Friday, January 28, 2011

Asheville Trolley Tour - The Grayline is the RED Trolley

The Grayline Tour is the RED Trolley
The Asheville Trolley Tour is a wonderful way to get a good overview and introduction to Asheville (and have a great deal of fun in the process), especially if you need to limit your walking or if the weather is not so great. 

I prefer the Grayline (RED trolley).  The drivers are chock-full of very interesting history, anecdotal stories and yarns which they rattle off to riders as they tour through the historic city blocks of downtown, historic nearby neighborhoods, the rough and tumble River Arts District and charming Biltmore Village.  And while the ticket to The Thomas Wolfe Museum is only $1.00 per visit anyway, this museum ticket is also included in the trolley tour ticket price! 

Trolley Tour tickets are good for 2 consecutive days.  You may get on and off as often as you like and for as long as you like, allowing for a lunch break at a quaint cafe, dessert at one of the chocolate lounges, a stroll through the Thomas Wolfe Museum and/or shopping in a variety of areas - as you get on and off throughout the two days. 

My favorite stops - The Grove Park Inn.  Easy to miss are the Grovewood Galleries just across the "lane" and behind the Grove Park Inn... the car museum is small but worth popping into (and free) and several galleries are a delight to browse through - fantastic Arts and Craft works of the area (it's like being in a museum of fine arts), enjoy the sweet "wind garden" along the sidewalk or pop into an often open working art studio and observe an artist at work, blowing glass.  The cafe at the Grovewood Galleries is quaint.  And, the Grove Park Inn is worth going into and touring as well... be sure and ask to go "up the chimney" elevator!  And if it is during Christmas Season, be sure and check out the Gingerbread House display.  It's always bustling in the amazing foyer, and the hallways are full of historic memorabilia, including the largest Arts & Crafts style era furniture collection and "famous people" gallery.

Another favorite stop of mine is The River Arts District, which also has working artist studios to visit - view artists at work (and of course, buy their amazing arts!); and while a bit rougher around the edges, the "edginess" also lends a festive feel to the River Arts District.  Be sure and eat at 12 Bones across from the Curve Galleries, have a beer at The Wedge, and/or coffee and a patissere at Clingman Cafe.  

You just need to have the trolley stop schedule in your hands and plan where to start... I like starting at the Visitor Center on Montford with free parking - and the Visitor Center is a really exceptional and helpful Visitor Center; but you may start and end your tour at any one of the many delightful stops.

If you need a place to stay on your visit, be sure and consider Oakland Cottage B&B. You may purchase Trolley Tour Tickets directly from Oakland Cottage at a small discount.  Families are welcome at both Oakland Cottage B&B and on the Trolley Tour.

Tickets are $20 each, child tickets (ages 5-11) are discounted ($10 each), Children 5 and younger are free, and there is a family pass for $45 total for 2 adults and 2 children.  And if you don't have a ticket in hand, just jump on at any stop and the driver will set you up!

I haven't been on the evening ghost tour, but that sure looks fun, too, at 7:30 on select evenings, same pricing as for the daytime trolley tour.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Arts & Crafts Conference at The Grove Park Inn, Asheville, NC February 18-19, 2011

For more than 20 years an Arts & Crafts Conference has been held each year at the Grove Park Inn in the mountains of Asheville, NC and will occur again this year beginning on Friday February 18, 2011. If you are passionate about the Arts and Crafts Movement, this is the conference for you. As the New York Times stated: "[The Conference is] the most important weekend of the year for Arts and Crafts Collectors."  

Bruce Johnson founded the conference in 1988 and continues to be the Conference Director.  With a focus on education, the 3 day conference is usually a sell-out with over 1,500 attendees, featuring 3 selling shows, the Arts & Crafts Antiques show, the Contemporary Craftfirms Show and the Books, Magazines and More show.  There will be 8 major seminars, small group discussions and 125 exhibitors.  Dealers not only show their wares, they also present lectures and lead small group discussions, sharing their knowledge with attendees from novice to veteran collectors.  Attendees and collectors alike, see and learn more about the Arts & Crafts movement in 3 days than most see or learn in a year and will leave with an increase in knowledge and appreciation for the Arts & Crafts movement. 

The Grove Park Inn where the conference is held is the perfect venue for the event.  Opening its doors in 1913, it was splendidly decorated and furnished entirely in the Arts & Crafts style with Roycroft furniture, mica lamps, Roycroft copper, Heywood-Wakefield wicker rockers and Old Hickory rocking chairs.  Today the Inn has been vastly added onto including a fantastic spa and additional modern wings.  The original part of the Inn has been lovingly restored to the original 1913 furnishings and decorative touches as much as possible and is much like a museum in many ways. 

For details, tickets & contact information, go to the conference website

For additional information about  Bed and Breakfast accommodations, Vacation Rentals or Cabin Rentals contact Oakland Cottage and Vacation-In-Asheville, 866 858-0863.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

MLK weekend in Asheville

Snow is surely melting, the sun is shining and the roads are quite clear and passable for this MLK weekend in Asheville.  You might just see a few snowmen (snowwomen, snowpeople, snowfamilies, snowpets!) as you drive or walk around town.  Along with sledding and building snowmen, there's lots to do in Asheville this January.

The Biltmore Estate looks spectacular in the snow and it isn't crowded at all, so a wonderful time to visit the Estate.  Many lodging venues offer discounted Biltmore Tickets January through March.

The Civic Center's Thomas Wolf Auditorium has lots of fun going on this month.  Robert Plant will be playing at the Civic Center on Monday night, January 18th.  Warm up with beer at the Warmer Winter Beer Festival on January 22nd and laughter on the 23rd with a Bill Cosby Concert.  Find a cozy place to stay nearby, many delightful options are within minutes of the Civic Center and beyond.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."  MLK  We will honor his memory in particular this weekend.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Winter Warmer Beer Festival, January 22, 2011, Asheville, NC

The 4th Annual Asheville Winter Warmer Beer Festival will be held on Saturday, January 22, 2011 from 3:00 - 7:00 pm at the Asheville Civic Center.  With Asheville's many local breweries, recent fame as "Beer City USA," and great downtown vibe, the event is sure to take the chill off this winter blah's!

Stay in  beer friendly accommodations close to the Civic Center, downtown Asheville and the Biltmore Estate.  Asheville abounds with quaint dining and lodging options.

Tickets are $38 per person and include a souvenir mug, beer samples, and great food.   For tickets, visit or email
Brewing participants will be from the Asheville, NC, WNC , Tennessee and Georgia areas of the southeast