Photo:Blue Ridge Parkway, Grandfather Mountain, NC.

Discover Asheville's Unique Charms

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Discover the Bliss of
Asheville Area Day Trips

Asheville is a great starting point for a wide variety of wonderful destinations within easy driving distance.

Here is a brief journey... in beautiful photographs and song... of the gentler byways of Western North Carolina... wild flowers... mountains... butterflies... trout streams...

Art Roads & Farm Trails of North Carolina
"...Experience distinctive communities and breathtaking rural countrysides from the coast to the foothills. Travel along back roads to sample fresh goat cheese and scuppernong wine, artists' studios and sidewalk cafés..."

Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway "America's Favorite Drive" goes right through Asheville, and offers many delights year round. May-November 1st, dine at the Pisgah Inn, half a hour or so south of Asheville and be treated to spectacular views and delicious $6 burgers or their specialty, a $13 fresh mountain trout dinner. (Note: see listing below for the Sparta Teapot Museum, as it appears to be accessible from the Blue Ridge Parkway.)

COMING SOON (Preview Gallery Open) Sparta Teapot Museum
"... The core exhibit of the museum will be the Kamm Teapot Collection, owned by Sonny & Gloria Kamm of Los Angeles. This internationally renowned collection consists of more than 8,000 artist-made, antique, and novelty/production teapots. The Artful Teapot, a touring exhibition featuring 250 pieces, has been setting attendance records at museums across the continent since 2002.
Sparta Teapot Museum: a $10 million project to be Constructed on a 5.2-acre campus in downtown Sparta a 30,000 square foot facility to house gallery space, a museum store, a tea room, a recital/lecture hall, classrooms, and studio space a cultural experience to offer educational programs and to expose the country to an exceptional artistic product..." Located in the Northwest corner of NC, about 60 miles from Boone and 155 miles from Asheville. Map. This is probably not technically a "day trip"... but the collection is so awesome it's worth the trip and spending a night in a nearby inn.

Chimney Rock Park
"... located 25 miles southeast of Asheville, North Carolina, offers the best of the mountains in one place-spectacular 75-mile views, hiking trails for all ages, a 404-foot waterfall, a variety of special events and much more...." Eat at the Old Rock Cafe "... You know those great little places you find on the best road trips? The Old Rock Café is one of them. It’s located right next to the entrance of Chimney Rock Park alongside the Rocky Broad River in Chimney Rock Village. Enjoy tasty sandwiches, crispy salads and yummy desserts, either indoors or on our scenic riverside deck.... It’s nothing fancy, just a fun place to relax, have a great meal, and sip a soda, glass of wine or a cold beer as you savor the incredible views...." Directions From Biltmore "...Take Interstate 40 East to Exit #53 (Bat Cave and Highway 74A East). Stay on 74A East for 20 miles and the Park entrance will be on the right...."

John C. Campbell Folk School

"...You’re welcome to explore our beautiful campus during daylight hours in a free and self-directed tour. On most weekdays and several weekends year-round, people like you are learning craft, art, music, dance, cooking, gardening, nature studies, photography, and writing in small classes scattered across campus. Class times are typically 9am-Noon and 1:30-4:30pm. You will likely be able to peek into studios at the classes being held there.... Free concerts are held most Friday nights and feature some of the finest regional and national acts performing old-time, bluegrass, folk, gospel and Celtic music.... The Folk School offers numerous nature trails open to the public during daylight hours. You'll find many interesting points on the scenic paths: the Rainbow Bridge, the Herb Garden and the Corn Maiden just to name a few.... If you’re visiting our fine campus and decide to join us for a meal in the Olive Dame Campbell Dining Hall, you may see our students experience a Pavlovian-type response to the traditional ringing of the red, handforged bell tower that signals the serving of each meal. When it rings, they know they’re in for a savory and nutritious meal amid good camaraderie. Join in our non-denominational blessing at the beginning of each meal, then, in our family-style way, pass around heaping bowls and platters of delicious food. Chef Steve Cipriano and his staff craft nutritious and tasty menus that are varied and well regarded. Our organic garden provides much of the content of our wonderful salads and fresh vegetable dishes. Vegetarian meal options are always available...." Driving Directions

Handmade in America's Craft Heritage Trails Guidebook
lets you find hand-made crafts, artist's studios, galleries, bed & breakfasts, inns, historical sites, special attractions and notable restaurants in the mountains of Western North Carolina... and plan your own itinery.

