Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville, North Carolina is a top travel destination in the southern United States. It is a city with a myriad of activities and places to see for visitors of all ages and backgrounds. The magazine, “Modern Maturity” named it one of The 50 Most Alive Places To Be and “AARP Magazine” had it on the list for Best Places to Reinvent Your Life. “American Style” magazine listed it as the No. 2 small-city arts destination, for the numerous art events, festivals, and local galleries in the area. As you can see Asheville has a lot of appeal to seniors, and visitors who are wanting to live in, or visit a place that has a wealth of natural beauty, diversity, and culture. Asheville allows you to focus on healthy living, while enjoying life in a beautiful mountain setting. For those of us who are unable to move to Asheville, a weekend getaway is the perfect excursion, that allows you to visit a jewel in the North Carolina mountains.
The Biltmore Estate
The largest privately owned home in America is George W. Vanderbilt’s 8,000 acre estate with 250 rooms, 75 acres of landscaped gardens, and a winery. This excursion can take up an entire day, and it is advisable to purchase tickets well in advance of your visit. You can purchase tickets for a self-guided tour or you can purchase tickets for a guided tour. Tickets for the self guided tour of the Biltmore are around $55 if purchased online. Arrive early to avoid the crowds during busy seasons. The Estate has a variety of fabulous restaurants to choose from during your visit. Additional activities can be booked through the website for Biltmore including biking, hiking, horseback riding, float trips, fly fishing and carriage rides.
Mt. Pisgah or Crabtree Falls
The departure point for this particular hike is not a far drive from any point in the city of Asheville. The hike is relatively short at 1.5 miles one way, but it can be a bit strenuous to the 5720 ft summit. Once you arrive at the top you are grateful that you made it, because the view is incredible. If you are looking for something a bit easier, Crabtree Falls offers a 2.5 mile trail that is an easy loop, and you will see a gorgeous 70 ft. waterfall. Depending on the season you may want to do your hiking in the morning or early afternoon. Then you have the rest of the day to explore the Blue Ridge Parkway by car, go rafting, or to visit the shops and galleries of the downtown Asheville area.
Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa
This mountain resort had many famous guests in the past, from F. Scott Fitzgerald, to countless presidents and other American VIPs. If you do not stay at the Grove Park Inn the Spa here is definitely worth the drive from your hotel in the area. One package, the Couples Retreat is around $475 for two people. The amenities here are phenomenal and you will always remember your trip to this spa. Arriving 2-3 hours in advance is advisable, to fully enjoy the steam room, eucalyptus inhalation room, hot tubs, sauna, waterfall pools, or one of the mineral, lap or contrast plunge pools. If you want to sit in the lounge fireside and read book you can always do that as well. After your spa treatment have a drink in the relaxed atmosphere of the Magnolia Lounge, where you can take in the beautiful view of the mountains, and the city off in the distance.
The Inn on Biltmore Estate is the most convenient in terms of the proximity to the Estate. It allows you to have the full experience of Biltmore along with the tour without having to go far. In terms of the nightly rate alone it ranges in price from $149 to $599. If you upgrade and book a complete package through the Inn, you will have accommodations, valet parking, estate admission for the length of your stay, estate transportation, and an audio tour for the self-guided tour of the Estate. Depending on the package you choose you also receive breakfast daily and you are provided with the Biltmore guidebook.
Below you will find a few of the finest inns and hotels in the Asheville area, with a variety of price ranges, but all offering great service and value. The Residences at Biltmore offers luxury condo accommodations, with plenty of room and all of the conveniences of home, if you are staying in the area for an extended amount of time.
- Biltmore Village Inn $220-355*
- The Residences at Biltmore Hotel $139-670*
- The Grand Bohemian Hotel $159-379*
- The Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa $120-1350
- Brookstone Lodge Hotel $89-199
- Hotel Indigo $109-279
- Hotels with * are a 1-3 mile drive to the Biltmore
- For dinner advance reservation is recommended
- Tupelo Honey Café
- The Early Girl Eatery
- Wasabi Sushi
- Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria
- Sunset Terrace at the Grove Park Inn
- Horizons at the Grove Park Inn
- The Market Place
- Nightly Entertainment
- Tressa’s Downtown
- Elaine’s Dueling Piano Bar at the Grove Park Inn
For any activities requiring the purchase of tickets, scheduling of appointments/reservations handle these well in advance of your trip to Asheville.