Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring is Here: Our Favorite Things To Do in Asheville & Western North Carolina

Winter has faded and spring is here! The flowers are blooming, the colors are becoming more vibrant, there are gentle breezes and clear views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. What are you waiting for? Spring is a gorgeous time of year to be here in Asheville and the surrounding Western North Carolina area. Have you planned your spring getaway?

We have a lot of favorite things to do when vacationing here, but here are some of the highlights.

Get Outdoors
Asheville is continuously ranked a top destination for outdoor recreation and adventure in a variety of categories by Outside Magazine as well as other outdoor publications. It's easy to see why with so many fantastic outdoor experiences to be had, including everything from extreme sports to light adventure. There's something for everyone.

Vacationers can find hiking trails, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, canoeing, fishing, zip-lining, hot air ballooning, horseback riding, and the list goes on and on. For a great overview of the outdoor adventures that can be found here and links to specific activities, click here.

Take a Scenic Drive
Whether you're in the mood for a scenic river drive, in search of some hot springs, seeking majestic mountain views, or looking to explore some quaint mountain towns, there are many scenic driving routes full of sights and adventures. Take a look at's Top 10 List of scenic drives.

Also, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a great choice with over 469 miles of scenic roads and gorgeous overlooks and vistas. Stop for some hikes or to explore the National Park System. For the truly adventurous, try a meandering motorcycle ride from Western North Carolina into Tennessee.

Explore Local Outdoor Markets, Festivals & Events
On any given day in Asheville and Western North Carolina, there are always plenty of opportunities to learn more about the local culture through its outdoor events, activities and festivals. Asheville is known for its eclectic arts, music and cultural scene and the diversity is seen throughout its many local venues.

Check out the events calendar for the highlights of what to do when you're here. And of course, keep following us on this blog. We enjoy sharing what Asheville has to offer! We welcome new and returning visitors to this beautiful part of North Carolina.

We hope we've got you thinking about your next vacation to Western North Carolina. We look forward to seeing you. Happy Spring!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Festival of Flowers Blooms at Biltmore Estate

The grand and majestic Biltmore Estate is on the Asheville must-see list. It's a stunning combination of  architecture, pristine scenic grounds, and fascinating history that draws guests into its gates year after year. Spring is right around the corner and Biltmore's gardens are celebrating its arrival with burgeoning blossoms of color. The gardens were designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted and showcase his vision in the lush landscapes that surround the estate to this very day.

Biltmore Blooms is a special event that kicks off the spring season beginning March 21 through May 31. This event showcases the artistry and natural beauty of tulips, azaleas, and numerous other flowers. This year offers guests a special treat reminiscent of the opportunity had by the guests of George and Edith Vanderbilt. For the first time, Biltmore guests can step down in to the Winter Garden for an intimate view of exotic orchids on display. Some of the plants in the display are the same species that were planned for the Biltmore Conservancy in 1894. The outdoor landscaping displays a beautiful progression of blooms from tulips to pansies, azaleas and many more. You can visit the Annual Bloom Calendar for what you can see during all the seasons of the year at the Biltmore.

In addition to the festival of flowers, Biltmore Blooms hosts an array of other activities. Below are the locations, dates, times and events.

 Antler Hill Village:
  • Music on the Bandstand: 4:00 p.m.–8:45 p.m. March 23, 24, 30, 31 and daily in April and May
  • Grape Stomp at the Winery: 2:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m., March 21–May 31
  • Exhibition in The Biltmore Legacy—The Vanderbilts at Home and Abroad
Biltmore House:
  • Floral Displays, daily; Winter Garden orchid display open to guests March 21–April 7
  • Classical music near the Winter Garden. 30 minute sets beginning at 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 1:00, 2:00, daily, March 21–May 19
  • Live 30 minute music sets at 11:00, 12:00, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00 daily, March 21–May 19
Walled Garden
  • Ask a Gardner Station 11:00a.m.–4:00p.m., Saturdays and Sundays only, March 21–May 19
  • A Gardener's Place Seminars, March 21–May 19:
    1:00 — Smell Good Plants (plants and foliage)
    2:00 — Terrariums, gardening under glass
    3:00 — Organic fertilizing
Biltmore Estate admission prices include a self-guided visit of the Biltmore House, access to the gardens and Antler Hill Village, The Vanderbilts at Home and Abroad exhibition, free wine tasting and guided tour at the winery, opportunities to dine and shop, and free parking. Tickets purchased online at least 7 days in advance qualify for a $10 discount, so plan ahead!

