Friday, November 29, 2013

The Candlelight Tour and Christmas at The Biltmore Estate, Asheville, NC

It's that time of year again... Christmas at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC.  During the rest of the year the main house closes between 3:30pm and 5pm daily, but from early November through New Years, tickets may be upgraded to include an evening "candlelight" tour with your regular ticket.  The Candlelight Tour is, perhaps, just the thing to get you in the Christmas mood.

Candlelight tours begin at 5 pm and go through 9pm, daily (excepting Christmas Eve)  They are self-guided and the timed entries depart every 15 minutes.  Your upgrade ticket will indicate the time for you to get to your self-guided tour.  And be aware, during the Christmas Season, and any time of the year for that matter, it can take you up to 45 minutes to drive from one place to another on the vast property, park and get the shuttle to the main house, so be aware of where you are and the time till your tour.

Candlelight tour upgrades must be purchased in advance, but if you are on property with your regular admission ticket, guests may have that ticket upgraded at any one of the Guest Service Centers.  The Guest Service Centers are located at the Main Ticket and Welcome Center (although this is likely to be the most crowded place to acquire your upgrade), to the right of the main entrance to the House, between the Stables Restaurant and the Gift shop, also to the right of the house, and near the Winery entrance.  The staff on property are extremely helpful, so just be sure and ask for directions.  The spaces for the candlelight tour are limited, and spaces on weekend nights are particularly likely to fill up, but if you're at the Estate on a weekday, there will likely be a spot available on the same day.

Besides twinkling candles and warm fires, sparkling decorations and trees galore, additional entertainment is out in abundance during the Candlelight tour and Christmas Season.  Enjoy local  musicians, carolers and perhaps story-tellers, who might be out and about in the various rooms.

Most Candlelight tour tickets include a same day visit to the property.  Some seasonal activities during the day to look forward to at Antler Hill Village and the Winery (and part of your daytime pass) are winery tours, which leave every twenty or thrity minutes.  Carolers will be singing in various locations at Antler Hill Village and Winery area between 3pm and 7:30 pm daily.  Looking for Santa?  Weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) look for Santa himself between the hours of 1pm and 5pm through December 22nd, also in the Antler Hill Village and Winery area... a treat for all ages!  Cedric's Tavern, a great spot to eat on property, and will be hosting live music every evening at 6pm.

If you need a place to stay, Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast is just 1 mile from the entrance of the Estate.  Nightly rates range from $95 to $149 double occupancy and include a wonderful full breakfast each morning.  BiltmoreTickets and Candlelight tour upgrades may be purchased with advance notice.  Tickets at Oakland Cottage B&B are just $55 each adult ticket, $15 for the Candlelight upgrade ($70 per ticket).  The $55 tickets are good for any TWO consecutive days of entry for unlimited daytime entry and access to the house, and full access, day and night to the 8,000 acres of grounds, gardens, conservatory. lagoon and trails, Antler Hill Village, Winery, tour and wine tasting.  Tickets through Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast are fully refundable (althought the candlelight upgrades, once confirmed, are non-refundable).  For reservations at Oakland Cottage B&B and ticket information call 828 994 2627.  Inquire about children ticket pricing if you are bringing your family.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Bit about the History of the Former Town of Victoria, Asheville, NC

   The former town of Victoria is right in Asheville and just off Victoria Road, very centrally located within the I-240 beltway that surrounds the three distinct downtown areas of Asheville, including Biltmore Village, Historic Downtown Asheville and the River Arts District.  Biltmore Village is about one mile south of the former Victoria, Historic Downtown Asheville is just one-and-a-half miles north with the River Arts District about a half mile West and about a half mile off Biltmore Avenue.  Vernon Hill is the highest point in the Victoria neighborhood, affording wonderful vistas westward, and overlooking the confluence of the Swanannoa and French Broad Rivers, where one of the boundaries of the Biltmore Estate's 8,000 acres is located.

Fernihurst Circa 1876

Asheville Buncombe Technical College (A-B Tech) now occupies most of what was once the little town of Victoria, with the Fernihurst Mansion (circa 1876) atop Vernon Hill at the highest point, and now home to AB-tech offices and culinary school.  Just a short and enjoyable walk from Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast, guests are welcome to sit on the front porch of Fernihurst, in one of the white rocking chairs.  Often special events may be enjoyed at Fernihurst, including the Lighting of the Green Christmas series, open and free to the public, held on several evenings throughout December.  Westerly views are particularly good from front veranda of Fernihurst.  View the Blue Ridge Mountains and in particular, striking views of Mount Pisgah, an iconic landmark for Asheville.  Glimpses of the French Broad River and Carrier Park are also visible from this 
vantage point.  

