Saturday, March 12, 2016

Spring at the Biltmore Estate - "Biltmore Blooms 2016"

Spring at the Biltmore Estate is something quite special.  Tulips abound in the cooler and early days of "Biltmore Blooms."  March 19th can be a little early to enjoy the abundant beauty and May 26th can be a little late, but each day at the Estate provides its own unique seasonal beauty.  My personal favorite time during the "Biltmore Blooms" feature, is when the Azalea gardens really pop - and the date will vary year to year; usually mid April is a pretty safe bet for the Azalea gardens.

"Biltmore Blooms," officially begins this year on March 19, 2016 and continues as a feature at the Biltmore Estate through May 26th.  In the early weeks of "Biltmore Blooms," Tulips are everywhere and quite stunning!   As the temperatures warm, the Tulips fall away and the beauty of the Azalea Gardens impress the visitor.  How enjoyable to take in the warmer spring days and wander outside in the beautiful gardens surrounding the Biltmore House.  Designed by Frederick Law Olmstead (landscape architect also for Central Park, NYC and many other stunning US parks and gardens), walking around the estate and enjoying the outside as well as the inside provides a wonderful change from the cold days of Winter!!  This spring, enjoy "A Gardener's Place Seminars," daily demonstrations featuring gardening themes such as Orchid gardening, miniature gardening and more, 1:00 and 2:00 pm daily; meet at the Gift Shop located beneath the Conservatory (Fancy Greenhouse).  

Be sure and check out the Bloom Report to find out where the best blooms and walks might be on your day of visit.  Remember, there are 8,000 acres surrounding the Biltmore House, so many walks and trails to explore.

And don't miss the special exhibit, this year, "Fashionable Romance Wedding Gowns in Film," also a part of your daytime ticket.  Many other special events and attractions are featured over the course of each week, most included in your daytime ticket, so be sure and check out the Biltmore Estate "Events and Activities" page (click here) to find out whats going while you are there.

Purchase tickets online through the Biltmore Website with extra discounts available for purchases 7 days in advance or longer.  Buy tickets online or call 800-411-3812.  You may also purchase them at the estate Ticket Center once on the property, in the event you want to go to the estate with less prior planning.  Tickets purchased through The Biltmore Company are good for one day of entry.  If you are staying with Vacation In Asheville properties and/or Oakland Cottage B&B, you may purchase tickets directly and have your tickets waiting for you upon your arrival (no lines!).  Tickets purchased from Vacation In Asheville are good for two consecutive days of entry and are usually equal to or less than ticket prices at the Ticket Center .  Call our reservation offices for ticket details and prices, 828 994-2627.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Asheville Beer Expo Feb 27, 2016 at The Venue Downtown Asheville

The First Annual Asheville Beer Expo will be held at The Venue in Downtown Asheville and hosted by the Asheville Brewers Alliance.  This inaugural event offers two sessions, each session with 4 unique panel (although beers poured at each session will not change); the first session is from 1-4pm and the second session is 5-8pm, both on Saturday February 27th, 2016.  
There are more than 30 members in the Asheville Brewer's Alliance.  Meet the members, sample their beers (**must be 21 years old or older to attend), attend the educational panels, hear stories.  Attend one session, or both!  Craft beer production will be show cased.  Learn more about the raw ingredients, brewing and packaging.  Talk to the passionate people who brew the beer!
Cost per session is $25 and includes an "event glass" 8 oz in size and 5 tokens.  Each token may be exchanged for a 4 oz pour into your commemorative "event glass,"  and more tokens are available for purchase at $2.00 each token.  4 panels will be at each session for a total of 8 panels and while space can not guaranteed, participation in panels is part of the ticket price at a first come first serve basis once panels begin.
Panel discussions include such topics as, "Raw Ingredients: sourcing, Mixing and Magic," "Asheville Brewery Origins: The First Wave," "Rare and Special Beers: Wild and Sour Beers," and more.  Again, there are four different panels at each of the two session for a total of 8 different panel topics and discussions, sure to be lively, interesting, informative and fun!
While meals will not be available to buy, there will be some local food vendors exhibiting their samples, including Hickory Nut Gap Farms (local graze fed meats), Roots Hummus, French Broad Food Chocolates and No Evil Foods to name a  few.
Where to park, where to stay:  there is metered parking on the street near The Venue, as well as city parking lots nearby.  The city lots nearby include the Rankin Parking Garage, College Street Deck at 164 College Street and 45 Wall Street.  Asheville is an easy and enjoyable walking town and the lots mentioned here are all within easy walking distance to The Venue.  Many hotels are nearby and Oakland Cottage B&B is just 2 miles south from the event site, reservation office 828 994-2627.
The Venue (click here) is located at 21 North Market Street, Asheville, NC 28801.  Visit the official Asheville Beer Expo 2016 event website (click here) for more details and information.  Tickets are non-transferable and non-refundable.  Children are not allowed, even if accompanied by a parent or adult.  Please be safe and have someone pick you up from this event; should you be in need of a ride back to your place of lodging, volunteers will be on hand to assist you in getting a cab ride

Friday, February 13, 2015

Basketball's Southern Conference 2015 in Asheville, NC Again!

