Everyone who lives in North Carolina knows, when you want to get away from it all, the mountains are the place to go. At the doorway to the Smokeys in the glory of the Blue Ridge mountains lies the city of Asheville. Just north of Asheville — far enough away to be out of the hustle and bustle, but close enough to be easily accessible — is the beautiful and historic Grove Park Inn, the perfect place for a weekend getaway.
Take U.S. 74 west out of town. Turn left on I-85 going north, then take exit 10B to I-85 south. Exit on U.S. 321 north, merge onto I-40 west. Exit at 53b to I-240 toward Asheville. Stay left at the fork, following signs for UNC to stay on I-240 into Asheville. To get to the inn, take Exit 5B, turn right on Charlotte and right on Macon.
The Grove Park Inn
290 Macon Ave.
Asheville, NC 28804
Click here for specials, packages, availability and pricing
Built by E.W. Grove, the St. Louis entrepreneur famous Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic, and opened in 1913, the Grove Park Inn is in the National Register of Historic Places. Grove had it built with boulders hewn from Sunset Mountain, and envisioned it to be a place where every modern convenience could be found, but with all the old fashioned qualities of genuineness. Grove thought big, and it shows in his building. The Great Hall is 120 feet across with two 14-foot fireplaces and a 24-foot ceiling. The architecture of the ceiling makes it the perfect place for live music. Grove Park Inn is such a jewel, it has been host to famous guests including 10 U.S. presidents, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Edison, Will Rogers, Eleanor Roosevelt, Harry Houdini, George Gershwin and Henry Ford.
The spa is 43,000 square feet of subterranean relaxation that was not a part of the original inn. It was opened in 1998 as part of a large-scale renovation. Enjoy mineral pools, contrast pools, an outdoor whirlpool with a spectacular view of the mountains, a sauna and a eucalyptus-infused steam room. There are separate men’s and womens’ relaxation rooms, and even a spa concierge.
Grove Arcade Public Market
One Page Ave.
Asheville, NC 28804
Price: free first hour/$1 all day Saturday at Rankin Parking Garage/$2 all day at Wall Street/$1 all day at Civic Center Parking Garage
Though it’s entirely possible to spend an entire vacation just at the inn and spa, but there’s so much to do and see in Asheville. Leave behind the luxury for a different dose of fun. Head downtown to enjoy another project by E.W. Grove: the Grove Arcade. The building was completed in 1929, two years after his death. He envisioned it as a five-story base with a 14-story tower. Only the base was built, but with more than 225,000 square feet, only the base was needed. Originally it was a building housing shops and offices, which were evicted when the federal government took over the building during World War II as part of the war effort. After the war, it housed the National Climatic Data Center. When a new center was built for that in 1995, there was much public demand for the building to be returned to its original use. It was restored and opened in late 2002, with shopping and dining for any appetite.
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One Lodge St.
Asheville, NC 28803
Click here for prices/free parking
George Vanderbilt required 8,000 acres to build his mansion and gardens as an escape from everyday life. It is now open to the public for self-guided tours. Included in the price of the tour is Biltmore House & Gardens and the Antler Hill Village — featuring the winery, Village Green, The Biltmore Legacy and farm.
Early Girl Eatery
8 Wall St.
Asheville, NC 28801
Named for a type of tomato, this place is known for more than just breakfast foods. What it serves up is southern fare with local flair, including its meat and cheese. Breads and pies seem to be most popular among the local patrons, but don’t miss out on the whole farm-to-table eatery experience. Expect tons of healthy options, and plenty for even the pickiest vegetarian or vegan in the crowd.
50 Broadway Ave.
Asheville, NC 28801
The Mellow Mushroom is for pizza and beer lovers, but it’s much more than a local pizza joint. The Mellow Mushroom is all about atmosphere. Enjoy a wide range of art and music knowing each Mellow Mushroom is locally owned. No worries here for gluten-free eaters, this pizza heaven is in the know and offers plenty of alternative options.
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Vincent Eagan, III is a minister who has preached and taught Jesus in 30 states and Peru over the last 15 years. He currently lives in Monroe, NC, and is working on his MTh in Theology. He has been a life-long student of the Bible and other religious texts, and loves to discuss history. His work can be found at Examiner.com.