Sandy McLeod

Beer City Festival is Almost Here!

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May
24

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Here in Asheville we live, breathe, and (of course) drink beer, which is why we are so excited about the Beer City Festival! Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend, 30+ local craft beer vendors from around the area bring their best brews for ticket holders to sample. The event takes place on Roger McGuire Green in Pack’s Square Park, downtown. The spot is a beautiful green space in front of City Hall, with plenty of cool shade, as well as a perfect location to listen to live music on the outdoor stage. This year, the festival will have some great musical talents show up, with Big Chief Juan and the Golden Camanche Mardi Gras Indians, The Cheeksters, and much more.

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The centrally located park also allows for some great after-festival exploring of Asheville’s vibrant downtown scene. Short walks will take you to art studios, as well as some of the most exciting restaurants in Western North Carolina.

Highland Brewery, Asheville's oldest brewery.

Highland Brewery, Asheville’s oldest legal brewery.

This event for beer lovers 21 years of age and older, but it is understood that some attendees might need to bring very small children along. No pets are allowed, or any outside food and drink. The tickets are being sold online at the event website, and are selling fast. There will also be Designated Driver tickets sold the day of the event for a reduced rate. Since safety is of top concern, Uber will be present to help facilitate safe travels from the festival. Also, a portion of the proceeds will go to a worthy cause: The Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western North Carolina. So you can feel good about enjoying the local craft beers that Asheville has to offer!

 

Sandy McLeod

Western North Carolina Waterfalls

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May
5

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All bragging aside, we are a lucky bunch in western North Carolina. Innovative restaurant scene? We got it.  An environment of sustainability and preservation? You betcha. Beautiful mountains and opportunities for one-of-a-kind hikes? Whoa buddy, do we ever! This time of year sparks an urge to be outside, and to really appreciate this natural environment which is like no other. Let’s focus on one of the most breath-taking features of our mountains and parks: waterfalls.

Hooker Falls at Dupont State Park

Hooker Falls at Dupont
State Park

Dupont State Forest in Brevard County has a treasure chest of waterfalls, some of which require a hike, others of which demand just a small walk. Heavier rain this time of year results in a powerful stream, which makes the already impressive waterfalls quite spectacular. The trails are well marked and kiosks at each of the trailheads provide adequate information. The main attractions are Bridal Veil Falls, Grassy Creek Falls, High Falls, Hooker Falls, Triple Falls and Wintergreen Falls. Each offers something different. Bridal Veil Falls, for example, has an overhang that allows people to walk behind the “veil.” High Falls are simply high and impressive. The 3-mile hike starts from the Hooker Falls parking lot, and is a short walk to the first set of falls. Hooker Falls has an observation landing and wading area that is fantastic for kids to play in when the weather is warm. Hike a half mile upstream to get to Triple Falls, a three part falls that creates a beautiful pattern with a 120-foot drop. Another half-mile will get you to the largest waterfall: High Falls. This 150-foot drop cascades down a wall of slanted granite. Whichever waterfall you visit (we recommend all of them) you are guaranteed a beautiful hike and great spot to have a picnic al fresco!

Triple Falls

Triple Falls

 

Sliding Rock is not too far from Dupont State Forest, and stands out for it’s unique use of it’s falls. The angle and slickness, produces a natural water slide that draws crowds every summer. If you want quiet reflection here, we recommend either visiting during a weekday, or off-season, as the falls are incredibly popular (a long line to the top can be expected). Sliding Rock is located in Mt. Pisgah, only a 45 minute drive from Asheville Cabins of Willow Winds.

Sliding Rock

Sliding Rock

Looking Glass Falls is beauty and convenience in one package! Just a stone’s throw from the main road, Looking Glass is a gorgeous waterfall, also located in Pisgah Forest. This is why Transylvania County is known as the Land of Waterfalls! Looking Glass Falls is one of the most photographed waterfalls in America, and is a must-see if you visit Pisgah. Plenty of parking is provided, and just a short walk will get you to the falls.  And don’t forget your camera!

Looking Glass Falls

Looking Glass Falls

 

These are just a few of the waterfalls that we have here in Western North Carolina, all with varying degrees of effort to see them up close. Transylvania County’s chamber site is a great resource of information about which hikes are more challenging than the others. There is so much to see, and Asheville Cabins of Willow Winds is conveniently located so that you don’t have to skip a single waterfall to fit your itinerary. At the office, we are more than happy to recommend routes to get you there, and the best hikes to fit your needs.