North Carolina loves basketball and Asheville loves hosting the Southern Conference (SoCon) Basketball Tournament - yes, back in Asheville again this March 2015, 5th through 9th and remaining in Asheville, at least through the 2017 Season!  Asheville loves calling the SoCon tournament a March tradition - March is truly basketball's grand finale month and Asheville is a wonderful host town.  What a great way to warm up and celebrate a favorite sport in one of America's favorite cities -  and a favorite tournament as a fan for your favorite team ... or just for your favorite sport!!!

Games will be at both the Kimmel Arena on the University of North Carolina-Asheville (UNC-A) campus - and the U.S. Cellular Center in the heart of Downtown Asheville.  Kimmel Arena is located about 2 miles from the U.S. Cellular Center.  The U.S. Cellular is right in the heart of downtown Asheville, steps from restaurants, bars, craft breweries, local artist galleries, chocolatiers, live music,  River Arts District, parks and more.  Other favorite attractions to take in while you are here and all within 5 miles of Downtown Asheville, include the Biltmore Estate (take advantage of winter ticket pricing), North Carolina Arboretum, Blue Ridge Parkway (check for Parkway section closures) and more.

Tickets for SoCon are on sale and begin at $17 for a 2 game ticket and $100 for all session tickets.  VIP tickets range from $40 to $200; tickets may be purchased at the U.S. Cellular Center or online at

The eleven member institutions participating are from the five Southeastern States of North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama and include:

Alabama: Samford University
Tennessee: University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Georgia: Georgia Southern University
South Carolina: Wofford College, College of Charleston, The Citadel, Furman University
North Carolina:Western Carolina University, Appalachian State University, Elon University

For more information, schedules and more, be sure and visit the SoCon Basketball Tournament 2015 website.  The tournament is for both men and women's teams.  And this year the SoCon Wrestling tournament will be going on concurrently.  Be sure and look for additional events to participate in or watch, including the Buncombe County/Arc of NC 5k and/or the Downtown Dribble.  Partake in theme days (with ticket discounts) such as Hero's Day, Family Day and Pack the House.  And for a more thorough list of activities throughout the SoCon weekend in Asheville, NC, check out the "SoCon Travel Information" page located on Asheville's "ExploreAsheville" website where you will find links to things to do, breweries and taprooms, Hotels and Lodging, Restaurants and dining, along with a SoCon Events link.

If you need a place to stay, consider Asheville's Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast, located about 2 miles south of the US Cellular Center on the southern side of downtown Asheville.  Reservation offices: 828 994 2627, online booking:  Have a great SoCon Weekend!!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Wine and Storytelling with David Novak

Wine and Storytelling with David Novak, what a wonderful combination for a Sunday and winter afternoon in Asheville!  Hosted by Metro Wines at 169 Charlotte Street on Sunday February 8th, 2015 at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, taste some wine, listen to the art of storytelling (a western North Carolina and Appalachian tradition) performed by a true national and international master.

This will be a wonderful venue to hear and visit with David Novak a true national and local treasure and resident of Asheville, NC.  David Novak's resume, among other accolades, lists his numerous and telling awards with the storytelling craft, including, Disney Institute Master Storyteller, Oscar winner of Storytelling, National Storytelling Network, Circle of Excellence Award winner and more.  David Novak has taken his craft to an international level as well, bringing creativity to classic myths and folktales worldwide.  His fluid voice and surprising props enhance his storytelling; and his interactive performances are wonderful for all ages.

For the Sunday afternoon storytelling this February 8th at Metro Wine, reservations are recommended as seating is limited at this intimate venue; be sure and get your tickets in advance.  For information and to make your reservations, call 828 658-4151 and/or email:  Tickets are $15 each (cash at the door) and of course, the price includes a glass of wine or beverage.

And if you are visiting Asheville from out of town and need a place to stay, be sure and call Vacation In Asheville and Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast, reservation offices, 828 994-2627, online reservations at

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Third Annual Asheville Marathon at the Biltmore Estate

Third Annual Asheville Marathon will once again be at the Biltmore Estate, Sunday March 15th 2015, beginning at 7:30 am. While it is sold out, with 1,400 participants, there is now a wait list and if you don't get in this year, your wait list number will guarantee you a spot in the 2016 Asheville Marathon.

