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At Home in Asheville

March 16, 2017

Best Asheville Restaurants: South Slope Bar-B-Que

Image Source: Buxton Hall BBQ


If you’ve been to Asheville, read about Asheville, or even crossed paths with an Ashevillian recently, then you’ve heard about Buxton Hall BBQ. This relative newcomer is steered by a dynamic team. Chef Elliott Moss is a James Beard Award nominee who arrived in Asheville in 2007 to help open the Admiral. Now he partners with Meherwan Irani to bring BBQ dreams to life. Irani is the genius behind Chai Pani and now counts 5 restaurant locations under his stewardship.

But back to the ‘cue. I was intrigued by their “smoked while you sleep” tagline and had to try it for myself. Spoiler: it lives up to the hype. Caveat: don’t go in expecting no frills Eastern Carolina style BBQ. If you can embrace the non-traditional nature of Buxton, then you will appreciate what makes the menu so satisfying.

To start, I don’t think you can go wrong with the hush puppies. Each ball of dough is crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and flecked with jalapeños. These guys are filling and just the thing to tide you over until your main course arrives. If you are extra hungry, the smoked pimiento cheese dip is also a treat.

For the big event, I enjoy the classic BBQ plate with sides and the fried chicken sandwich. Both are indulgent, but the vegetables cooked under the hog lighten it up a bit… or not. For sides, the insider move is to order waffle fries with a side of white BBQ sauce (the white sauce acts as a ranch substitute). Green beans with hog bits, baby limas, macaroni salad, root veggie mash, and traditional Carolina chicken bog round out an all-star line-up of sides.

My favorite part of a meal at Buxton is trying out their pie or turnover of the day. Most pies are served room temperature, so don’t expect a hot slice. Either way, the banana pudding pie with meringue topping and rotating hand pies are not to be missed. The open air interior and friendly wait staff make you feel like your home - even if you are surrounded on all sides by tourists who just read about Buxton in the latest Bon Appetit.

In addition to the main dining room, Buxton Hall also operates a more exclusive-feeling pop-up dinner in their 2nd floor Remingtin Room. Make sure to email for Remingtin Room reservations and to prepare for a wait for the main dining room during peak hours (pretty much every hour they are open).

 

Posted in Asheville Eats
Feb. 22, 2017

Asheville's Creative Desserts

Image Source: The Hop Ice Creamery
(Image Source: The Hop Ice Cream Café)

If you  have a sweet tooth, Asheville is going to be trouble for you. The city’s vibrant culinary scene spills over into the business of desserts. From Vortex Donuts on the South Slope to The Hop Ice Cream in West Asheville, there is a sweet treat for every mood and occasion. Let’s explore the most prevalent dessert categories in our city!

 

Artisanal Donuts

On the South Slope of Asheville, Vortex Doughnuts serves up a rotation of scrumptious handmade donuts and no fuss coffee and espresso. Nestled among a handful of breweries, it is no surprise that one of their best-selling donuts features a beer glaze and crushed peanut and pretzel topping. This is a true Asheville culinary combination: craft beer and gourmet donuts. If you want to try a bunch, go on a Wednesday when dozens are half off (your welcome).

In West Asheville, Hole Doughnuts serves up fried-to-order donuts. Every donut in the shop uses their signature single yeasted dough recipe as a base. The toasted almond sesame cinnamon doughnut is a local favorite - but you can’t go wrong with anything they serve. The best part is that every donut arrives in your hand fresh out of the fryer.

 

Hand-Churned Ice Cream

Asheville is serious about ice cream. Since 1978, the Hop Ice Cream Café has been the premier purveyor of frozen treats. Their inventive flavors place an emphasis on local ingredients and collaboration. If you love donuts and ice cream, you have to make it to the next donut ice cream sandwich night at The Hop. The ice cream shop has two locations: one in West Asheville and one on Merrimon Avenue. They offer both dairy and vegan ice cream options, sandwiched between donuts from Vortex and Hole. Watch their Facebook page for event updates.