Quilt Trails of Western North Carolina
"...Five Western North Carolina arts councils have collaborated with HandMade in America to create vibrant quilt patterns painted on wooden squares and installed on barns, public buildings and shops, forming a series of self-guided driving trails... to view these icons of tradition, in their new and significant roles as public art....each block represents a meaningful story, and as you experience the Quilt Trail, you will be viewing chronicles of local lore and history embedded in these quilt squares spread across our region. And, through your travels along the Quilt Trail, we know you will gain an even greater understanding of why the quilt is an enduring symbol of family, heritage, and community – all of the values upheld by HandMade..." Some of the Quilts

Penland School of Crafts tour
(about an hour north of Asheville) ... On Tuesdays and Thursdays mid-April through early December, you can join a tour of the campus (reservations required) which leaves from the Penland Gallery. If you happen to be at Penland during a time when Penland's coffee house is open, you could stop by for a drink and a snack.

Free Entertainment at Altapass

The Orchard at Altapass
About an hour and a half north of Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway. "Sundays The Orchard hosts a variety of local music, including gospel, blues, 50's rock, folk, show tunes, classical, and, again, country and bluegrass... the blending of traditional mountain bands and the music of musicians who have recently found these hazy blue mountain tops to be the perfect place to hone and display their genuine talents. All of this exceptional entertainment is given free..."

Explore the Bliss of Asheville ...
Eric Weiner's new book
The Geography of Bliss

The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World: ".... Asheville, North Carolina, with its idyllic mountain setting and proliferation of good restaurants and New Age healing spas, is enjoying a vogue as a happy place to live. As one newly arrived resident puts it, "A lot of people spin the globe and their finger stops on Asheville."

"....the author is correct, nice weather, affordable housing, lovely scenery, and a slower pace of life, yet an active cultural scene..."

From Rolf Potts' Vagabonding blog:

I've never been one of those uptight literary types who thinks that you have to have actually read a book in order to recommend it to others. So I feel no trepidation in suggesting Eric Weiner's new travelogue-slash-memoir The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World The premise of the book is simple but intriguing-- here is Amazon's description:

Part foreign affairs discourse, part humor, and part twisted self-help guide, The Geography of Bliss takes the reader from America to Iceland to India in search of happiness, or, in the crabby author's case, moments of "un-unhappiness." The book uses a beguiling mixture of travel, psychology, science and humor to investigate not what happiness is, but where it is. Are people in Switzerland happier because it is the most democratic country in the world? Do citizens of Singapore benefit psychologically by having their options limited by the government? Is the King of Bhutan a visionary for his initiative to calculate Gross National Happiness? Why is Asheville, North Carolina so damn happy? With engaging wit and surprising insights, Eric Weiner answers those questions and many others, offering travelers of all moods some interesting new ideas for sunnier destinations and dispositions.

In the imaginary Netflix queue of books-that-I'm-planning-to-read, this one has just jumped to the top. By the way, why has no one started a Netflix for books? This question, and many more, I'll leave for another day.

Vineyards and Wine Tasting Rooms

Biltmore Winery
Biltmore Wine Tasting Events

Owl's Eye Vineyard
"...Located only 2.5 miles from the Historic Shelby Courtsquare, Owl’s Eye Vineyard and Winery offers a picturesque view of the South Mountains. We grow, harvest and produce a wide variety of Vinifera wines...."

