Asheville Part Two: While there is plenty to see and do in Asheville proper a trip there is incomplete without stops in fringe areas like Biltmore Village or nearby town like Black Mountain and Weaverville. The region boasts a plethora of recreational activities plus throwbacks to yesteryear with attractions like the Biltmore Estate.
The Biltmore mansion is the largest house in the U.S. This 250 room chateau-like mega-structure encompasses four acres of floor space including 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms and 65 fireplaces. It sits on 8,000 acres of land surrounded by stunning Blue Ridge scenery, an award-winning winery, meticulously manicured gardens and – wait for it – starting in November, a special exhibit on Downton Abbey. The similarities are obvious. Biltmore Village focuses on high end boutique shops and unique dining spots like the Country Kitchen where one can get a killer eggs benedict with grits for brunch. Sit in the outside garden if weather permits.
Black Mountain is a charming picturesque town about 15 miles east of Asheville in Buncombe County. Rising 2,405 feet it is almost a half mile high and is surrounded by even higher peaks including the highest peak on the East Coast – Mt Mitchell – that tops out at 6,683 feet. Black Moutain offers its share of the arts, crafts and music and is “Paridise Central” for recreational activities such as walking, hiking, biking, camping, fishing, golfing and bird watching.
One of the prettiest spots in Black Mountain is Lake Tomahawk where you can get a splendid view of the famed Seven Sisters mountain range or just chuckle watching ducks bob for food. Saturdays feature small sailboat races. The lake is very close to downtown and near the challenging Black Mountain golf course.
A stop at the Folk Arts Center sits right off the Blue Ridge Parkway between Asheville and Black Mountain. The venue began as a collaboration between the Southern Highland Craft Guild and the National Park Service back in the 1930s. The original intent was to interpret southern Appalachian culture on the Parkway and the facility now houses galleria, a library, Guild archives, a craft shop and a bookstore.
Another day trip lies just north of Asheville in the town of Weaverville (pop. 2,500). Main Street sports an eclectic array of small galleries and boutiques. Lake Louise, which is just south of the town, is a perfect spot for a picnic and bird watching. It features a state of the art play area for children.