In addition to The Hop, Ultimate Ice Cream scoops delicious flavors for the North Asheville neighborhoods. Nestled along Charlotte Street (with another location on Tunnel Rd.), Ultimate has a flavor of the month, which is always prominently displayed on the front window. Customer favorites include classics like fresh strawberry, Belgian chocolate, and For the more adventurous ice cream connoisseur, Ultimate Chai and salted caramel are sure to please.

Inventive Chocolate

No tour of Asheville’s dessert scene is complete without gourmet chocolates. French Broad Chocolate Lounge usually has a line out the door during peak business hours. Their Pack Square location features their signature truffles, plus a myriad of other decadent chocolate desserts. Concoctions like marshmallows, flourless cakes, themed cookies, and milkshakes are available to order. For true chocolate lovers, however, a box of truffles is the perfect way to sample the unique and sometimes wild flavors cooked up by the chefs at French Broad.

If you are downtown, you should also visit The Chocolate Fetish on Haywood Road. The Fetish is known for their award-winning chocolates like their classic truffles and shareable chocolate rounds. Their chocolate rounds are essentially adult candy bars, featuring flavors like s’mores, cookies and cream, and bourbon pecan. Chocolate purists and sweet-lovers alike can find something delicious at Asheville’s chocolate shops.

Pastries, Pies, and Cakes Galore

Our final category of Asheville desserts is pastries. We are lucky to have several top notch bakeries churning out fresh scones, croissants, and pies every day. Our favorite spots include O.W.L. Bakery, The Rhu, and Short Street Cakes. If you are looking for classic Southern desserts, the bakery at Buxton Hall Barbeque makes a mean banana pudding pie that you just have to try!

No matter what kind of sweets you are craving, Asheville’s epic ice creameries, pastry chefs, and doughnut makers have you covered. Now to try and figure out where to start!

 

Posted in Asheville Eats
Feb. 3, 2017

Asheville Moving Tips

asheville moving tips

If you are considering a move to Asheville or one of our neighboring towns, congratulations! We are ready to welcome you to our friendly mountain city. As you prepare to move your life and your belongings from one place to another, I hope these packing tips come in handy!

 

Preparation is Key

We have all experienced “packing fatigue” after a marathon weekend of organizing, boxing, labelling, and lifting. If you have the luxury of time, use it. Set daily box goals for yourself starting 2 weeks out so that you can spread out the moving tasks. Give yourself a deadline that is 24 hours before your official move because those little things always sneak up. Make sure you have the necessary boxes, packing materials, and moving supplies well in advance. This can help reduce the “day of chaos.”

If you are within easy driving distance of your new home, there are a few more steps you can take. Drive over basic supplies for your bathroom and kitchen (toilet paper and trash bags, anyone?) the day before. You can go a step further by bringing extra fragile items and an overnight bag to your new place if you have the time! And remember to keep chargers easily available. Finally, make sure to reconfirm your appliance transfer and moving company a few days out to ensure your big day runs smoothly.

 

Box Strategy 101

The biggest moving mistake people make is to load big boxes up with heavy items. This creates impossibly heavy and unwieldy boxes that will increase back strain and stress on moving day. To prevent this, remember to pack heavy items in small boxes and light items in large boxes. You can go a step further and label your boxes by weight. As you take multiple trips with your arms full of boxes this will allow you to figure out which boxes to grab next at a glance (without picking up and testing every box).

As you pack, maximize the space within every box. If you have empty space, put a pillow or towel in it. Just remember to only put items from the same room into a box together. This helps prevent moving day confusion or lost items. In fact, as you prepare for the move, work through your home room by room so that your packing flow naturally follows this rule. Finally, label every box with its destination room and a brief rundown of its contents.

 

Reduce Moving Stress

Even with ample preparation and strategic packing, moving can still be stressful. To take the edge off, I have a few more tips for a stress-free move. Before you start packing, I recommend doing a big declutter in your current home. The time to sell unworn items on eBay or drop boxes off at Goodwill is not moving week. Get this done a month ahead (again, if you are lucky to have time) so that you are only packing and moving items that you want to end up in your new home.

