Asheville, North Carolina is one of my new favorite places. There's the eating and the shopping and the eating and the sight seeing and the art and the foot spa (ohmygoodness, the foot spa) and hey, did I mention the eating?
I am in some serious L.O.V. E. with this place, and I'm going to do my best to make you love it too.
|Blue Ridge Parkway|
Before I can move on to the actual topic of this post, please enjoy these pictures from a trip I took to Raleigh a long time ago.
How much do I love Asheville? Let me count the ways:
1) The Food
I've never met a city so designed for someone like me, which is to say, I've never seen so many gluten free options in one place in my whole life. (Normal People: Don't let this deter you. Allllllll of the food is amazing.)
The Fiance had been traveling to Asheville for work and after his first visit he told me this place was made for me. It would seem so. Having a gluten allergy is exhausting and irritating. You're continuously on the lookout for places that provide options, and not just boring half-assed options, but well thought out, delicious ones. Asheville is a place with endless eating possibilities for all people. I ate well, y'all. I ate well.
- Fig Bistro - Excellent food and the chef can make almost anything on his menu GF.
- Well Bred Bakery - Somewhat dangerous. I mean, there are so many baked goods!
- Biscuit Head - One of the best breakfasts ever. EVER.
- Curate - This tapas style restaurant is so popular, you have to book reservations weeks in advance. Do it.
- Posana - An entirely gluten free restaurant. It was like every prayer I've ever had being answered in the form of this place. I ordered breakfast and lunch in one meal and, uh, ate all of it.
- Doc Chey's Noodle House - Excellent pad thai.
- White Duck Taco Shop - Two words: Mmm. Yum.
2) The Shopping
Asheville is an un-chainable city, as you'll see if you visit. They prefer unique, one-of-a-kind stores over chains that can be found anywhere and everywhere. Walking through the streets of downtown was like going on an adventure. You never knew what you might stumble upon and discover.
Appalachian Naturals has some bomb diggity bath bombs, you guys. This family owned business has been around for decades. Their philosophy: Don't get naked with anything you can't trust. The products are all natural, all awesome, and those bath bombs I mentioned? They leave your skin silky smooth.
Malaprop's is the local bookstore. If you're a book person, you must go here. They have a little coffee/tea store inside and endless rows of books and goodies for you to check out.
aSHEville Museum is more than a museum. It's a store with tons of fun and handcrafted goodies. Jewelry, kids toys, and weirdly awesome re-created vases from soda bottles. Totally worth a visit.
Honorable Mention Chain Store: Ten Thousand Villages. If Pier 1 and Cost Plus World Market had a millennial baby, this would be it. This fair trade stores brings you products from artisans all over the world to help improve and support their lives. I actually saw items in this store that I'd purchased in other countries, which was thrilling.
3) The Foot Spa
This gets a category all on it's own because yes, it is that amazing. I would buy a one day round trip plane ticket to Asheville for another hour at Wake, a foot spa that I'm pretty sure angels created. Even The Fiance hasn't been able to stop talking about it. For real, you guys, we want to plan another trip out there almost entirely because of this place.
The experience is unlike anything else. First, you choose what kind of foot soak you want, which is to say what oils and herbs they'll be using. Then, you have the option to add on a massage. Last, but not least, you can also order a pot of tea to enjoy while you soak and soothe the day away.
Once you're ushered back through the the gates of heaven to the foot soaking room, you're seated on comfy sofas or chairs with blankets and pillows. A giant Himalayan-looking gong bowl is wheeled out, which is filled with hot water and the herbs/oils you chose. Dip your feet in and let the good times begin.
Bonus Awesomeness: The front of the spa doubles as a little boutique with, yet again, locally crafted lotions and lip balms and even some of the coolest necklaces around.
You must go here.
4) Everything Else
Are you a dog person? Excellent. Your dog is welcome everywhere. Are you a nature person? Perfect. The Blue Ridge Parkway is just a short drive away. Do you want to drink coffee in a London double decker bus? Yep. They've got that covered. Asheville is artsy, fun and unique.
The famous Biltmore Estate is located here and OMG, the Internet doesn't do it justice. This place is something like 9,000 acres big. We thought it would be a short visit, but nooooo. You need a full day at the very minimum. It's a ten minute drive just from the gate to the first stop at this place! I highly recommend checking out the gardens. It's like something out of Alice in Wonderland. Insanely beautiful.
Biltmore Village (not located within Biltmore Estates) is home to the above mentioned Well Bred bakery as well as a few other stores. Most are chains in this particular location, but there are a couple that host local artist creations such as pottery, furniture, and jewelry.
I must also mention the River Arts district, not just for the handful of artsy stores, but for the awesomeness that is the graffiti. It's beautiful, folks. Beautiful.
As for places to stay, you have endless options. However, if you want something completely different (and if, like us, you have a lot of hotel points to use) the Grand Bohemian Hotel is the place to stay. It's located within Biltmore Village, across from the entrance to Biltmore Estates, and ten minutes from all the food and shopping. Clearly, an excellent location, but also this:
|Pay no attention to the weirdo in the tub|
Here are a few more pics from the magical city known as Asheville, just so you get a better idea of how awesome it really is.
|The Grand Bohemian Hotel|
|The famous "Before I Die" chalk wall|
Some of these pictures are up on my Society6 page.