Sunnicrest "Summer Cottage" circa 1895
The story goes that  George W. Vanderbilt himself visited the Fernihurst mansion and tried to purchase it.  In reaction, Victoria was shortly thereafter incorporated.  The Vanderbilt's consequently bought all of the land across the Swanannoa and French Broad Rivers, where the Biltmore Estate ended up being built.  And although the Vanderbilts were unable to buy Fernihurst itself, George Vanderbilt bought as much adjoining property to it that he could and later built several "summer cottages."  Sunnicrest is the only surviving model cottage, built in 1895 and may be seen just several hundred feet down the hill from Fernihurst.  Sunnicrest was designed by Richard Sharp Smith, supervising archichect to the Biltmore estate.  R.S. Smith is also given credit to the design of many homes in Asheville, including Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast.  If you are visiting Oakland Cottage, notice the fireplace and corner inglenook in the main front room, both trademarks of R.S. Smith.
Smith-McDowell House and Museum circa 1840

Also on the AB-Tech Campus is another home of great interest and now a museum - the Smith-McDowell House and Museum, allegedly the oldest brick home in Asheville.  The Smith McDowell House and Museum is about 2 blocks and a 5 minute walk from Oakland Cottage.  Enjoy a self-guided or guided tour.  Inquire about Children's activities and "scavenger hunt" designed to help children also enjoy a glimpse of Asheville history.  The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 am to 3pm.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Fridays After Five at the Biltmore Estate Now through October

Asheville's Biltmore Estate "Fridays after Five"
Now through October 2013

Friday's are a great day at the Biltmore Estate, especially now through October 2013; for added fun and pleasure, take in "Friday's After Five" on the estate for added weekend enjoyment.  Fun for the whole family, at Antler Hill Village and the winery area, there will be live music, wine and beer and children's activities, every Friday after Five, now through October.

Admission to the Estate is required and Friday's After Five at the Biltmore are included with as part of your daytime admission ticket.  As an added bonus, Passholders may bring their friends into the Antler Hill Village and winery area for free after 5 on Fridays!

This Friday September 13th, enjoy the Asheville based group, One Leg Up.  This popular Southeastern band's style is a mixture of Swing, Latin and upbeat Gypsy Jazz!  Other bands to be featured each Friday include, Elliott and the Untouchables, Bruce Lang Band, 96.5 House Band and Centerpiece Jazz.  Be sure and check them out, every Friday now through October!!

One day General Estate Admission tickets to the Biltmore Estate are available at the Ticket Center on the Estate property; if you know the day you plan to visit, purchase online 15 days in advance for great discounts!  Or purchase directly from Vacation In Asheville, at their offices at Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast when you stay with them (call 9am-5pm daily, 828 994 2627 - just 1 mile from the entrance to the Biltmore Estate and Biltmore Village).  Tickets through Vacation In Asheville are $55 each adult ticket and good for any two consecutive days of entry and are non-dated entry passes.  Tickets allow entry to the magnificent house, conservatory, grounds, winery (complimentary wine tour and tasting included!), 8,000 acres with trails and access to Antler Hill Village and Farm and several restaurants on property, including The Stables, The Bistro and Cedric's.  

Sunday, September 1, 2013

New Belgium's Clips, Beer and Film tour, September 6th, 2013

New Belguim is hosting its 4th annual coast to coast, Clips Beer and Film Tour with Asheville as one of the 21 cities being visited.  The Asheville event will be held in Pack Square Park on the Roger McGuire Green, September 6th, 2013 from 7pm to 10pm. A fundraiser, 100% of the proceeds will go to Asheville on Bikes.

Some important details:

  • Bring your chairs and/or blankets
  • No beer without government issued ID
  • Pets on a leash are welcome
  • Leave outside alcohol outside - enjoy New Belgium Beer once inside the venue
  • Bring your own picnic and non-alcoholic beverages or enjoy the local vendors' food & New Belgium Beer, available at the event 
  • Bring your water bottle, free water will be available at various stations, look for tall blue signs.
  • Bike Corral (free bike storage) for those who choose to bike to the event

Roger McGuire Green
Lebanese street food by Gypsy Queen and hot dogs by Avery Dogs will be available onsite.  If you are 21 or older, try one or more of the many beers to be offered at the event by New Belgium.  Up to 18 varieties of beers on tap will be available to taste - in 3 oz samples or 12 oz sized quenchers.  The unique and hard to find brews from the Lips of Faith Beers and New Belgium Classics will be among the beers to enjoy - along with short films created by New Belgium fans.

