We woke up near Catawba Falls in the Pisgah National Forest and so started our day with that hike, a 2.5-mile round trip gently up to the falls, where the air got cool and crisp – it was a perfect day.
Driving into Asheville, we started with a walk around Biltmore Village. The Biltmore Estate itself is supposed to be a sight to see, but at $65 to enter, I feel like the old class struggle the place represents is being perpetuated. No thank you. The Village is free to walk around, so we did. It’s nice enough, with old brick sidewalks and some fine architecture, but it’s all retail now, of the Brooks Brothers – Ruth’s Chris – Lululemon variety. We had a little dog walk and moved on again.
Lunch was the Purple People Feeder food truck at Wedge Brewing – I was delighted with my veggie-and-rice plate, and Hops got some steak fat (!) on the house; the beers were delicious, and it was a really fine outdoor space. I’m sorry I didn’t get any pictures! From there, we felt replenished to move on to Asheville’s Urban Trail, a historic walking tour of downtown. I used this map on my phone, cross-referencing with Google maps. It’s not the best guide; we definitely missed some of the sites, and some of them were a little underwhelming. My advice to future travelers would be to use this tour as a vague guide, but feel free to roam around. Some of what I found on my own was cooler than what was on the list of sights to see. That said, Asheville does have a rich historic downtown, teeming with people on foot (I love it!), and I’m glad we spent a little time.
By the time we finished, though, Hops and I were both pooped. I don’t know how many miles we walked today, between the Falls hike and the Village and this Urban Trail, but it was enough (Asheville’s downtown is not flat). I wanted to hit one of the downtown breweries but got frustrated looking for parking (tired, hungry), and ended up heading back to the River Arts District, where we visited Wedge earlier. This time we landed at New Belgium’s Asheville location. I’ve visited them in Fort Collins, and found this one very similar in layout (that was 15 or so years ago, so take that as you will). It’s well designed for visitors, with a large, glass-walled taproom, decks with views, a huge park space out front filled with dogs and kids and bikes as I arrived around 6pm on a sunny day. The brewery is a separate space; they do tours but they keep it a bit apart, which seems like a good plan to me.
I had another fine vegetarian meal from Bun Intended food truck, and slaked my thirst.