The 26.2 mile course will take you through the 8,000 acres of the grounds of the Biltmore Estate - on carriage roads both surfaced and uneven, across rolling hills, along the French Broad River, through the vast gardens designed by landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmstead, and across the vinyards and farmland of the Estate.  The Asheville Marathon is a certified race course as well as a Boston qualifying race (USATF Sanction #14-13-448 and Certification Code #NC14024DF).  Or, if a shorter race is to your taste, enjoy the Half Marathon at 13.1 miles, for its second year in a row.  In addition, this year the Appalachian Distance Series of races has added the Asheville Marathon to its Southeast series (including Asheville, Knoxville, Townsend, Chatanooga and Oak Ridge).

If you are not running, and want to support and watch as a spectator, be sure and read about all the rules and regulations, as there are some unique and specific procedures for entering the Estate (get an early start) and getting through the gate as the event is not open to the public.  Spectators will need to purchase a day ticket for $20 or be an annual passholder in order to get onto the property.  This will give you access to the grounds only, and you may upgrade your day pass to include the inside of the Estate for an additional $9 ($29 includes entry and tour of the inside of the Biltmore Estate).  Spectator Tickets may be purchased on March 14th at the Race Expo from 9am - 7pm at the Double Tree Hotel, or on Race Day beginning at 6:00 am at the Group Sales Office.  Besides enjoying the beauty of the grounds of the Biltmore Estate, Antler Hill Village, and the Winery, there will be plenty to do throughout the morning and early afternoon including cheering on your favorite runner(s), food and drinks, music and more.

Runners and spectators, do be aware that the race start is located at the Winery and Antler Hill Village - six miles from the entrance. Because of distance and heavy traffic that morning, it will take an additional 20 - 25 minutes to get to the race start once inside the gate.  If you prefer not to drive in, for an extra $10 jump on a shuttle bus at the Doubletree Hotel and you can get a ride right to the start line.  Be sure and check schedules.

If you are in need lodging nearby, call Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast (reservation line: call 9am to 7pm daily, 828 994-2627, for online booking log on to, or email anytime: for a more unique stay, and just one mile from the entrance to the Biltmore Estate.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

"Winter Lights" at the NC Arboretum Christmas 2014

Winter Lights, new this season at the NC Arboretum. The North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville, NC has joined with Jerry Stripling, former designer for Walt Disney World ®'s holiday decorations and special projects for a magnificent and unique Christmas Lights tour.  This is unlike any other light show in Asheville, combining the aesthetics of the landscape with the joy of Christmas Lights! Additionally, enjoy music, food, gifts!!  
Every night from November 22nd 2014 through January 4th 2014, I myself can't wait to go.  Tickets are limited nightly so be sure and make sure there is availability before you go (Sold out Saturday November 29th 2014).

Tickets are $18 each (12 years old and older), &$16 for children, 5-11years.  Children up to 4 years old are free.  Tickets are for specific dates and numbers are limited.  Be sure and call in advance,  800 514-3849 for information and tickets.  You may also book your tickets directly online.

The Arboretum is located at 100 Frederick Law Olmstead Way, Asheville, NC.  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Asheville Bread Festival, 2014

The Asheville Bread Festival will again feature Artisan Bread making for two full days days, celebrating local farmers, millers and bakers, and the Artisan Bread Movement in Western North Carolina.  The Asheville Bread Festival is now 10 years old, having had its debut in 2004, and continues to be organized by the founders of the festival, Steve Bardwell and Gail Lunsford.  This year, from 10 am to 4 pm on Saturday April 12th and Sunday April 13th join again in the Magnolia Building on Asheville/Buncombe Technical College (AB-Tech) Campus.

Over 15 local artisans will be present on Saturday April 12th.  Stop by to purchase and sample their wares from 10 am to 2pm.  Enjoy lectures and workshops on this day as well from 10am - 4pm.  Taste bread, share ideas, meet growers, millers and bakers!  Be sure and visit the Asheville Bread Festival website to view more about the workshops, to purchase advance workshop tickets, class schedules and more.

On April 13th professional bakers may enroll in the 6 hour "Master Class" bakers intensive, and learn from the featured bakers who will be present all weekend, some of the most respected bakers in the United States:  Lionel Vatinet, Peter Reinhart, Dominique Homo and Harry Peemoeller.  Information about and enrollment into this workshop intensive may be made by emailing

The Artisan Bread Movement is strong here in Western NC and has thankfully brought bread making full circle - from pre-sliced white bread back to the old-world hearty and tasty whole grains!  And who doesn't love the smell and taste of freshly baked bread?  Western North Carolina is going strong with the resurgence of the craft of bread making with over a dozen bakeries making hand crafted loaves and some using locally milled flour.

If you are looking for a place to stay, Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast is about 2 blocks from the AB-Tech campus where the festival will be held.  Give them a call at 828 994 2627, 9am - 7pm daily to make a reservation!  Bread bakers welcome!!