There are great opportunities to stay locally in an Asheville vacation rental. Enjoy a home-away-from-home during your vacation while enjoying all of the benefits of being close and convenient to Asheville's favorite places of interest. Take some time to create some personal favorites of your very own.

Share your favorite Asheville places with us in our comment section. We'd love to hear about them. We hope to see you soon!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Visiting Authors, Readings, Book Signings & More in Asheville

Who doesn't love having a good book in hand, sipping a cup of coffee, and nibbling on a bit of fresh pastry? If you love a good book scene, then you must make a visit to Malaprop's Bookstore & Cafe on Haywood Street in Asheville. The meaning behind Malaprop's name and the bookstore's history are interesting reads in themselves.

Locally voted as "Best Bookstore in WNC" year after year and winner of the Publisher's Weekly Bookseller of the year award, Malaprop's is the region's largest locally-owned independent bookstore. With a full schedule of visiting authors, readings and book signings, you'll quickly see why it has received so many accolades both locally and nationally.

Here's a sampling of what's happening this month at Malaprop's. Please note that some events require advance tickets. For a full listing of this month's events, click here. (There is literally an event almost every single day!)

Reading and Book Signing by Dana Sachs
On Thursday, March 7 at 7p.m., Dana Sachs reads and signs copies of The Secret of Nightingale Palace. This poignant story features the saga of an estranged grandmother and granddaughter and the secret that ties them together. The narrative alternates between early 1940s San Francisco and the present day. The story highlights the power of love and family.

Terry Tempest Williams Reading & Book Signing (Ticketed Event)
Award-winning author Terry Tempest Williams presents her book When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice on Friday, March 8 at 7p.m. Her book recounts memories of her mother, ponders her own faith, and contemplates the notion of absence and presence in art and in our world. Tickets for the event are $18 and include a paperback copy of the book.

Mohsin Hamid Reading & Book Signing (Ticketed Event)
On Saturday, March 9 at 1p.m., Mohsin Hamid's How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia is the much anticipated novel of 2013 by Vogue, The Daily Beast, The Nation, and The Guardian. It is the riveting tale of a man's journey from an impoverished rural boy to corporate tycoon. Tickets for the event are $10 and include a $5 coupon toward the purchase of Hamid's book.

Denise Kiernan Presents The Girls of Atomic City
On Saturday, March 9 at 7p.m., Denise Kiernan's The Girls of Atomic City is an artful blend of history and science as a book based on the interviews with dozens of the surviving women and other residents of Oak Ridge, TN, a town created from scratch in 1942 as one of the Manhattan Project's secret cities. This untold story of the women who helped win World War II tells the tales of unsung women whose wartime work had consequences that continue to reverberate today. A book signing follows this event.

We hope you make a visit to Malaprop's during your stay here in Asheville. March is a great time to reserve a vacation rental in downtown Asheville where you can be close and convenient to all you want to see and do in our town. Plan a spring break getaway here in Western North Carolina and have time to experience our shops, restaurants, coffee shops, museums, shows, events and more while you're here.

We look forward to seeing you!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Climbin' the Chimney at Chimney Rock State Park

Thrill seekers, this one's for you! Ever thought of where you might find the most stunning views of Hickory Nut Gorge? How about from the end of a rope as you climb and rappel Chimney Rock itself! Feel the rush of adrenaline as you take in panoramic views of Chimney Rock State Park from a vantage point you won't soon forget.