 

Sandy McLeod

Boogie on Downtown: Live Outdoor Music in Asheville

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Mar
29

 

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With the warmer weather rolling in, locals and visitors alike are looking for any reason to get out and enjoy the outdoors. While hiking and ziplining are great ways to enjoy nature during the days, one of the best ways to get outside in the afternoon/evening is by visiting one of Asheville many outdoor concert events. With varied genres that reflect the diversity and style of Western North Carolina, everyone can dance to the beat of their own drum. Speaking of….

Downtown Drum Circle  Starts April 8, 2016

Attending the Friday night drum circle in Pritchard Park is a favorite thing to do when visiting Asheville.

Attending the Friday night drum circle in Pritchard Park is a favorite thing to do when visiting Asheville.

The Asheville Drum Circle is a beloved tradition among locals and a must for anyone visiting downtown Asheville on a Friday night. Active since 2001, the Drum Circle takes place during the warmer months in Pritchard Park off Patton Ave, and is free. The festivities start around 6pm (but can happen as early as 5pm) and lasts until 10pm. Bring a drum, or just come to dance or listen and watch. Anyone can play in the drum circle with a drum or other type of percussion instrument. If you want to celebrate and dance under the stars, this is the place to be. This event is perfect for immersing yourself in the eclectic and often downright quirky atmosphere of downtown Asheville. Drum Circles usually last until mid-October, or as long as the weather is warm enough for an outdoor gathering. Eat at one of the many restaurants in Downtown Asheville before or after the Drum Circle, which is close to Pack Square, Battery Park Avenue and Haywood Road.

Downtown after Five  Starts May 20, 2016

Downtown After 5 is a local favorite.

Downtown After 5

This popular concert series takes place every third Friday starting in May and lasting through the month of September, and is a free event. There will be live music 5-9pm on Asheville’s “funkiest” street Lexington Ave. There will be food sold on-site, and beer available to be purchased with a valid ID and $2 wristband. Proceeds from the wristband sales will go to five area nonprofits. The festival also has an initiative to respect our environment with compostable food and beverage disposals, a solar array and complimentary bike corral.

Shindig on the Green   Starts July 2, 2016

A fiddler and a guitarist parry with each other at Shindig on the Green.

A fiddler and a guitarist at Shindig on the Green.

And now for something completely different: Asheville’s long-running jamboree of talented Bluegrass musicians, clog dancers, ballad singers and storytellers. Since 1967, The Folk Heritage Committee utilizes the warm weather and perfect park space to hold the Shindig on the Green on Saturdays in July and August. This landmark Asheville event starts around 7pm at Pack Square Park with free performances, and winds down around 10pm. Bring your lawn chair, but don’t plan to sit in it for long — the bluegrass artists that take turns on the stage are sure to get you up and dancing. This is a family-friendly event, so no alcohol or smoking in the park, please.

Take advantage of the (much needed) warm weather while visiting Asheville, and jam out to the local rhythm that makes our city so special!

Sandy McLeod

Check out the Natural Beauty of Spring in Asheville, NC

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Mar
19

With the colder weather becoming more infrequent and the new season showing its beauty all over Asheville, there isn’t a better time to visit our small mountain city. Enjoy the natural beauty while it’s in full bloom!

Photo Courtesy of Jared Kay, amplified-media.com

Photo Courtesy of Jared Kay, amplified-media.com

Get outdoors and experience Asheville at it’s most vibrant with a trip to our North Carolina Arboretum.  This 434-acre public garden is a great place to start for any nature-lover, providing not only hiking and biking trails in the Pisgah Forest, but several educational and demonstrative events on everything from finding box turtles (Box Turtle Day 5/21/16) to uncovering fungi (FungiFest 8/28/16). Each April, they display the National Native Azalea Repository, with 16 of the 17 native Azalea species in the United States showcased in an effort to protect these beautiful plants.  There is no per-person fee to visit, only a parking charge, so you can gather the whole family for an educational experience that is not only easy on the eyes, but on the wallet as well.