As your move approaches, make sure to block off ample time to complete your packing and relocation tasks. This might mean taking a day off work or having someone watch your kids for the day. Whatever you need to do in order to make progress and stay on schedule, try to do it. Lastly, make sure you give yourself enough time and effectively delegate tasks.  You don’t have to do it all alone or all in one day! Proper preparation can help alleviate moving stress so that you can focus on nesting in your new house.

 

Make Your New House a Home

There are a lot of differing theories on the order in which to unpack. I am a fan of starting with the closet - hear me out. Moving is already tiring enough without having to rustle through boxes for your clothes. If you start with your closet, you can stay organized and make it easier to find essentials (like clothing and shoes) as you unpack the rest of your home. Another tip is to unpack your art and lean it against the wall until you decide where to hang it. This allows you to enjoy your favorite art and photography right from the start without having to commit to your hanging arrangements immediately.

As you move in, unpack your favorite items first. Is there a clock that is an integral part of your day to day life? Hang it first! Light your favorite candles or put your favorite essential oil in the diffuser to make your new house smell like home. Looking to get comfy? Make your bed with fresh clean sheets for your first night as an extra treat. If you are a creature of habit and you throw your keys in the same dish or hang the dog leash on the same hook every day, go ahead and arrange those. These are just a few ways to break in your new home so you can start enjoying your new neighborhood or city!

Be sure to check out my favorite Asheville restaurants, local activities, and museums. If you need help with your home search, feel free to browse our current listings or call me directly at 828-776-6202.

 

Posted in Moving Tips
Jan. 24, 2017

Tips for Relocating to a New City

If you are considering a relocation, then this is for you. Whether you are relocating for a new job, a different culture, or for your retirement, I hope this list of relocation tips can help guide your relocation process. If you are relocating to the Asheville area, reach out to me for guidance residential communities, local happenings, schools, and more. 

Stay Organized & Plan Ahead

Relocating to a new city requires organization on all fronts. When I say “stay organized,” I am referring to finances, moving logistics, job transition, family priorities (school, daycare, and activities), and other essential relocation tasks. Make a list of your top priorities and then create a plan for making them happen.

If you are boxing up your home and loading it onto a truck, make sure you start collecting packing materials and organizing your belongings well ahead of schedule. If your children need daycare, start arranging this as soon as possible. Planning ahead and staying organized can help you achieve a smooth transition and minimize road bumps in your relocation process.

Ask for Assistance

If your job does not offer a relocation package, you can still ask them about financial assistance. If you are moving for other reasons, be sure to request emotional or logistical assistance from your friends and family when applicable. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your close network as you transition- relocating is a complicated task!

You can also look into resources available to you in your new city. Check with the Chamber of Commerce and other city offices for new resident assistance and social programs. Asking for assistance from the start is key, since it is hard to reach out once you are feeling overwhelmed by your relocation.

If Possible, Visit Your New City

This is especially important if you are buying a home! A website can only go so far- you need to get a feel for your new neighborhood in person. Walking and driving around will help you get the lay of the land and figure out where you want to live.

If you are buying a home in your new location, reach out to a local real estate agent with experience in the area. This contact can help guide your search and provide input on school districts, home value trends, and neighborhood characteristics. 

Build a Network

Start building your local network as quickly as possible. This group will be helpful for guiding your relocation and finding a new job, if you aren’t moving with or for one. You can start by joining local Facebook groups, reaching out to friends or family in the area, and asking your current network if they know anyone in your new city.

Cultivate these relationships before you arrive and then be sure to proactively arrange coffee and lunch dates once you move. Your network will naturally expand as you are introduced to new people. Once you arrive in your new city, find local meet-ups, clubs, and activities.

Know the Cost of Living

Before you move, it is important to understand the cost of living in your new home. More than home costs or rent, you want to do some research into your other daily, weekly, and monthly costs. Things to consider include utilities, childcare or school, after school activities, gym membership, entertainment, food and beverage, and shopping.

If you are paying for something in your current location, take the time to figure out how much that same product or service costs in your new city. This will eliminate sticker shock and help you plan and budget.

Celebrate the Small Wins

As you get used to your new routine, make sure to enjoy and celebrate the everyday victories. Whether it’s discovering your favorite local coffee shop or finally figuring out the back roads to the grocery store - take a moment to appreciate it!

