Andrew and I are lucky to get to spend most weekends at home together. Still, with all the hustle and bustle of daily life, errands to run, and chores to get done around the house, it can be nice to get away and have a change of scenery. Though I love the life and home we’re creating, monotony gets stifling to me and I’m always seeking new experiences and explorations.
So this past weekend, for a breath of fresh air, we headed to Asheville, North Carolina to celebrate a belated Valentine’s Day / an early 6 month anniversary / any excuse to get away. Though I’d been to the beautiful mountain town of Asheville years before, I’d been longing to return with Andrew and bribe him to visit the Biltmoreand other city sites in exchange for feeding him endless local craft beers. A win-win really.
So we set off Saturday morning without a plan. While this lack of planning may bring stress to some (myself included at times), it also adds to the adventure. Armed with just a few friendly recommendations and a vague idea of where we might sleep that night, we were determined to drink in the best of the city in just one short weekend.
We wandered through street musicians and artisan markets into the incredible Battery Park Book Exchange. This place is a library meets bar meets living room. Or if you’re a book lover like me, it’s simply heaven.
All the books are previously loved and deeply discounted, and the place itself welcomes you in and makes you want to stay until you’ve read every book under their roof.
But time was limited and stomachs were rumbling, so it was time to try local cuisine with a side of southern hospitality at Mayfel’s. Though surrounded by mountains, we enjoyed a lunch of shrimp po-boys, gumbo, and fried catfish that tasted as if it came straight out of the bayou. And the beignets… oh the doughy fried sugary goodness!
After a bit more meandering and a tasty craft brew for Andrew, he indulged my inner book nerd once more with a visit to Asheville’s infamous Malaprop’s Bookstore. This local landmark has become a mecca for book-lovers and talented authors from around the world. So I was excited to score a signed copy of This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by one of my new favorite authors, Ann Patchett.
Though I could have happily stayed and read the evening away, the sunny skies and fresh mountain air beckoned us outside again. It was too late to soak in the beautiful weather with a hike, but just the right time to take it all in at an urban beer garden.
Our lunch waitress suggested we visit the new and little known Ben’s Tune Up. This gem of a find has risen from the ashes of it’s former life as an auto repair shop to become an eclectic bar, beer garden, and sake brewery – the perfect open space to gather with friends and share some Asian fare and ginger beer.
And let your patriotism shine…
On the recommendation of, well everybody, we ended the night with dinner at the delicious Curate tapas bar. If you’re like us and don’t plan, know that you will likely be waiting for over an hour to score a seat. But the wait is well worth it, and since the restaurant texts when the table is ready, we used it as an opportunity to explore even more.
The beauty of tapas style dining is the ability to try so many different dishes. From chorizo and clams to croquetas, none of our mini meals disappointed. And you just can’t go wrong when you finish the evening with homemade raspberry sorbet and lemon thyme ice cream.
Sunday morning we were up bright and early for our day at the Biltmore Estate.
Since I had been pestering him for months about visiting America’s largest home, my sweet husband surprised me with tickets for Valentine’s Day.
To fuel up for the trek through the 178,926 square foot house, we began with a bountiful brunch buffet at the Biltmore’s Deerpark Restaurant. There were more amazing options than we could even handle, so we waddled out full and happy.
Once inside the house, the magic and majesty of the mansion that I remembered from childhood overtook me once more. The grandeur, the design, and the detail are the stuff of dreams.
The vistas of the Blue Ridge mountains encircling the property are breathtaking.
And a beautiful terrace to relax and enjoy the views doesn’t hurt the charm either.
After winding up grand staircases, down sprawling hallways, and through tapestry laden living rooms, we emerged from the house slightly humbled. Though it’s nice to visit, the upkeep of such an estate, especially without many of today’s modern conveniences, seems downright daunting.
As the early evening sun settled over the mountains, it was time to return to the real world. East Tennessee was calling and new adventures, including a new dog, awaited us back home.
No matter how brief, the break and breath of fresh air that a weekend escape brings is always wonderful. I’ve returned to daily life rejuvenated and only slightly bitter that I wasn’t born a Vanderbilt…