This Saturday, March 2 from 11a.m. to 3p.m., Chimney Rock State Park partners with the Southeast's leader in rock climbing education, Fox Mountain Guides, to offer visitors a unique bird's eye view of the park from the Chimney. Beginners can try climbing Vista Rock and experienced climbers have the choice between one of two more difficult routes on the Chimney. Age and skill level are no object as Fox Mountain Guides can get you climbing comfortably within your limits in no time.

Two to four climbs and rappels are available for $20 plus the park admission. All equipment is provided and no experience is necessary. Can't make it this weekend? Be sure to check out more about rock climbing clinics and weekend tasters at Chimney Rock State Park. You can also book a climb through Fox Mountain Guides anytime by calling 888-284-8433.

Chimney Rock State Park is a must-see during your vacation in Western North Carolina. If you're not up for the rock climbing, the park offers a host of trails that will keep your feet firmly planted on the ground. Be sure to leave plenty of time because there is a lot to see and do!

Speaking of vacationing in Western North Carolina, this is a great time of year to visit or plan your stay. Visit Asheville Connections on Facebook, like our page, and get updates on vacation rental specials and discounts. There's a 15% off special going on now through March 28, so be sure to check it out.

We hope you have an outdoor adventure planned in Western North Carolina soon! If so, tell us about it in our comment section. We'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Spanish Dance, Music & Passion Come to Asheville This Weekend

Asheville is known for its eclectic arts scene. This weekend in Asheville is no different with the highly anticipated performance of Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana: La Pasión Flamenca. Filled with a stirring mix of pride, passion, love and sorrow, the performance features solos, duets, and company dances that are slated to "transcend cultural boundaries to convey universal emotions."

Photo courtesy of
The performance brings guests on a journey to the southern region of Spain, at the crossroads of Andalusia, the birthplace of flamenco. Artistic Director Carlota Santana has been hailed as "the keeper of the flame for this time-honored Spanish dance form with its vibrant influences from Africa, the Americas, and the Middle East."

Guests are immersed in an evening of Spanish dance and music and come away thoroughly entertained. You can read performance reviews from The New York Times and others here.

La Pasión Flamenca showtimes are at 8p.m. on Thursday, February 21 and Friday, February 22 at the Diana Wortham Theatre at Pack Place. Ticket holders are invited to enhance their theatre experience by attending a free pre-performance discussion in The Forum. The discussion is led by members of the Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana and begins at 7p.m. Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Admittance to the discussion is not permitted after 7:10p.m.

Regular admission prices are $35, students $30, children age 12 and under $15, and student rush day-of-the-show (with valid ID) $10. Tickets can be purchased online here.

In addition to this show, be sure to check out the full lineup of other arts performances occurring this weekend at the Diana Wortham Theatre, The Orange Peel Social Club, and The North Carolina Stage Company. As always, there's a lot going on with plenty to see and do.

Pioneer Condos in downtown Asheville
Make the most of your time in Asheville by staying locally at a downtown vacation rental. Enjoy your home-away-from-home in addition to close and convenient access to all that downtown Asheville has to offer. Make your plans now!

Enjoy your weekend and drop us a line telling us what you did while you were here! Our comment section always welcomes you.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Top 3 Things To Do for Valentine's Day in Asheville

Last week we talked about romantic getaways you can find in Asheville and Western North Carolina any time of the year. But with Valentine's Day upon us in a few short days, here are some of our ideas to celebrate the holiday this week. Check them out!

Top 3 Things To Do for Valentine's Day in Asheville:

1. Stop by French Broad Chocolates on on South Lexington Street in Asheville. Bring your sweetie or come by yourself and pick up some sweets at French Broad Chocolates. The French Broad Chocolate Lounge is the perfect place to enjoy handcrafted artisan chocolates and pastries made with only the freshest local and organic ingredients. Find a spot on a  leather couch, take in the scenery and find the perfect beverage to complement your sweet treat, whether it's a glass of Pinot Noir or a creamy stout.

