Tips & Ideas

Tips & Ideas

CAROLINA ON MY MIND

About 100 years ago one of the world’s wealthiest men decided to build what is now known as America’s Largest Home. He could build it practically anywhere he wanted so he went out to discover the most beautiful setting for his mansion. Even though he lived in New York, he chose a town nestled up to the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville North Carolina.

Asheville’s four distinct, yet moderate seasons coupled with its natural beauty make it a great place to live and a great place for a romantic visit.

Besides the scenic beauty, the main attraction in Asheville is George Vanderbilt’s magnificent mansion, Biltmore. welderThis enormous, opulent “home” is simply amazing, even to someone who has toured dozens of Europe’s grand homes and castles. On the 8,000 acre Biltmore estate is also a working winery, restaurant and formal gardens. Recently, Inn on Biltmore Estate, a high-end hotel was opened on the grounds, giving visitors to Biltmore the opportunity to never leave the resort. One could easily spend two or three days exploring everything Biltmore has to offer. Be sure to dine at the Biltmore’s Deerpark Restaurant. Their gourmet buffet lunch is only $13.95. One of the few bargains at the Estate.

But Asheville is too nice a place to confine just to Biltmore. I really enjoy Asheville’s downtown with its eclectic array biltmoregardensof shops and restaurants housed in architecturally interesting brick buildings that miraculously survived the wrecking ball when most cities were “improving” their downtowns. At the time, Asheville didn’t have the funds to build new buildings so the turn of the century buildings still remain. The city’s architecture and its natural setting attract a lot of artisans to live in and visit the city and that adds even more to its charm. You will find much fewer chain restaurants and overall “commercialism” in Asheville. The food in some of the “organic” restaurants is simply wonderful. The ingredients are fresh and typically pesticide, herbicide and preservative-free. It makes a big difference in the taste.

richmondhillinngardenOn the outskirts of Asheville is perhaps THE romantic place to stay. Richmond Hill Inn is a 100 year old grand home that was converted into a romantic country inn. You can stay in the main house, in cottages along the croquet court croquetlawn(my personal favorite) or in the garden pavilion where each room overlooks the parterre garden, waterfall and Mansion. Gabrielle’s, a four star restaurant within the home, offers up an outstanding six course meal. Even if you don’t stay at the Inn, consider making reservations for dinner and tour the gardens beforehand.  Guest of the Inn are treated to a very nice afternoon tea and a gourmet breakfast each morning.

To fill in your romantic getaway, there are dozens of activities and sites to see in and around Asheville. For more information, check out www.exploreasheville.com

Biltmore House, Gardens, Winery and Inn www.Biltmore.com800-858-4130

Richmond Hill Inn www.RichmondHillInn.com 888-742-4549

Melanies Food Fantasy (Breakfast & Lunch only)  32 Broadway     828-236-3533

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