Asheville – Hippies Hipsters and Haunted Houses (well not really I just wish)

Ok so the Biltmore Estate is not the Haunted House at Walt Disney World but from certain angles outside it looks like the most awesome haunted house ever! Inside is pretty cool too but they won’t let you take pictures – damn it.

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That photo is from their website.
My photos of the front of the house sucked.

These are the ones I took closer up. They aren’t too bad.

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Standing in the patio area in front of the house.

The drive up to the house (sorry did not take pictures I was enjoying the view and forgot) you drive past creeks and fields and through beautiful woods. The landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted who designed Central Park in NYC designed the property for George Vanderbilt. Is seems like just natural woods but he actually designed it all. You drive through a beautiful gate then past the ticket and welcome center and along a 2 mile winding path, every step is the same route taken by Vanderbilt and their guests 120 years ago. They’ve done a beautiful job of keeping the property as it was when it was built and as it was intended.

You can do a self guided tour or take several behind the scenes tours. I recommend renting the audio equipment for the self guided tour. They give you so much info on everything you are looking at. I can’t describe the magnificence of this house. The family was pretty amazing too. They paid their employees NYC wages and paid all their medical expenses. When someone became ill they continued to pay them and held their job for them. They built a village where married employees lived. (the Biltmore Village is still there some of the original homes are restaurants and shops and the rest are now hotels and stores but you can still see where this little village was) There’s just so much info about this family and the estate.

Here are a couple of links

Wikipedia – Biltmore Estate
Biltmore Estate Website

Off the amazing library is a patio covered with a grape vine. From the family photos you can see they spent a lot of time here. The patio over looks a large side yard that at one time had a pool. From this yard you can see the amazing grounds and it leads down to
the formal garden and green house.

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That gravel area was where the pool was. It originally was like this then they added a pool for their daughter Cornelia. Later it was taken out again to restore it back to the original yard.

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The garden was mostly bare from photos it looks like spring is the time to go to see it in full bloom. The trees all had color still and they still had plenty of plantings just no flowers. Inside, the green house was filled with tropical plants.

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After touring the house we had Afternoon Tea at the Inn on Biltmore. It was a great way to include a little bit of the Vanderbilt tradition in our visit. I highly recommend arriving a little early and having a drink at the bar and sitting on the terrace to take in the view.
Again – no pictures, sorry.

But here’s a picture of the view from our table at tea, very similar to the view from the bar’s terrace.

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Afternoon Tea

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I looked at the hotels in the Biltmore area – the Grand Bohemian is beautiful, brand new building that looks ancient. The rates are really reasonable. The Inn on Biltmore Estate and the Village Hotel are crazy expensive. $400+ and it doesn’t include admission to the house. Both are so far away (4 miles I think) from the house that you would still have to drive there so I’m not really sure what the perks are. You can rent bikes, go for a horse ride, and do all of the other things on the estate without staying there. The Grand Bohemian is in the Biltmore Village, across the street from the entrance gate to the Biltmore.

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This is the Red Stag Grille in the lobby of the Grand Bohemian.

These photos are from Google

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There are several B&B’s, hotels, and lofts for rent on Airbnb and VRBO downtown. I don’t recommend the Grove Park Inn. It’s really really dated and not worth the price. It’s about a 15 min drive from downtown to the Biltmore. So stay where you’ll be the most. It’s very easy to drive around the city but hard to park downtown. Although there are parking garages.

The food and bars in Asheville are great. But after a few days it’s kind of hipster overload. When you are planning where you’ll eat I highly recommend mixing in something other then farm to table rustic or you’ll be so over it pretty quickly. Same thing for the craft cocktails. I think we’re about to implode with this stuff. The drinks are getting more and more complicated or really not complicated at all just described in an obnoxiously complicated way.
Can I just get a Makers and ginger please.

So here’s our dining experience.

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Biscuit Heads

2 locations – get there early or on a weekday or the line will be out the door. And totally worth it!

Cat head sized fresh made biscuits, a long list of gravies, the gravy of the day was bacon mushroom, a jam and butter bar, and tons of cool options. Top picture is a biscuit with greens, pimento cheese, mushroom bacon gravy, and bacon. The jams were homemade sweet potato butter, peach strudel butter, strawberry jam,
and citrus basil jam. Stupid good.

Tupelo Honey Café

Can’t go to Asheville without going here. And even with all the new places that have opened in the last 10 years it was still on the top of my list. We had breakfast and dinner there this time. And the service is unbelievably genuine southern hospitality.

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Breakfast – wheat toast with pimento cheese, fresh tomatoes, and pepper bacon and a sweet potato pancake bigger than the plate with pecan granola on top and sorghum syrup.

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Dinner – country ham wontons with a Brussels sprout slaw and the veggie plate with greens, beans and mac and cheese.

Rhubarb

They took 3 restaurants and turned them into one very cool rustic farm to table place. We had an afternoon snack at the bar and breakfast. Would love to go back for dinner.

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A dark rum, homemade pear ginger beer and soda and one of the local craft beers on tap. Their house made charcuterie, pickles,
and local cheese board.

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Breakfast – fresh everything. I forgot to take a picture of my house made English muffin with bacon and a sunny side up egg. A friend got the cruffin. A croissant that is baked in a muffin tin with bacon, cheese, and thinly sliced potato and comes with a side of cream cheese and chives. Once again, stupid good. They also had
another option with rhubarb jam.

There are tons of options for brunch usually on Saturday and Sunday and every place has their own take on Bloody Mary’s

Posana

Right next to Rhubarb. This place was a welcome break from all the hipster rustic-ness of everything else in town. More refined – still had a nod to that whole vibe though.

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My pictures are dark and not doing it justice. Braised then pan seared pork shoulder with sweet potato puree and apple sautéed with greens. Smoked butternut squash with goat cheese, golden raisins, pecans, and crispy leeks with a kale currant and pear salad. So yummy.

Some other places that I don’t have pictures for but you could try

French Broad Chocolate Lounge

They are across the street from Rhubarb – they have a small shop where they sell chocolate bars and ice cream and next to it is the lounge where they sell desserts and drinking chocolate

Wicked Weed

A local brewing company that also has a great restaurant and full bar. Upstairs is the full restaurant and outside they have fire pits. Downstairs is a limited menu and just beer and wine but you can sit outside (they have heaters when it’s cold) The bar snacks were great. Didn’t try the sandwiches but they also looked great.
Definitely want to try them next time.

Social Lounge

Fun quiet bar with a cocktail called the Buttercup. As my friend says it’s so good she’s sure it has crack in it. I agree, I was hooked immediately. The upstairs outside patio was really nice.

Every block downtown has a bar or a brewery. There are tons of shops, restaurants, galleries, and antiques. In the Biltmore Village area you have the chain stores like J Crew and William Sonoma.

Their airport is tiny so it’s so easy to get in and out.
20 minutes from downtown too.

Click here for more info about Asheville.