Posted in Moving Tips
Jan. 10, 2017

Asheville Museums

Asheville boasts a wide range of museums, including museums for science, history, and folk art. No matter your interests, there is a museum for you! Each museum highlighted here provides a unique perspective and a diverse line-up of community events.

 

Asheville Museum of Science

The Asheville Museum of Science, or AMOS, recently debuted its newly renovated space. The AMOS has a long history, tracing its start back to 1959, when the family of Burnham S. Colburn donated his large mineral collection to the Southern Appalachian Mineral Society. A year later, the SAMS opened the museum that started it all. The museum moved to downtown Asheville in 1972 and their new space is just blocks from the original location. Their new space offers special events and educational programs in addition to the Museum’s exhibits and displays. The entire family can learn and play as novice geologists, topographers, anthropologists, or ecologists throughout the interactive exhibits at AMOS. 

 

Asheville Art Museum

The Asheville Art Museum is also undergoing renovations and their location on Pack Square is temporarily closed - but, do not worry, you can visit their South Slope pop-up location for exhibits and events.  The Museum was founded by artists in 1948 and continues to deliver an exciting, inviting and active schedule of exhibitions and public programs based on its Permanent Collection of 20th and 21st century American art. The Museum offers programs for children, families, college students, and adults of all ages. Their adult programming includes artists’ talks, classes, concerts, film screenings, performances, workshops, and more.

 

aSHEville Museum

The aSHEville Museum is dedicated to sharing the positive contributions of women and girls around the world to healthy societies. The Museum is also committed to addressing the ongoing issues of gender inequality. It is their vision to “contribute to the creation of a more just and equitable world by sharing engaging stories, facts, narratives, and visual imagery of the richly varied achievements and experiences of women and girls throughout the world.” Find the aSHEville Museum on Wall Street - close to two of my favorite local spots: Early Girl Eatery and Trade and Lore coffee.

 

Folk Art Center

The Folk Art Center is the home of the Southern Highland Craft Guild and the Center celebrates both traditional and contemporary crafts of the Southern Appalachians. There are three galleries, a bookstore, a Blue Ridge Parkway information desk, a library, and a craft shop on site. The Center is a five minute drive east out of downtown on the Blue Ridge Parkway- making this a wonderful way to experience the parkway and enjoy regional craft. From March to December, visitors can see live craft demonstrations daily in the Folk Art Center lobby. 

 

Asheville Pinball Museum

The Asheville Pinball Museum is a fully interactive space with pinball machines dating back to the 1960s. And no, you don’t need a bag of tokens to play - your entry fee grants you access to all of the machines for unlimited play. The entire family will enjoy this pre-smart phone activity and dose of pinball history. In addition to their regular hours, the APM also hosts private after hours parties. The Museum is located in downtown Asheville across from the Grove Arcade. This puts it within walking distance of the aSHEville Museum, the Asheville Museum of Science, and the Asheville Museum of Art!

Asheville’s bright culture, rich history, and artistic vibe are what makes our mountain town a wonderful place to live, work, and play. In addition to these museums, Asheville also boasts historic houses turned museums, the most famous of which is the Biltmore Estate. Downtown Asheville is also a living museum of sorts for art deco architecture. No matter your interests, there is a museum or walking tour for you. Check out my other blog posts for my favorite activities, hikes, and restaurants!

 

Dec. 30, 2016

Coffee & Cocktails in Downtown Asheville

chocolate lounge downtown asheville

In previous blog posts, I detailed my favorite spots for casual and fancy dining around Asheville. What if you’re just in the mood for a splash of fresh coffee and a light bite? These are my top spots in downtown Asheville for coffee, dessert, and drinks.

Asheville’s Top Spots for Coffee & Dessert

High Five Coffee

With two downtown Asheville locations, High Five is the convenient (and delicious) choice. Their Rankin Avenue store is located by the Rankin Vault and the back entrance to Tops Shoes. High Five baristas go through a robust training program that ensure your beverage is prepared to perfection. High Five brews Counter Culture beans, the product of a 20 year old coffee company hailing from neighboring Durham, NC. High Five’s mission is twofold: serve great coffee and be nice to people. Both of these credos are immediately evident when you walk through the doors.

