Asheville, NC, May 18 – 20, 2023

While planning our route home from Jekyll Island, we were looking for any route that did not require driving through Atlanta. Anyone who has ever driven through that area with or without an RV, could relate. We have been wanting to check out Asheville, so that was our obvious choice. We were lucky to find any campsite without advanced planning, so the Asheville KOA was fine for us.

The campground

We liked the location of the KOA. It was only a 7-minute drive from Black Mountain, which we planned to check out. While the campground was in a pretty setting, it was not very nice. The sites were very close together. The campground website states there is a dump station, but it  is only accessible to fairly small rigs, so I consider that to be false advertising. Fortunately we have our portable waste tank (aka poop trolly), which we can tow to the dump station with the truck. We frequently saw an RV dump service emptying tanks around the campground. We do not plan to return to this campground.

Biltmore Village and Downtown Asheville

We had planned to see the Biltmore Estate, but decided to do that in the future. The entry fees start at $109 per person and we knew we would not spend an entire day and get our money’s worth out of it. Our intention was to get an overview of the area and have more specific plans on our next visit. We opted to see Biltmore Village instead.  It is an area built in the late 1890’s to house workers of the Biltmore estate. It is now an upscale shopping and dining area. We went on a Friday morning and not many places were open. We didn’t have plans for fine-dining or high-end coffee shops. Expensive boutiques and galleries do not really interest us. We were hoping to check out the historic buildings and maybe learn a bit about the history. That was disappointing, as there was nothing displayed anywhere, with information about the buildings or history.  We quickly walked through the area, took a few photos and left.

We headed to the city, parked and spent a couple of hours walking  everywhere. The buildings and general feel reminded us of Detroit. It seemed pretty safe and vibrant,  We will return if we have a specific place we want to go to.

Blue Ridge Parkway and surrounding area

We were glad we did not try to fit in a tour of the Biltmore estate, as we drove a lot of distance over 3 days, checking out the Blue Ridge Parkway and some advertised must-see places that were all very long distances apart. The Asheville area is huge and the many advertised microbreweries are scattered over a very extensive area. We had a guidebook from the visitor center and some online info that were not very helpful, unless you planned to spend all day driving.  We enjoyed many scenic overlooks from the Blue Ridge Parkway, but did not do any hiking. My knee injury from Maui was almost completely healed, but Dave was still dealing with a sore knee from surfing at Flagler Beach. He wanted to spare the knee for any hiking we might do at our next location, the Smoky Mountains.

Our favorite times were spent in the small town of Black Mountain. It is a scenic mountain town with a couple of microbreweries and some restaurants, including a fabulous old-school mexican restaurant. We found the microbrewery that is the favorite of the locals.  Wherever we go, we like to spend time chatting with people who live there. It was fun experiencing the vibe of the town.

Our campsite at Asheville East KOA Holiday, Swannanoa, NC
Our campsite, from across the pond (left) at the Asheville East KOA Holiday
Our curious neighbor at the Asheville East KOA Holiday
View from our campsite at the Asheville East KOA Holiday
Slushie, enjoying the sunset at Asheville East KOA Holiday
Cathedral of All Souls in Biltmore Village. built by George Washington Vanderbilt II in 1896
Parish Hall (Zabriskie Hall), in Biltmore Village. Google helped me to identify this building. Apparently, it is owned by the Cathedral of All Souls. It was built at the same time, with mouth-blown, hand-leaded translucent glass windows.
Walking around downtown Asheville was a lot like walking around Detroit.
Asheville Art Museum, Asheville, NC
Downtown Asheville, NC
This building in downtown Asheville reminded us of the old Milner Hotel (now Ashley Apartments) in Detroil.
Whistle Hop Brewing Company in Fairview, NC was about 25 minutes from the campground. It is a train-themed taproom with a large outdoor space. Like some of the other well-advertised microbreweries, this was the only reason to visit this tiny town.
Whistle Hop Brewing Company, Fairview NC.
View from the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The sign at the Southern Highland Craft Guild, Folk Art Center, Ashville, NC (No photos allowed inside). Dave scored some extra points with me, as he surprised me with a stop here. I did not know it existed. There was a beautiful gallery filled with local art. It was mainly basket weaving, furniture and textiles, with some painting. I absolutely loved the quilt art.
Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
View from the Blue Ridge Parkway.
At the French Broad Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway. Dave was expecting to see women speaking french, but he did not….
On the outdoor deck at Black Mountain Brewing Company, Black Mountain, NC
This was our favorite Asheville area microbrewery. It was obviously the favorite of the locals and we enjoyed the small town vibe. We ran into this local retiree a couple of times. He and his wife once debated whether they should move to Florida or to the mountains, to retire.
Lookout Brewing Company, Black Mountain, NC