So join the fanfare!  Beer and short films on the lawn at Asheville's Roger McGuire Green on a Saturday evening in Asheville... sounds like heaven!

Need a place to stay?  Call Vacation In Asheville, 828 994 2627 or email, for a bed and breakfast room at Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast, or one of 4 Vacation Rentals they manage in the Asheville area.

Friday, August 23, 2013

17th annual BrewGrass Festival, Asheville, NC September 21st 2013

The 17th Annual Great Smokies BrewGrass Festival, Asheville, NC, September 21st, 2013 will be held at the Martin Luther King, Jr. park located on 50 MLK Drive.  Asheville loves its craft beer and this festival brings together the best of craft beer and regional bluegrass music and musicians for a winning combination.  Over 40 American brewers will be present to offer over one hundred and twenty varieties of beer.  Happenin's will occur from noon to 7pm.

A major fundraiser for Big Brother's and Big Sisters of Western North Carolina, and hosted by the Great Smokies Craft Brewers Association, Asheville's Brewgrass Festival began in 1996 with the goal of educating "the masses to the qualities of craft brewed beer combined with the finest examples of bluegrass music," becoming one of the most popular beer and bluegrass festivals in the Southeast.  And while you are here in town, be sure and enjoy the amazing beer, music and dining scene all over town.  Visit local breweries, tasting rooms, great restaurants with local beers on tap and music venues!

Tickets for this year are sold out, so if you're bummed about not having tickets to this amazing event, be on the lookout for next year!  And, if you have your tickets, but still need lodging, call the offices of Vacation In Asheville, 9am - 7pm daily, 828 994 2627.  Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast is just two miles from the MLK park - location of the BrewGrass Festival, and still has a few bed and breakfast rooms available for that weekend.  Or if you are traveling with a small group of friends, stay at Asheville Mountain Vista, a 4 bedroom 3 bath Vacation Rental, offering wonderful views, (3 night stay minimum required) from which to enjoy this festival and all that Asheville and Western NC have to offer -  Asheville Mountain Vista is just 3 miles from the MLK park off scenic Town Mountain Road.  Enjoy the festival!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

PuppyFest in Asheville! September 28, 2013

PuppyFest!  This has to be cute.  To be held at the US Cellular Center in Asheville on Saturday September 28th, 2013, 11am to 7pm.  Puppies up to 8th months old are welcome to attend and enter the competition.  And if you choose to attend with or without your pooch, tickets are $10 each adult, $5 children ages 12 and younger, with a portion of the proceeds going to Brother Wolf Animal Rescue and the Asheville Humane Society/ Animal Compassion Network.

Puppies (up to 8 months old) who enter will be rated in 5 categories and the owner of the winner will receive a cash prize and trophy and the winning puppy celeb will be featured in a TV series pilot and appear on the front of Green Earth pet food bags!!!

The 5 main categories are:
1. Puppy Casting Call - how well does your pet pose?
2. Puppy Friendliness - how well does your pet behave with the public attention, interactions and petting?!
3. Puppy Feistiness - a race will be utilized to determine puppy spirit, energy and competitiveness.
4. Puppy Personality - a costume contest!
5. Plea for Your Puppy - Owners will have the opportunity to declare why their puppy should be THE ONE and only STAR!

Just show up with your pup to enter (and bring vaccination records or sign a release)!  AND, for extra poochie coverage in the pilot TV show (and/or for more information), email in advance,, with a photo of your puppy attached, to let the judges know your puppy will be attending.

The event will be from 11am to 7pm with the competition occurring from, roughly, noon to 5pm, produced by Joshua P Warren (Animal Planet, Discovery, and more).  This should be awesome and fun!!

If you are traveling with your pet and need a place to stay, be sure and call Vacation-In-Asheville, Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast and Vacation Rentals in the Asheville Area for pet friendly accommodations.  Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast is just 2.5 miles from the USCellular Center and welcomes your well behaved pet.  Reservation offices are open 9am - 7pm daily, 828 994 2627,

Saturday, July 6, 2013

MeMaw's Famous Cranberry-Apple Crisp, Recipe from Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast

MeMaw's Cranberry-Apple Crisp is one of our favorite recipes here at Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast, and for several reasons.

