We started our trip (after a stopover at my sister‘s in Burlington, NC) in Asheville, known as Beer City, USA. There is so much to eat and drink in this hip little city in the mountains. (See also: visit #2 and visit #3!) (and we keep going back so you can read about visit #4 and #5 or get the highlights in our Asheville Favorites post!)
Camping lessons learned on this stop:
- If your trailer sways on the interstate, you are going too fast!
- Remember to screw in the hot water tank plug outside the trailer before filling the hot water tank, or you will make a big mess all over the neighboring spot.
- Bugsy will stay in the trailer alone (barricaded in the bedroom) for a couple hours without destroying it. She was asleep when we got home. Success!
We stayed at Asheville Bear Creek Campground for two nights. It’s about a 10 minute drive from downtown. Spots are back-in only, which was fine since the place is half-empty now in early March, but would be tricky if we couldn’t drive all over the other spots to get into ours. The picture above is the view from the dinette (making us happy we chose the FB model!). Internet and cable are good. We drove by another campground near the River Arts District that looked a little seedier as viewed from the highway, but it would be nice to be that much closer to downtown. Overall, we’re happy with Bear Creek.
Tour the Biltmore Estate: Visiting the Biltmore is expensive–$50 in the off-season! We were surprised at the price, which gets you into the house, the gardens, the trails around the grounds of the estate, and the shops, restaurants, and winery on the property. Yes, you have to pay admission to spend more money eating and drinking. The house is enormous and lovely, with a nice self tour that you can do at your own pace. We didn’t dally and it took about 45 minutes to get through the rooms. If the weather doesn’t allow you to leave your dog in the car while you tour the house, there’s an unattended, outdoor kennel on the property.
Go for a run on the trails on the Biltmore property. You’ve already paid for admission, might as well take advantage of the nice trail system on the grounds of the estate. Dogs are allowed on all the trails. We ran the following route, based on a recommendation from a Biltmore employee: From the parking lot by the Farmyard, head to the river and turn left on Farm Trail, staying along the river to Lagoon Trail, where you can get a glimpse of the house across the water, then away from the river on Deer Park Trail and up the hill toward the house for another view of the house and of the French Broad River. We turned around at the top of the big hill on Deer Park for a total of about 4.8 mi.
What better to do in the mountains than go for a hike? Only about 20 mi from the campground are Bearwallow Mountain and Trombadore Trail, which combine for a 7.3 mile hike (with shorter options) with fantastic views of the neighboring mountain ranges, and surprisingly few other people for being so close to town (at least that was the case on a chilly March weekday morning).
White Duck Taco Shop. Just go there. So delicious. There are two locations, in downtown and the River Arts District, which is the one we went to.
The other two meals we ate out were at breweries, and were actually really good. Sierra Nevada and Wicked Weed (at the pub location) both serve food with a focus on local ingredients–Sierra Nevada even has a garden out back.
We picked up groceries at the French Broad Food Co-op, conveniently located across the street from Wicked Weed.
Asheville has Uber!!! If you’re going to hit more than a couple breweries, let Uber drive you home.
There are approximately 10000 breweries in the Asheville area. We visited six of them, and did tasting flights at each. Wicked Weed is our favorite, we were really impressed with Sierra Nevada (we had lower expectations since it’s a big-name brewery), and for a bunch of other opinions stay tuned for a write-up from J the beer connoisseur.
These are the breweries we made it to, with details here:
Asheville is a very dog-friendly town. We saw dogs at several of the breweries–indoors–and in nicer weather dogs are often welcome on restaurant patios. The policy seems to be (just from observation) that if a brewery serves food, dogs aren’t allowed inside, but if they don’t, or if food comes from food trucks outside, dogs are allowed. And people definitely take advantage of that. Lucky dogs! The Biltmore is also dog-friendly outside buildings, and there is a ton of hiking to entertain your pooch. Just don’t choose a hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park–no dogs allowed on trails there, as is the rule in most national parks, which will be really problematic once we get out West.