This year, I continued the tradition of visiting my brother Greg in Asheville for Thanksgiving. During my visit last year, I came to appreciate Asheville for the truly eclectic city it is. After another great trip, I’m even more convinced this is truly a destination with something for everyone.
What to eat
I’m a second generation, born and raised chocoholic so naturally I’m going to love a place called the French Broad Chocolate Lounge. Tucked away on a side street downtown, this local favorite serves up a variety of truffles, pastries, brownies, cookies and more. The space can get crowded so grab something to go and walk a few blocks over to Pritchard Park to enjoy your treats.
For the ultimate local food experience, Tod’s Tasties, in Historic Montford, is a must. I know, it sounds like a strip club. I had my doubts when my brother suggested it but the food was, well, tasty! Add a side of tots to whatever you order; the seasoning was crazy good.
Barley’s Taproom & Pizzeria brings together two of my great loves in one awesome setting. We hung out on the second level – a bar with pool tables, darts and 19 taps of local and regional craft beers. Great food. Great beer. What more could you ask for?
We also indulged in one of Asheville’s finer dining options, Fig Bistro. Our main courses, hanger steak and farfalle bolognese, were excellent, but we could have stopped after our appetizer, pommes frites made with truffle oil, and been completely satisfied. We’ve had our fair share of pommes frites but I honestly don’t think any have compared to Fig’s. Normally I would ask for aioli sauce but these fries were amazing on their own.
What to do
You’ve probably figured out by now that I love craft beer. I imagine the gates of heaven look something like the entrance to Bruisin’ Ales, who coined the phrase “beerlanthropy,” the concern for the welfare and advancement of beer. They stock more than 1,000 brews from around the world. Block out some time to take in the entire selection before making your purchase.
One of the things we didn’t get around to last year was visiting Grove Park Inn. Its spa, golf course, restaurants and spectacular view of the city make it one of the premiere choices for out-of-towners. We didn’t factor in the holiday crowd as we made our way to the lounge for a drink. Our experience was fine but I’d love to go back when it’s less hectic.
And of course it wouldn’t be a trip to Asheville without some quality time in the mountains. This year we hiked in DuPont State Forest, where they filmed Hunger Games and Last of the Mohicans. This is a great spot to get the most bang for your buck, so to speak (there is no park admission fee). The trails are moderate and you can see three waterfalls within a three to four mile stretch.
View a slideshow of pictures from DuPont State Forest here.
Where to stay
Imagine sitting in a rocker on the porch of a cabin overlooking the mountains. The sun is shining, you’ve got a cold, local beer in hand and it’s just you and your family on 40 acres of land.
This was my reality on the actual day of Thanksgiving. My brother’s friend invited us to join his family and spend the night in their spare cabin in the mountains. Through their business, Meanwhile Back in Saluda, his family rents out the cabin and teaches a variety of classes to guests and people in the community. It’s the perfect place to escape without being too far away from Asheville proper. I loved our time in Saluda and I’m thankful Casey and his family let us join them for the holiday.
View a slideshow of pictures from Meanwhile Back in Saluda here.
Still not convinced Asheville should be your next vacation destination? Read up on my recommendations from last Thanksgiving.