    MeMaw - in the 1930's
  • Healthy and delicious:  This is a relatively healthy recipe, with lots of fruit, nuts and oats as the main ingredients; and the amounts of sugar can be increased, reduced or eliminated, to meet varying diet needs and desires.
  • Easy to Make:  We love quick and easy to make recipes and we love sharing easy recipes with our friends!  This recipe is quick, healthy, great tasting and easy - a winning combo for sure.
  • Seasonal Flair: This recipe has what I call "seasonal flair."  And although I serve it year round, it is especially fun to serve from October through December for the holiday table, breakfast, lunch or dinner.  The Cranberries and Apples look and taste lovely on any holiday table.
  • This is an amazing Leftover:  We do hate to see food go to waste at our bed and breakfast, so we love the recipes that we love to finish later!  And if you cook this at home, know that your family and friends will enjoy it even more the next day, hot or cold.  So yummy either way.

So, for any occassion, give this recipe a try.  I've named it after my mother (MeMaw to my children), who gave this recipe to me.

MeMaw's Cranberry Apple Crisp

Makes 4-6 servings
Bake at 350 degrees uncovered for 45 minutes

1 cup cut and un-peeled Apples (or any cut fruit or fresh berries)
1/3 cup raw cranberries
1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup Old Fashioned Oats (not quick)
1/4 cup butter (sub margarine, canola oil or mixture there-of)
1/4 cup (or less) of brown sugar (sub with maple syrup, honey, or mixture there-of)
2 tablespoons of flour (may be omitted)
1/4 cup walnuts (sub almonds, pecans, or mixture there-of)

Cut the cored and unpeeled Apple into bite size pieces.  Stir together with the raw cranberries and lightly sprinkle the fruit mixture with sugar (or not).  Spread out into a greased baking dish.  More fruit may always be added.  Any fruit may be substituted, fresh berries work especially well.

Mix the topping ingredients together.  Spread on top of the fruit filling.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  For a moister option, cover to bake.  Bake less for crispier fruit.

Serve hot or cold.
Top with a tablespoon or two of Vanilla Yogurt or Plain Greek Yogurt.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Asheville's Best of the Best - #2: Amazing Food and Beer Scene

Reason #2 of my top five reasons to visit Asheville, NC is the never-ending, always changing, amazing Asheville Food and Beer Scene.  Asheville has awesome food and beer with a culture that supports "farm to table" dining.  And an abundance of microbreweries with fantastic tasting rooms, restaurants and bars - Asheville has been voted "America''s Beer City," the last four years in a row (beating out cities like Portland, Oregon and San Diego, California).  To sample what downtown restaurants and microbreweries have to offer, be sure and take the Eating Asheville Walking Food Tour or Beer Tour.  

These are wonderful ways to sample what the city has to offer in both food and drink as well as learning more about this fascinating city through a guided walking tour of the historic downtown area (with wonderful guides, I might add!).  Asheville has received numerous awards and national recognition for its wonderful cuisine as well as organic, vegan and vegetarian options at many of the restaurants, some with exclusively vegan or vegetarian menus - enjoyable by all kinds of "eaters!"

The community of Asheville is in support of the small independent restaurant, and independent restaurants are alive and well in this city.  Be sure and look for members of the  Asheville Independent Restaurants (AIR) and others supporting the farm to table culture.

Another not to miss destination is the French Broad Chocolate Lounge (often on the Food Tour)- check out the French Broad Chocolate Factory as well as the lounge, where cacoa beans are roasted right in downtown on Buxton Street, with the "parabolic trough solar concetrator" (aka, solar powered cacoa bean roaster!!).  Factory tours are on Saturdays at 2pm.  

Favorite and distinct Areas to drink and dine - check them out!   These are all very distinct areas within Asheville City limits, all within a few miles of each other:

Park in any one of these distinct area and walk around enjoying the sights, sounds, musicians and street scenes, until you are drawn to into one (or more!) of the many amazing restaurants and micro-breweries.

Microbreweries and tasting rooms abound in Asheville and the Asheville Area.  If you wish to get a quick overview, try a tour for an introduction and overview, or check out the Beer City Guide and take yourself on a tour to the one or many of the local breweries.  There is enough of a concentration in downtown Asheville to enable you to walk to several in a reasonable amount of time.  Some are further afield and worth the visit.  Many host live music, events and more.
Beer, tasting rooms, breweries, and yes even distilleries are what Asheville is all about. 

