Florida is a popular vacation spot pretty much year round. I’m a full-time Florida resident, and if you lived here year round you’d want an escape during the sweltering summers too!
The summer solstice came around and not too long after, I hit the mountainous roads out to Asheville, North Carolina. This was my first time visiting, though I’ve heard good things about the area for literally years. I couldn’t feel more grateful to have finally made a visit to this wonderful, somewhat hidden gem in the United States.
I’m here to give all the trip details! I’m sharing where we stayed, what we did, and what we ate. If you ever find yourself in the Asheville, know that there are so many things to do! This is just a small clip of what this area of North Carolina has to offer for visitors.
Where we stayed: Tiny house life!
One of the best parts of this trip for me was where we stayed, the Acony Bell Tiny Home Village. I thought it was the perfect location, conveniently located for visiting the downtown area and mountains.
If you’ve ever wanted to experience tiny house living, this is the perfect place to give it a try! My boyfriend and I, plus his little dog (bonus: this place is dog friendly!), all stayed comfortably here for a week.
It’s fit with a functional kitchen, full bath, desk area, and a lofted bedroom. There was a lot of storage space too! I definitely felt like I could live in a tiny house after staying here.
I thoroughly enjoyed our stay in the quaint tiny home village and can’t speak highly enough of it!
What to do
Llama hike at Earthshine Lodge, Blue Ridge Parkway
This was one of the highlights of our trip! After booking our tiny home, we found this excursion recommended very highly on Airbnb.
The experience involved a one mile trek along the Blue Ridge parkway, and each person was accompanied by a llama guide. They are just such sweet and docile creatures, so very soft too!
The human guide, Mark English, was very informative throughout the hike. He has plenty of llama facts, many that I didn’t know (llamas can see 280 degrees around them?! And can run up to 25 mph!). Mark also mentioned that his llamas are used for special need outreach, which I thought was a really nice. I can easily see how these animals could be therapeutic.
The hike itself is considered moderate, though it’s only a mile in length it is a bit uphill. The view from the top was well worth it! Such a serene moment in nature, to be at the top of a mountain with one of earth’s creatures. My llama’s name was Vision, and I think it might just mean something that Vision guided me to a breathtaking mountain top.
In addition to trekking with llamas, we managed to hike two short trails while in the area. Both had waterfall features and, as I said, were rather short. We tried for a third, longer hike but we ended up being rained out.
If you’re planning to check out either of these falls in the Asheville area, know they’re family and dog friendly! Plenty of people were swimming among the falls, though we chose not to (the water was too cold for our Florida blood).
Looking Glass Falls in Pisgah Forest
Hooker Falls in Dupont Forest
The Biltmore Estate
The Biltmore Estate came highly recommended by just about anyone who knew I was going to Asheville. The Biltmore is a massive estate, owned by the Vanderbilt family. It includes the house itself, which is the largest home in America, surrounding gardens, a winery, a small village and lodging.
House & Gardens
There is an entry fee to the estate, and touring the house itself is additional. My personal opinion was that the house wasn’t really worth the extra money. The history is rather basic, I felt it was all rich, white history if I’m being honest. I felt the architecture and interior design was underwhelming as well.
That being said, I know other people absolutely love it. So do your research, and if the house sounds like it’s up your ally, don’t let my opinion discourage you.
All that aside, I absolutely loved everything else about the estate. We only spent a few hours there, but you could easily pass an entire day.
Expansive gardens surround the Biltmore house. They were so well kept, just beautiful really. If it weren’t for some afternoon rain, this is one of those areas where you can pass a lot of time.
Antler Hill Village
While we didn’t spend too much time exploring the Antler Hill Village, this sculpture was a standout site to see on the property! The village consists of additional exhibits, shopping, and dining options.
Aside from the house and gardens, this is where we spent most of our time at the Biltmore. The ambiance of the whole experience was lovely, After a walk through the quaint village you’re lead to the winery. String lights hung all around make it feel we’re under the stars, even during the day.
The wines they make are really quite good! The red was robust and full-bodied while the white was crisp, slightly citrusy, and refreshing.
What to eat
Though we did choose to have some of our meals in our tiny home, there were two stand-out places that we went to for dinner.
Located in downtown Asheville, Chestnut was our first impression of the local culinary scene, and it did not disappoint.
First of all, their espresso martinis are a 10/10. Even typing that now makes my crave one! For dinner we both had seafood. Shrimp and grits for him (pictured below, left) and a sea bass dish (pictured below; right).
I can’t recommend Chestnut enough! A perfect place for a dinner date.
131 Main Street
Located closer to our AirBnb in Mills River, we were very impressed with our dinner here. Though the ambiance isn’t quite as intimate as Chestnut, and I don’t recommend their espresso martini, 131 Main has a cast iron baked cornbread that is TO DIE for.
I can not recommend their cornbread enough! For dinner I had a well composed, balanced salad. Their menu has something for everyone and it didn’t disappoint.
A quick stop in Greenville, SC
If I didn’t mention, we drove up to North Carolina from Florida. So, on our drive back we made a a side stop to Greenville, SC to visit with friends.
We ate at Gather, which has tons of food options! To me, it was like a bunch of food trucks, except these are more permanent. It was such a cute place with lots of seating, and dog friendly! We ended up with a lobster roll and fish dip from the Lob Father.
After we took a walk around downtown Greenville to see what it was all about. Even after a short tour of the small city I know I’d come back to spend more time here, I’d especially love to see the downtown area at night. This photo with the water feature was taken right downtown!