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.