And if you don't want to dine out for every meal, or if you wish to take home local gifts and food, look for one of the many Tailgate markets in Asheville and the Asheville area.  Meats, vegetables, cheeses, jams, jellies, pastries, crackers, honies, flowers, local crafts and gifts, all locally grown and made, will entice you at every turn.  The tailgate markets are wonderful to find and a great place to shop - for gifts and for yourself!

If you are visiting Asheville and need a place to stay, try one of the many bed and breakfasts, Cabin or Vacation Rentals, for which Asheville is well known.  Just give our information and reservation offices a call, 828 994 2627, 9am - 7pm daily.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

April 2013 Best of Asheville's Best - Biltmore Blooms

Formerly the Festival of Flowers and now called "Biltmore Blooms," late April likely will be the best time to take in this annual extravaganza at the Biltmore Estate, and is our "best of Asheville's best" for the month of April. The "Biltmore Blooms" will continue on through most of May, so if your journey brings you here in May, it will still be a splendid time to take in the flowers and grounds of the Biltmore Estate.

Azaleas are just beginning to pop, Tulips are looking absolutely gorgeous.  Sunny days and cool nights are bringing out the fruit trees; the Dogwoods are blooming in mass.  Spring in Asheville is an absolutely gorgeous time of year - well worth celebrating.  The flowers and blooms in the Mountains of Western NC are dependent on the weather... and this year we're having a later bloom, and thankfully (SO FAR, KNOCK ON WOOD), no hard freezes to diminish the beauty of spring in the mountains. Again, "Biltmore Blooms" will continue on through May, usually until Memorial Day weekend when the summer season officially begins, so be sure and take in the glory of the Biltmore Estate's 8000 acres of grounds and gardens during this very special time of year.  

During "Biltmore Blooms," one day tickets to the Estate grounds can vary in price quite a bit and will range from $44 to $65 and possibly higher.  If you purchase your one day tickets more than 7 days in advance and online, you're likely to get the best deal.  And if you are staying at a local Asheville Bed and Breakfast, you can often get a two day pass right at your inn on the day of entry into the Estate (tickets are non-dated); and usually the two day pass is around $55 - which again, will be good for 
two consecutive days of entry rather than the one day pass you will get online or at the ticket center at the Estate ticket and welcome center.  
Be sure and plan for a good amount of time at the estate during "Biltmore Blooms," or any time of year for that matter.  Some people think the Estate and all things to do at the Estate are within walking distance in and around the mansion.  Not so.  The Estate is more accurately a driving park.  Because of its vast size, areas to see at the Estate are miles and miles apart.  Even driving to the mansion itself, once you enter the Arch at the entrance off of Biltmore Avenue, you will have 4 miles or so to drive before getting to the actual mansion.  And, while you will be guided by Biltmore staff to park your car in the main large parking areas - with shuttle pick-up and drop-off to the mansion, I recommend parking behind the conservatory - past the main parking area.  It looks as if there are just a few parking places there, but if you keep driving back behind the paved area, you will find plenty of overflow parking in a gravel area off the paved parking lot.  As you are driving in, when you see the parking attendant, just flash your lights and he/she will know you wish to park within the gates or elsewhere.  Parking behind the Conservatory puts you in a central location amidst the gardens, and just a few steps below the mansion.  Driving through the main gates is quite dramatic - enjoy the view to your right of the front of the mansion as you pass by ... it will take your breath away indeed.  The road winds you around the rose gardens in a funny way, to the back of the conservatory where you can park.  Paths and steps will take you up to the mansion, or trail heads abound from this parking area - to the bass pond and spillway, or to the Deerpark and Lagoon trail system over hill and dale - with wonderful views of the mountains and the estate that others rarely see.

                                                                             After visiting the main gardens and Bass pond, The Lagoon Area is a beautiful place to drive into with your car... plan ahead and pack a picnic, have your "soccer mom" chairs in the car, a blanket to spread out and your picnic basket with picnic supplies.  Most first time visitors just don't realize that the grounds are there to take in - hike the extensive trail system, visit the conservatory with beautiful orchids and palms, enjoy the rose garden and coi ponds, take the short hike to the Bass Pond and spillway, drive or hike to the Lagoon area (or both) - for the best views of the mansion and great photo ops.

