After our epic week at the Lake House on Lake Norman and exploring the Charlotte area with family (and before that our trip to the Outer Banks), we headed to Asheville to visit with relatives. Our weekend guide is a good mix of relaxation, adventure, and family time.
We arrived in Asheville (technically South Appalachian Mountains just south of Asheville) around 3pm just in time to meet up with family and explore by bike the North Carolina Arboretum. This place is amazing with a web of hiking and biking trails, acres of cultivated gardens and the most beautiful botanically diverse plants in the area. My Uncle had a set up for bikes for us, so we hit the Bent Creek trail and biked out to a Lake Powhatan. We had been in the car for a while and the weather was hot so a refreshing dip in the lake hit the spot. I can’t think of a better way to start the weekend in Asheville than with some exercise at this location.
After our biking adventure, we headed to a new brewery that opened in May 2023 called Appalachian Mountain Brewery in Mills River close by to the popular Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. It has just opened weeks before and on a Friday night it was buzzing. We ordered up to burgers and fries. The libation menu is extensive with cold brews and ciders as the specialty. This area is known for its food and passion for great craft beer and AMB new taproom fits right in.
The next day we headed up to the Blue Ridge Parkway via Pisgah National Forest and took in the beautiful views. We took Sam’s Knob Hike at Black Balsam – a moderate 2.5-mile round trip hike that in total took around 2 hours. I was starting to understand the meaning of “Carolina blue” as we climbed and stopped at overlooks. The layering of the mountains with the contrasts of blue highlights was stunning. The sky started to turn dark with thunderstorms on the way down from the mountain and by the time we got to The Hub outside Pisgah National Forest it started to pour.
It was so much fun running for shelter in the rain and figuring out what type of donuts to get at the very cool Velvet Cup food truck. I really like getting caught in a quick thunderstorm and find the dramatic weather a fun adventure in the middle of the day—this is customary in this part of the country where the weather is super-hot and then you get some relief with afternoon showers, and I think the donuts made with chocolate and caramel tasted even better under these conditions. We highly recommend!
On Sunday we wanted to check out some of the city life and hung out around the River Arts District– Asheville’s creative center that is colorful with vibrant murals and artists studios. Once the home of old mills, this area has been developed as a public community area where folks can bring tubes and float down the river, hang out at a local eatery, and enjoy creativity at the various galleries including the Odyseey Ceramics Studio where one can take classes.
It was another hot day so we enjoyed getting some ice coffee at the Ultra Coffeebar and eating an energy ball to give us a boost. As our last stop out of Asheville before we headed back to Charlotte, we enjoyed our time at the Grove Park Inn. This is a fantastic hotel that sits high up with excellent views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Festivities and preparations for 4th of July were being made and I can imagine this location would be fabulous to watch the fireworks.
North Carolina has so much to offer! We have thoroughly enjoyed our time exploring this beautiful state. For more on our family travel in this area, check out our “Why Durham is Worth a Visit” post.