The Rhu

Located on Lexington Avenue, The Rhu is little sister to local-favorite Rhubarb. Chef John Fleer created this outpost as a place to celebrate local produce and makers. The Rhu offers a coffee menu, pastries,  breads, and lunch items. You can dine in or grab a box to-go. For last minute shoppers, Rhu offers loaves of bread, Looking Glass Creamery, cheese, jams, and nut butters to-go. They also have a well-curated wall of giftables like handmade cutting boards, cookbooks, and kitchen accessories.

Trade & Lore

Trade and Lore opened on Wall Street earlier this year to a warm reception. The interior is open and well-appointed, making this the perfect place to meet a friend for a visit or work for an afternoon. The coffee shop is located off the busy downtown beaten path beneath the Flat Iron Building. Go for their $2 drip coffee, stay for their freshly baked vegan and gluten free cookies.

French Broad Chocolate Lounge

The Lounge opened to accommodate the overflow from French Broad’s original chocolate shop and factory. The eatery now serves coffee, cake, ice cream, hot chocolate, assorted breads and pastries in addition to their famous truffles. Since Dan and Jael Rattigan met at a wedding in 2003, their story has taken them from the Midwest to Costa Rica to Asheville. They still own and operate a cacao farm in Costa Rica, which exemplifies their commitment to the chocolate-making process and fine ingredients.

 

Best Places to Grab a Drink in Asheville 

Montford Rooftop Bar

For mountain vistas with downtown convenience, I recommend the Montford Rooftop Bar. Perched at the top of the new Hyatt Hotel, the Bar has sweeping views of Asheville from the inside and the deck. Order the house special Montford Mule and the meatballs for a spectacular afternoon or evening outing. Since the bar is on the edge of downtown, I suggest checking out my favorite Italian restaurant, Chiesa, before or after your trip to the Rooftop.

5 Walnut

If you love live music and wine, look no further than 5 Walnut. A different live music act plays nightly and you can manage some superb people watching from the street-facing stools. Try their blended wines on tap, the smoked trout dip, and their famous cheese platter. 5 Walnut is a great place to hang in the early evening, right in the middle of the bustling downtown neighborhood.

MG Road

Near Trade and Lore, MG Road is a cocktail bar beneath Indian street food restaurant Chai Pani. While MG Road has the same owners as Chai Pani, the focus is on expertly crafted cocktails. Relax in the plush chairs or pony up to the bar- you can’t go wrong at this spot. If you get hungry for a nibble, MG Road serves a selection of Indian bites from big sister and upstairs neighbor Chai Pani.

Since Asheville is Beer City USA, we can’t leave out the myriad of local craft breweries. Favorites include Catawba, Green Man, Burial, Twin Leaf, Wicked Weed, Hi Wire, One World, and Highland Brewing. In addition to these local haunts, Colorado-based New Belgium Brewing recently opened their second location in Asheville along the French Broad River.

Is your favorite spot missing from my round-up? Let me know! Asheville’s food and drink scene is growing so rapidly that it is hard to keep up, but I am always eager for the “next best place” to try.

 

Posted in Asheville Eats
Dec. 13, 2016

Asheville's Art Deco Architecture

Lonely Planet just named Asheville the best place to visit for 2017! Asheville’s vibrant downtown is one of the factors that helped our city secure this #1 spot. One of the hallmarks of the bustling downtown area is the vibrant architecture. The Art Deco style is the prevalent aesthetic for many of Asheville’s historic downtown buildings. The notable thing about Asheville’s Art Deco buildings is that they are wonderfully preserved for us to enjoy today.

The reason that Asheville has so many Art Deco buildings, however, isn’t necessarily a positive one. Asheville was hit hard by the Great Depression in 1929 and shouldered the highest per capita debt burden of any city in the United States. The city spent the next 50 years paying of debt, until the last burden was paid in 1979. During this time, the city focused on making their payments, not on redevelopment.

While other cities bulldozed their Art Deco treasures in favor of new skyscrapers, Asheville’s Art Deco treasures remained standing. The $8 million debt ($111 million today) stifled the post depression development that was popular throughout the rest of the country. As a result, Asheville locals and visitors now enjoy the spectacular architecture throughout the downtown area.