And after your picnic, plan on time for Antler Hill Village and working farm.  Be prepared to walk and relax around the demonstration farm - and if you take in all the Estate has to offer, one day just isn't enough.  The working farm is a true charm.  Enjoy watching demonstrations of butter making, angora or sheep wool thread making.  Visit the chicks, horses and sheep at the farmyard.  Play checkers in the barn or old fashioned games on the lawn in the middle of the old barn.  Enjoy special craft activities
with your kids, all included in your ticket.  The winery is right at Antler Hill Village, and a self guided tour and wine tasting are included in your ticket.  The gift shop at the end of the wine tour often has ciders and dips to taste, along with wine and gifts to purchase.  The Bistro restaurant is a wonderful place to dine.  There are several other restaurants on property.

And remember, the grounds are pet friendly, so bring your pooch.  Fountains and ponds offer drinking water.  Take a longer hike and enjoy the Deerpark trail and many others - there's much more to explore on the grounds of the Biltmore Estate - and most guests stay close to the "castle," never venturing out to the vast grounds, so you can enjoy lovely and quiet hikes away from the crowds.  Enjoy spring in the Mountains for the Best of Asheville this April!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

5 Reasons to Visit Asheville, NC - 1st of 5: Vibrant and Historic Downtown Asheville

Asheville may be just a big little town, yet it is has a fantastic vibe along with an amazing culinary and microbrewery scene, all set in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina - with easy access on the crossroads of two interstates, I-40 and interstate I-26.  There are numerous reasons to visit this little city - I'll focus on my top 5 reasons over the next 5 blog posts:

1) Vibrant Downtown Asheville

2) Amazing Food and Beer Scene
3) Stunning Blue Ridge Parkway
4) Historic Biltmore Estate
5) Abundant Outdoor Activities

Here's the first of five - Look for blogs about the other 5, coming soon!

Vibrant & Historic DowntownAsheville:

Fans consider Asheville to be the "hippest city" in the south, with it's downtown vibrancy, street scene, abundant musicians (live on street corners), local arts and crafts, fantastic restaurants with farm to table culture, sidewalk cafes and microbreweries.  And, the historic downtown center is made for walking. 

Where to start?  Be sure and visit Asheville's Visitor Center on Montford Avenue.  This is an exceptional Visitors Center, with extremely knowledgeable staff and volunteers who are there to help. You can also catch the  Trolley Tour from the Visitors Center (with 2 day hop on hop off privileges) - a great way to get a quick overview of this charming city.  And perhaps, for a real glimpse and flavor of Asheville's history and charm, try the Lazoom Comedy Bus Tour - "get on the [purple] bus" for a hilarious view of Asheville.  

Historians and Architects will want to check out the Urban Trail, a 1.7 mile trail noting the history and architecture of Asheville as it meanders through and around the downtown blocks of Asheville.  Sculptures big and small, sidewalk markers, historical plaques, all point out little nuggets about Asheville.  As you walk you will have the opportunity to see street musicians and artisans, smell delightful hints of the fabulous culinary scene and shop at galleries and gift shops, many featuring local arts and crafts wares, and other fun and whimsical items.  

City parks and green spaces offer entertainment, people watching and often a moment of needed rest.  In summer months and with Children (or without), enjoy Pack Square Park and Spl-Asheville, or perhaps a special event, band or other entertainment that will often be featured in this City Park.  Pritchard Park, on Patton Avenue, is another not to miss park, (just across from the S&W Art Deco building) always a great people watching park - Tuesday evenings enjoy "hoop jam,"  and Drum Circle on Friday evenings.

For history and architectural buffs, be sure and check out are the St. Lawrence Basilica, if it is open, boasting the largest free standing elliptical tile dome in North America, built in 1905 by Spanish Architect, Rafael Guastavino.  The Basilica is located just across the street from the US Cellular Center (formerly the Asheville Civic Center).  Additionally, Asheville boasts having the 2nd largest number of Art Deco Buildings (2nd to Miami's South Beach) in the world, which are enjoyable to view as you walk through the downtown streets.  The old S&W Cafeteria is a favorite, as well as Asheville's Town Hall with it's iconic dome with pink granite accents. 

Literary buffs will likely enjoy visiting the Thomas Wolfe Memorial and Boyhood Home, which costs $5.00 to tour.  There is limited and designated free parking at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial, and it can be a little hard to find, as the front of the home is located on a wide park-like sidewalk between the original boyhood home and the Renaissance Hotel.  The back of the home is the front of the Museum, with parking located on Market Street, just behind the Asheville Community Theater (great little local theater, be sure and find out what is playing there).  

