As a fortunate travel writer who has seen much of the world, I can highly recommend traveling to and staying in this beautiful, charming and historic city situated in the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains. If you can’t stay at least stop in and make an appearance. Everyone is super nice so bring your manners along.


Major Asheville, NC Attraction:




The Biltmore Estate

is a gorgeous, large private estate and tourist attraction in Asheville, North Carolina. It is a Châteauesque-styled mansion built by George Washington Vanderbilt II between 1889 and 1895 and is the largest privately owned house in the United States, at 178,926 square feet and featuring 250 rooms. Still owned by one of Vanderbilt’s descendants, it stands today as one of the most prominent remaining examples of the Gilded Age, and of significant gardens in the jardin à la française and English Landscape garden styles in the United States. In 2007, it was ranked eighth in America’s Favorite Architecture by the American Institute of Architects.

In the 1880s, at the height of the Gilded Age, George Washington Vanderbilt, youngest son of William Henry Vanderbilt, began to make regular visits with his mother, Maria Louisa Kissam Vanderbilt (1821–1896), to the Asheville, North Carolina, area. He loved the scenery and climate so much that he decided to create his own summer estate in the area, which he called his “little mountain escape,” just as his older brothers and sisters had built opulent summer houses in places such as Newport, Rhode Island, and Hyde Park, New York.

Vanderbilt’s idea was to replicate the working estates of Europe. He commissioned prominent New York architect Richard Morris Hunt, who had previously designed houses for various Vanderbilt family members, to design the house in the Châteauesque style, using several Loire Valley French Renaissance architecture chateaux, including the Chateau de Blois, as models. The estate included its own village, today named Biltmore Village, and a church, today known as the Cathedral of All Souls.[3]

Vanderbilt went on extensive buying-trips overseas as construction on the house was in progress to decorate it. He returned to North Carolina with thousands of furnishings for his newly built home. These included furniture, tapestries, hundreds of carpets, prints, linens, and decorative objects, all dating between the 1400s and the late 1800s, and all coming from various eastern and western countries and continents around the world. Among the few American-made items were the more practical oak drop-front desk, rocking chairs, a walnut grand piano, bronze candlesticks and a wicker wastebasket.[4]

Wanting the best, Vanderbilt also employed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to design the grounds, with the immediate gardens in the Garden à la française style, beyond those in the English Landscape garden style. Beyond these were the natural woodlands and agricultural lands with the intentionally rustic three-mile (5 km) approach road passing through. Gifford Pinchot and later Carl A. Schenck were hired to manage the forests, with Schenck establishing the first forestry education program in the U.S., the Biltmore Forest School, on the estate grounds in 1898. Intending that the estate could be self-supporting, Vanderbilt set up scientific forestry programs, poultry farms, cattle farms, hog farms and a dairy. His wife, Edith Stuyvesant Vanderbilt, also enthusiastically supported agricultural reform and promoted the establishment of a state agricultural fair. In 1901, to help provide local employment, the Vanderbilts started Biltmore Industries, which made furniture modeled after the furnishings of the estate.[5]

The Vanderbilts invited family and friends from across the country to the opulent estate. Notable guests to the estate over the years have included author Edith Wharton, novelist Henry James, H.R.H. The Prince of Wales, and Presidents McKinley, T. Roosevelt, and Wilson.

Vanderbilt paid little attention to the family business or his own investments, and it is believed that the construction and upkeep of Biltmore depleted much of his inheritance. After Vanderbilt died in 1914 of complications from an emergency appendectomy, his widow, Edith Vanderbilt, completed the sale of 85,000 of the original 125,000 acres (507 km²) to the federal government. This was to carry out her husband’s wish that the land remain unaltered, and that property became the nucleus of the Pisgah National Forest.