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The Blooms at Biltmore

Every spring, the Biltmore Estate exhibits a brilliant rainbow of over 200 orchids, 15,000 daffodils, and countless tulips and azaleas. Lasting from late March to the end of May, the Festival of Flowers changes by the week, with peak times for each type of flower. No visit is ever entirely the same! To start, the orchids will be displayed in the Conservatory. In early April, its the daffodils’ time to shine in the Walled Garden. Mid-April will show the most vibrant Tulips of the year, and May brings the 20-acre azalea garden. Any time you visit, you are guaranteed a visual (and aromatic) treat!

Biltmore Blooms will take place March 19th – 26th 2016, and several events will herald this ode to spring: The Biltmore Easter Egg Hunt will be March 27th, and every weekend there will be live music at the Bandstand, as well as Saturday/Sunday grape-stomping for the kids!

The Waterfall at Asheville Cabins of Willow Winds

The Waterfall at Asheville Cabins of Willow Winds

At Asheville Cabins of Willow Winds, our property is bursting forth with  brilliant colors and warm breezes, bringing a buzz of excitement that can only mean that spring is almost here.  This is a perfect time to get outside and fish in our fully-stocked trout pond, take a leisurely walk on the Mountain-to-Sea Trail, or just admire the flowers or our trout stream from the comfort of your porch. Our location is only 40 miles from Dupont State Forest; 10,000 acres of gorgeous protected nature with 87 miles of trails and 3 waterfalls that bring folks from all over the country to Brevard, NC.  Reserve your luxury cabin today, and get outdoors to experience Western North Carolina in a beautiful (and brief) season!

 

 

 

Sandy McLeod

Asheville Brewery Tours

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Feb
17

Here in Asheville, we take our beer very seriously. Beer is our passion, and we are constantly searching for ways to highlight our local brews. With so many well-established breweries– and nearly as many new ones – it can be difficult to fit the ones you want to visit into your trip. Luckily, Asheville has many beer/brewery tours that are perfect for getting a taste of the variety and creativity of the local beer scene, while learning about the process of brewing.

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Sierra Nevada Brewery is located in Mills River, NC (only 10 miles from our location) and features a beautiful, sustainably-built brewery in a natural setting. The property holds the large brewery, a gift shop, as well as a taproom that offers small plates of pub food made with local, fresh ingredients. Behind the taproom is a large green space for families and friends to congregate, and a amphitheater stage for live music. The tour is one of Asheville’s most popular, and for good reason. The Brewhouse Tour takes guest through the brewing process, from wort (pre-beer) to packaging, and the tour culminates with an educational beer tasting. Sierra Nevada also offers unique seasonal tours such as an outdoor Natural Resources Tour in the spring, and an IPA tour in the fall. Tours are made by online reservation only, and they sell out quick!

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Highland’s flagship ale.

Asheville’s first legal brewery, Highland Brewing offers a fantastic variety of beers to suit everyone in your group. Founded in 1994, the once small operation has grown to a brewery with the capacity to brew over 50,000 barrels annually. A tasting room opened in October of 2010 so that visitors could enjoy the casual atmosphere of the brewery and try all that Highlands brings to the table.  An outdoor stage and bar are the latest additions, but the brewery is always changing and growing in new and exciting ways. Tours are free and available 7 days a week. These are first come first serve, so there are no reservations.

Green Man Brewing

Green Man Brewing

Green Man Brewing is a small brewery with a big reputation. A local favorite, Green Man has made a name for itself with its quality and loyalty to traditional English styles of beer. The brewery is kid and dog friendly, and very often there is a food truck in the parking lot. Brewery Tours are every Saturday, and you may reserve here.  The ESB is a must try for any English beer fan!

If you want to visit the best of Asheville breweries with ease, a brews cruise might be exactly what you are looking for! Asheville Brews Cruise is a mobile tour (you ride around in the “brew bus”) that stops by Asheville’s favorite breweries. The educated tour guide takes guests through the beer-making process, while everyone enjoys several 4oz sample pours. Samples are included in ticket price, and designated drivers receive a discount.

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Beautiful Asheville NC

 

Remember that no matter which option you choose, enjoy responsibly.  Asheville Cabins of Willow Winds’ location makes it convenient to grab a taxi after enjoying your tours!

