Monday, August 16, 2010

Asheville



Wow! What a city! We had a refreshing retreat to the mountains of North Carolina this past week. Asheville is truly the jewel of the south, in my opinion. It has so many activities, dining options and outdoor adventures to choose from, we could hardly fit everything in...there's something for everyone. And as the Chamber of Commerce t-shirts tout, the altitude definitely affects the attitude.

Here are some enticing reasons to visit this lovely mountain city:

Restaurants!!
My favorites are The Laughing Seed, The Corner Kitchen and 131 Main but there are hundreds more. The Laughing Seed on Wall Street is vegetarian and healthy and absolutely delicious. I could eat there daily! The Corner Kitchen, in Biltmore Village is a lively spot with a great brunch (The Obamas dined here while visiting) and FIG, right around the corner, is a splurge but divine! 131 Main is in Biltmore Park and is actually a chain but they have the best veggie burgers I've ever had. I've asked for their recipe but they're not budging. I did detect beets in them. YUM!! Also, newly opened Pack's Tavern, downtown, has a great atmosphere and the best salmon salad I've had in a while!



The Biltmore Estate:



No trip to Asheville is complete without a visit to the Biltmore House, America's largest privately owned home. At Antler Hill Village and Farm, you can visit the barnyard of animals and Janie got to hold a baby chick. The adjacent historic horse barn is where we held our wedding reception so it's a special place for me. The 8000 acres and estate itself are truly awe-inspiring and I was surprised that Janie was able to keep up but she was clearly entranced by the "castle" and its princess, Cornelia Vanderbilt.

Even though she's young, I wanted Janie to see one of my favorite things at Biltmore Estate, John Singer Sargent's portrait of Fredrick Law Olmsted. Founder of American Landscape Architecture, Olmsted designed the gardens and grounds of Biltmore in the French and English styles. A personal hero of mine, he was a champion of urban parks and preserving nature within cities. This portrait, large and powerful in person, depicts his obvious declining health.


"I have all my life been considering distant effects and sacrificing immediate success and applause to that of the future." Fredrick Law Olmsted

Sargent's portrait of Richard Morris Hunt hangs across from Olmsted's, both in the drawing room. Hunt, widely considered one of the fathers of American architecture, created the estate in the French Renaissance Style.



Outdoor Activities:
Oh, the list could go on and on...Trolley Rides, Splashville (Asheville's new outdoor water fountain for children to play and "splash" around in), hiking on the Blue Ridge Parkway, shopping, galleries and of course, MUSIC!

There are tons of great places to stay in Asheville but I'm very fortunate to have some very special people who live right there...my mom and dad. They were (as always) the perfect hosts for a very special and memorable visit to one of my favorite cities.

A great resource for the area is their Chamber of Commerce.