During World War II, 62 paintings and 17 sculptures were moved by train from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. to protect them in the event of an attack on the United States. Among these were the Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington and works by Rembrandt, Raphael, and Anthony van Dyck. David Finley, the gallery director, was a friend of Edith Vanderbilt who had stayed at the estate. The music room was not ready, so it was used for storage from January 1942 until 1944, when the possibility of an attack became more remote.[6]

In an attempt to bolster the estate’s financial situation during the Depression, Vanderbilt’s only child, Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt, and her husband, John Amherst Cecil, opened Biltmore House to the public in March 1930.[7] Family members continued to live there until 1956, when it was permanently opened to the public as a house museum. Visitors can view the 70,000-gallon indoor swimming pool, bowling alley, early 20th century exercise equipment, two-story library, and other rooms filled with artworks, furniture and 19th-century novelties such as elevators, forced-air heating, centrally controlled clocks, fire alarms and an intercom system. The estate remains a major tourist attraction in Western North Carolina and has almost 1 million visitors each year.[8]

The grounds include 75 acres of formal gardens, a winery and the Inn on Biltmore Estate, a AAA four-diamond 210-room hotel.

The “If These Walls Could Talk” exhibit continues to be on display in the Second Floor Living Hall, and highlights Biltmore as a private family home, as well as spotlighting the restoration of the Louis XV Suite, which opened to the public in 2009. In 2010, they debuted Antler Hill Village, as well as a remodeled winery, and connected farmyard. The Village includes the Outdoor Adventure Center, Creamery, Cedric’s Tavern, and the Biltmore Legacy, which is another museum highlighting the time of the Vanderbilts. For 2011, the Biltmore Company introduced a new stop on the Butler’s tour, Mrs. Emily King’s bedroom, part of the unrestored Housekeepers Suite. Mrs. King was the head housekeeper at Biltmore House from 1897 to 1914, and led the house even when the Vanderbilts were out of the country. On display with her room is a turn of the 20th century vacuum cleaner, foxtail duster, and toilet bowl cleaner. Also from July–October 2011, the Tiffany collection was on display in Biltmore’s Antler Hill Village in the Legacy Museum. Forty-five of Louis Tiffany‘s renowned stained glass lamps and three windows from other Vanderbilt properties were brought in for the summer. There is a small walking or biking trail, which leads from the lagoon to the horse barn, the farm, Antler Hill Village, and the winery. There is also a trail which leads from the lagoon to the Biltmore House.

Automotive enthusiasts can view George Vanderbilt’s preserved 1913 Stevens-Duryea C-Six, which is currently on display at the Winery. Contrary to previous estate publications, Vanderbilt was an early and ardent driver; documents show he upgraded to the ’13 Duryea (from the previous year’s model) because the newer car featured electric lamps (as opposed to oils). Originally delivered in a dark gray or black, rumor holds that Edith Stuyvesant Vanderbilt found the color depressing, and ordered a repaint. Hence the car is dressed in white with black pinstripes (and features her monogram on the rear doors). It is the only vehicle belonging to the Vanderbilts that remains on the estate.

The estate today covers over 8,000 acres and is split in half by the French Broad River. It is owned by the Biltmore Company, which is controlled by Vanderbilt’s grandson, William A.V. Cecil, Sr., who inherited the estate upon the death of his mother Cornelia. William, Sr.’s son, Bill, Jr., serves as company president. In 1964, it was designated a National Historic Landmark. The dairy farm was split off into Biltmore Farms, run by William Cecil’s brother, George Henry Vanderbilt Cecil. William Cecil converted the former dairy barn into the Biltmore Winery.




Best Dinner Restaurants:


Vue 1913

AN AMERICAN BRASSERIE is located in the world famous Omni Resort’s The Grove Park Inn. This is one unforgettable restaurant that everyone should enjoy when cruising through Asheville. With gorgeous panoramic mountain views, art deco decor, amazing food and a friendly staff (Ask for Mrs. Kim Ashe specifically). Trust me you cannot go wrong enjoying a meal in this establishment.

This upscale, classy eatery offers guests a comfortable and stylish setting for a leisurely meal designed only with the love of food in mind.  The brasserie style format allows their chef the flexibility to truly showcase the best local rustic ingredients of each season. Vue 1913 is the perfect fit for your everyday dinner plans and your special occasions.

Chef Lumley’s blend of American and French cooking is highlighted by a marvelous selection of wine from an abundant French cellar cultivated over the years. I recommend, the Kobe Filet, the Duck and the Lobster Pasta.