 

Art Deco Architecture and Asheville

Asheville’s City Hall, picture above, is a perfect example of the Art Deco architectural style with its pink and green tile construction, octagonal roof, and tiered design. The eight-story building was designed by architect Douglas D. Ellington and was completed in 1928. The building materials were chosen to reflect the natural soil of the Asheville region, with terra cotta tiles and Georgia marble topping the design. Today, the Asheville City Hall building houses the Office of the Mayor and other city department and is open to the public during regular business hours.

In addition to the city hall, downtown Asheville boasts a rich collection of art deco buildings. Architect Douglas D. Ellington also designed the S&W Cafeteria building on Patton Avenue. The three-story building was completed in 1928 in the Art Deco style. The facade features a mix of materials including glazed terra cotta panels, slate, glass and wrought iron. The design is topped by a crenelated parapet of green and blue tiles. Today, the S&W Cafeteria building hosts weddings and parties.

Another downtown gem, the Woolworth Company Building, was crafted in the minimalist late art deco style. Today, Woolworth Walk holds an expansive art gallery and a real "old timey" soda fountain.

 

Hallmarks of the Art Deco Style

The art deco style gained popularity in the 1920s and 1930s, combining rich details with a modern aesthetic. The Chrysler Building in New York City is arguably the most famous art deco building in America. Art deco is a collection of styles that uses expensive materials and fine craftsmanship to express modern forms. The overarching appearance is linear, geometric, stylized, and sleek.

Stucco and metals are often used in art deco architecture for their smooth aesthetic. For art deco buildings, the emphasis is clearly vertical. To achieve this effect, vertical lines, geometric designs, and vertical projections are employed. Many of these characteristics can be seen in the architecture of downtown Asheville today!

 

Tours of Asheville

You can enjoy Asheville’s rich architectural offerings, including the fabulous art deco style, through a variety of tours. Walking tours, self-guided tours, and trolley tours allow you to learn about Asheville’s rich history and see the architectural sights. In addition to the downtown area, Asheville is well known for both the Biltmore Estate and the Grove Park Inn. Additional places of historical significance are scattered around town. Locals and visitors can make use of the visitor’s center in Montford to pick up a guide!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nov. 22, 2016

Asheville Climate and Temperature

city of asheville

Asheville, NC is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains at 2,134 feet above sea level. The city sits at the confluence of the Swannanoa River and French Broad River. The climate of Asheville is considered a Continental climate and resembles that of the Piedmont region of the southeastern United States.  Since the city rests at a higher altitude than the Eastern part of the state, temperatures are cooler.

Throughout the four seasons, the mountains of Asheville act as a barrier, blocking extreme weather from entering the Piedmont of eastern North Carolina.The temperature and climate of Asheville draw retirees, second home buyers, and those seeking to relocate. Each season boasts its own unique characteristics and benefits. 

Spring in Asheville

Spring is a magical time of year in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Starting in March, temperatures warm up from the 50s into the low 60s. The evenings are chilly, but warm and sunny afternoons balance out the days. Spring and summer are the wettest months of the year in Asheville with monthly rainfall averaging between 3 and 3.4 inches. Overall, the weather varies wildly throughout the spring. The season is, however, very scenic as the wildflowers, trees, and greenery blooms. 

Temperate Mountain Summers

July is the warmest month of the year in Asheville, but temperatures remain moderate with only a handful of days posting temperatures over 90º Fahrenheit. Even on the hottest summer days, cool mountain streams, rivers, and trails offer respite with lower temperatures. Summertime in mountain valleys are characterized by comfortable temperatures and scattered afternoon showers. 

Fall Brings Peak Colors

The fall brings colorful leaf displays across the mountains during peak leaf season, one of the most popular times of the year to visit Asheville. During October, visitors flock to Asheville and the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway to observe the changing of color. This color change starts at higher elevations and makes its way week by week to the lower elevation of the city. Because of this, driving along the Parkway is a wonderful way to take it all in at every elevation. October is also the driest month of the year, with an average of 2.1 inches of precipitation. 

