So we had a good friend from Florida visit us last week. It so happened that hubby and I had a couple of days off together and we thought that this was the perfect time for our friend to come to Asheville and show him around. We seldom have a long stretch of days off together as we don’t have any control over the scheduling of our shifts at work. Of course, we can always request to have days off but that is no guarantee we can get it. We either switch with other staff or just go with the flow.
This week was four days of togetherness, plus one!
Being in this together certainly is making our marriage stronger as we navigate our way through the complicated world of travel nursing. We surely had lots of downs during our first few weeks but we marched on. I don’t know at the end of this contract if this is truly what WE both want. We could go on traveling or we could go back home to Florida and back to our full time nursing jobs. I’m keeping an open mind. For sure, I’m having fun right now.
Can you believe its been over a month now and after all that time adjusting and readjusting to our new environment, it is about time perhaps we entertain friends. And show off a little how awesome this place is!
Here is our quick and easy guide to enjoying your four-day stay in Asheville.
No, we didn’t go to the Biltmore this time.
Pick up friend from airport then straight to 12 Bones Smokehouse for lunch, THE BEST barbecue ribs in town! They open Mondays to Fridays ONLY from 11am – 4pm. They have two locations to serve the rib licking public better. I tell you, I am not a barbecue person at all but because most everyone was recommending this place, we decided to check it out a few weeks ago and wow, I ordered the half rack Blueberry Chipotle flavor and I devoured it all, sides and more! Come early or late, the lines are looong. This place also got a stamp of approval from our friend.
Because we just came from working 3 nights in a row, we agreed to just hang at home after the belly busting rib lunch to rest, do some laundry and cook our guest some home cooked food.
If you need groceries, go to Ingles. They also have Whole Foods and other healthy organic places to shop if you are into that.
It was raining that morning so my hubby’s bike plans were cancelled. He basically gave me the free reign to do all the planning for the day. Started with breakfast at home then went to downtown for a late lunch at Modesto, a cozy little Italian restaurant at The Grove that served really good Margherita pizza!
What is there to do when it is cloudy and drizzling in Asheville? The outdoors are definitely out of the picture. I checked out the brewery tours (since I have two alcohol thirsty men with me) and they were expensive and limited to 3 or 4 breweries so I decided to improvise and do our very own downtown brewery tour.
- After lunch, we checked out The Grove Arcade, a historic shopping mall built in the 1920s. Various local shops and popular restaurants are located in the ground floor of this imposing building in the heart of downtown Asheville while upstairs are offices and luxury apartments.
- Our friend happily discovered Santé Wine Bar and Tap Room by accident while we were browsing along The Grove’s shops. This is a good place to relax and have a glass of wine or two and have a quiet conversation and people watch at the same time. I would like to think they get crowded at night on weekends. But a mid afternoon stop is the right time to just chill and digest your lunch food before heading on to the next cafe, brewery or restaurant.
- Chocolate lovers watch out. When in town, you HAVE to go to the French Broad Chocolate Lounge. People fall in line to get to this chocophile’s dream setting. Tip: Go early in the afternoon, before 5 pm for lesser crowds. Or better yet, if you are in a rush and just want to get your quick chocolate fix, walk next door, Chocolate + Milk is their to go shop for chocolates, truffles, coffee and other stuff. Their quintessential chocolate cake is popular, make sure to share with a friend because the slice is HUGE, unless you insist on eating the whole piece and then you can die and go to chocolate heaven. I also love their ice cream selections. I have yet to try them all!
- After all the diabetic inducing food we had earlier, we walked to our first brewery. The Wicked Weed, a relative newcomer to the beer industry in Asheville. Pretty popular with the tourist crowds, lines can be long at night too. So, come early and you can either get outside seating (for people watching, yes) or inside (boring) or downstairs where you can actually be in the beer cellar and order more beer, what else. Some say the food here is better than most breweries but I say, meh. I am not a beer connoisseur like my hubby is but I try to order the lightest, fruitiest tasting beer on the menu.
- Next on our list of downtown breweries to check out was The Thirsty Monk. It was a pretty unassuming place as we were told to just sit yourself inside or you can choose to go up to the Member’s Only Top of the Monk, a speakeasy style bar that offers handmade innovative cocktails made from the freshest ingredients. So fresh that they have their own herb garden outside the roof deck where you have views of the mountains while enjoying your drink. Become a member (it’s only a dollar) and you can bring up to six guests and relax in old school 1920’s Prohibition style ambience. Good spot to stay away from the crowds.
- Lexington Avenue Brewery or LAB as the locals call it was our next stop. More beer and food here in an industrial like setting. My mind is spinning at this point from all the alcohol so I had water. Good thing we were walking.
- This place I have always wanted to be able to go inside, 5 Walnut Wine Bar, is ALWAYS packed. It is such a small space that patrons spill over outside on the sidewalk and watch and enjoy the live music playing every night. You can dance inside the very small dance floor but hey, this is part of its charm. Their music is lively and upbeat that even passersby can’t help but stop and take a quick peek at whats happening. We’ve stood outside more than once in the past, the thick crowd inside was just too claustrophobic for me. But this time around, we were able to manage to squeeze inside and stand by the bar. I get what I want this time. I dance.
One night done, one crazy drunken night. I think I did well on our walking itinerary in downtown Asheville.
Hubby and friend decided to get rid of their hang over the next day by having a bloody mary. I don’t know if that works but brunch was at Tupelo Honey Cafe, one of Asheville’s popular breakfast restaurants where the wait can sometimes be an hour long. Try their sweet potato pancakes or their fried chicken and biscuits, truly Southern cooking at its best!
Next, zip lining at Navitat Canopy Adventures was such an adrenaline pumping activity that after our alcohol frenzy the previous night, this was a refreshing change. We took the Blue Ridge Challenge which involved zip lining between mountain top to mountain top racing across 3200 feet of cable with speeds up to 65 miles an hour over a 350 foot drop. Whew!
I can never get enough of this. Maybe I was born to fly!
By the end of the afternoon, we were famished and ready for dinner. We brought our friend to Jerusalem Garden Cafe, a Middle Eastern and Mediterranean restaurant in downtown. There was some serious belly dancing action going on which provided extra entertainment for the diners. Everything tastes really good here but save room for baklava.
Off we went to Dupont State Forest for some hiking. The last time we were there, we did the three waterfall loop. So this time, we wanted to check out Bridal Veil falls. It was a longer hike which I really did not enjoy because most of it involved walking on a gravel road in the hot sun where there was little to no shade.
At the very top of this huge granite rock, you can actually walk behind the waterfalls. But, watch out for snakes!
We managed to squeeze in some horseback riding time after the hike. Sandy Bottom Trail Rides staff was gracious enough to accommodate us at 5pm! For $35 (their summer special), we took an hour long trail ride along the most beautiful scenery in Madison County. I am not an experienced horse rider at all. In fact, it was my first time alone on a big horse with no guide. My horse Twinkie, a beautiful palomino was the most gentlest easy horse ever! I didn’t have to do anything except when stopping. He just followed our trail guide.
And thats it! Your quick and easy four day guide to food, brews and adventure in Asheville, North Carolina.