THE NC ARBORETUM
The Arboretum is a treasure. I love strolling around the gardens to see what’s in bloom. In the afternoons it’s fun to join friends and go mountain biking on the trails that extend out of the Arboretum and into the Bent Creek section of Pisgah National Forest.
You can’t beat an early dinner in one of Asheville’s superb downtown restaurants followed by a comedy at North Carolina Stage Company. Two of my favorite local actors, Charlie Flynn-McIver and Scott Treadway, regularly perform at this intimate and critically-acclaimed theatre.
Hiking the Mountains-to-Sea Trail
It’s just minutes from downtown Asheville, but you’ll feel like you’re a million miles away. The trail parallels the Blue Ridge Parkway, so it’s easily accessible. The MST (as the locals call it) is ever-changing throughout the year. In the spring I look for wildflowers. In the fall I enjoy the colorful vistas. And in the winter, the air is crisp and clean and the views go on forever.
Like jewels in a crown, Asheville is surrounded by some dazzling small towns, each with their own character and charm. Places like Black Mountain, Brevard, Boone, Blowing Rock and Banner Elk. Do they all start with “B”? No, there is Hendersonville, Waynesville, Cashiers, Highlands — and dozens more awaiting your discovery.
Biltmore Estate Annual Pass
In my opinion, it’s one of the best bargains out there. For one fee you get unrestricted access to George Vanderbilt’s astonishing home and gardens for an entire year. Not to mention the winery and the many delightful restaurants that dot the estate. A visit to Biltmore is such a relaxing way to recover from a busy week. It’s like having a passport to another world.