 

Sandy McLeod

Best Breakfast Spots in Asheville

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Feb
2

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With such a thriving restaurant scene, Asheville has something for everyone – whether you are gluten free, vegan, a farm-to-table fanatic (maybe all of the above) or just needing a quick bite to start off your day. Those of us at Asheville Cabins have tried them all – for purely research reasons of course – and have compiled a list of places that you can’t beat for the most important meal of the day!

The Corner Kitchen

Our owner's favorite breakfast spot!

Our owner’s favorite breakfast spot!

In historic Biltmore Village, The Corner Kitchen has delighted locals and travelers with a farm-fresh menu in a casual environment. Not only are they known for a fantastic lunch and dinner menu, but their breakfast menu offers the classics of a traditional cafe with an attention to quality ingredients you don’t see everyday. From Pecan Trout with Eggs to Biscuits and Gravy, the care put into their food is apparent from the first bite. The Corner Kitchen is located in a restored 100+ year old house, rich with history and flavor, and should not be missed on any trip to Asheville!

Tupelo Honey Cafe

A fresh take on southern: courtesy tupelohoneycafe.com

A fresh take on southern: courtesy tupelohoneycafe.com

Founded in 2000, Tupelo Honey Café is a staple in the Asheville restaurant world, and has quickly garnered a reputation for itself for having a fresh, creative take on traditional southern comfort favorites. From sweet potato pancakes and goat cheese grits, to the Debutante: a dainty omelet with basil, havarti and caramelized onions. Maybe the meat lovers in the group can try the Chorizo & Chow Chow Grit Bowl, or Tupelo’s take on a Canadian Poutine? Either way, Tupelo Honey is not to be missed during your trip to Asheville.

Sunny Point

West Asheville offers several restaurant options that stand out from the crowd – just like West Asheville itself. The funky area is full of quirk and irreverence, a stylistic approach to everything, especially cuisine. A favorite among locals, Sunny Point Café is a colorful, quaint restaurant with a breakfast menu that will knock your socks off. Their signature dish might just be their Huevos Rancheros: black bean cakes, chorizo sausage, feta, tomatillo salsa, herbed potatoes, two free-range eggs and a cilantro crema. Most dishes allow for substitutions if veggie sausage and tofu bacon are more your style. You can build your own omelette or biscuit, and finish with a warm oatmeal brulee (it’s exactly what it sounds like!) The wait for a table if you arrive early is still close to 30 minutes, but we hear from guests time and time again how much it is worth the wait!

Biscuit Head

Courtesy of www.biscuitheads.com

Courtesy of www.biscuitheads.com

Also representing the West side of Asheville, Biscuit Head (named for the size of the biscuit – as big as a cat’s head) specializes in what they do best – flaky, buttery biscuits and all the amazing additions you can imagine. There are benedicts of all kinds, creative twists on traditional breakfast sides, and to cap it all off a butter bar! Word of mouth and a fantastic, evolving menu has put Biscuit Head front and center as one of the faces of Asheville cuisine.

 

Green Sage

Downtown location, courtesy of greensagecafe.com

Downtown location, courtesy of greensagecafe.com

If you are looking for a fresh, healthy take on breakfast, Green Sage is the perfect place to work with any food requirements or dietary specifications, while still offering delicious food in a casual setting. Gluten sensitive biscuits and tempeh bacon round out traditional breakfast sandwiches, while fresh juices and coffee beverages give a much need boost in the AM.  Meats are sourced locally from Hickory Nut Gap farms, and an appreciation for the preservation of our environment is a key motivator in how they run their 3 locations.

Our local flavor is one of a unique nature: delicious and creative, fresh and sustainable, authentically southern with an appreciation for the small mountain city that we lovingly call home.

A view from Asheville's famous Jackson Building.

A view from Asheville’s famous Jackson Building.

Sandy McLeod

Winter Fun at Asheville Cabins

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Jan
22
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The sled races have begun!

 

Get your sled ready and your boots on! This winter storm has started, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t enjoying the pleasures of a mountain winter wonderland at Asheville Cabins of Willow Winds. Our property offers plenty of space to stretch out and start a snowball fight, make a snow angel, or build your own snowman.

 

 

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Our steep hills provide a frosty thrill.