Chilly Asheville Winters

Winters in Asheville are cool and January is typically the coldest month of the year. The average high for January is 47º and the average low is 27º. Locals note that downtown Asheville typically feels colder than other areas, partly due to the strong winds that tunnel down the city blocks. Asheville typically receives an average of 11 inches of snowfall each year. At lower city elevations, the snow melts away quickly. Higher up into the mountains, snow and ice can stick around for weeks. 

Living in Asheville

The beautiful mountain climate makes Asheville an ideal place to live. If you can weather the cold and windy winters, you are rewarded with three temperate seasons. At any point of the year, higher elevations offer chillier temperatures, while lower elevations are warmer. This flexibility make summer hiking a popular and enjoyable hobby.

The frost free growing season lasts 176 days (April 21 to October 14) in Western North Carolina. Many homesteaders, urban farmers, and garden enthusiasts take advantage of the growing season to cultivate their own herbs, fruits, and vegetables.

Locals and visitors take advantage of the moderate spring, summer, and fall months with a host of activities. Popular outdoor activities include floating down the French Broad River, hiking along wooded trails in the Blue Ridge Mountains, driving along the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, and soaking up local attractions.

Explore my blog to learn why Asheville is a top city for retirees, see my picks for Asheville dining, and browse the best activities for seniors.

 

Nov. 7, 2016

Holiday Activities in Asheville

Asheville, NC definitely gets in the holiday spirit! Every year, Christmas and Hanukkah celebrations light up the social calendar, bringing extra cheer. There is a wide variety of holiday activities in Asheville and you are sure to find something to suit the entire family.

Christmas at the Biltmore

Every year, visitors and locals alike flock to admire the 35 foot Christmas tree and extensive decorations at the Biltmore house. Over 1,000 poinsettias and copious decorations transform the estate into a festive holiday experience. In total, 70 Christmas trees are strung with lights and ornaments, making the Biltmore a holiday favorite year after year. Your ticket to Christmas at the Biltmore includes access to the home, the gardens, and Antler Village. From November to January, the estate restaurants and the Winery feature special edition holiday wines for your enjoyment as well.

National Gingerbread Competition

Each year, The Omni Grove Park Inn celebrates Christmas by hosting a National Gingerbread Competition. The tradition started in 1992, when a group of community members created the first gingerbread competition in an effort to boost holiday spirit. The tradition has grown since then into a nationally recognized event with celebrity guest judges and expert pastry entrants. Individuals of all ages are delighted by the gingerbread house display and this is one of the most popular events in Asheville during the holiday season. Plan to make an afternoon or evening out of it and enjoy a hot chocolate overlooking the Sunset Terrace.

A Christmas Carol at Flat Rock Playhouse

Each year, the Charles Dickens’ classic tale returns to the Mainstage at the Flat Rock Playhouse. The play, as adapted by Richard Hellesen and David De Berry, is a holiday classic and a must see for theater enthusiasts. The Flat Rock Playhouse is officially designated The State Theatre of North Carolina. From Asheville, you travel 30 miles south to the village of Flat Rock. The theater is next door to another historic attraction, the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site. Since 1940, the theater has put on a season that now includes Broadway musicals, comedy, drama, and theatre for young audiences.

Winter Lights at the North Carolina Arboretum

The elaborate Winter Lights show put on by the North Carolina Arboretum each year is a spectacle to behold. Over 500,000 lights make up the dazzling display that will delight everyone in your family. The event features an outdoor s’mores station, landscape enhancing displays, synchronized lights, holiday music, and souvenirs. Sip on cocoa, cider, or beer while you wander through the bright lights. To top it off, the proceeds from the Winter Lights help the Arboretum continue to expand its educational programs, exhibits and facilities.

Montford Home Tour

Each year, Asheville’s historic Montford neighborhood showcases some of their most beautiful and eclectic homes for the holidays. Enjoy carefully restored architecture and homes built to complement Montford’s heritage. Each home opens with holiday warmth and hospitality, giving you the true Montford experience. The neighborhood donates their time and talents to create a festive environment, complete with holiday treats. Your ticket includes a map for the tour with details about each home. All proceeds support the Montford Neighborhood Association for neighborhood improvement projects and programs for youth at the Montford Recreation Center.

