This year for Brandon and I’s birthdays (our birthdays are only 12 days apart) we decided to go on a birthday trip rather than get each other gifts! The destination of choice – Asheville, North Carolina.
We’ve heard so many great things about Asheville since we moved to Raleigh and have been dying to check it out ourselves. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint!
Friday – Candlelight Tour at the Biltmore
As soon as we got into Asheville, we dropped our bags off at the hotel and headed straight for the Biltmore! Included in the price of our tickets was a complimentary wine tasting. Since we arrived about 2 hours ahead of our scheduled candlelight tour, we decided to spend that time at Antler Hill Winery. Wine not? 😉
I did not have big expectations for the complimentary wine tasting. In all honesty, I thought they would have us pick 2-3 wines to try, and that’s that. Boy, was I wrong! We ended up sampling 10 wines and 1 port. They were all so good (though I can’t say I’ve ever actually hated any wine, but that’s neither here nor there). The best in our opinion was the Limited Release Malbec & Merlot. So, of course, we bought a bottle of each 🙂
One other gem we discovered while at Antler Hill Winery that I cannot go without mentioning is the Jack and the Bean Dip. This stuff is pure gold, folks! They had a bowl of the dip sitting out on the table to sample with pretzels, and I’m pretty sure Brandon and I put back half of the bowl ourselves. We tried to play it cool, but I’m sure everyone thought we were vultures by the way we were circling the table for more.
After our wine tasting, we headed to the main house. One of the best moments is seeing the mansion for the first time. I have seen pictures and heard how massive this place is, but it does not compare until you see it in person.
The house itself is nothing short of incredible. Add in the Christmas decorations, the place is utterly breathtaking. With 250 rooms it’s hard to pick a favorite, but the library and the banquet hall definitely come in at the top of my list. Oh, what I would give to attend a dinner party in that banquet hall.
Saturday – Biltmore Grounds Tour & Downtown Asheville
Saturday we headed back to the Biltmore Estate and explored the rest of the grounds. Since it was dark at the time of our tour (PS – is it pronounced 2er or tore? Brandon and I had a great debate about this. Even asked fellow snapchatters and the results were split!) on Friday night we did not get a chance to see the views from the house. Even though it was mid-December, the views were still incredible. I can only imagine what it’s like in the spring and summer when everything is full of color. I will definitely be going back to see it first hand.
After we had done our self-guided tour around the rest of the grounds at the Biltmore House, we headed back towards Antler Hill Village & Winery to buy our favorite wine from our tasting the day before. When we got there, the workers begged and pleaded us to do another complimentary wine tasting (I swear!). It was a tough sell, but we finally gave in.
That night we explored downtown Asheville. We walked around and explored a lot of the unique shops and made our first stop at Sky Bar for a pre-dinner cocktail. Sky bar is such a unique place. It’s essentially a bar on a three tier fire escape. We entered through the front of the historic Flatiron building, rang a bell of a 90-year-old elevator and then rode up to top floor with the elevator attendant and were escorted out to the fire-escape. It was the perfect spot to start out our night in downtown.
Our next stop, Wicked Weed Brewery. This was one of Brandon’s favorite stops of the weekend. His favorite beer? Pernicious IPA. We loved the atmosphere at Wicked Weed, so we decided to stay for dinner rather than venturing back out into the cold to go to a different place. All the food was fantastic! The sweet potato fries and the nachos were a toss up for the prestigious award of Kylee’s favorite.
Sunday – Omni Grove Park Inn
On Sunday before heading back to Raleigh, we made a stop at the Omni Grove Park Inn. I loved everything about this place. From the little Christmas hut in the lobby serving the most impressive glasses of hot chocolate I have ever seen to the stunning views, to the incredibly detailed gingerbread houses they had displayed throughout the hotel. Seriously, you have to see these gingerbread houses. I mean come on! What type of job do you think “Gingie the Gingerbread man” has to afford a house like that?
Overall it was a great weekend filled with great views, beer, wine and the best company. I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off our 26th year.