Menu prices are mid-range with appetizers starting at $8 and entrees at $21. 

Vue 1913 is open for dinner nightly.

Daily: 5:30pm-9:30pm

Attire: Upscale casual

Location: Sammons Wing (Lobby Level)

Reservations: Recommended

(800) 438-5800



Best Breakfast/Brunch Spots:

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Early Girl Eatery



is centrally located in downtown Asheville on historic Wall Street. This critically-acclaimed and locally beloved eatery offers delicious southern food in a casual, charming atmosphere and has been since October of 2001. They combine the best local ingredients to create delicious Southern-inspired comfort food. Morning, afternoon and night, Early Girl Eatery serves a wide variety of delicious southern dishes that’ll please every palette. “Made from scratch,” with many ingredients acquired from local farmers, their menu reflects the creative diversity of true southern cooking. 

My staff and I were very excited to check out this place on our trip to Asheville, and they didn’t disappoint. This place was a great spot to grab a bite on a Saturday morning or any morning for that matter. There is a nice vibe and energy to this place, because it is full of locals and out of towners. The food is all locally grown, fresh and in season. We dream about the next time we will be able to come and eat at Early Girl.

The Early Girl serves dinner Tuesday through Saturday night with a well crafted beer and wine menu and offers breakfast and lunch 7 days a week. Regulars’ favorites include pan-fried free range chicken with herb gravy for dinner, the local sausage and sweet potato scramble for breakfast and the almond and ginger salad almost anytime.

The menu relies heavily on the high quality local produce grown in the area by family farms and community-supported agriculture (CSAs). Their cheeses and some of our meats are also produced and raised locally.

The menu changes periodically with the seasons, while the specials change daily. This enables them to better utilize the local ingredients available. They believe local food tastes better and sustains a healthy community. Made from scratch is the motto at the Early Girl, and their recipes reflect their background in southern cooking as well as our vast experience with vegetarian fare.

For More Information Visit:

Early Girl gladly accepts reservations for parties large and small Tuesdays through Sundays 3:00pm to 9:00pm. We can often take reservations for large parties during non-peak hours Monday through Friday. Please call and ask for a manager.


(828) 259-9292

HOURS: MON 7:30AM-3:00PM; TUES-FRI 7:30AM-9:00PM; SAT-SUN 9:00AM-9:00PM

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Over Easy Café

is conveniently located in vibrant downtown Asheville. They take pride in creating breakfast, brunch and lunch dishes made fresh to order.

Focusing on supporting local farmers, they use organic ingredients whenever possible. You can taste the difference in their free-range, organic eggs from Hickory Nut Gap Farms.  Their antibiotic, organic & hormone-free meats and tempe from Hickory Nut Gap Farms, Sunburst Trout, and Smiling Hara are prime as well.

They specialize in breakfast with farm-to-table principles – serving local, seasonal, organic, hormone-free and fair trade ingredients whenever possible. They have a variety of dishes that will satisfy any food restrictions…such as, Gluten-free, Vegetarian, Vegan and Dairy-free. Their organic fair trade coffee is roasted by Mountain Air Roasters and breads are from Annie’s Bakery and West End Bakery. All of their food is cooked to order in a small but magical kitchen, so come in, relax and enjoy your day.

Serving the finest ingredients, while supporting their local farms seasonally, their menu is always evolving. By working with their farmers they can bring the healthiest ingredients to you, the environment, and the local economy.

Here is a list of farms that they support all year round and rely upon for the best local ingredients:

COFFEE – Organic fair trade coffee. Roasted by Mountain Air Roasters (Asheville).

BREAD – Fresh bread from the ovens of West End Bakery and City Bakery.

MEAT – Organic, antibiotic & hormone-free meats from Hickory Nut Gap Farms and Sunburst Trout.

EGGS- Organic, free range eggs.

VEGETABLES – Seasonal availability from a variety of local farms.

Visit their blog for updates on their seasonal farmers and specials menu items.

For More Information Visit:


Over Easy Cafe

32 Broadway Street

Asheville, NC

Nightlife Entertainment and Food:


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Sky Bar at World Coffee Cafe


Your visit to Asheville is made complete by a visit to World Coffee Café.

