Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Where to find a Groundhog on Groundhog's Day in Asheville, NC

Where to find a groundhog on Groundhog's Day in Asheville, NC, February 2nd, 2013?  There will be a few groundhogs to hear from this coming Ground Hog's Day in and around Asheville.  Ground Hog's Day - what a funny little holiday - coming up soon yet again on February 2nd - what will the groundhog tell us this year?  Long winter or early spring?  Here are some places in Asheville to hear what our furry friend might have to say:

The WNC Nature Center is having a special program of stories and song, exploring the folklore of the groundhog with a presention by Carlton Burke.  Additionally, Nibbles the groundhog will be the feature guest of the day and perhaps predict what kind of winter and spring we can expect here in the Mountains of North Carolina.  The presentation will begin at 2pm on Saturday, February 2nd at the Nature Center.  Admission required and groundhog festivities are included in the ticket price.

Earlier in the day, from 11am - 1pm, be sure and be at Chimney Rock Park (CRP) for a special visit and celebration with Grady the Groundhog.  Guided hikes at noon and 12:30, kids Groundhog Day crafts and an educational program on groundhogs will be part of the Groundhog's day celebration at Chimney Rock Park.  Additionally, CRP will have discounted Grady's Kids Club memberships available on this day.  Admission required and groundhog festivities are included in the entry fee.

And if you need a place to stay, Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast has it's own backyard groundhog - we'll see if Prickles the groundhog will come out and tell us how long or short the winter will be!!

For Asheville bed and breakfast lodging, Asheville Cabins or Asheville Vacation Rentals, call the Vacation-In-Asheville reservation offices at (828) 994-2627, 9am - 7pm daily.

Southern Conference Basketball Championships Back in Asheville, March 8-11, 2013

The Southern Conference (SoCon) Basketball Championships are back in Asheville, NC, this March 2013 for both the men's and the women's championship games.  The Men's games, as well as the women's semifinals and finals, will be in the US Cellular Center.  The US Cellular Center is conveniently located right in the middle of historic downtown Asheville and has been recently renovated, providing a wonderful venue for the games.  The first two rounds of the women's tournament will be held at the Kimmel Arena on the UNC-Asheville campus, just a few miles from the US Cellular Center and Downtown Asheville.  Participating Schools include Appalachian State University, College of Charleston, The Citadel, Davidson College, Elon University, Furman University, Georgia Southern University, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Samford University, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Western Carolina University and Wofford College.

The SoCon basketball tournament is always an exciting one and a leading example of college athletics and basketball.  2013 brings SoCon's 92nd Season.

And while you are in Asheville, you will be sure to enjoy what this wonderful city has to offer - independent restaurants and pubs catering to local & healthy foods, most featuring local craft beers and live music, many within walking distance to the US Cellular Center. Crafts, galleries, shopping, hiking and motor touring.  And if you are looking for unique lodging, Asheville is also known for it's abundance of delightful Bed and Breakfast Inns located throughout Asheville and its diverse neighborhoods around town - the smaller Asheville Bed and Breakfast will have free parking, area knowledge to share, and often discounted tickets to other area events.  Plan extra time for a visit to the Biltmore Estate, the Blue Ridge Parkway (check for road closures), River Arts District, Chimney Rock Park and all of what Western North Carolina has to offer the visitor.  In-between games, plan in time for an Asheville Food or Brewery Tour, LaZoom Comedy Tour or a Trolley Tour to orient yourself to the various areas of downtown.  There's so much to do in Asheville, we know you will be back!!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Western North Carolina Nature Center, Things To Do with Younger Children in Asheville, NC

The Western North Carolina Nature Center is located in Asheville NC.  It is a pretty typical small town Nature Center, and if you are traveling with younger children, it is a wonderful place to visit during your stay in Asheville, NC.  There are 42 acres in which to walk and explore - with award winning exhibits, perfect for younger children and adults who aren't looking for overwhelming entertainment.  Walking trails, indoor exhibits as well as outdoor exhibits, farmyard, the delightful Otter exhibit, bears, cougars, birds of prey, native wolf and many other special animal exhibits to view as you walk along the Trillium Trail and take in all the Nature Center has to offer.  Indoor exhibits will also educate and entertain you and your child with many hands on activities, all highlighting plant and animal life of Western North Carolina: underground world, night time animals in "the cave," snakes, fish, turtles and more.

