Whether you are toasting the sunset over the mountains at the historic Grove Park Inn, exploring history at America’s largest home at the Biltmore Estate or enjoying the gifts Mother Nature at its esteemed area parks, Asheville is a slice of Southern life as sweet as homemade pecan pie. The city is both historic and hip, with locally owned stores and art galleries, trendy restaurants and a passion for music cradled among historic buildings and the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Parkway and nearby Pisgah National Forest. Unlike many towns, Asheville cherishes its historic buildings and uses them as a foundation for a youthful, energetic vibe that radiates through town like the live music that performs in nearly every pocket of the city. It is at one time both relaxing and lively, and the perfect spot for your next family vacation.
Asheville may be the largest city in Western North Carolina but it also maintains a very approachable hometown feel. Where you and your family stays depends on your vacation style. Do you like to enjoy relaxing mornings on the veranda enjoying the mountain view before heading out for your day? Then a stay at the historic Grove Park Inn will not only offers panoramic views you crave, but a location not far from Downtown Asheville’s charms. History your niche? Then live like a Vanderbilt at the Inn on Biltmore Estate. Are you always on the go? Then there is a cornucopia of reasonably priced hotels downtown that will put you smack dab in the middle of the action.
You could easily spend a day just touring the famed 8,000-acre Biltmore Estate, from its breathtaking mansion tours and manicured garden, to the Victorian-era Biltmore Village. Families love touring the 250 beautifully appointed rooms of the Vanderbilt mansion, as well as its surrounding winery and village, enjoying the eclectic variety of shops and restaurants all its own. As fun as the Biltmore Estate is for families, you haven’t even scratched the surface of what this charming mountain town has to offer, so be sure not to dally too long there.
Kids will love the nearby Asheville Outdoor Center, where they can plan a kayak, canoe, paddle board or raft trip down the calm Broad River. If your crew is not yet ready to paddle, book a trip on the Great Smokey Mountain Railroads for a scenic journey everyone will enjoy.
Downtown check out the historic Grove Arcade for some boutique shopping in an architectural marvel or hop into the old Woolworth’s store that has been transformed into a handmade market for local artisans. Possibly one of the most unique destinations is the Asheville Pinball Museum. No need to load up on quarters here, $15 for adults and $12 for children 10 and under will be all you need to play more than 75 pinball and classic 80s video games. And to say this place can be hoppin’ is an understatement, so it might be best to come early or on weekdays to avoid heavy crowds or the waiting list.
If the sound of pin ball gives you a headache, take a car trip exploring the picturesque Blue Ridge Parkway and discover Mother Nature’s treasures along the way. Or head to the Pisgah National Forest, the home of Sliding Rock, a nature-made water slide kids will flip over.
Travel by car is probably easiest but parking downtown can be tight, especially at busy travel times. You may consider utilizing the historic trolley service available downtown, along with taxis and fixed-bus routes. Once you are downtown, walking is best. That way you won’t miss a hidden gem of a store or a quaint little eatery. You may even stumble on some live music on the streets. And if your feet get a little sore, then bike taxis might be just the thing to continue your tour in comfort.