Don't miss the revived warehouse area reclaimed by artists, now the River Arts District - view local artists right in their studios at work on their arts. Purchase small or large works of art. The Jonas Gerard Studio is often alive with interesting demonstrations, often combined with live music.  Or watch glass blowers at work at the Asheville Glass Center.  You can even blow your own glass ornament there.  Look for special Studio Stroll weekends, held on 2nd Saturdays and twice yearly, although studios are always open and welcoming to visitors.  Fun and funky restaurants are in and about the River Arts

District, including 12 Bones, White Duck Taco Shop, The Junction and Clingman's Cafe.  Walking through the River Arts District is enjoyable, but we recommend having your car, as it is quite spread out.  And, when your feet are tired and your tongue is thirsty, take a rest at the Wedge Brewery on Roberts Street.  No food here, but often one of Asheville's food trucks will be selling their sandwiches and other food delights.

Music and entertainment venues to consider include, The Orange Peel, a wonderful Music Hall on the south side of downtown, so be sure and check out their impressive music schedule.  For a variety of entertainment opportunities be sure and find out what is happening at The US Cellular Center and the Diana Wortham Theatre.  Additionally, many restaurants and breweries around and about town will have live music acts integrated into the evening.  And, for the baseball fan, or if you just want to have a fun evening out, be sure and take in a baseball game in at the Tourist Stadium, on the edge of Downtown.  "Thirsty Thursdays" are always a favorite!

Smaller venues to check out are The Grey Eagle, on the fringe of the River Arts District, is a smaller music hall venue, featuring many excellent local musicians,  the Magnetic Field Theatre is also a smaller theatre venue located in the River Arts District, and The Altamont Theatre, nestled on Church Street is in the middle of downtown, all featuring smaller more intimate acts. 

If you are looking for a place to stay in Asheville, be sure and check out Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast, which is within 3 miles or less of all the places mentioned here.  Reservation and information offices are open daily from 9am - 7pm, just call 828 994 2627.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Where Can You Find Easter Egg Hunts in Asheville, NC this Easter, 2013?

Again, this Easter, 2013, there will be several classic Easter Egg hunts in Asheville, NC and here are a few I've found, all at different times, so maybe you can get to all of them!

  • McDowell House Museum, on AB-Tech Campus, 283 Victoria Road - Sunday, March 24th, 2-4pm, $5 per child, adults free with your child.  BYOB (Bring your own basket), singing, games, egg hunts and more, all on the lawn of the Smith McDowell House and Museum (on the AB-Tech Campus).  The Easter Bunny is expected to make an appearance and light snacks will be available.  There will be 100s of eggs, and a chance to find the golden egg, as well as many small prizes in many of the eggs.  Younger children will have a separate egg-hunting area.  Reservations are recommended and may be made by calling 828 253-9231, or send an email to  I love the Smith McDowell House Museum and their events are always high in quality.  Additionally, if you want to learn more about the history of Asheville, this is a great place to learn more.

  • Easter on the Green (Roger McGuire Green), right smack in the middle of Downtown Asheville, 1 West Pack Square - Saturday, March 30th 2-5pm, FREE (!).  This has become an annual favorite - the Easter Bunny will be on hand and available for visits and photos; and lots of activities will be taking place. There will be golden eggs with prizes, lots of freebies, an easter egg hunt, inflatable rides, games, obstacle course, parade, egg roll, crafts and more.  This will be a fabulous family friendly event.  Cotton Candy, popcorn and snacks will be available as well.  This has become a city favorite annual event - all organized by the Asheville Downtown Association.

  • The Biltmore Estate - Front Lawn of the Biltmore Estate - Easter Sunday, March 31st, 11am, 1pm and 3pm, free with your admission to the Estate.  This is a national favorite annual event on the front lawn of the Biltmore Estate, perhaps the most spectacular Easter Egg Hunt setting in the World (!).  Besides the egg hunts at 11am, 1pm and 3pm, there will be ongoing entertainment, music, story telling, magic and of course, visits with the Easter Bunny.  BYOB (bring your own basket).  And of course, make time for visiting the rest of the Estate, grounds, gardens, Antler Hill Village and Winery.