The center is open 7 days a week, 10 am to 5pm.  Tickets are $8 adults, $4 children.
Preview the Guest Map.

Check out a "Wild Child" Pack to use for the day, at the front desk.  Free to use, the packs include many handy items and educational tools such as a hand lens, monocular, field thermometer, compass and activity booklet.  The packs are available for all to use (thanks to REI) and the activities are targeted for six year olds to sixteen year olds.

A sampling of upcoming special events to attend include "Ground Hogs Day," on February 2, 2013, at 2:00 pm, when the Nature Center will celebrate this special and quirky day with a "whimsical presentation" on groundhogs by Carlton Burke and a chance to meet some live and local groundhogs, including Nibbles.

Or join in on a field trip on Tuesday March 12th, 2013, from 3 to 8pm, to Cataloochie Valley and see the Native Elk species that have been returned to the Mountains of North Carolina, $20 per person, reservations required, (828) 259-8082.

On March16th join a behind the scenes tour of the Nature Center to see what happens behind the "Staff Only" doors.  The next tour for this very popular event will be Saturday, March 16th, 1:45 pm to 3:15 with an admission cost of $25 per adult and $15 for children 16 & younger and includes admission to the Nature Center.  Registration required, email americorps@wildwnc.org.

Again, this is only a sampling of activities and events to consider.  Be sure and check out the website for more upcoming and current events to consider at Asheville and Western North Carolina's Nature Center.

If you need a place to stay with your family during your visit consider  Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast, centrally located in Asheville, and about 5 mi from the Nature Center.  For an Asheville Cabin Rental or an Asheville Vacation Rental, contact the offices of Vacation In Asheville at 828 994-2627, 9am to 7pm daily.

Monday, January 14, 2013

4 Days in Asheville

Day 1: Downtown Asheville and the Trolley Tour (take the Red Trolley), wonderful orientation to Asheville and the Asheville Area history and culture.  Start at our wonderful Visitors Center (with Free Parking).  Hop on and hop off privileges on the trolley are good for 2 days at all stops.  Get off at the Grove Park Inn, walk through this historic hotel, go next door to the Grovewood Galleries for lunch at the cafe, and visit the car museum at the Grovewood Galleries, as well as the wind garden and various local artist galleries - view local glassblower at work.  Another stop - get off at Thomas Wolfe Museum and boyhood home - ticket is included in the Trolley Tour ticket.  Watch the short video, tour the home.  Walk through parts of downtown Asheville, Pack Square and beyond.  Stop at French Broad Chocolate Lounge for a very sweet pick-me-up locally made (bean to table) chocolate.  Find your last Trolley stop back to the Visitors Center.  Have dinner downtown and maybe a show at the Diana Wortham Theater, Altamont Theater, Asheville Community Theatre or the US Cellular Center, or perhaps a walking ghost tour.

Day 2: Biltmore Village and the Biltmore Estate.  Get discounted 2 day tickets from us.  The Biltmore Estate has a lot to take in and a 2 day pass is worth it, even if you just spend an hour or two there the next day.  Our 2 day pass is usually less expensive than the 1 day pass at the Estate Ticket Center.  Tour the house, take in the Conservatory rose gardens, bass pond trails and grounds; there are over 8,000 acres that make up the estate grounds and there are walking trails and biking trails around and about the property; take a picnic lunch, lawn chairs and a blanket for your own wine and cheese at the Lagoon area (go ahead - have a traditional southern style "tailgate lunch" at the Lagoon area - some of the best views from there of the Biltmore Estate); take in Antler Hill Village and demonstrations at the working farm, enjoy wine tasting at the adjoining winery (wine tasting included in your ticket).  Have lunch at the Bistro, right next to the winery, or one of the other many restaurants found on property and with a great little shopping area for gifts and wine to take home.  On your way out, try dinner in Biltmore Village on this evening, our top two picks are Rezaz or The Corner Kitchen - reservations recommended.

Day 3 Blue Ridge Parkway - Brevard, NC 80 mile driving loop:  Start at mile post marker (MPM) 384 at the Blue Ridge Parkway Parkway Visitor Destination Center, open year round, 9am - 5pm excepting Christmas Day, Thanksgiving Day and New Years Day.  This is a great place for an introduction to the history and beauty of the Parkway, with a 24 minute award winning film.