 

After a day full or trekking through the snow, our fireplaces and hot tubs provide a perfect place to cuddle up and get warm.  You can watch the snow accumulate from the comfort of your own luxury cabin — then go out and have more fun!

 

 

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Our maintenance staff hard at work.

Unlike at home, our maintenance staff will take care of all of your shoveling! They started cleanup almost immediately, plowing all the way to the main road. They ensure that paths, porches and decks stay clean during the snowfall. Keeping up with the accumulations is part of the way we ensure that our guests feel safe as possible navigating the property.

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The tranquility of winter.

While the weather is unpredictable, there is always a way to make the best of a chilly situation. So bundle and up and join us at Asheville cabins, and enjoy all that winter has to offer!

 

Sandy McLeod

Tips for a romantic getaway in Western North Carolina

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Jan
6
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A wintry touch to our water features.

Is there any better way to start off 2016 than a romantic trip to Asheville with your significant other? We can’t think of any! This time of year yields a fantastic opportunity to experience Asheville at its most serene, with the busy din of the holidays quieting down, and a peaceful tranquility blanketing nearby trails and hiking spots. We’ve outlined some activities that might serve as the perfect backdrop to a romantic trip for you and your special someone.

The Biltmore Estate

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The beautiful Biltmore Estate grounds.

The ornate interiors and lush grounds of the Biltmore Estate make for one romantic date! After the holidays, the crowds move out and it is much easier to navigate the expansive mansion – not to mention that the new year typically brings the lowest prices of the year. In addition, there will be a spectacular exhibition called Fashionable Romance: Wedding Gowns in Film that will take place from February 12 – July 4th 2016. This event will showcase over 40 award-winning costumes from classic films. The display shows how the fashion in nuptial attire has changed from the 1700s to the 1940s, and is sure to put a flutter in anyone’s heart. Visit the Biltmore Estate website  for more information.

Relaxation therapy at a local spa

 

We have several places in Asheville to relax and enjoy your romantic vacation with a massage or spa experience. Most offer a couple’s massage, and Around Town Massage goes the extra mile (literally) with in-home massages –so you don’t even have to leave the warmth of your cabin. Sensibilities Day Spa has a south Asheville location in Biltmore Park, and offers a variety of services to pamper and primp. Downtown has a lot to offer with  SpaTheology, a day spa that specializes in a personalized approach to what any couple needs to feel relaxed and rejuvenated. A spa trip can soothe any ache and pain that the holidays might have incurred, and it is a perfect way to bring a couple together while enjoying the serenity of a mountain getaway.

Take a Hike!

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The hikes in the Asheville area that are so popular in the summer months adapt and become something serene and special in the winter. Paths normally worn and crowded take on a more contemplative feel, adjusting with the weather and becoming something to take in with quiet reflection. That being said, they are just as exhilarating, and provide a fantastic opportunity to get out and experience the beauty of the western North Carolina mountains. Dupont State Forest’s waterfalls are as fantastic as ever, with recent heavy rain providing a significant water pour. The Blue Ridge Parkway provides not only a peaceful hike, but a scenic drive that can provide one-on-one time with your loved one without any distractions.

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Enjoy the view from the comfort of our cabins.

Whether you are thinking about a Valentine’s Day excursion, or a much needed getaway from the stresses of home, Asheville is a romantic city with so much to offer. After all the activities, you will find that returning to our luxury cabins to warm up near the fireplace or soak in the hot tub is the perfect way to end your romantic adventure. Don’t forget; January, February and March are our Winter Special months, so you can stay for three or more nights and get one of the nights free OR get 10% off your entire stay (20% off for our Willow Winders). Not valid with any other offers. Book soon, and emmerse yourself in the luxury, serenity, and comfort of Asheville Cabins of Willow Winds.

Sandy McLeod

Lights on! Asheville holiday light displays 2015.

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Dec
15

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There is nothing quite like a holiday light display. The twinkle and movement of lights in the dark is sure to stir up the spirit of even the biggest Scrooge, and spark the imagination and wonder in children of all ages. Asheville has a few different options this year, so you can customize your experience to make a perfect holiday outing.

Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland

Now until December 30th, a synchronized light show will take place at the Western North Carolinan Agricultural Center in Fletcher. Shadrack’s features a two mile long drive-through display, complete with movement synchronized to music played through your vehicle’s radio. The show utilizes this feature to integrate the viewers into the action and makes for an interactive display like no other. You can park and get out as well, as long as cars are off to the side and not blocking the traffic flow. The display is open 6 to 10pm rain or shine, and you may purchase tickets from the comfort of your vehicle at the gates. For more information, visit Shadrack’s Christmas website.

Winter Lights at the NC Arboretum

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The beauty of the Arboretum doesn’t fade away with the loss of foliage, but rather changes into something completely different and exactly as magnificent. The Winter Lights will take place from now until January 2nd, and is a wonderful light display if you want to see the lights up close and out of your vehicle. This walking tour takes you into the perfectly tended gardens and to a 50-ft tall Christmas tree that does a light show every 30 minutes. There will also be a S’mores station, as well as hot chocolate and buffet (for a fee) of comfort food. Gates open at 6pm and the last opportunity to enter is 9pm. For more information, check out the NC Arboretum website. Tickets must be bought in advance, and visit on Tuesdays for special Friends and Family rates!

Lake Julian Festival of Lights

Lake Julian recreational park will be having a drive-though light display from now until  December 22nd, and has become a local tradition due to the location on the water, as well as its use of animation in the displays. The tickets are $5 per car, and the gates open from 6 to 9pm. Located at 406 Overlook Rd. Ext, Arden NC 28704.

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These tours will be packed on the weekends, so consider a weekday visit. Dress warmly, and for inclement weather. After your outing, return to our luxury cabins and warm up in our hot tubs, then dry off next to the wood-burning fireplace!

Sandy McLeod

Things to do: 2015 Holiday season

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Nov
25

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Grab the family and hop in the car – it’s the holidays again! This time of year brings natural beauty and all the fun activities to get you in the spirit. Here are some suggestions for what to do in Western North Carolina – from turkey day to 2016.

The Candlelight Evenings at the Biltmore Estate

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If you haven’t had the opportunity to experience a Candlelight Evening at the Biltmore Estate, don’t hesitate to reserve a tour. Biltmore will be painted in warm, natural lighting from fireplaces and candles in each beautifully decorated room. The Candlelight Evenings are really something that should be seen to be believed, but hurry—they book fast, and it is an experience you don’t want to miss.

The evenings will be held from now until January 2nd, tickets are for a specific time, and are non-refundable. For more information visit http://www.biltmore.com/visit/plan-your-visit/buy-tickets/candlelight-evenings

The Polar Express Train

The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad will make the book and film come alive during their annual Polar Express Train ride. From now to January 3, 2016, you can depart from the Bryson City train station, and arrive at the North Pole! Each child will receive a free cookie, cup of cocoa, and a special gift from Santa himself – a silver bell. For more information, visit http://www.gsmr.com .

An Old-Fashioned Dickens of a Christmas Festival

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The first weekend in December, Biltmore Village will be decked out with Dickensian charm as the Old Fashioned Dickens of a Christmas Festival gets underway.  The Biltmore Village area will get transformed into a Victorian village, complete with horse-drawn carriages, entertainers in Victorian garb, and tree lighting at 6pm on Friday night.

The festivities will continue Saturday, 11am to 7pm, and many shops will be open later than usual to take part in the fun! Biltmore Village has eclectic shopping, fine-dining, and all the history and beauty to make this blast from the past a must-see this season.

23rd Annual National Gingerbread House Competition at the Grove Park Inn

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This yearly competition has all the sweet treats and structural integrity! Artists and bakers from all over the country submit their masterpieces to be judged by culinary experts. The displays must be entirely edible (except for the base) and 75% gingerbread. And if you’ve never had the pleasure of visiting, The Omni Grove Park Inn is lit up with Christmas decorations and even a large gingerbread kiosk.

The houses will be on display until January 3, 2016, Friday and Saturday if you are lodging with the hotel, Sunday through Thursday for everyone else. For more information, visit http://www.omnihotels.com/hotels/asheville-grove-park/things-to-do/upcoming-events/2015-national-gingerbread-competition

And, what better way to relax after a busy day than to warm up in one of our hot tubs or have a cup of cocoa in front of the wood-burning fireplace? Need a gift for someone who deserves a getaway? We offer custom gift certificates, so you can give the gift of relaxation in a cozy cabin.