a s h e v i l l e

I absolutely love vacations so much! I love going on them and I love coming home from them…I know that probably sounds weird. Going on vacation means I get to experience different cultures, eat lots of delicious food, and see beautiful places all over the world. Vacation also makes me very thankful to come back to my routine, cute puppy, cozy home, and friends and family.

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My parents invited me, my siblings, and our significant others to take a trip to Hilton Head for family vacation this summer. Last Friday, Josh and I loaded up our car and made our way to Asheville, NC for an overnight stay on the way to meet up with my family in Hilton Head. We left fairly early, so we could take our time and not stress if traffic or the weather was bad. This was the longest road trip we’ve been on together and it was SO much fun. Josh downloaded lots of Backstreet Boys, Kesha, Marilyn Manson, Linkin Park, Train, and several other artists for our listening entertainment (ok, probably just mine haha I’m not sure how much Josh loves listening to me “sing”).

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We really wanted to drop in at a CrossFit box while in Asheville and we came across Beer City CrossFit. We got to Asheville just in time to make it to their 5 pm class. They were super welcoming and fun. They had a jam packed hour of back squats for strength followed by a metcon with running, kettlebell swings, and burpees. It felt really good to be moving after so many hours in the car. If we’re ever in the area again, we’ll be making a trip back to drop in. My co-worker had told me that Asheville is a great place for breweries and food trucks, so after we freshened up from CF, we hopped in the car to find The Brew Pump. The Brew Pump was so neat – it is Asheville’s only gas station pub, so there was a gas station on one side and a bar on the other and they have different food trucks serving food out front throughout the week. They had picnic tables, cornhole, and adirondack chairs set up in their “backyard” to just relax and enjoy your drinks and food. Part of the reason we went to The Brew Pump is to check out the El Kimchi food truck. El Kimchi is a Latin America/Korean fusion food truck. We ordered the bibimbap with a side of kimchi to share. It was a huge serving and so delicious!       

We drove back to the hotel to park the car and walk around the downtown Asheville area. Every corner you turned there were so many local breweries and restaurants to choose from. Green Man Brewery was our first stop. Josh ordered a Trickster IPA to drink, while I ordered the manager’s special of smoked pork belly over cheesy, creamy grits with Cheerwine BBQ sauce from the Sackett Street BBQ food truck in the courtyard. Seriously, Asheville is a dream- breweries everywhere you look with amazing food trucks parked out back serving delicious food. For our next stop, we headed to Wicked Weed Funkatorium– a taproom serving sour and funky beers. Josh got the Bourbon Barrel Oblivion and I tried the oak fermented cider. Very different and fun!  

You know we couldn’t end our night before eating some dessert! When researching food trucks, I found Sunshine Sammies. I was even more excited when I realized that they opened their first storefront location on the day we were there! They serve homemade ice cream, cookies, waffle tacos, and ice cream sammies. We definitely ate our weight in ice cream sammies…we shared 3! We tried the Craggy Gardens (local blueberry and basil ice cream between snickerdoodles), Dough (creamy chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream between chocolate chip cookies), and Key Lime Pie (tart key lime pie ice cream between graham cracker cookies rolled in toasted coconut) sammies. I honestly can’t pick a favorite flavor, I loved them all so much. Hands down my favorite dessert on vacation and in my top ten for favorite desserts ever.

Saturday morning we woke up early for our trip to the Biltmore Estate. We stopped at Vortex Doughnuts for a very yummy breakfast. We tried the apple fritter, orange chocolate cookie cake doughnut, and apple raspberry cake doughnut- so much yummy goodness!

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After breakfast, it was Biltmore Estate time! The website said to arrive at the estate at least 45 minutes early to park and be ready for your entry into the house. When we got there around 8:10, the gate attendant told us that the gate in didn’t open until 8:30, so we explored the gift shop for a bit until we could get in. I even found a really pretty metal ornament of the Biltmore to add to our Christmas ornament collection. The drive into the Biltmore was beautiful. We were one of the first few in, so there wasn’t much traffic at all. As we drove the half mile from the gate to the estate, we rolled down the windows to enjoy the breeze and the sound of birds chirping in the trees. We parked at the top of the parking lot and made the short trek over to the estate…and what a sight it was! The Biltmore was so grand and absolutely breathtaking- it is almost 180,000 square feet on almost 7000 acres. It’s hard to describe how expansive the whole estate is. We headed into the house to take the tour of the basement and the first and second floors. The house has 250 rooms, with 33 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces, and 3 kitchens. There is an indoor winter garden and the banquet hall has a floor to ceiling pipe organ on the first floor. The library holds a large portion of George Vanderbilt’s 22,000 books. In the bachelor’s wing there is a smoking room, gun room, and a billiard room. The basement houses the servant bedrooms and dining room, the pantries, a bowling alley, gymnasium, and even a pool! It took us almost an hour to walk through the house (and there wasn’t even access to the top two floors) before we headed out to venture through the gardens.

We strolled through the four acre walled garden filled with a variety of gorgeous flowers and the rose garden. Off of the rose garden was a conservatory with different rooms of orchids, ferns, succulents, and more flowers than you could imagine. We took the trail from the rose garden down to Bass Pond. It was so peaceful and serene walking through the trees and over the bubbling creek to the pond. After 4 hours and almost 5 miles of walking around the house and gardens, we were getting hungry and we needed to get on the road for the rest of our drive to Hilton Head.

I found the perfect brunch spot for us to try. Tupelo Honey. We took advantage of their brunch prix fixe menu. We had the most delicious, buttery buttermilk biscuits covered in blueberry jam to start. We ordered the fried green tomatoes with goat cheese grits and the avocado crostini for our “appetizer”.

For the entree, I ordered the Southern Shakshuka (two baked eggs and creole sauce over goat cheese grits) and Josh got the Gulf Coast Lump Crab Benedict (buttermilk biscuits and crab smothered in hollandaise sauce with a side of potato cracklins). It was the perfect ending to our stay in Asheville and my new favorite brunch place for sure… too bad it’s over a 6 hour drive from home!   

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