The Hungry Wanderers

Eating and exploring our way through the world

Posts Tagged ‘Vineyard’

Asheville, NC – Great Place to See.

Posted by Amanda @ The Hungry Wanderers on April 11, 2009

My wife and I have TALKED about doing more weekend traveling since we arrived in Charlotte, 18 months ago, but we just haven’t gotten around to it. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had plans to go to Charleston, and never ended up booking the hotel. It’s a bummer. Last night, we decided going to going to Asheville this weekend and seeing the Biltmore Estate would be a larf. So, we booked a hotel, and got up this morning to come see what Asheville has to offer.

Cost: ~$80 (see below) per night

Room: Big. We got the nicest(most expensive) room in the hotel. If you’re not familiar with Rodeway Inn, it’s a part of the Choice Hotels group. I’m a Diamond member (2 years running) and I generally stay in Choice Hotels religiously. Mostly because they are consistently good (not great), and include all the amenities I want in a hotel. See my other blog for my law of hotel value, for more on hotel amenities.

Anyway, the Rodeway in is at the bottom of the barrel for the Choice Hotels, with the exception of maybe the Suburban hotel chain, and MAYBE Econo Lodge. Amanda read some great reviews about the hotel though; not that the hotel was “awesome” but how it consistently outperformed the cheap and dirty perception that the Rodeway has. So, we decided to give it a try, but as a bit of insurance, we got a king suite. The room was great; flat screen tv, refrigerator, microwave, king bed, sleeper sofa, desk, free wi-fi. Perhaps more importantly, the room looked as if it’s consistently cleaned well. For $80, it’s a good deal. They had rooms from $54 (AAA rate), but with 2 queens, no sofa bed. I will definitely consider the Rodeway again, but I will be just as hesitant, as I think this might be a geographic fluke.

Cost: ~$50 per person
Thoughts: We haven’t made our way to the Biltmore house, proper, yet. Today we did the winery and farm. It was great. I had heard lacklustre comments about the Biltmore Estate. Nothing particularly specific, but just generally, “It’s not all that.” Well, I don’t know that I’ll call what I saw today “all that,” but I will definitely return. The winery was nice, but it wasn’t guided, and we waited almost 40 minutes to get to take the “self-guided” tour. Having a guided tour would have been nice, as you basically just saw the wine fermenters, the barrel storeroom, and a bunch of ribbons they have acquired (assumably won) over the course of the winery, which is about 25 years. The farmyard was fun, basically a very small petting zoo. Having spent a little time on a farm growing up (my grandfather still lives on his farm, which he worked his whole adult life), and having a couple friends with less than 10 digits, I am always a little hesitant at petting live farm animals, but Amanda seemed to have a good time.
Tomorrow we’re going to the house, which we drove by today and were subsequently impressed (175,000 sf). We’ll also hit the gardens and conservatory. We’re not sure what to expect on Easter Sunday, but we need to get in some good walking and work up an appetite for the Melting Pot tomorrow night.

Cost: Whatever you spend shopping
Thoughts: We were really impressed. I knew there was a little downtown area in Asheville, and as we drove by the two city blocks next to the Biltmore, decorated like a 14th-century village, I thought we’d seen it all; but no! There is a significant downtown area. If you have been to Boulder, CO, or Ann Arbor, MI, you’ll see several similarities. Small stores, with almost no chains. Folks in button downs and folks in camouflage, strolling down the street. Clearly the area was very dog friendly. An eclectic mix of shops made lined the streets for several, several blocks, and not just on the “main street,” but as you got off main street, for multiple blocks, the fun, downtown environment proceeded. It was wonderful. We drove around for 20 minutes before we found a nice place to eat. See my entry on Barley’s Taproom. We also found the Asheville Brewery, which we’ll hit for dinner tonight. I try to exploit every opportunity to go to a new brewery.

Overall: So far, and I’ll edit this post tomorrow, this has been a wonderful short excursion from Charlotte. The town has a small feel, but clearly has some bustling industry. The people have been friendly, and the price has been right. I hope tonight and tomorrow is just more of the same.
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