Lake Lure Polar Plunge

One of the final holiday events for the 2016-2017 season is the annual New Year’s Polar Plunge at the Beach at Lake Lure. Daring locals and visitors take the plunge into the icy water to support local charities. The community supports the event with merriment and encouragement! This is fun and silly event that will surely help you ring in the New Year.

There are many more holiday events that happen annually in and around Asheville, but I hope this gives you a small taste of what you can expect! The mountains are a wonderful place to celebrate the holidays and sometime even provide a white Christmas.

Oct. 28, 2016

Activities for Seniors in Asheville

Gray Line Trolley tour

 

Tours of Asheville

 

There are numerous tours of Asheville available for all levels of mobility. Downtown Asheville offers historic walking tours, trolley tours, beer tours, food tours, and even comedy bus tours. Gray Line Trolley tours offers a wide range of options for visitors and locals who want to experience Asheville’s favorite spots and hidden gems. When you purchase a Gray Line Trolley tour ticket, you have the option to ride a complete route, which takes you along the highlights of Asheville. You can also opt for a more personalized experience where you can actually hop on and off the trolley around the city. This lets you use the trolley as your personal tour guide, then get off and explore the places that interest you the most.

 

Eating and brewery tours are a wonderful way to take in the tastes and sips of Asheville. You will eat and drink your way through local favorites and get a wonderful overview of the fine dining and craft beer served around Asheville. The Lazoom Comedy Bus Tour is a funkier approach, with a stand-up comedian host and a groovy loop around downtown Asheville. No matter your mood or your preference for walking versus riding, there is an Asheville tour for you.

 

Historic Sites

 

Tucked into the mountains of Western North Carolina, the Asheville area is teeming with historic sites and points of interest. The Biltmore Estate is the most famous and most frequented historic site. The estate offers endless experiences that can be customized to your needs and preferences. You can tour the grand home, stroll through the gardens, or take a segway tour along the pristine paved trails.

 

In addition to The Biltmore, Asheville is home to the Thomas Wolfe House, a historic Victorian home close to downtown where the author spent his childhood. His epic autobiographical novel Look Homeward, Angel forever immortalized the home and his hometown, “Altamont.” The nearby Smith-McDowell home is Asheville’s oldest mansion, which offers a rich and vibrant perspective on local history.

 

Paved Walking Trails

 

If you love being outdoors, then Asheville is heaven. There are a plethora of paved paths around town that can accommodate all levels of accessibility. The North Carolina Arboretum boasts 65 acres of cultivated gardens and seasonal landscape exhibits. There are 10 miles of wooded walking trails and a variety of paved paths throughout the grounds. Don’t miss the Bonsai Exhibit!

 

If you are looking to get away from town, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a scenic highway running north and south through Asheville. Along the Parkway, you can pull over at scenic overlooks for epic mountain views, no hiking poles required. Mount Mitchell offers epic panoramic views along the Parkway.  Park your car and take the 1/4-mile paved accessible trail to the observation deck for 360-degree views.

 

Museums, Galleries, and Cultural Centers

 

Asheville has no shortage of arts and cultural destinations. The Asheville Art Museumis located downtown and has a permanent collection and rotating special exhibits. Check their website for current events and special announcements.The YMI Cultural Center promotes preservation of cultural identity and interculturalism through diverse programming. At any given moment, they offer workshops, art exhibits, and performing art shows. The Folk Art Center is a part of the Southern Highland Craft Guild, located just 5 minutes from downtown Asheville. You can see live craft demonstrations and explore the various exhibit spaces. The art and cultural spots in Asheville extend far beyond these three examples. This will, however, give you a small taste of what you can see and enjoy around town.

 

Education and Senior Programs

 

The OLLI Institute at University of North Carolina Asheville offers a line-up of continuing education programs and a welcoming senior community. The Buncombe County Council on Aging offers programs and assistance to help seniors with everything from home repairs and taxes to dining and social events.

 

As you can see, Asheville offers a wide range of activities for seniors. There is something for every age, interest, and activity level. I encourage you to search based on your personal interests and see what you find!