Autumn in Asheville
- September 27, 2021 |
Asheville, North Carolina, has been a haven for travelers since the 1800s. Visitors from the lowlands flocked to the mountains to escape the oppressive heat in the summers and marveled at the kaleidoscope of colors mottling the mountainsides as the cooler temperatures of fall set in. The beautiful colors of fall still beckon visitors from far and near, but there’s much more to do than just wander about in an expansive real-life Monet painting. Prepare for an expansive itinerary, too.
Of course, we have to lead with a visit to the Biltmore Estate. We hope you’re planning on spending several days in Asheville because to do the Biltmore justice, you need to spend a full day drinking in the gardens, including the conservatory (The orchids are lovely!), the farmyard (We love the chickens!), the shops at Antler Hill, the winery, and the house. Enjoy a meal at the Deer Park Restaurant or the Stable Café.
While the opulence of the home was intended to be enjoyed by only a few when it was built, George Vanderbilt had a penchant for conservation that we all benefit from. A healthy Pisgah National Forest is partly due to his vigilance and foresight. Much of the Biltmore Estate had been cleared for farming and logging. Vanderbilt hired Frederick Law Olmstead, the landscape architect for New York’s Central Park, to design the grounds and gardens. Olmstead also established the systematically managed forest surrounding the estate. His work, and that of Gifford Pinchot, a trained forester who became the first chief of the U. S. Forest Service, and Carl Schenck, who took over management of the forest when Pinchot left, established a national model for forestry.
Edith Vanderbilt sold approximately 86,700 acres of forested land to the federal government in 1914. It became the Pisgah National Forest. Pisgah is a wonderful place to hike with trails for almost every ability. Bent Creek is just 15 minutes from Downtown Asheville and has a plethora of trails that are great for families on foot or on mountain bikes.
If you want to combine your hike with a little bit of learning, head over to the Cradle of Forestry. Stop by the Forest Discovery Center to learn more about the Biltmore School of Forestry and hike out to an old logging locomotive and historic buildings from the logging era. *Photo borrowed from Cradle of Forestry Facebook page.
For an interesting “front country” hike, the Urban Trail takes you on a stroll through time and history. Along the way, you’ll learn about the city’s transformation from an outpost on the edge of the frontier to a mecca for the arts. Be sure to notice the beautiful architecture throughout the city, including a grand collection of Deco buildings.
OK, we’ve gone this long without food. We must refuel! For an eclectic approach to the taco, we recommend White Duck Taco, which is located at 12 Biltmore Avenue (almost directly across the street from the Mast Store in Asheville). This is NOT your typical taco place, and the menu changes often. Everything is priced a la carte, so it’s easy to mix and match different tacos like Jerk Chicken and Korean Beef Bulgogi.
Just a short walk away is the French Broad Chocolate Lounge. Wait, did someone say chocolate? Yes, we did! Filled with delicious desserts and creative confections to take home as gifts, it’s a wonderful place to slow down and enjoy the food of the gods. There are even drinking chocolates! **Photos borrowed from White Duck Taco and French Broad Chocolates Facebook pages.
NO trip to Asheville is complete without going to an arts and craft festival. The 49.5th LEAF Festival is happening in Black Mountain (just a 20-minute drive away) on October 14-17, 2021. Short for Lake Eden Art Festival, LEAF is a celebration of the global community through music, education, experiences, and art. This fall’s festival includes music by Tito Puente, Jr. + Big Orchestra, Sierra Hull, & DJ DAYDREAMn; foods including everything from vegan to BBQ; and crafts including jewelry, fiber arts, and woodworking. Get your tickets and learn about the festival’s COVID protocols HERE.
There is way too much to do in Asheville to share it all here, but we think this is a pretty good “Asheville Fall Visit Starter Kit.” To add more to your itinerary and to find places to stay, visit with our friends at Explore Asheville.