Rittler Ridge Vineyards

Rockhouse Vineyards

Waldensian Heritage Winery
"... The tradition of Waldensian wine making began centuries ago in the Cottian Alps, west of Torino, Italy and the Western Piedmont of Italy. This was comparable to Valdese, North Carolina, the Western Piedmont of North Carolina. The wine-making skills of these Waldensian people are now preserved by Waldensian Heritage Wines and reflect a combined 250 years experience in the making of wine....The winery has available a presentation vineyard and an outside covered "boccia" (lawn bowling) court with an adjacent covered seating area. Visitors are welcome to join a conducted tour along with tasting various wines and an opportunity for purchasing. The winery is available for parties, meetings, reunions, wedding events, or any scheduled gathering of friends. The winery is open year-round on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for tours from 1:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. and at other times by appointment...."

Free and Low Cost Museum Admission

Black Mountain College Museum + Art Center
Past faculty included Josef Albers, Buckminster Fuller, John Cage, Willem de Kooning and others.

North Carolina Arboretum
"...The Arboretum focuses on the education, economic development, research, conservation, and garden demonstration with respect to landscape, architecture, and plant sciences. The 434-acre site is nestled in one of the most beautiful natural settings in the United States. Mountain peaks bound the property's visual perimeters and 1.8 miles of the Bent Creek stream run through the center of the Arboretum. A wide variety of classes and workshops are taught by the staff and other plant experts. Educational programs target all ages and range from bonsai demonstrations to nature walks...."

Charming Towns to Visit

Blowing Rock
"... Just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in the North Carolina mountains, Blowing Rock is a storybook village filled with upscale shops, unique attractions, outdoor adventure that ranges from whitewater rafting to skiing, performing and visual arts, fine dining and family restaurants, and a range of accommodations from cabins to bed and breakfasts and hotels to resorts...."

Valdese is a town of about forty-five hundred citizens nestled in the foothills of western North Carolina. Settled on May 29, 1893 by immigrants from the Cottian Alps of northern Italy, the town retains much of its heritage. Valdese exhibits the charm of a small town, despite the growth of local industries and of larger nearby cities... ." Wednesday and Friday Farmers Market... Friday Night concerts in Summer... a Winery...Myra's a '50's Style Diner with " Happy Days" atmosphere, right down to the jukebox ... The Old Rock School (home to two art galleries)... and more. See their website for details. Vadese is about 65 miles East on I-40 from Asheville.

Discover the Bliss of Asheville ...
through These Books and Videos.

Finding Your Way in Asheville is ".... a different kind of guide book. Instead of offering glossy photos and paid insertions from big bucks advertisers, it gives you the kind of information you'd get from a best friend who moved to Western North Carolina twenty years ago. "I've discovered the greatest place for a romantic dinner," she'd say. "Just around the corner from Pritchard Park. Here, let me draw you a map." It's a selective guide in that the authors share the places they've come to love while living, working, dining out, partying, biking, hiking, canoeing and raising children in the "Paris of the South."
America's Castles: The Biltmore Estate "...the grandest of all American homes... Biltmore dwarfs all the mansions built by his illustrious forefathers... . a remarkable top-to-bottom tour of the largest home ever built in America. With its 255 rooms, the Biltmore is a monument to the extravagance and eccentricity of its owner. See footage of its construction, and go behind the scenes with the men and women who work there to learn the secrets of this incredible mansion. Get a privileged tour of rooms that are off-limits to the public, and marvel at the magnificent treasures that Vanderbilt collected....."
Biltmore Estate: The Most Distinguished Private Place "... Few people realize what effort it took to design and construct the largest private residence in the United States, but this book details it all from the breaking of the ground to the designing of the curtain rods. This book is one of the best written and most appealing architectural history books ever. The photographs and drawings in it are also to be commended. Many of the pictures offer breathtaking views of the mansion and its grounds as well as showing many vintage photographs taken at various times throughout its construction and times of residence...."


American Express

There are many blissful activities in Asheville! To locate them, go to and search on "Asheville activities".

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