If you need a place to stay, Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast is a block from the Smith McDowell Museum, 2 miles south of Roger McGuire Green and 1.5 miles north of the entrance to the Biltmore Estate.  Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast is family and child friendly as well as having pet friendly accommodations.  Additionally, Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast has discounted tickets to the Biltmore Estate on hand (and good for 2 consecutive days of entry).  Call Vacation In Asheville  reservation offices, 828 994 2627 for your Asheville Bed and Breakfast stay, Asheville Cabin Rental or  Asheville Vacation Rental and the staff will be ready to help you out with things to do in Asheville.  Office hours are 9am - 7pm daily.  We look forward to helping you with your lodging in Asheville.  Happy Easter and Happy Easter Egg hunting!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Marathon at the Biltmore Estate, First Ever!! Sunday March 3rd, 2013

The first ever USATF certified and bib chip timing Marathon running event to be held at the Biltmore Estate - with the entire course on the 8,000 acres of the Estate's expansive grounds, trails, dirt and paved roads - will be held this March 3rd, 2013.  The marathon will cover 26.2 miles on both the east and west sides of the French Broad River, taking runners throughout the property with part of the course going right by the "front door" of the Biltmore Estate, for magnificent views throughout the run of the estate, gardens, mountains and the French Broad River.  Click here for a vimeo of the course.  This is history at the Biltmore and a not to miss event for runners, spectators and volunteers; the race will begin at 7:00 am from the Antler Hill Village area of the Estate grounds with line-up and announcements beginning at 6:45 am.

  • All runners must be on the grounds of the Estate no no later than 6:30 am and note that the event is sold out for runners!  
  • Volunteer opportunities are available beginning on Monday February 25th and continue throughout the week including race day.  
  • For spectators, annual Passholders may arrive anytime after 9:00 am on the race morning - and children 16 and younger are free.  If not a passholder, spectator tickets are available and required for $35 each ticket.

The first runner is expected to be at the finish line around 9:30 am, at which time the post-race "party" and ceremonies will begin!

For more details about the logistics of this event, for runners, spectators and volunteers (volunteer spots are still available), be sure and visit the Asheville Marathon website, which is chock full of great information.

And, if you are still looking for nearby lodging, be sure and call Vacation In Asheville and Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast, located just 1.5 miles from the entrance to the Biltmore Estate.  Reservation offices are open 9am - 7pm daily, 828 994 2627, or 866 858-0863, toll free.  Have a great run and/or fun at perhaps one of the most beautiful Marathon courses in the world!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Grovewood Gallery and the Homespun Museum in Asheville, NC

The Grovewood Gallery, museums and shops are located on the historic site and grounds of six original English style cottages, formerly known as "Biltmore Industries."   In its heyday, Biltmore Industries was known world-wide for its hand-loomed fabrics (and woodworking) - and locally known in Asheville as the "Biltmore Homespun Shops."   The history of the "Biltmore Industries" and Homespun Shops spans a century, with its origins beginning with George Vanderbilt at the Biltmore Estate.  Enjoy learning more about the history at the Homespun Musuem located within the Grovewood Gallery complex.

The Grovewood Galleries are easy to miss, yet conveniently located right next to the Grove Park Inn, and well worth a visit - or two, or more! This is a quiet and fascinating little historic corner, home to the Homespun Museum, the Antique Car Museum, the Grovewood Cafe, working artist studios, galleries, exhibits and exhibitions, classes and shops, a small and delightful wind garden to stroll through along with complimentary and convenient parking right by this charming, historic and most interesting complex. 

Admission to both the Antique Car museum and the Homespun musuem is free.  Take time to walk through the shops that display local artists' beautiful and high quality arts and crafts works.  Visiting the shops is like walking through a museum in and of itself - shop for unique locally made items, or just enjoy looking.  The wind garden is small but worth the stroll and will bring a smile to your day!  Take a rest and a lunch at the Cafe.

It is always a good time to visit the Grovewood Galleries, and late February is an extra special time to visit both the Grove Park Inn and Grovewood Galleries - for the annual National Arts and Crafts Conference held next door at the Grove Park Inn.  This year the conference is celebrating its 26th year and will be held on the weekend of February 21 - 24, 2013.  

For the conference and in conjunction with the Grove Park Inn, Grovewood Galleries will be hosting and sponsoring many not to miss themed events, titled Grovewood Gallery's Arts & Crafts Legacy.  Be sure and visit during this most interesting conference.

 For Grovewood Gallery hours, information and contact, click here.  There is so much going on in this quiet and tiny space so be sure to check the calendar regularly.

Enjoy a nearby Asheville bed and breakfast for convenient and unique lodging needs as well as a fantastic breakfast.  The folks at Oakland Cottage can help you with your Vacation In Asheville.  Or inquire about a nearby vacation or cabin rental.  Reservation offices are open 9am - 7pm daily, 828 994 2627, 866 858-0863, toll free.