Sunday, December 16, 2012

Favorite Day trip from Asheville NC along the Blue Ridge Parkway to Brevard, NC and back to Asheville NC

Favorite Day trip from Asheville NC along the Blue Ridge Parkway to Brevard, NC and back to Asheville NC - an 80 mile driving loop with lots of things to do along the way.

Start in Asheville at mile post marker (MPM) 384 and the Blue Ridge Parkway Parkway Visitor Destination Center, open year round, 9am - 5pm excepting Christmas Day, Thanksgiving Day and New Years Day.  Public restrooms are available here.  Also, get your National Park,  Parkway map and other area trail maps at this location.  This is great place for an introduction to the history and beauty of the Blue Ridge Parkway, with a 24 minute award winning film and the "I-Wall," a 22 foot interactive Parkway Map - all in a beautiful Leed certified building - a wonderful resource for the visitor to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

If traveling between November and March along the Parkway, be sure and check for Parkway Closures and Road conditionsShort-term or weather related closures on the Parkway are updated at the park information line at (828) 298 0398.

View from observation deck atop Mt Pisgah
First Leg of this 80 mile loop is a 30 mile stretch along the Blue Ridge Parkway:  There are mile post markers every mile along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Some of our favorite things to do along this particular 30 mile stretch (with 11 tunnels) besides a visit to the Visitors Center, are a stroll in gardens and trails within the North Carolina Arboretum, entrance, just off MPM 393, a hike to the summit of Mount Pisgah  at MPM 408, if you are up for it.  This is a short but rigorous 3mi RT hike, gentle at the start, a little strenuous the last little bit - if you make it the views are worth it.  There are amazing long range views from atop this 6,800 plus foot mountain; if the timing is right stop at MPM 408.5 at Pisgah Inn (closed from November to April) for lunch - try the fresh trout, or just take an afternoon dessert break there.  Perched on the edge of the mountain at 5000', Pisgah Inn hosts beautiful views looking east out of the large glass windows from the dining room and several trails are accessible from here, to make as long or as short as you like.  

Looking Glass Falls - right off Hwy 276
Second Leg of this drive is along an 18 mile stretch of Hwy 276 as it winds down along Looking Glass Creek and the Davidson River through Pisgah National Forest.  Get off the Parkway at MPM 412, taking Hwy 276/Wagon Gap Road towards Brevard, NC.  First possible stop is at Pink Beds is a wonderful picnic spot with picnic tables, trailheads, open meadows and public restrooms.  And just past Pink Beds on your left is The Cradle of Forestry with short interpretive trails and a movie about the history of forestry.  Additional favorite stops along Hwy 276 include Sliding Rock (a fee area for parking) for an exciting slide and breath-taking dip - or watch others as they take the plunge!  There are public restrooms here and an observation deck from which to watch the "sliders," in the event you would rather not slide yourself!  A favorite easy and relatively short (2 miles) forest hike along this stretch of Hwy 276 is the Moore Cove Falls hike, located about a mile north of Looking Glass Falls.  The Parking lot for this trailhead is on the east side of 276 (left as you are descending) with parking by a bridge that crosses over Looking Glass Creek.  Another mile down the road on your left will be the spectacular Looking Glass Falls, a picture perfect water fall right off the road.  Park and take the stairs down to the foot of the falls for better views of it and even a try dip in the pool at the base of the falls, if you're up for it!  For a side trip off of 276, just after Looking Glass Falls will be a spur road on your right called Fish Hatchery Road.  A few miles down this road will land you at the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education.  I always enjoy the Fish Hatchery there and feeding the fish.  There are several hikes that begin from the parking lot. There are public restrooms and a quaint gift shop as well as many other hikes, creeks, swimming holes, mountain biking trails and picnic pullouts  - too many to mention; again, this is a wonderful section of road to explore.  Back on Hwy 276, continue towards Brevard.  

3rd Leg of this loop drive -  head into the town of Brevard or straight on back to Asheville:  Just as you drive out of the National Forest boundary, you will see Dolly's Dairy Bar on your left, a favorite ice-cream stop.  This is a fairly large and busy 4 way intersection with a WalMart, grocery story, outdoor shops and fast food joints. Turn left onto Hwy 280 to head back to Asheville, or turn right onto Hwy 64 and head into Brevard, a small and quaint Mountain Town with an enjoyable and walkable downtown with a few delightful shops and restaurants.  16 miles on Hwy 280 will take you to I-26 West where you can get quickly back on the interstate to reach Asheville in another 10 miles.

