Asheville: A Weekend Getaway from Forts Benning, Bragg or Stewart

When I discovered that I would be stationed at Fort Bragg, NC, I couldn’t wait for weekend trips to the beach, walking under the Spanish oaks in Savannah, or exploring the cobblestone streets and Antebellum houses in Charleston. However, the location I enjoyed visiting the most was hidden in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Asheville, NC (better known as the Beer Capital of the United States) is located in western North Carolina and is less than a five hour drive from Fort Bragg, Fort Benning and Fort Stewart. Although known as craft beer heaven, Asheville offers something for everyone from epicureans to outdoor enthusiasts, romantics to comfort seekers. What follows is a list of three different Asheville itineraries- Romantic, Luxurious, and Rustic. If you are anything like me, feel free to mix and match to get the ultimate experience.

Getaway 1: Romantic

Where to Stay:

Situated on a hillside overlooking Asheville, the Omni Grove Park Inn is about as romantic as you can get.  The Omni boasts spectacular views, grand fireplaces in the lobby, a subterranean spa, and a rich history.

Photos by Judd Hall

Right & Up Tip: The Friday night seafood buffet is amazing! The hotel is also pet friendly, although the extra charge for pets is pretty steep.

Where to Eat:

Curate is rated the best restaurant in downtown Asheville by Yelp and everything on the menu is delicious. If Spanish tapas and sangria don't sound like a romantic dinner to you, then we are on different wavelengths. My husband and I dined here after he proposed, so I am confident in vouching for its romantic ambiance. You can’t go wrong coming here!

What to Do:

If you don’t want to visit the Omni’s Spa (I don’t know why you wouldn’t…it's beautiful), check out the Shoji Retreat (private wood cabins with hot tubs) or the Salt Spa of Asheville.

Getaway 2: Luxurious

Where to Stay:

The Biltmore Estate is 10 square miles of pure elegance and beauty. The main attraction, the Biltmore House (built and owned by the Vanderbilt family -so it’s obviously posh), is the largest privately owned house in the United States. The Inn is a 4 star hotel located near the Biltmore’s winery. Check out a few of my wedding photos below to see what I'm talking about.

Right & Up Tip:  Go between early November and early January to experience the festive “Christmas at the Biltmore.” Think extravagant Christmas décor, cozy fireplaces, candlelight, and wine tasting! If you want to stay on the estate without the crazy price of the Inn, check out the Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate!

Where to Eat:

Located near Historic Park Square, Posana is a New American restaurant that serves dinner and brunch (Saturdays and Sundays). The ambiance is chic and sophisticated, helped by the inventive and hand-crafted cocktails as well as the excellent service.

Right and Up Tip: Order the honey-thyme duck breast as an appetizer and you will not be disappointed!

What to Do:

Go shopping in Biltmore Village (an array of shops await you….from Lululemon to antique furniture). Try the Biltmore winery or if you are looking for something with a little more bubbles, check out the Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar. Yes, it is as awesome as it sounds.

Photo credit:  Flickr

Photo credit: Flickr

Getaway 3: Rustic/Cozy

Where to Stay:

There are numerous cabins in the mountains around Asheville. Check out Asheville Cabins of Willow Winds or the Pines Cottages.  Asheville itself has many bed and breakfasts as well. I highly recommend Reynolds Mansion or Bunn House. During one of my many visits to Asheville, I used Airbnb and stayed in a cottage in Saluda, NC (approximately a 25 min drive from Asheville). Another cute place in Saluda is The Orchard Inn – it has an awesome Austrian-inspired brunch!

Right & Up Tip: Asheville hotels can get expensive. I have found the cheapest way to stay in and around Asheville is through Airbnb.

Where to Eat:

After an early morning hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains, get brunch at Tupelo Honey Café or Mayfel’s. Biscuit Head, although not located downtown, is also scrumptious!

Right & Up Tip: Mayfel’s has an awesome Bloody Mary bar.

What to Do:

Panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains await you when you stay in Asheville. Most hikes are 20-50 miles from downtown Asheville and right off of the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway. Hikes with the best views include Craggy Gardens (1.5-3 miles roundtrip), Looking Glass Rock (6.5 miles roundtrip), Pinncale Park (7 miles roundtrip), Max Patch Hike (1.4 or 2.4 roundtrip), and Mount Mitchell Trail (Black Mountain Campground to Mount Mitchell Summit-5.5 miles).

Hydrate after your hike and grab a beer at one of the many breweries in Asheville. Wicked Weed (named after a quote from King Henry the VIII where he described hops as a “wicked and pernicious weed”), New Belgium, and Wedge Brewing Co are some of my favorites!

Photo credit left to right: bluesman46, Kolin, Flickr

Right & Up Tip: Mount Mitchell is the highest point East of the Mississippi. If you don’t feel like hiking, you can drive to the observation deck at the summit and walk some easy trails around the top.