat down coffee in hand, ready to feed the addiction. I took one sip, looked at him and said, “I’m sorry. I know you just waited forever for this coffee, but it’s … I can’t drink this.” He gave me a bit of an eye roll, and then sipped his own coffee. He forced a swallow and then handed the cup to me to find some place to throw it away. (*Note: I’m not saying Dunkin’ Donuts in general is terrible coffee. We’ve definitely had good coffee from DD, but this was not one of those occasions.)
The flight from New York to North Carolina was only 45 minutes! That was pretty awesome! We opted to fly into Charlotte and pick up a rental to drive the 1 hour and 45 minutes to Asheville, because it was cheaper than flying directly into Asheville (where we would have to rent a car anyway). I had originally selected a pick up time of 12pm for our rental, that was when our flight was supposed to land at 10:45am. However, our flight was bumped up an hour early, and we “made good time”. So we actually got to the rental place at 9:30am. They couldn’t give us a car until 12pm, unless we wanted to cancel our prepaid rental and pay over $100 a day to book a car. (Our original rental was $160 total for 4 days of use.) So we sat in the waiting room at the car rental for over 2 hours. That was not pretty awesome.
After we finally got our Hyundai Elantra, we set out to find lunch. We found a Five Guys, our fail-safe when it comes to food and traveling. Thank goodness those things are almost everywhere! After lunch we drove around the same block a few times trying to find the coffee shop that our GPS swore was 50ft on our right. We found it, but only after asking for directions. Perhaps, we should have called this “A Quest for Coffee” instead of a vacation.
Having only experienced mountains really in Colorado, Michael and I wondered what the mountains in this part of the country would look like. Would they be actual mountains or just large hills? We were delightfully surprised. The mountains were by no means like the ones in Colorado, but they were big and gorgeous, nonetheless.
We made it to Asheville around 4pm, where we promptly got lost. We eventually found our way to the one bedroom loft that we were renting for the next 4 days. It was lovely! We drove through a tunnel, and then winding narrow roads to get to it. I was pretty glad we got one of the smaller cars available.
Unfortunately, I only got this side shot, but you can view more pictures on the listing here. After a bit of a rest, we found a place nearby to eat. After dinner we walked across the parking lot to the nearby Whole
Paycheck Foods, to grab a few things for breakfast the next morning.
Asheville is a lot like Austin, very local business centric, very artsy, very free-spirited. Michael said it was the cleaner, less crowded version of Austin. There was something enchanting about downtown. Even though we had planned to do a lot of other things, there was something about the quaint and curious downtown area that made us want to be there almost the entire trip; we were probably persuaded even more by the cool breeze and mid 80s temperatures.
We ate a small downtown cafes…
We checked out the small, local shops and the local artisans’ booths on every other corner. We frequented the Battery Park Book Exchange + Champagne Bar. It’s a bookstore that sells used and rare books + offers coffee, wine, champagne and hors d’oeuvres.
We need one of these in every city!
When we weren’t downtown or frequenting the Book Exchange, we were driving the Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic route through the mountains with overlooks and poor GPS signal.
Unfortunately, that is not our picture above. No, the Blue Ridge Parkway is looong, and we didn’t do much planning on our part. We decided to just drive it for a bit and see what we could see. Well, that ended up being mostly trees with great views through the very few, small clearings. There are overlooks and designated places to stop (like in the photo above), but we didn’t find any on the portion that we drove. Definitely something we want to attempt again when we go back.
We also saw two movies while we were there! That’s kind of a big deal for parents of 3 young children. We saw Ant-Man one night and Pixels another night. We enjoyed both of them, and actually, I was surprised by how much I liked Pixels. Truth be told, wouldn’t mind watching it again.
We did a lot of resting on this portion of our trip. Part of me felt bad about being in such a great place and missing out on experiences, but my knees were still recovering and Michael had started to have a cough and chest congestion. We hung out on the couch a lot. We watched a lot of HGTV. We don’t have cable, so that was a bit of a treat for me. Michael didn’t really care for it. He’d change it to Teen Titans whenever he got the chance.
We did have plans to hike / walk up to the top of Chimney Rock:
I regret not doing it, but even with my knees feeling better, I knew I couldn’t tackle all those stairs. (It’s definitely on the list for next time.)
We were told more than once, “You have to visit the Biltmore!” The Biltmore is a Châteauesque-styled mansion built by George W. Vanderbilt between 1889 and 1895. It’s the largest privately owned house in the United States. Sounds intriguing, right? So we put it on the list.
It was pretty cool, but not worth the price. It was $50 per ticket, costing us over $100 after it was all said and done.The indoor pool was a bit insane, and the multiple kitchens and pantries were awe inspiring, but if we could do it again, we’d probably skip it. I know that old homes really appeal to other people, but it just wasn’t for us. We didn’t even bother to look at the grounds or vineyards. Michael wasn’t feeling well, so we left right after touring the home. Although, we did get this photo when leaving:
Because we did the Biltmore, we had to miss out on zip lining. It too was $100 and we couldn’t swing both of them at that price. We both agree that we would have rather did the zip lining. #hindsight
We did drive down to The National Forest, near Brevard, to Looking Glass Falls. North Carolina has multiple water falls. I’ve never seen one in person, so this was on the must-do list. And I am so glad we did!
It was by far one of the best things we did in North Carolina. It was right off the road and easily accessed. We walked down the stairs and over the large, slippery rocks to join the others partaking in the cool water of the falls.
We knew that we would probably get in the water if we could, so we brought an extra change of clothes with us, but I didn’t feel like changing into my swimsuit, so I just jumped in fully clothed. It was pretty cold in the deeper part near the falls, to say the least. I only went in that part once. While Michael was taking a second dip, I sat on one of the larger rocks and dug through the pebbles sitting beneath the shallow water. I’m not sure what sort of minerals are in the rocks in Asheville, but almost all of the ones we found were full of metallic bits and very sparkly. I even found this heart-shaped one:
(Misty camera phones take blurry photos.)
How fitting is that? For our 10th anniversary getaway, I find a heart-shaped rock. It’s one of my favorite souvenirs from the trip, and I am mulling over how / where to display it in our home.
After the falls we headed back to the loft to start packing. We had plans to go back downtown to listen to a gypsy jazz band, but we never made it. Asheville had a lot of resting. Probably more than we planned, but we tried to listen to our bodies and take some time to relax. It’s more precious than gold when you have 3 young children, 2 jobs, constant remodeling projects, and a blog. So, while it would have been nice to see everything and do everything, rest is what we really needed. Asheville is certainly a place we hope to visit again, and we would love to take the kids, so I hope that one day we will get to see and do those things that we missed.
We left Asheville Saturday morning around 10:30am. We got to Charlotte right around 12pm, and our flight left around 3pm. (So again we had some time to kill.) We had a great flight from Charlotte to Atlanta, where we got delayed for almost 45 minutes. We finally made it home around 9:30pm. It was great and weird (our house looked different from what I remembered) to be home to our tribe again and actually hug their little necks. I’ll admit though, my heart is already longing to be traveling on a new adventure.
What about you guys? Ever been to Asheville? Have any favorite places? Let us know, so we can add them to our list for next time!