We spent our 21st Anniversary week in Asheville, North Carolina I absolutely fell in love with this town and we enjoyed every minute of our 1 week stay.
We rented an apartment near downtown Asheville from VBRO #661841. It was comfortable for the two of us, and it provided us with all the basic needs for our stay. In addition to being about 1 mile from downtown, we had easy access to the highway, and had 3 different grocery stores nearby as well. The price was a bit high, but since this was peak season, I guess we asked for it! Being so close to down town offered us the opportunity to dine at quite a few different restaurants and have a variety of ethnic and local food choices. Surprisingly, we managed to keep our dinner budget at each restaurant under $45 each night, except for the last evening where we splurged a bit more. There was also no shortage of places for dessert, we stopped at the Chocolate Lounge (coffee was terrible), Chocolate Fetish (very good), and Old Europe Cafe (our favorite).
We were fortunate enough to be in NC to witness the fall foliage colors changing in the mountains and elsewhere in NC. What a beautiful site! We took many long rides along the Blue Ride Parkway and also managed to find some off the beaten path roads that were quite stunning as well.
Biltmore. Wow. This was massive, stunning, amazing, and on and on. How could someone build something so big? Not just the size of the house, but the entire estate is about 8000 acres! The interesting point of the house though is that it was fairly modern…it actually had an indoor pool, gym and bowling alley! Also had 2 hotels on the property, a winery and active farm land. Note that the entry tickets were pricey! I did manage to get $10 off each by purchasing via Groupon link even though there was no Groupon offered.
Hiking!! We went on 3 hikes in NC, 2 trailheads were off the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP). Crabtree falls was a hike off the BRP, and it was about a 3.5 mile loop to the Waterfall. The waterfall was beautiful, although not as fluid due to the time of year. Graveyard Trails, also off the BRP was about 3.5 miles out and back to the upper and lower falls. The upper falls were disappointing, the lower falls had a bit more flow but not very full. Again, this was not the time of year for waterfalls, the fall colors were the attraction. I was not as impressed with these hikes so much as I was the hikes we found in Colorado. Not sure if they were bad choices or the limited choices that we had for nearby options. We also drove down to Hot Springs to find part of the Appalachian trail (had to say we hiked the A.T.!). We hiked on that for about 2 miles out and back. We would have like to have done more of this trail but it was late in the day and we didn’t want to get too far out (we had no map either).
Chimney Rock State Park. I thought this was going to be more of a hike, but it turned out to be a long stair climb (built wooden stairs)! We went up to Exclamation point trail (highest lookout of the park) about 1.25 miles strait up and back, and also stopped at many other lookouts along the way. On the way down, we continued onto another trail called Hickory Nuts Falls (a very easy walking trail about 1.5 miles out and back) to find the waterfall. Again, not so stunning but we made the trek anyway!
We did take two trips out to Greenville, SC as we were considering this as a potential retirement area. Although Chris seemed to really like like the area, I was far less impressed. Chris is concerned about our return on investment, but I’m more concerned about us being happy and having access to what we need; I didn’t get that “I’d love it here” feeling while we were bouncing about the area. It is an up and coming area, so something to consider, but it just didn’t strike me as a place I would love to live. So far, Asheville and Colorado are high up on my list though, problem is they are far more expensive and not as tax friendly to retirees.
In our travels off the beaten path, we managed to run across Wheels Through Time, which is located in Maggie Valley, NC. This is a transportation museum which houses many antique motorcycles, vintage motorcycle memorabilia and some antique cars. Chris was in HEAVEN! We roamed around there for some admiring the vintage motorcycles, memorabilia, cars, photos, etc. before taking off on our journey back to Asheville. We also bought some raffle tickets to win an antique bike, so fingers crossed!
Next up this year (and on the retirement hunt) is Florida. Staying at Chris’ parents Condo, but planing a few day trips to explore the Gulf cost and looking at that area.