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Ashville & Black Mountain

In the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina sits the adventure friendly city of Asheville. The question with Asheville isn't what is there to do, the question is what do you want to do? Asheville has something to offer everyone, from the active, wild explorer, to the refined inquisitive lover of the arts. This ability to blend these polar worlds is what makes it a great place to visit. So hands down, I'm gonna say you gotta come play in Asheville.

There is so much to do in Asheville that I couldn't possibly get all the information down in one post. So, for this one, our writing style is going to be a little different, this is going to be more focused around our specific trip. Happy reading!

We headed out on a Saturday and planned on spending the entire day exploring both Asheville and Black Mountain. I had never been to Asheville, though I have driven by it and around it numerous times. It was a lovely city, very lively and lots of activity. It was a bit overwhelming at first, I think partially due to the fact everyone was just now starting to come out of Covid hibernation. It was our first big real world experience since. So, with that being said, let me add, much of Asheville when we went still wasn't open. Many of the tours and activities that you can do in historic locations were either incredibly limited or not functioning at all.

The very first stopping point on our trip was the Basilica of Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr.

Coming up the road towards the Basilica there was a man in a booth advertising free parking. When we pulled up he explained we could park freely in this parking area just adjacent to the church. The only stipulation is that a $5 minimum donation was required. I didn't have a single issue with that at all and was very much happy to oblige. My issue came only moments later when that same gentleman watched us walk around the Basilica numerous times trying to figure out how to get inside, only to discover it was closed due to Covid. Being honest, I thought that move was a bit shady. I'd gladly pay $20 for parking, if the attendant keeps it on the level so to speak. The other groups in the area were also a bit displeased when they made the same realization we had also made. According to their website the Basilica is not providing tours or walk in visits. 6/25/2021.

The Biltmore

The plan originally was to go to the Biltmore, but prior to our trip I, could not secure enough tickets at the specific time I needed to accommodate our plans. This was of course due to Covid and the Biltmore trying to manage crowds safely. This was our second attempt at such. On their website, they do recommend booking your visit a week in advance. On both occasions we did try to do that, if at all possible I would recommend going even further out. If you know you have time off in three weeks go ahead and purchase your tickets and lock your spot down, especially if you have a larger group. We had a group of four and I could never find a time that had 4 slots available.

Just click the link down below to explore the Biltmore mansion:

Many of the shops that we had planned on visiting were closed, though their websites did not specifically say that. Some, while they were technically open, they were only open for delivery and pick up, not for in store services.

Little Tam was brokenhearted.

Poor sad little Tam

There was still so much to see and enjoy, that even with all the closures and disappointments, we didn't really lack for anything. Some artisan shops were open which did appease our shopping desires. We grabbed snacks from the Soda Fountain which I recommend. Their hot chocolate was on point!

Technically this location is in the Woolworth Walk & Store which is a gallery featuring diverse works by 175 local artists and a restored soda fountain. The art work here is amazingly beautiful. I think we walked around for 20 minutes and still hadn't seen half of what was available. I recommend this stop.

Soda Fountain: 25 Haywood St, Asheville, NC 28801

I very much enjoyed this sign

As much as we enjoyed meandering around Asheville, we had another location on our agenda so it was time to pack it up and head out.

Black Mountain, North Carolina, only 15 miles away from Asheville, is the cutest little town. Some equate Black Mountain as a smaller sect of Asheville, but I believe it stands out all on it's own. Once named the “Prettiest Small Town in America” by readers of TripAdvisor, Black Mountain is beautiful, adorable, historic, and peaceful. I truly fell in love with this little town. I literally went home and started looking up real estate!

My main goal for our time in Black Mountain was to eat our picnic lunch at Lake Tomahawk, which sits quaintly below Graybeard Mountain and surrounding peaks.

Our little picnic

Graybeard Mountain & Tomahawk Lake

The lake has a very easy half mile loop with benches and ducks to keep you entertained. There is also pavilion areas, restrooms, and tennis courts.

This Goose was a rotten little sneak

Imma Bite cha', Imma Bite cha' - "pinch"

It inspired me to stir up a rotten attitude as well, perhaps it's something in the water.

Poor Tam!

After the urge to beat up Tam had resolved, we were going to be heading back into town. But first, we would all hide in some bushes while Tam was in the bathroom to make her think we left her in North Carolina. It was an intense three minutes of pure fear and confusion for her.

Back in town, we proceeded to explore the shops. Much like Asheville, there is much to see and do. There are a variety of eateries, brewers, artisan shops, bakery's, etc. Although we discovered some really unique and beautiful stores, a fan favorite was

Sassafras on Sutton. It is a very unique book store that contains a variety of goods. Everything I bought to take home from this trip, I pretty much got in this store.

Pregame your visit by checking out their website below:

108 Sutton Avenue

Black Mountain, North Carolina 28711

The conclusion of our trip ended after one final stop. I happened to spot the sign to this store from across the street. Thinking that it was a hiking store, I rounded the crew up and we headed in. Upon entering, we all realized it was a restaurant, as the greeter at the door was greeting us with menu's in hand. We now felt somewhat awkward and also obligated to sit down and eat, which we did. In life very few mistakes turn out so pleasant, but this one did. The atmosphere had a real down to earth vibe to it, like the kind of place you'd go hang out at if you lived in Black Mountain. The more important thing to note is that the food was awesome. According to their menu, their food is locally sourced which is another good perk.

The chili was good, but who am I kidding, this bread was the whole reason I ordered chili and I didn't regret it. While waiting on our appetizer of home fries, we decorated our plates with ketchup to commemorate the most memorable moments.

This was my masterpiece. Isn't it brilliant?

The most unpleasant experience came from a cupcake shop just down the road. We all ordered cupcakes in anticipation for something amazing. They were a major let down, they looked pretty, but tasted pretty terrible. Unfortunately, sometimes when traveling not everything gets a good review, SORRY!

I would assume much of the restrictions that were still in place at the time of our visit have now been lifted. It is my hope when you make you way to Asheville you will be able to enjoy the full gamut of all they have to offer.

My love and I

Tam & Abby

As always, keep it safe, keep it cool, and stay curious.

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