Let them show you historic Asheville and it’s completely restored 1920′s Sullivanesque 9 story skyscraper known as the Flatiron Building located at the corner of Battery Park and Wall Street in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Explore Asheville’s beauty from  World Coffee Café’s Skybar with heated balconies high above downtown Asheville. Their drinks and appetizers are designed to welcome visitors from far and wide in a great place to meet local business and service provider contacts. World Coffee’s host, the Asheville Flatiron Building, is home to over 60 businesses including an Aveda L’eau de Vie Salon and Spa, attorneys, church and youth ministries, renewability engineers and all manner of healers and therapists. A Far Away Place is their neighbor store, accessible through 16 Battery Park or through World Coffee Café.

I loved the different environments and settings at World Coffee Café. From the café’ you can choose from beverages, desserts and light food and enjoy Asheville’s best people watching at sidewalk tables along Battery Park’s musical sidewalk. In the evening you can have cocktails and light appetizers seated on the Skybar terraces with miraculous western views of Asheville’s mountains. World Coffee Café is the Paris of the South.

Sky Bar Hours


(828) 258-1058


18 Battery Park Ave, Asheville, NC 28801


Monday – Thursday: 5pm – Midnight

Friday – Sunday: 4pm – 1am

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Ben’s Tune Up


This is very chill sake brewery, nightlife spot with live music most of the nights, great food and a cool hip staff. This is my first official Sake brewery restaurant/nightclub/bar that I have ever been to. We were all very impressed with the Sake, food and atmosphere. I recommend checking out their music calendar online and definitely try the PooPoo Platter and the Firecracker Chicken. It is an imperial platter of Tune-Up ribs, chicken wings, shrimp skewers, Bad Buddha pork dumplings, shrunken egg rolls, house pickled veggies, tofu skewers and seasonal salad. Also their ramen noodles will bring you home again. They are delicious!!!

Bens Tune Up

195 Hillard Ave, Asheville NC


828 424 7580


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12 Bones BBQ


They make everything from scratch and their meats are smoked long & slow over select hardwoods. Their recipes are both old family favorites & new ones they’ve just come up with. They believe that simple ingredients & lots of care in preparation make the best food. Some things on the menu change daily…if you can’t live without a rib flavor you had 2 weeks ago then holler at them, they’ll make it again if you make enough of a fuss!

For individual takeout, call either location directly to place an order:

RIVER STORE: 5 Riverside Drive · Asheville, NC 28801 · Phone 828-253-4499 · Fax 828-253-4426

SOUTH STORE: 3578 Sweeten Creek Road · Arden, NC 28704 · Phone 828-687-1395 · Fax 828-687-1396

Bulk catering line 828-606-7880


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Wicked Weed Brewery


Their slogan: Hops are a wicked and pernicious weed

– King Henry VIII, 1519

King Henry VIII declared hops “A wicked and pernicious weed” destined to ruin beer. Independent brewers were driven by their rebel integrity to defy the king, embrace the hop and create beer for the untamed palate. Today, rebel integrity drives our defiant beer.

At Wicked Weed Brewing they craft big-flavor, hop-forward beers that push their creative boundaries. They believe in the wildness of beer, its’ nonconformist attitude, its’ ability to resist being tamed. To those who do not conform and will not be tamed, we raise a pint to you and ask that you join the rebellion.

Instead of being confined by the tradition brewpub experience, Wicked Weed Brewing strives to be different. Their seasonal menu highlights ingredients at the peak of ripeness, a staple piece in the creation of elegant bar food.  In the Asheville tradition, Wicked Weed Brewing has an unflinching commitment to high quality local ingredients. Their meat is produced in the never never tradition, meaning one will never eat meat in our establishment that has been treated with hormones or anti-biotics. Their restaurant is a harmonious marriage of big-flavor craft beer and creative cuisine always focused on approachability.  I hope you will come see what different feels like.

To best serve the needs of their regular customers, Wicked Weed Brewing is a first come, first serve restaurant that does not take reservations. Feel free to call the hostesses for updated information about wait times and table availability. Cheers!


Phone: 828-575-9599


Address: 91 Biltmore Ave., Asheville, NC 28801