In addition to the lounge, make time for a tour of the French Broad Chocolate Factory and Tasting Room located on Buxton Avenue in downtown Asheville. This bean-to-bar chocolate factory houses imported cacao from Central and South America as well as all of the necessary tools that make their chocolates a success. Enjoy the tasting area and retail sections while nibbling on a chocolate bar or two. Tours are offered on Saturdays at 2p.m. and can be booked here.

2. Sign-up for the Valentine's Day Couples Fly Casting Clinic on the French Broad River. Are you looking to spend some time in the great outdoors? Want to do something different with your special someone this year for Valentine's Day? Try out the fly casting clinic held on Saturday, February 16 under the guidance of a Headwaters Outfitters fly-fishing guide.

Couples learn to roll cast, overhead cast, and bow-and-arrow cast on the banks of the French Broad River. This two-hour casting clinic costs $60 per couple and includes rods, reels, waders and boots. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 828-877-3106 or by clicking here.

3. Enjoy a Single's Soiree at the Hotel Indigo in downtown Asheville. Valentine's Day is not just for couples. Take advantage of the opportunity to meet and mingle with some new friends at the Single's Soiree. The night is filled with fabulous food, live music and great company. The soiree is held on Thursday, February 14 at the Hotel Indigo on Haywood Street in Asheville. Festivities run from 5-10:30p.m. with live music by Flamenco guitarist Juan Buenavitas beginning at 7p.m.

The Valentine's Day featured menu includes scrumptious selections, featured wine pairings and a full bar. The menu includes roasted tomato bisque, pistachio-crusted halibut, citrus beurre blanc, steamed jasmine rice, sauteed asparagus, filet aux poivre, mushroom Madeira demi-glace, potatoes au gratin, and sauteed spinach. Call 828-239-0239 for reservations.

We hope we've given you some great ideas for the week. We also hope you make the most of your time here in Asheville by extending your stay. Choose a nice downtown Asheville vacation rental and be close and conveniently located to all of the things you want to do.

Are you celebrating Valentine's Day in Asheville or Western North Carolina this year? If so, tell us about it in our comment section. We'd love to hear about it!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Romantic Getaways in Asheville & Western North Carolina

Asheville and the encompassing Western North Carolina region provide an aura of romance any time of year. From the lofty peaks to the lush valleys, the surroundings are truly spectacular. Whether you're planning a Valentines Day getaway or looking for a romantic getaway for any special occasion, this is the place for you.

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains and surrounded by scenic mountain majesty, this area of Western North Carolina offers a little something for everyone. No matter what your idea of romance may be, we guarantee you can find it here.

Stroll the streets of downtown Asheville hand-in-hand with that special someone. Hike the trails of Chimney Rock State Park. Embark on a hot-air balloon ride. Tour the historic Biltmore Estate. Try a new restaurant. Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway. Stop in to a local nightclub and hear a new band. Take in a show. Learn the mountain curves by taking a motorcycle ride into Tennessee. Enjoy an evening at the symphony.

We could go on and on, but the options are truly limitless. What's most important is that you're spending time with the one you love and doing the things you love to do. That in itself is romance.

When you plan your stay here in Western North Carolina, look for the amenities that can bring more romance to your surroundings. Look for a mountain cabin with breathtaking views. Enjoy the advantages of a romantic getaway that includes a hot tub. Plan for some nights of snuggling on the deck with a cozy blanket and a nice glass of wine. Warm up by the fire.

We hope we've given you some great reasons to plan your romantic getaway in the Asheville and Western North Carolina area. Valentines Day is a coming soon, so start your planning now.

Have you spent a romantic getaway in Western North Carolina? If so, we'd love to hear about it. Tell us what you found to be most romantic!