Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Asheville Getaway

Posted August 18, 2008

What are your favorite things to do in Asheville? As you ponder that pleasant question let me tell you about my getaway to the Land of the Sky over the weekend.

With a very busy schedule on the horizon, Cindy and I decided a relaxing weekend was in order. We checked into the Grove Park Inn Friday evening. If you’ve never been there it really is quite special with its granite exterior and fairytale land look. It’s such a friendly and accommodating place and steeped in history. The Great Hall was alive with beautiful music from Maddy Winer and her band including the incomparable pianist Bill Covington. As the sun began to set we soaked up a spectacular view of the mountains and called it a day.

On Saturday we checked out the new Blue Ridge Parkway Destination Center with the cool plants growing on the roof. The only disappointment there was the movie projector was not working and I really wanted to see the video about the history of the Parkway which I dearly love. Our next stop was the Folk Art Center just a few miles away on the Parkway. We were very impressed with the quality of pottery on display. Later we made our way up to Craggy Gardens where the Parkway is currently closed due to a rockslide. We hiked for a couple of hours and enjoyed some splendid views. Then it was on to magical Montreat near Black Mountain. We admired the renovated rim around Lake Susan and browsed through the book and gift store. If you’re ever stressed spend an afternoon in verdant and peaceful Montreat and you will come away a renewed person.

We had lunch at the Moose Café at the Western North Carolina Farmer’s Market. They could have the best biscuits and apple butter in the Old North State. We enjoyed some good ole country cooking here. Service was polite and quick and the food delicious.

We dressed up a little for dinner and hit a culinary goldmine in Biltmore Village. The Mediterranean cuisine at Rezaz knocked our socks off. I never realized hummus could be so exciting. My salmon entrée was superior and Cindy’s shrimp dish was outstanding. Great wine selection here. And our chocolate dessert was divine. My only complaint – the coffee was weak. The drama came when the waiter announced he would have to leave early because his wife was in labor.

Sunday we did the buffet at the Grove Park. Wow! What a feast in the Blue Ridge Dining Room! It was more like going to a culinary museum. The personable chef Denny Trantham puts on quite a show. The presentation was stunning and the taste was just as impressive. It was our only meal of the day. It was all we needed. I’m still licking my lips this morning.

Okay. I know I missed a lot of great stuff in the Land of the Sky including the Biltmore House. What else should I check out the next time I’m in Asheville?


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  • bessie Aug 20, 2008

    Bill, I live in Asheville and work in Flat Rock. They are both wonderful places to visit. I have to recommend staying at the Lake House Lodge and Spa at Highland Lake in Flat Rock. They have luxury suites overlooking the lake and cute cottages too. Of course you would have to see a play at the Flat Rock Playhouse and check out downtown Hendersonville where there are lots of great places to eat. You would be right at DuPont State Forest with multiple waterfalls to see. Then maybe even participate in a street dance on a summer night on Main Street with the cloggers and live music. To top it all off a Sunday brunch at Season's would be great.

  • StaggerLee Aug 19, 2008

    Wow, Bill that is a lot of stuff you did. One of the best things to do in Asheville is people watching in downtown. Go there in the evening for coctails and just enjoy the and free spirits abound.....a great way to relax.

  • Mr. Right Aug 19, 2008


    Next time you are in Asheville, try the Richmond Hill Inn. Beautiful mountaintop 100 year old mansion. If you stay overnight, be sure to stay in the mansion. The food in their 4 diamond restaurant is outstanding, we would consider one of the best in NC. We like the Grove Park too, but the Richmond Hill Inn is our favorite.

  • dlwhitmire Aug 18, 2008

    After growing up in Catawba Co. and graduating from ASU, I must admit a bias towards the Northwestern mountains. But, last summer we went to Asheville for 4 days and had a great time. I totally agree with you about Rezaz!! Tupelo Honey Cafe has great sweet potato pancakes and cheeseburgers. Limones has fantastic
    food and an impressive beer selection. For fine dining, we had
    a memorable 20th anniversary dinner at The Market Grill. Bill, you must experience a concert at The Orange Peel. It is a
    remarkable venue for local and national acts. There is not a bad
    "seat" in the place."Seat" because unless you get a spot on a
    bench or a chair against the wall, you'll be standing;nevertheless it is a totally enjoyable place. I also
    highly recommend the Princess Anne Hotel, a small b&b type place that is in a great location.

  • rlink Aug 18, 2008

    If you like Mexican food, Salsas @ corner of Patton & Biltmore is good(Mex/Caribbean). Also Mamacitas further south on Biltmore beside the Orange Peel is even better and less expensive. Not your average "El Whatever" mexican food. The Cornerstone Restaurant on Tunnel Road serves huge portions for breakfast, seafood and Greek food is great for lunch. One dish is enough for two @ $7-$10 a plate. Ride Town Mountain (Hwy 694)Road off of Charlotte Street to get a mountaintop view of Asheville and it then connects with Blue Ridge Parkway Roundtrip from downtown is 30-45 minutes. Bill is right about Grove Park Inn. If you can't stay, at least splurge for a lunch on the Terrace or drinks for The Best Sunset in Asheville!

  • carolina buckeye Aug 18, 2008

    We really enjoy eating at the Early Girl Eatery or The Laughing Seed, both on Wall St., when we're in Asheville.

  • Question Aug 18, 2008

    I agree with Happy--the Cradle of Forestry is a real treat! Highway 276 from Mt Pisgah to Brevard is a great drive in itself. The Grove Park Inn spa is fantastic--what a way to spoil yourself!

    We love to eat at Vincenzo's in Asheville. Great Italian food and they have music most nights downstairs.

  • NCSUPackfan Aug 18, 2008

    Well it's not Asheville, but I used to love driving 276 from Caesars Head State Park in Greenville County up to Brevard, which has an EXCELLENT music center as well as Looking Glass Falls and Pisgah.

  • happy Aug 18, 2008

    Bill, right after graduating with a degree in Parks and Rec Management from WCU, I got a job with GPI. I had hoped to walk straight into the front desk or some other 'lofty' position. However, I was stuck as a food runner. You are right. The food there is some of the best I have eaten anywhere else. And presentation is key.

    A day trip from Asheville could include anything from Mt. Mitchell to Sliding Rock. A somewhat more unknown side trip could be to the Cradle of Forestry which is the site of the first forestry school in America – the Biltmore Forest School, founded in 1898 by Dr. Carl Schenck, chief forester for George Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate.

  • 2thebeach Aug 18, 2008

    I love to wander around downtown when I'm in Ashevlle. It's mesmerizing to me to be able to look up and see the mountains. Don't get me wrong, I've got saltwater flowing along with my Carolina blue blood, but I do like to sit around in downtown Asheville when I can.

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