Enjoy this loop and if you're staying in Asheville, you can get more information about this loop and many other day trip options if you are lodging at Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast or one of the Vacation Rentals managed by Vacation In Asheville.  Reservation office hours are 9am - 5pm daily, 828 994-2627.  Reservationists know the area well and can help you with area information.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Eve Reindeer Food Recipe From Asheville NC

Reindeer Food Recipe:

It is helpful for Santa's Reindeer to keep their stamina throughout Christmas Eve - here's what we do in Asheville, NC to help - we set out Reindeer Food every year on Christmas Eve and this recipe seems to work well:

  • 1 Cup raw Oatmeal - instant or old fashioned (Even oatmeal flavored packets work well)
  • 1 or 2 Tablespoons Glitter
  • Mix together in a zip lock baggie and shake well

  • Put on a cookie sheet or a recycled shirt-box-top and spread out over the cookie sheet or box top
  • Set out around 8:00 pm on Christmas Eve: in your back yard, on the back deck, front door step, roof of the house or at the fireplace hearth, really, just about anywhere  (we have set the cookie sheet out on our back deck every year and this seems to work really well - every year, the Reindeer food is gone in the morning and presents are under the tree - oh yea!)
  • Write a letter to let the Reindeer that you have put food out for them - they are in a hurry and might not know you have done this if you don't alert them

It's that simple.  And if you are traveling over the holidays, this is an easy recipe to pre-make and take with you where-ever your travels might be taking you.  Have a wonderful Christmas, 2012, safe travels, and don't forget to feed the reindeer.

If you are traveling in Western North Carolina and the Asheville, NC area over Christmas, consider a stay at Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast!  A family, kid and pet friendly bed and breakfast in Asheville North Carolina.  Inquire about our rooms with extra beds and other convenient amenities... some with decks or porches, great for setting out Reindeer food.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Asheville Area Candlelight Tour, Vance Birthplace

Glimpse an 1830s era Christmas at the Vance Birthplace "living museum" and North Carolina Historic Site, just a few miles north of Asheville, NC and about a 15 minute drive from downtown Asheville via I-26 West. There will be an annual guided Candlelight Tours at Vance Birthplace from 4 pm to 7 pm on December 8th.  Original log cabin structures from the 1830s remain on the State Historic Site property, and will be opened for guided tours by costumed interpretive staff.  Learn about Christmas traditions and customs of the mid 1800s and symbolism of the decorations.

Vance Birthplace is a North Carolina Historic site located on 911 Reems Creek Road in beautiful Reems Creek Valley.  Hours are Tuesday through Saturday 9am - 5pm, closed Sundays and Mondays and most major holidays.  Call 828 645-6706 or email for more information.  Admission to the park is free.

For lodging information in the Asheville Area call Vacation-In-Asheville, for reservations at Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast or one of the four area Vacation Rentals managed by them, 9am-7pm daily, 828 994-2627.  

Friday, December 7, 2012

Asheville Community Theater and the Santaland Diaries this Christmas Season in Asheville, NC

Enjoy the SantaLand Diaries presented by the Asheville Community Theater (ACT) and directed by Betsy Puckett, this Christmas season in Asheville, NC.  

SantaLand Diaries is an essay by David Sedaris, adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello.  The story and play is allegedly about Sedaris himself and reveals his hilarious observations of Macy Department Store shoppers and employees while he is employed as a Christmas Elf in Macy's SantaLand.

The Santaland Diaries may be seen in Asheville, NC this December, 13-16, 2012, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 pm and Sunday afternoon at 2:30 pm.  The Asheville Community Theatre is located at 35 East Walnut Street in Asheville, North Carolina, right downtown.  Tickets may be purchased by visiting the ACT website,, or by calling, 828 253-1320.

If you are visiting Asheville, NC for the Holidays and need lodging, call Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast, an Asheville B&B, about 2 miles south (5 minutes) of the Asheville Community Theater.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

See Santa Claus Rock Climbing and Chimney Rock Park, Christmas 2012, near Asheville, NC

There's something special about seeing Santa Claus practicing his chimney and rock climbing techniques at Chimney Rock Park near Asheville North Carolina!  And, it's no wonder Chimney Rock Park was named one of the 10 best places to see Santa Claus by USA Today.  Santa has been practicing here for 20 years now - and what better place to practice chimney climbing than Chimney Rock Park - as he prepares for all those chimneys and toy deliveries on Christmas Eve.  

You can watch this spectacular event from 11am - 2pm on December 8th and December 15th, 2012.  

Both Santa and Mrs. Claus will be present - after the practice climbs, meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, sit on Santa's lap, enjoy live holiday music, hot cocoa and cookies, kids' activities, all complimentary with your Park Admission Ticket.

And you might win free climbing lessons as well this 2012 Christmas Season.  At 1:30 on each of these days, there will be a winner for a 2 hour climbing lesson with Fox Mountain Guides, Santa's own professionals!  

If you need a place to stay nearby, try Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast, of Vacation-In-Asheville, an Asheville, NC bed and breakfast.  Office hours for making reservations are 9am - 7pm daily, seven days a week, 828 994 2627.  Bookings may also be made directly online.  

Or, for more space, larger groups and longer stays, inquire about one of the Vacation Rentals Vacation-In-Asheville manages.

Have a wonderful Christmas in Asheville 2012!