Route: From the Folk Art Center (MPM 384) or the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitors Center (MPM 382) drive south along the Parkway for about 30 miles.  Exit the Parkway at Hwy 276 towards Brevard, NC for about 18 miles, then Hwy 280 east for 16 miles, towards the Asheville/Hendersonville Regional Airport where you can pick up I-26 west back to Asheville, NC.  This is an 80 mile  driving day, but well worth it and so many great stops from which to take in the mountains of Western NC with a variety of options to meet your personal style.

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) are a visit to the Folk Art Center, Visitors Center, a stroll in gardens and trails within the North Carolina Arboretum, entrance just off MPM 393, a hike, stop at the Mount Pisgah parking lot and head uphill to summit Mt Pisgah for 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 for lunch - try the fresh trout.  Perched on the edge of the mountain at 5000', Pisgah Inn hosts impressive long range views out of the large glass windows of the dining room.  Pisgah Inn is one of the few buildings you will see along the entire length of the Blue Ridge Parkway's 400 plus miles.  Get off the Parkway at MPM 412, taking Hwy 276/Wagon Gap Road east towards Brevard, NC.  Pink Beds is a wonderful picnic spot with picnic tables, public restrooms and open meadows.  Additional favorite stops along Hwy 276 include Sliding Rock (fee area for parking) for an exciting slide and breath-taking dip - or watch others as they take the plunge!  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.  Next on your left will be 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!  Continuing on 276 will take you  into the quaint town of Brevard, NC for a nice dinner, or head on back to Asheville.

Day 4

Arts & Crafts, Food & Beer: In the morning, take in the Downtown area of the River Arts District (RAD) in the revitalizing warehouse district along the French Broad River.  Watch artists at work - from glass blowing to painting to welding and more.  Shop for items right out of the studios.  Have a light lunch at 12 Bones (best ribs in town) or White Duck Taco Shop and maybe a beer at the Wedge Brewery and tasting room.

But eat and drink lightly because we recommend either the Walking Food Tour or the Downtown Brewery Tour offered by Eating Asheville, for your afternoon adventures. The Food tour is a downtown walking tour giving you a taste of some of the "finest and most delicious sights and tastes that the city has to offer," visiting 5-7 restaurants, from 2 to 5pm.  Or if you're more in the mood for taking in the Asheville Beer culture, try the Downtown Brewery Tour and find out why Asheville has been voted Beer City USA for 4 years in a row, and of course sampling some of Asheville's finest in craft beers.  Stephen and Josh are the knowledgeable and fabulous guides for your Eating Asheville Food or Brewery Tour.

That's four full days - and any of these one day options could become two days, so take it in and enjoy.  Less is more when it comes to enjoying a day in Asheville!  And if you're looking for a place to stay, Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast is centrally located, just 1 mile from the Biltmore Estate, 1/2 mile to the River Arts District, 2 miles from the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway, 2 miles from Asheville's Historic Downtown Center.  Or for larger groups or families, try an Asheville area Vacation Rental, call the reservation offices at Vacation In Asheville, 9am - 5pm daily, or book directly online.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

River Arts District, Asheville, NC 2nd Saturdays

The River Arts District of Asheville NC, located in the old warehouse district along the French Broad River is just blocks from the historic section of downtown Asheville, and host to over 150 artists.  Second Saturdays begin again this January 2013, the first one for the new year.

This second Satruday, January 12th, be sure and stop by the many working artist studios including the Jonas Gerard Studio at 240 Clingman Ave for a live performance at 2:00 pm while rhythmic music plays in the background.

Also check out The Artery on 346 Depot Street, home to the Asheville Area Arts Center (AAAC).  Carl Peverall, artist and musician will performs on sculptural metal toning drums from noon to 3:40 pm, accompanied by Geri Littlejohn, flute maker and musician, and Linda Go on VocalsLater at the Artery (8-10pm) enjoy a performance by Wave Formation, part of The Eclectricity concert series, featuring "live performances of original electronic, electro-acoutsic and experimental music."

Don't miss a stop at The Wedge Brewing CompanyTasting Room on Roberts Street and have a local craft beer;  dine in one of many delightful and casual restaurnats in the River Arts District.

January is a wonderful time to visit Asheville, NC.  If you need a place to stay, Oakland Cottage B&B is just a half mile from the vibrant River Arts District.  Reservation offices are open 9am - 7pm daily and bookings may be made directly online as well.  Winter discounts are available January through March.