Asheville: An Artsy, Scenic, Welcoming, Mountain Town by Robin Gorman Newman

My son and I had visited Asheville North Carolina a number of years ago to spend time with a friend who moved there from New York and really enjoyed the visit, so we welcomed the opportunity to recently go again.

ashevilledoubletreeThis time we opted to stay for three nights at DOUBLETREE BY HILTON ASHEVILLE-BILTMORE.  The hotel was a short walk from the historic shopping district of Biltmore Village, which has an array of local restaurants and upscale shops, including one of my favorites, the impressive New Morning ashevilleobamaGallery. We even popped into a quaint restaurant called Corner Kitchen (I’m told by a friend they have excellent food.) to check out the famous table where the Obama family dined — and it’s now adorned with commemorative plaques.

Biltmore Estate (which we had seen previously and I’d recommend) is also easy walking distance and home to the 250-room Biltmore House, wine-tasting, shops, restaurants, and outdoor activities.  Downtown Asheville is 2 miles away, and the stunningly scenic Blue Ridge Parkway is 1 mile.

ashevilledoubletreecookieWe stayed in a spacious suite, and the beds were cushy and comfortable.  The hotel is pet-friendly, and my son was delighted to meet up with a German Shepherd guest.  Rooms have microwaves and mini refrigerators, and Doubletree is famous for their delicious, warm, chocolate chip cookies.  They are given out free to guests all day, and my son couldn’t get enough.  There is complimentary Wi-Fi, and the business center is open 24/7, equipped with desktop computers and printing capability. There is a small state-of-the-art fitness center, an indoor swimming pool and adjacent hot tub.  Spa services are available onsite.

We had a generous breakfast daily, with ample hot and cold buffet choices, and you can have eggs custom cooked to your liking.  The chef was extremely accommodating, and the service was excellent.  We ordered in room service (always a treat for us when traveling) for dinner one night, and enjoyed.

ashevilledowntownDowntown Asheville has experienced a boon in recent years, with more hotels, restaurants, etc. opening.  But, it has maintained an artsy vibe, which is to our liking.  We had a good time exploring, and when my friend picked us up in her car, we ventured outside the downtown area and visited the following:


Elijah Mountain Gem Mine:  At Elijah Mountain Gem Mine, You become a prospector from the 1800’s and mine for real gem stones and gold that you can keep!  Family owned and operated, and open year round, they have been voted the best in Asheville for years, and you can see why.  There are covered outdoor water flumes and indoor flumes open daily, and you can find Rubies, Sapphires, Emeralds, Quartz crystals, Citrine, Amethyst, Garnets, Aventurine, Sodalite, Peridot, Opal, Fluorite, Aquamarine, Topaz, Peacock Copper, Amazonite and more.  We mined using a Green Giant Bucket, and not only did Seth find cool gems, but fossils, petrified wood, and a gorgeous geode they cracked open for us.  It was such fun….I think he could have spent all day there.

ashevillegeodesethThey have a spectacular shop with all kinds of cool finds featuring rocks, antiques, wood carvings, collectibles, and much more.  It’s a mining feast for the eyes!  Great place for special gifts.  And, they even have a small animal petting area featuring the most adorable baby goats.

Heather at the front desk was extremely warm, welcoming and knowledgeable, and they explain all of the finds to you so you are clear what you uncovered.


ashevillenaturecenterAsheville’s Wildlife Park Nature Center: “The Center is dedicated to connecting people with the animals and plants of the Southern Appalachian Mountains region by inspiring appreciation, nurturing understanding, and advance conservation of the region’s rich biodiversity.”  We saw animals  like otters ashevillesethclimbingand red wolves, and my son loved the very cool climbing area.  It was a lovely and peaceful visit and an opportunity to commune with nature. They are open seven days a week year round.  Visit

Hendersonville: A town near Asheville that is worth the trip.  A nice, walkable downtown with interesting shops and restaurants.  Art Mob is a very cool studio and marketplace worth a visit.  All Nations Trading is another unique retail establishment.

Saluda: Very small town with a select number of shops and dining spots, but what is there is worth checking out.  Sassafras is a nice shop with clothing and accessories, and Heartwood Contemporary Crafts Gallery is lovely.

We found numerous New York transplants, including my friend, who have moved to Asheville, and they enjoy the many offerings of the area, as did we.  Whether nature, shopping, scenic hiking, exploring quaint towns, etc., there is much to discover and admire.

Note: Thanks to the Doubletree  by Hilton Asheville-Biltmore, Elijah Moutain Gem Mine and The Nature Center for hosting our visits.


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